How to Get Rid of Bad Odor in Dishwasher: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you tired of that unpleasant, lingering odor every time you open your dishwasher? A smelly dishwasher can be quite a nuisance, not to mention unhygienic. But fret not, because in this article, we’re going to delve into effective ways to banish bad odors from your dishwasher for good. From simple cleaning tips to proactive maintenance, we’ve got you covered.

A dishwasher is a modern convenience that makes our lives much easier, but a foul smell wafting out when you open the door can quickly dampen your enthusiasm. Bad odors in dishwashers are a common issue, often caused by a buildup of food particles, grease, and even mold or mildew.

Common Causes of Bad Odor

Understanding the root causes of the unpleasant smell is essential for effectively eliminating it. Some of the most common culprits include leftover food debris, grease, soap scum, and stagnant water. Additionally, mold and mildew growth in the hidden crevices of the dishwasher can intensify the odor.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you embark on your mission to conquer the bad odor, it’s important to gather the necessary supplies. You’ll need rubber gloves, a soft brush or toothbrush, vinegar, baking soda, a microfiber cloth, and optional essential oils for a refreshing scent.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Guide

Pre-Cleaning Preparations

Start by removing the racks and utensil holders from the dishwasher. Inspect them for any stuck-on food particles and give them a quick rinse. Empty the debris from the bottom of the dishwasher.

Cleaning the Interior

Dampen your microfiber cloth with a mixture of water and vinegar, and gently wipe down the interior walls, door, and gasket. Focus on corners and crevices where mold and gunk tend to accumulate.

Cleaning the Filter and Spray Arm

The dishwasher’s filter and spray arm are prime spots for food particles to accumulate. Carefully remove them and rinse under running water. Use a soft brush or toothbrush to dislodge any stubborn debris.

Dealing with Mold and Mildew

If you notice mold or mildew growth, create a paste using baking soda and water. Apply it to the affected areas, let it sit for a while, and then scrub with a brush. Vinegar can also be used to tackle mold and mildew.

Regular Maintenance Tips

Run Regular Hot Water Cycles

Running an empty dishwasher on a hot water cycle helps remove any residual grease and grime, preventing bad odors from building up.

Keep the Door Ajar

After running a cycle, leave the door slightly ajar to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.

Check for Clogs Regularly

Inspect the spray arm, drain, and filter regularly for clogs that could contribute to odors. Clear any debris you find.

Natural Deodorizing Methods

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run a hot water cycle. Follow up by sprinkling baking soda on the bottom and running another short cycle.

Lemon and Citrus

Cut a lemon in half and place it on the top rack. The citric acid will help neutralize odors while providing a fresh scent.

Activated Charcoal

Placing a small bowl of activated charcoal in the dishwasher overnight can absorb unwanted odors.

Choosing the Right Detergent

Opt for high-quality, low-residue dishwasher detergents. Residue from cheap detergents can contribute to bad smells.

Dos and Don’ts for Dishwasher Care


  • Do scrape off excess food before loading dishes.
  • Do regularly clean the filter and spray arm.
  • Do use hot water cycles to maintain cleanliness.


  • Don’t overload the dishwasher.
  • Don’t use too much detergent.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes sitting for too long.


A fresh-smelling dishwasher is within your reach by following these simple yet effective cleaning and maintenance steps. By taking proactive measures and using natural deodorizing methods, you can bid farewell to the persistent bad odor that has been plaguing your kitchen.


Is it safe to use vinegar in the dishwasher?

Yes, vinegar is safe and effective in removing odor and buildup from your dishwasher.

How often should I clean my dishwasher?

It’s recommended to clean your dishwasher once a month to prevent bad odors and ensure optimal performance.

Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?

No, bleach can damage the rubber components of your dishwasher. Stick to safer alternatives like vinegar.

Why does my dishwasher smell even after cleaning?

Lingering odors might indicate hidden debris or mold growth. Regular maintenance can help prevent this issue.

Are commercial dishwasher cleaners worth using?

Yes, they can be effective, but natural methods like vinegar and baking soda are equally efficient and more environmentally friendly.