How to Make Your Dishwasher Smell Better

Having a dishwasher is a convenient and time-saving appliance in any kitchen. However, sometimes dishwashers can develop unpleasant odors that can linger on your dishes and make the whole kitchen smell unpleasant. In this article, we will explore effective methods to eliminate those foul smells and keep your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean. So let’s dive in and discover how to make your dishwasher smell better.

How to make a dishwasher smell better?

Making your dishwasher smell better is easy with a few simple steps. First, make sure to clean out any food particles and debris that may be stuck in the filter or other parts of the dishwasher. This will help reduce odors and prevent them from coming back. If there are still strong odors, try running a cycle with white vinegar or baking soda to help neutralize them. You can also add a few drops of essential oils such as lemon or lavender to give your dishwasher a pleasant scent. Finally, make sure to leave the door open after each use so that moisture doesn’t build up and cause unpleasant smells.

Understanding the Causes of Dishwasher Odor

Before we jump into the solutions, it’s essential to understand the common culprits behind dishwasher odor. The main causes include leftover food particles, mineral buildup, mold or mildew growth, and a clogged filter. Identifying the root cause will help you tackle the issue effectively.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance are vital for keeping your dishwasher odor-free. Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Cleaning the Filter

The dishwasher filter traps food particles and prevents them from clogging the drain. Over time, these particles can accumulate and cause unpleasant smells. To clean the filter, remove it from the dishwasher, rinse it under running water, and scrub away any debris. Make sure to reassemble it correctly before using the dishwasher again.

2. Wiping Down the Interior

Food residue and grease can build up on the interior walls of your dishwasher, leading to unpleasant odors. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the walls, including the door and the gasket. Pay special attention to the areas around the door seals, as they can harbor mold and mildew.

3. Cleaning the Spray Arms

Clogged or dirty spray arms can hinder the dishwasher’s ability to clean dishes thoroughly and contribute to odor problems. Remove the spray arms and soak them in a mixture of warm water and vinegar. Use a small brush or toothpick to dislodge any debris or mineral deposits. Rinse the spray arms thoroughly before reinstalling them.

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Dealing with Persistent Odors

If your dishwasher still has a lingering odor even after regular cleaning, try these methods:

1. Using Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural and effective cleaner that can eliminate odors. Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack of an empty dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle to distribute the vinegar throughout the dishwasher, neutralizing any unpleasant smells.

2. Baking Soda and Citric Acid Solution

Another powerful odor eliminator is a mixture of baking soda and citric acid. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda and one cup of citric acid in the bottom of an empty dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle to dissolve the mixture and remove any lingering odors.

3. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is known for its excellent odor-absorbing properties. Place a small bowl filled with activated charcoal near the dishwasher when it’s not in use. The charcoal will help absorb any lingering smells and keep the air fresh.

Preventive Measures for a Fresh-Smelling Dishwasher

Taking preventive measures will help maintain a pleasant-smelling dishwasher in the long run. Here are some tips to follow:

1. Scraping Off Food Residue

Scrape off any large food particles from your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This practice prevents excessive food buildup and reduces the chances of odor-causing bacteria.

2. Running Hot Water Before Starting the Dishwasher

Before starting a cycle, run the hot water in your kitchen sink until it becomes hot. This ensures that hot water fills the dishwasher right from the beginning, improving its cleaning efficiency and reducing odor.

3. Using a Rinse Aid

Using a rinse aid in your dishwasher can prevent mineral deposits and improve drying performance. It also helps in reducing odors by keeping the interior clean and fresh.

How often should I clean my dishwasher?

It is recommended to clean your dishwasher at least once a month to prevent odors and maintain optimal performance.

Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?

It is generally not recommended to use bleach as it can damage certain parts of your dishwasher. Stick to natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda for a safe and effective clean.

Why does my dishwasher smell like rotten eggs?

A sulfur-like smell usually indicates a clogged drain or sewer gas. Cleaning the filter and running vinegar or baking soda solutions can help eliminate the odor.

Should I leave the dishwasher door open to prevent odors?

Leaving the dishwasher door slightly ajar after a cycle can help air out any remaining moisture and reduce the chances of odors.

Can I use essential oils to freshen up my dishwasher?

It is not recommended to use essential oils directly in the dishwasher as they can leave residue and affect its performance. Stick to natural odor eliminators mentioned in this article.

How to make your dishwasher smell better?

One way to make your dishwasher smell better is to use a dishwasher cleaner. These cleaners are designed to remove any food particles and soap residue that may be stuck in the dishwasher, which can cause odors. Additionally, they can help to remove any bacteria or mold that may be present. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaner’s packaging for best results.

Another option is to add a few drops of essential oils such as lemon or lavender into the detergent dispenser before running a cycle. This will help to neutralize any odors and leave your dishes with a pleasant scent.

Finally, you can also try adding white vinegar to each wash cycle. The vinegar helps to eliminate odors and also helps to break down grease and grime that may have built up over time in your dishwasher. Be sure not to mix it with other detergents as this could cause an unpleasant odor.


By following the steps mentioned in this article, you can effectively combat dishwasher odors and enjoy a fresh-smelling appliance. Regular cleaning and maintenance, along with the use of natural odor eliminators, will ensure that your dishwasher works efficiently and leaves your dishes smelling clean and fresh.

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