Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

a woman puts her clothes in the washing machine

Sour, fishy, musty, or just plain nasty. If your dishwasher smells anything other than clean and fresh it’s going to put you off using it. If the problem is really severe you may even find that your plates, cutlery and cookware emerge from the machine with a distinctly unsavoury odour. Once you understand what causes dishwashers to smell it’s easy to prevent and treat the problem.

Reasons for Smelly Dishwashers

There are two main causes for those unpleasant odours. A build-up of food particles and grease is the primary problem, but it’s worth being aware that allowing limescale to build up will make it harder to keep your appliance clean.

 Keeping Your dishwasher clean

Scrape the plates. You don’t need to rinse things before putting them in the machine but it’s essential to scrap away all large food particles. Failure to do this will put an unnecessary load on the appliance and cause it to get dirty much more quickly.

Run regular cleaning cycles. How often you do this will depend on how often you use your dishwasher, Typically once a week or a couple of times a month is about right. Put a cup of white vinegar into a bowl and place this at the back of the top rack. Run a hot cycle without any dishes. The acidic vinegar will loosen any grease or grime that’s built up on the inside of the dishwasher and the hot water will take it away.

Clean the filter. A dirty filter is one of the most common reasons for a smelly dishwasher. The filter is designed to catch and trap debris. Once trapped debris should be removed and the filter itself cleaned with hot soapy water. If you don’t know how to remove the filter check your manual. While the filter is out it’s a good idea to clean the area around it.

Cleaning the Dishwasher

Scraping plate, running cleaning cycles, and not letting the filter get clogged up will go a long way towards keeping your appliance fresh and clean. Just the same, it will sometimes need deeper cleansing.

Take out the racks and clean them separately, check the spray arms and make sure the holes are unblocked, clean the walls down with hot soapy water, a baking soda and soap solution, vinegar, or a specialist cleaning product.

It’s also important to clean the gasket and check it for any signs of mould. A mouldy gasket may be split and you’ll never get it clean, just replace it. Grease and gunk are most likely to get trapped in the tiniest of cracks and crevices so it’s important to take out all removable parts so that you can get to all the corners of your appliance. Once you’ve manually cleaned out the dishwasher and the removed parts, put everything back together and run a cleaning cycle with very hot water and vinegar just to finish things off.

Limescale Prevention and Treatment

How much of a problem you have with limescale will depend largely on how ‘hard’ your water is. If you live in a hard water area it’s important to use a dishwasher detergent with anti-scale additives. Running your vinegar cleaning cycle will also help to prevent limescale build up.

Limescale contributes to dishwasher odours because a scaled up dishwasher works less efficiently and may not drain properly. Both of these will make the machine more likely to smell. If limescale builds up it will also make the heating elements less efficient and mean your dishwasher will use more energy to do an inferior job.

Ultimately it’s all about basic maintenance. If you take care of your dishwasher it will serve you better, look and smell better, and have a longer useful lifespan.

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell? was last modified: January 24th, 2024 by Mix Repairs