Eliminating Bad Odors From a Dishwasher

Fred's Appliance
March 8, 2014

Here’s a scenario to consider: you fill up the top and bottom racks of your dishwasher, pour the appropriate amount of detergent into the reservoir, close the door, and press the “on” button. When you back to unload it, however, you are hit with a foul odor originating from somewhere inside. You don’t have to a be a professional appliance repair specialist to realize foul odors are not normal with dishwashers.

Most modern-day dishwashers are manufactured with a filter in the back, which is designed to catch large food particles so the don’t clog the drain line. Over time, the food accumulated here can build up and cause some rather unpleasant odors. If you’re experiencing foul odors coming from somewhere inside your dishwasher, you should first check the filter, as nine out ten times it’s the culprit.

The exact location of the filter varies depending on the make and model of the dishwasher; however, you can usually find it either on the bottom or back. If possible, remove and soak the filter in the kitchen sink with warm water and dish soap. Even if there’s no food or debris on the filter, there could be some stuck around it. Use a flashlight to carefully inspect the inside the dishwasher, looking for food, mold and grime.

If the filter isn’t the source of your dishwasher’s foul stench, there’s a chance it could be caused by mold growth on the gasket. Just like refrigerator doors, dishwashers can develop mold and mildew on the rubber gasket sealing. Open the door to your dishwasher and clean the gasket using a washcloth that’s lightly damp with white vinegar.

I recommend white vinegar as a cleaning solution because it’s safe, effective and all-natural. Using bleach or some other heavy chemical-based cleaner could expose your dishes to harsh chemicals. Simply run the washcloth with vinegar along the gasket. If you notice any patches or areas that aren’t coming clean, try using a scrub brush for a more in-depth cleaning process.

After cleaning your dishwasher’s filter and gasket, you should run a couple empty loads to see if the problem persists. This time, however, use a generous amount of detergent along with a quarter cup of vinegar. The combination of detergent and vinegar should make easy work of most foul odors. Two empty loads should do the job for most instances of a smelly dishwasher.

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