Eliminate Stubborn Dishwasher Smells


Eliminate Stubborn Dishwasher Smells

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Discovering an unexpected, unpleasant smell wafting from your dishwasher can disrupt your daily routine and reduce the joy of having a fuss-free cleaning aid in your kitchen. Various causes can be responsible for the uncomfortable aroma of your dishwasher. Understanding why your dishwasher smells, and dealing with it accordingly can restore your kitchen to a serene, hygienic environment. Our comprehensive guide will enlighten you on the reasons behind smelly dishwashers and practical ways to get your appliance back to its fresh-smelling best.

Understanding Why Your Dishwasher Smells

Your dishwasher may be the one cleaning your dishes, but are you sparing a thought to clean your dishwasher too? Various factors such as leftover food particles, trapped grease, undrained water, among others, can result in your dishwasher developing a stench over time. Recognizing that this potential odor culprit requires periodic attention and cleaning is the first step to solving the issue.

Food Particles

One of the most significant contributors to a smelly dishwasher can be food particles. If not cleaned regularly, these particles can get trapped in the dishwasher's filter or crevices and breed bacteria, causing foul smells over time.

Trapped Grease and Oil

Just like your utensils, dishwashers can also be victims of trapped grease and oil, leading to unpleasant odors. The oily residues may not always disperse completely during a wash cycle and can pile up in the dishwasher interiors, contributing to a foul smell over time.

Undrained Water

At times, water doesn't fully drain from your dishwasher post a washing cycle and stagnates. This pool of undrained water is a breeding ground for bacteria and molds, resulting in a strong, musty odor.

How to Get Rid of Dishwasher Smells

Your journey to a fresh-smelling dishwasher is just a few simple steps away. Here's how you can eliminate those nasty odors and ensure that they don't return.

Cleaning The Dishwasher

A simple, yet effective way to tackle smelly dishwashers is through regular cleaning. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  • Start by removing any particles or debris from your dishwasher's base and filter.
  • Then, run a hot water cycle with a dishwasher detergents or a dishwasher cleaning product.
  • After the cycle is completed, open your dishwasher and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or smooth kitchen towel.

Clearing Trapped Grease and Oil

For the persistent grease and oil residues, add a high-quality degreasing agent during a wash cycle. This regime can help in breaking away and removing the oily accumulations effectively.

Addressing Undrained Water

Check your dishwasher's drainage system regularly. If water isn't draining properly, you may need to clean or replace the drain hose. Furthermore, ensure that nothing is blocking the drainage path.

Preventing Future Dishwasher Smells

While the mentioned solutions can effectively get rid of the current smelly dishwasher situation, ensuring the odors don't return is also vital. Here's what you can do:

  • Regular Cleaning: Make cleaning a regular part of your dishwasher maintenance regimen.
  • Rinse Dishes: Before placing your dishes in the dishwasher, rinse them well to reduce the chances of food particles sticking around.
  • Use Quality Products: Opt for high-quality dishwasher detergents and cleaning products to keep your dishwasher clean and fresh.

No one likes a smelly dishwasher. But with the right approach towards maintenance and cleanliness, you can easily avoid dishwasher smells, keep your appliance running efficiently and extend its life. Start employing these strategies today and enjoy a fresh, clean dishwasher tomorrow.

All You Need to Know About Dishwasher Smells


Is it normal for my dishwasher to smell?

A fresh dishwasher shouldn't have a strong odor. However, over time and without proper maintenance, dishwashers may develop unpleasant smells. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent this.


Why does my dishwasher smell like fish?

When your dishwasher smells like fish, it's most likely due to leftover food particles that have begun to rot. Fishy smells often originate from seafood particles left on dishes or from a dirty filter. Regular cleaning should eliminate this smell.

How often should I clean my dishwasher to prevent smells?

The frequency of cleaning your dishwasher can depend on how often you use it. As a rule of thumb, aim to deeply clean your appliance every month. However, if you notice unpleasant smells, it might be best to clean it more regularly.

Why does my dishwasher smell even after cleaning?

If your dishwasher still smells after cleaning, it could be due to a blocked drain, a problem with your dishwasher's plumbing or a hidden area of the dishwasher that was not cleaned. It might prove beneficial to have a professional inspect it.

Can the smell from my dishwasher be dangerous?

While a smelly dishwasher can certainly be unpleasant, it's usually not dangerous. However, strong and persistent odors could potentially indicate a major issue such as a hidden mold growth, which can be dangerous to your health, or even a faulty electrical component, which poses a fire risk. If in doubt, it's well advised to seek the help of a professional.

Does the brand of dishwasher affect how much it smells?

The brand of dishwasher shouldn't directly impact the smells. However, different brands and models have unique designs, and some might trap food particles, grease or water more easily than others creating a likelihood for odor. It's worth reviewing the care instructions specific to your model to avoid bad dishwasher smells.

Will using different dishwasher detergent reduce smells?

Depending on the detergent, switching types can sometimes help reduce smells. Some detergents are specifically designed to remove grime and food residues that cause odor. Experimenting with different types and not overloading the dishwasher can help manage unpleasant smells.

Can I use natural remedies to address dishwasher smells?

Absolutely! You can use baking soda or vinegar to clean and deodorize your dishwasher. Using them in a cleaning cycle can often help remove any minor smells and residues that could be causing the unpleasant odors.

Pros and Cons of Dishwasher Smells

Pros of Dishwasher Smells

Indicator of Cleanliness

The scent that arises after your dishwasher has completed its cycle could be seen as a pro as it can often equate to cleanliness. Most cleaning products are scented, so a dishwasher smell after a cycle may indicate that the dishes have been thoroughly cleaned. It provides a sense of satisfaction knowing that the dishwasher is doing its job properly.

  • Can indicate the use of potent cleaning agents.
  • Can serve as confirmation that you're effectively disinfecting your utensils.

Hints the Use of Quality Cleaning Products

An inviting smell from your dishwasher could imply that quality cleaning products are being used. High-quality detergent, rinse aid, or dishwasher salts often leave behind a pleasant, fresh scent.

  • Suggests that you're maintaining the dishwasher correctly.
  • Can offer a sense of assurance about the hygiene levels of the cleaned dishes.

Cons of Dishwasher Smells

Unpleasant Smell Indicates Underlying Issues

On the opposite end of the spectrum, unpleasant dishwasher smells are a definite con, as they may signal various issues. This can range from a build-up of food debris to lack of maintenance or even mechanical problems.

  • Could mean the filters are clogged with food.
  • May indicate standing water in the dishwasher, which can cause a musty smell.
  • Could signal the growth of bacteria or mold in hidden components.

Unwanted residue or Substance Build-Up

When a dishwasher has an unpleasant smell, it might be due to the leftovers or unseen debris lingering after washing. This is a major con, because residue build-up can affect the overall performance of your dishwasher, besides translating into a bad smell.

  • Can diminish the dishwasher's cleaning effectiveness.
  • May lead to a decrease in the lifespan of the appliance.
  • Can increase the risk of dishes coming out dirty or marked.

Constistent Odor Even After Cleaning

When a dishwasher has a persistent odor even after cleaning and deodorizing, it's a serious downside. Such smell could be a sign that there are underlying mechanical issues or improper drainage, implying a need for professional service which can be costly.

  • It can lead to unexpected repair or replacement costs.
  • Can make the kitchen environment unpleasant to the inhabitants.

Could Indicate Health Hazards

If your dishwasher smells foul, it might mean there's a harmful bacteria or mold presence. This might be a risk to your health, especially if those microorganisms find their way onto your dishes.

  • Presents potential risks of food-borne illnesses.
  • May result in allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.


The presence of unpleasant dishwasher smells can be a real annoyance for any homeowner. The root cause of these smells range from old food debris, trapped grease, or even buildups in the filter. Luckily, these smells are easy to eliminate with regular cleaning and maintenance - an essential routine that preserves the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Moreover, dishwasher smells are more than just a significant inconvenience; they may indicate a more serious functional problem. Therefore, not only is there a need to maintain cleanliness, but also to regularly inspect your dishwasher for any hidden problems. Failure to do this might lead to costlier consequences in the long run, such as possible malfunctions or damages that require professional repair.

Finally, it's good to remember that dishwasher smells signify the need for attention and care. Given its contribution to our daily convenience, maintaining our dishwasher is only fitting. After all, a clean, well-functioning dishwasher is indispensable for a happy and healthy home environment.

About West Coast Hydronics & Plumbing

Welcome to West Coast Hydronics & Plumbing, your reliable and committed partner for all your plumbing and hydronic heating needs. Based in sunny Sacramento, CA, we have been proudly serving the local area with top-quality plumbing solutions and exceptional customer service. Our team of expert professionals are trained to handle anything from residential plumbing maintenance to complex commercial hydronic heating installations. Whether you're dealing with a leaky faucet, faulty water heater, or in need of an energy-efficient heating system, we've got you covered. To know more about our full range of services, visit here.