There are few things a good cleaning can’t improve, and a smelly dishwasher is no exception. Regular cleanings are essential for this hard-working appliance to prevent the mold, mildew, and clogs that result in bad smells. The following dishwasher cleaning tips detail how to clean specific components and unclog the drain hose to target odor at its source.
5 Essential Dishwasher Cleaning Tips
While regular cleanings can prevent unpleasant odor, it can also improve function and extend your dishwasher’s lifespan. Our dishwasher cleaning tips include simple ways to prevent bad smells from returning so it can operate at its best.
Clean Out Dishwasher Filter
Wondering how to clean a dishwasher that smells? A dirty filter is a good place to start. The filter traps larger food particles to prevent them from clogging the dishwasher’s drain. However, without regular cleanings, the filter itself will become clogged and smell bad when these particles decay.
These dishwasher cleaning tips detail how to clean the filter and get rid of bad smells:
- Access the filter by removing the dishwasher’s bottom rack.
- Follow the arrows on the filter to twist and unlock, pulling it up to remove.
- Run the filter under running water, scrubbing gently with soap and an old toothbrush to remove stubborn particles.
- Reposition the filter, twisting in the opposite direction to lock in place.
- Replace the bottom rack.
How to Clean Dishwasher Tub
When your dishwasher smells like mildew, that’s most likely exactly what you’re smelling. This unwelcome byproduct of lingering debris and a warm, damp environment can build up and even advance to mold.
Fortunately, the combination of vinegar and baking soda can be an effective dishwasher deodorizer. Here’s how to use these common household ingredients to clean the dishwasher tub:
- Place a small, dishwasher-safe bowl in the top rack of an empty dishwasher and fill it with white vinegar.
- Run a complete wash cycle with hot water.
- Sprinkle a handful of baking soda in the base of the empty dishwasher.
- Run a second cycle, utilizing a quick wash setting and hot water.
- For persistent mold, add 1 cup bleach to the dishwasher’s base and run a 3rd wash cycle with hot water. *Skip this step if your dishwasher has a stainless steel interior, as bleach can stain and discolor stainless steel.*
Clean Out Dishwasher Spray Arms
The small holes in dishwasher spray arms can easily become clogged with food waste, preventing water from dispensing and cleaning dishes. While this waste can start to decay and smell, clogged spray arms will leave dishes dirty and also create a bad odor.
When figuring out how to deal with a smelly dishwasher, don’t forget to clean the spray arms with these simple steps:
- Remove the upper and lower spray arms.
- Use a toothpick to remove blockages from spray arm holes.
- Rinse arms under warm, running water.
- Replace each arm.
Check & Clear Clogged Drain Line
If you’re still asking, “Why does my dishwasher stink?” after the above cleaning tips, you may have a clogged drain line. Blockages can occur when larger food particles go down the drain and accumulate in the line leaving you with a smelly dishwasher drain hose. Here’s how to check and clear a clogged drain line:
- Use a screwdriver and pliers to disconnect the drain hose where it’s attached to the garbage disposal, sink drain, or air gap.
- Hold the open end of the hose over a bucket and run the dishwasher’s rinse cycle. If water doesn’t flow freely from the hose, use a plumbing snake or straightened hanger to dislodge any clogs.
- If you can’t reach the blockage it’s likely in another area of the drain hose, behind the dishwasher. We suggest that a professional service remove this clog to better access this part of the hose.
Keep Dishwasher From Smelling in the Future
These dishwasher cleaning tips can help prevent odor when used as regular maintenance:
- Rinse and scrub the dishwasher filter every 1-2 months
- Clean the dishwasher tub with vinegar and baking soda every 3 months
- Clean the spray arms and assess for blockages every 3-4 months