Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell?

Have you ever opened your dishwasher to find a foul smell emanating from it? This can be a common problem for many households. But why does your dishwasher smell? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this issue and provide some solutions to help you get rid of the smell.

Causes of a Smelly Dishwasher

There are several reasons why your dishwasher might be emitting an unpleasant odor:

  • Food Residue: When you load your dishwasher, food particles can get stuck in the filters, spray arms, and other areas. Over time, these particles can start to decompose, causing a bad smell.
  • Standing Water: If water is left standing in your dishwasher, it can become stagnant and smelly. This can happen if your dishwasher is not draining properly.
  • Mold and Mildew: If your dishwasher is not cleaned regularly, mold and mildew can start to grow in the moist environment. This can cause a musty smell.
  • Hard Water: If you have hard water, minerals can build up in your dishwasher and cause an unpleasant odor.

How to Get Rid of the Smell

Now that we know the causes of a smelly dishwasher, let’s look at some solutions:

Clean Your Dishwasher

The first step to getting rid of the smell is to clean your dishwasher. Remove any food debris from the filters, spray arms, and other areas. You can use a dishwasher cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to clean the interior of the dishwasher. Run a hot cycle with the dishwasher empty to rinse away any remaining residue.

Check Your Drainage

If water is left standing in your dishwasher, it could be a sign of a drainage problem. Check the drain hose for any clogs or kinks. You can also try running a cycle with a dishwasher cleaner that is designed to remove buildup from your dishwasher’s drain area.

Use the Right Detergent

If you have hard water, using the wrong detergent can make the problem worse. Look for a detergent that is designed for hard water and make sure you are using the recommended amount.

Run Hot Water Before Starting the Dishwasher

Hot water can help dissolve any leftover food particles and prevent them from getting stuck in your dishwasher. Run your kitchen sink with hot water for a few seconds before starting your dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use bleach to clean my dishwasher?

A: Bleach can damage the interior of your dishwasher and should not be used. Instead, use a dishwasher cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.

Q: How often should I clean my dishwasher?

A: It is recommended to clean your dishwasher once a month to prevent buildup and odors.

Q: Can I put my dishwasher on a cleaning cycle?

A: Yes, most dishwashers have a cleaning cycle. Check the owner’s manual for instructions.


A smelly dishwasher can be a nuisance, but it is a common problem that can be easily solved. By cleaning your dishwasher regularly and following the tips above, you can eliminate odors and keep your dishwasher running smoothly.