How to Remove Odor from Dishwasher

Your dishwasher, the unsung hero of the kitchen, can sometimes become a source of unpleasant odors. The last thing you want is for your sparkling clean dishes to carry a lingering smell. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons behind dishwasher odor and provide practical solutions to ensure your kitchen companion stays fresh.

Causes of Dishwasher Odor

Food debris and residue buildup

One of the leading culprits of dishwasher odor is the accumulation of food debris and residue. Over time, these particles can decay, leading to a foul smell.

Mold and mildew growth

The dark and damp environment of a dishwasher is an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew. These not only cause odors but can also pose health risks.

Hard water deposits

Hard water leaves mineral deposits in your dishwasher, contributing to both unpleasant smells and reduced efficiency.

Signs of a Smelly Dishwasher

  • Unpleasant smell during operation: If your dishwasher emits an unpleasant odor while running, it’s a clear sign of an issue.
  • Residue on dishes: Smelly dishwashers often leave behind a residue on your otherwise clean dishes.
  • Visible mold or discoloration: Inspection might reveal mold growth or discoloration, indicating a problem.

Preventive Measures

To keep your dishwasher smelling fresh, follow these preventive measures:

  • Regular cleaning routine: Establish a routine for cleaning your dishwasher, including the filter and interior.
  • Proper loading of dishes: Ensure dishes are loaded correctly to allow proper water circulation.
  • Using the right detergent: Choose a detergent suitable for your dishwasher and water hardness.

Natural Remedies for Dishwasher Odor

Baking soda and vinegar solution

Create a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to clean the interior and eliminate odors naturally.

Lemon or citrus peels

Place lemon or citrus peels in the utensil basket for a refreshing fragrance with each cycle.

Activated charcoal

Leave a bowl of activated charcoal in the dishwasher between uses to absorb unwanted odors.

Commercial Dishwasher Cleaners

When natural remedies fall short, commercial cleaners can be effective. However, consider the pros and cons before choosing one for your dishwasher.

Cleaning the Dishwasher Filter

Regular cleaning of the dishwasher filter is crucial. Remove and clean the filter following our step-by-step guide to maintain a fresh-smelling appliance.

Checking the Drainage

Issues with drainage can contribute to odors. Inspect and ensure proper drainage to prevent unpleasant smells.

Dealing with Hard Water Deposits

Investigate the impact of hard water on your dishwasher and consider using a water softener to reduce deposits and odors.

Regular Maintenance Schedule

Establish a monthly deep cleaning routine and perform seasonal checks to keep your dishwasher in top condition.

DIY Air Fresheners for Dishwashers

Enhance the aroma of your dishwasher with simple DIY air fresheners like scented sachets or essential oil drops on a cotton ball.

Tips for Maintaining a Fresh Dishwasher

  • Leave the door ajar after use: Allow air circulation to prevent the buildup of moisture.
  • Empty dishwasher after completion: Avoid leaving damp dishes in the closed dishwasher.
  • Run an empty hot water cycle periodically: Flush out any lingering odors and maintain a clean interior.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Overloading the dishwasher: Give your dishes room to breathe for optimal cleaning.
  • Using too much detergent: Excess detergent can lead to buildup and odors.
  • Ignoring visible signs of an issue: Address problems promptly to prevent further complications.

Dishwasher Odor and Health Concerns

Neglecting dishwasher odor can have health implications, including respiratory issues. It’s crucial to address the problem promptly for a healthy home environment.


Maintaining a fresh-smelling dishwasher is not just about aesthetics; it’s about ensuring a clean and healthy kitchen. By following the outlined preventive measures and remedies, you can bid farewell to dishwasher odors and enjoy the convenience of a reliable kitchen companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: How often should I clean my dishwasher?
    • A: Ideally, clean your dishwasher monthly and perform a deep cleaning every three months.
  2. Q: Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?
    • A: While bleach can be effective, it’s best to use alternative methods like baking soda and vinegar to avoid potential damage.
  3. Q: What causes hard water deposits in dishwashers?
    • A: Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can leave deposits in appliances, including dishwashers.
  4. Q: Why does my dishwasher smell worse after cleaning?
    • A: This could be due to leftover food debris or residue. Ensure thorough cleaning, especially in hidden areas.
  5. Q: Is it normal for dishwashers to have a slight odor?
    • A: A mild odor can be normal, but a strong, persistent smell indicates an issue that needs attention.
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