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How to Get Rid of Awful Smelling Dishwasher

Does your dishwasher have a foul, rotten egg-like smell, or what is called “fishy” smell emanating from it?  What causes this smell?

Having a foul odor when you open your dishwasher to off-load the clean dishes is not that strange. This can be caused by accumulation of food scraps, grease and mold in the filter or crevices.  During the machine`s operation, it can also produce stinky smell due to hard water that smells.

Here are the smelly dishwasher causes and the perfect techniques to make bad smelly dishwasher smell sweet again.

Smelly Dishwasher Causes, How to Get Rid, Eliminate a Dishwasher Odor
Smelly Dishwasher


Having a smelly dishwasher is not something you should not take lightly; it can be very unpleasant especially when it come to you having smelly kitchen or even smelly dishes!

To help you identify the cause of a smelly dishwasher from your case, we are going to touch on the most common factors leading to this problem. Remember it will be easy to control or to get rid of dishwasher smell when you know exactly causes the smell.

1)      Blocked sewer line

Blocked sewer is one of the most common smelly dishwasher cause. Sewer line is the place where the drains pass through to reach the sewer. You can imagine what can happen if this path is blocked. The water and other material contained in it like food scraps will be stuck and instead start piling up

A blocked sewer can be triggered by physical damage to the sewer line as well as large food particles that are not dissolved. Expect a foul smelly as soon as the blocked food particles begin to decompose. Sometimes, your sewer line can be partially blocked where some food particles are trapped but water can seep through.

2)      Poorly installed drain line

Smelly dishwasher can also be due to dishwasher installation defects. The commonly known defect is poor drain hose installation.

Sewer gases leaking back to dishwasher
Sewer gases leaking back to dishwasher

In many occasions, drains in our homes are installed with a piping elbow piece (drain trap) containing water. The function of this elbow piece is to provide barrier between the sewage gas and your home, it make sure that the sewer gas do not pass back to your house.

In some cases, you will find that the dishwasher is installed on the sewage side. In such cases, there will be no barrier between your dishwasher and the sewer gas and hence the gas may find its ways in your washing dish machine causing it to stink.

3)      Clogged dishwasher screen

Dishwasher screen is just a metallic or plastic screen that prevent your utensils from falling down into the drain. It can be clogged by food scraps or other debris, which if they decompose can cause some foul smelly odor.

The best solution therefore is to take off this screen and clean it. Alternatively, you can run the machine once without any dish to clean and clear the drain system.

4)      Smell due to mold and mildew

Mold and mildew can perfectly grow in your dishwasher if you don’t provide perfect maintenance to your machine. Factors like heat, dampness and food scraps can combine and enhance the growth of the so called mold and mildew. Their symptoms can be that strong odor emanating from your dishwasher.

5)      Hard water or smelly water?

According to Thepioneerwoman.com, “No joke! Hard water is a violent, dangerous thing and will destroy whatever’s in its path.” In our homes, we always use hard water more often than soft water. This can be very serious when we operate our dishwasher on a hard water. It is true that hard water dishwasher can hinder the usual operation of the machine causing some bad odor coming out of the dishwasher.

Sometimes when we received smelly water in our homes due to hitches on the piping system, this can as well lead to dishwasher odor.

Symptoms of smelly or hard water will be evident through spotted, cloudy dishes and malfunctioning of the dishwasher. Smelly dishes from dishwasher is also another symptom.

How to get rid or eliminate the odor

The best way to clean a dishwasher as well as what to use to clean your dishwasher matters a lot. During cleaning your dishwasher, there are wonderful dishwasher cleaning products you should use to clean out dishwasher. Examples are baking soda, lemon and vinegar. For sure these are the best deodorize dishwashers. Get more insights on how to keep your dishwasher clean and fresh.

a)      Remove rust, iron and mineral stains

Make sure that in a month, you give your dishwasher a proper hand wash. You can use a soft-bristle and good cleansers to get rid of rust, iron or mineral stains inside the walls of the dishwasher.

During this exercise, make sure you also do the same to the wire racks and silverware baskets. There are good dishwasher descaler products out there that can really help in getting rid of these stains and dirt.

b)      Run an empty cycle with a deodorizer

To eliminate effectively your dishwasher odor, you can run a normal washing cycle without dishes but with odor neutralizer.

Both vinegar and baking soda work pretty good. Fill a cup with either vinegar or baking soda and then place it the top rack of the machine. Run a normal cleaning cycle without any utensil. This will for sure leave your dishwasher smells very fresh. Lemon juice or citric acid dishwasher is another good product.

c)      Wipe or change the drain filter

With time, the food particles will accumulate on the filter and start to rot producing a very disgusting odor. You can then remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher to access the drain filter. Wipe the drain filter using a warm soapy water and a sponge. Doing this once a month is enough to make your dishwasher stop smelling. Lemon juice can also be another good deodorizer.

Alternatively, change the drain filter to control the odor if you have used it for so long.

d)      Remove labels on the utensils

When washing some utensil containing labels such as peanut butter, jelly, and pasta sauce jars in your dishwasher, it will be good to remove the labels first before you could start cleaning them. Such paper labels are gummy and can clog the drains at the bottom of the machine making food scraps also to be clogged leading to smelly dishwasher drain.

e)      Flush the drain lines

If at all you have a persistent odor after rinsing your plates or after cleaning the dishwasher with deodorizers then, the problems may be with the drain lines. Flushing the drain lines will be the best idea to get rid of the smelly clogs. This kind of maintenance is usually performed professional plumbers. This will perfectly clear the rotten egg smell in your washing dish machine.

f)       Clean the seal

A seal or a door gasket is a black rubber tubing that lines the opening of the dishwasher. It has a magnet that keeps it cling to the machine door frame. It prevent water from leaking out during cleaning cycles. During the cleaning, some food particles coming the dishes can get stuck inside the gasket. Therefore, it is always a good idea to scrub the seal to get rid of the fungus. Then wiping should be done regularly.

g)      Kill the molds

If the molds are the root of your machine’s smell, then put a cup of a bleach at the bottom of the machine and then try to clean dishwasher with bleach. This is always done to dishwashers that do not have stainless steel interior. Before you do this, make sure you go through your washing dish machine’s manual to make sure it is friendly to a bleach.

h)      Check the air gap

Having dishwasher air gap will depend on your location and building code. Air gap are fashioned to make sure that any overflow goes into your sink. It actually prevent waste from returning into your dishwasher causing fishy smell. In case you have air gap and it is malfunctioning then see you professional plumber for maintenance.

In summary, smelly dishwasher can be unpleasant. The best solution is to keep your dishwasher clean through proper cleaning methods. Remember stinky dishwasher can lead to some bacterial and fungal infections. So always keep your machine clean and dry after use!

  1. Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Sewage When it Runs: http://www.pitzersonehour.com/blog/article/why-does-my-dishwasher-smell-like-sewage-when-it-runs/
  2. Dishwasher Smells Bad? Here’s How to Fix It: http://www.wisebread.com/dishwasher-smells-bad-heres-how-to-fix-it
  3. Stinky Dishwasher: http://www.safebee.com/home/stinky-dishwasher
  4. How to Eliminate Odor in Your Dishwasher: http://www.sears.com/articles/appliances/dishwashers/how-to-eliminate-odor-in-your-dishwasher.html
  5. 8 WAYS TO REMOVE SMELLY DISHWASHER ODORS: http://www.kudzu.com/article/GA/Atlanta/8-Ways-to-remove-smelly-dishwasher-odors-id10001127

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