Why does my dishwasher smell?

by Gle17753481
  15 answers
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 14, 2021

    The usual cause is food, either in the drain filter, drain hose, spray arm, or the gasket, causing a rancid odor.

    If the smell is sewage, it may be a clog with standing water further down the drain line in the wall, this can be snaked or call a plumber.

    Here you go:

    Here's how to clean a dishwasher:

    If you want to clean out a smelly dishwasher, you need to get into all the cracks and crevices. According to Appliances Online, the first step is to remove the top and bottom racks. Depending on your model, you might also need to check for any dishwasher filters and remove them as well — definitely wear rubber gloves, because it can get pretty gross.

    On many models, the drain filter is easy to unscrew and remove, but if you’re not sure how to do it, consult the product manual. If you don't have that on hand, you can usually look up the make and model number online and download a PDF on the brand's website.

    Once the filters are removed, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. Scrub the filters with a stiff toothbrush, soap, and water. Incidentally, you could add cleaning vinegar or baking soda to this process. Baking soda will also help deodorize the filters and can be used in the drain itself once you’ve scooped all the gunk out of there as well.

    Once the filters and drain are clean and deodorized, replace them and clean the spray arm by unscrewing it from the upper or lower mounting mechanisms. The toothbrush and soapy water/vinegar will work for this too. Replace all parts as necessary and clean the seals on the outside of the dishwasher with a damp cloth or rag dipped in cleaning vinegar. Don’t close the dishwasher right away, though. Leave it open so it can dry out completely.

    How to do a deeper clean:

    If you still have a smell even after the deep clean, you might need to try something a bit more robust. Bob Vila recommends placing a cup or bowl of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher and running it on a single cycle. Use the hottest cycle possible and make sure the bowl of vinegar is secure and won't spill when the dishwasher runs.

    Again, once the cycle is over, leave the door to the dishwasher open so that it can air out. If you require a more pleasant set, add a few drops of orange, lemon, or peppermint essential oil to the bowl of vinegar before you run it through the wash. It should sufficiently cover the vinegary scent and leave your kitchen smelling lovely.


  • The drain filter probably needs to be cleaned out.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Nov 14, 2021

    look online for the mfg of your dishwasher and see where the drain filter is and take it out and clean it with white vinegar then run dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar (put on top rack) and it will clean and get rid of odors..

  • Clean out the drain at the bottom of the machine. I also would run it with vinegar in it, helps to remove the smell.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Nov 14, 2021

    Hello . I would consider a look check the bottom of the dishwasher around the drain filter is make sure there’s no debris collecting there. I also use the affresh product in my dishwasher and washing machine.

    Heres a link to this commercial Dishwasher-Cleaner product, along with reviews and Q&A to see if it meets your need.


  • William William on Nov 14, 2021

    Here are ways to clean a dishwasher


  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 14, 2021

    If you're getting a bad smell coming out of your dishwasher it's because with every cycle, food particles and debris get stuck in the filter.

    You should also check that the spray arms are clean and not clogged. Just run it under water to see if any of the holes are blocked. If they are, use a toothpick to loosen any debris caught in the holes.

  • Dee Dee on Nov 14, 2021

    Either the drain filter needs to be cleaned or you need to run a cup of white vinegar thru the dishwasher with baking soda on the bottom. No dishes, empty dishwasher on the hottest water setting. I spray my dishwasher down with white vinegar and water about every two weeks.

  • Gle17753481 Gle17753481 on Nov 14, 2021

    Thank you so much for all the responses. This should take care of the problem,

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 15, 2021

    You probably have small bits of food that are trapped in the filter and they are decaying. Regardless of what they say, I always wipe off my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Mainly because I think how gross it would be to have food flying around inside while the dishwasher is running. Here's my dishwasher cleaning method:

    After making sure the dishwasher is free of any food particles, place a cup of white cleaning vinegar in an open dishwasher safe container on the upper rack and run a short hot cycle. Then sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the unit and run another short hot cycle. This will clean, sanitize, and make it sparkle.

    Prior to adding detergent, put one (1) drop of blue Dawn in the dispenser. You will be amazed at how much better your dishes will look, especially glasses and plastic.

  • Maura White Maura White on Nov 16, 2021

    You may have some gunk in the filter. I'd take that a part and clean it out. You also may have gunk in the hoses. It may be time to take it a part and clean it in a more deeply fashion. We recently replaced our dishwasher and the gunk in both the filter and hoses was shocking when I saw it! And yes it stunk! But it also died!

  • Homeroad Homeroad on Nov 17, 2021

    Have you checked the drain at the bottom? I've discovered that most people don't even know that you need to clean the drain at the bottom of the dishwasher.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Nov 18, 2021

    Dishwasher odours are generally caused by a build-up of trapped food particles or grease. They can clog the filters, spray arm, drain hose and other little nooks around your dishwasher. ... If your dishwasher smells really musty or damp, you may have a problem with a kinked hose or clogged drain.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 18, 2021

    Mabe you need to check out the filters! They need to be cleaned manually.

  • Annie Annie on Nov 30, 2021

    If you have the manual, it should tell you how to remove the drain filter. Then give that a really good soaking and scrubbing with hot soapy water. I read that I should be doing mine once a month!