5 Ways To Effectively Remove Dishwasher Smells

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If your dishwasher has a smell, this guide will tell you how to get rid of it. Thankfully, most dishwasher smells can be removed easily. But, in some cases, it may require giving your appliance a deep clean.

In this guide, we will give you five ways to effectively remove dishwasher smells and step-by-step instructions for each. We’ll begin by describing the fastest way to do it and then give you four other options, ending with the longest but most thorough method.

1. The fast way

If you have a bad smell coming from your dishwasher, it’s most likely caused by mold and bacteria that have built up in the appliance. Since most mold and bacteria can be removed with hot soapy water, the quickest way to get rid of the smell is to put your dishwasher on a cleaning cycle without any dishes in it.

Here’s what to do:

  • Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
  • Fill the detergent drawer with your usual dishwasher detergent or powder.
  • Pour a couple of tablespoons of extra detergent or powder into the bottom of your dishwasher.
  • Place the dishwasher on a cleaning cycle. If you don’t have a cleaning cycle option, place your dishwasher on a heavy-duty wash at the hottest setting possible.
  • Press start and let it run through the cycle.
  • Once the cycle ends, check if the smell has gone. If not, you will need to try one of the other ways listed in this guide.

2. The natural way

If you’d like to use a more environmentally-friendly cleaning method to get rid of your dishwasher smell, this white vinegar-based cleaning method might be the answer. Instead of commercial cleaning chemicals, this method uses white vinegar and baking soda to remove mold and bacteria.

Here’s what to do:

  • Make sure your dishwasher is empty.
  • Fill a dishwasher-safe container with 1 cup of white vinegar.
  • Place the container at the bottom of your dishwasher.
  • Set the dishwasher to a cleaning cycle or, if you don’t have a cleaning cycle, place it on a heavy-duty wash cycle with the hottest water setting possible.
  • Press start and wait for the cycle to end.
  • Once the cycle ends, give the door gasket/seal a clean with a cleaning spray and damp cloth.
  • Check if the smell has gone. If not, you will need to try one of the other ways listed in this guide.

3. The citrus way

Another natural cleaning method to remove smells from your dishwasher is to use lemon juice. Lemon juice is acidic and will break down any mold and bacteria which in turn will remove any bad smells from your dishwasher.

Here’s what to do:

  • Make sure your dishwasher is empty.
  • Fill a dishwasher-safe container with 1 cup of lemon juice.
  • Place the container on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  • Set the dishwasher to a cleaning cycle or, if you don’t have a cleaning cycle, place it on a heavy-duty wash cycle with the hottest water setting possible.
  • Press start and wait for the cycle to end.
  • Once the cycle ends, give the door gasket/seal a clean with a cleaning spray and a damp cloth.
  • Check if the smell has gone. If not, you will need to try one of the other ways listed in this guide.

4. The bleach way

If you have a particularly bad smell coming from your dishwasher, there is most likely a lot of mold and bacteria in your dishwasher. One of the strongest commercially available cleaning chemicals is bleach. Using bleach will ensure that all bacteria and mold are killed and removed from your dishwasher. However, bleach shouldn’t be used in a stainless-steel dishwasher–even if it only contains a few stainless steel parts–as it can damage it.

Here’s how to use bleach to remove smells from your dishwasher:

  • Make sure the dishwasher is empty.
  • Pour 1 cup of bleach into a dishwasher-safe container.
  • Place the container on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  • Set the dishwasher to a heavy-duty wash cycle with the hottest water setting possible.
  • Press start and wait for the cycle to progress to the drying stage. When it starts the drying part of the cycle, turn the dishwasher off.
  • Open the door and let it dry out.
  • While the dishwasher is drying, give the door gasket/seal a clean with a cleaning spray and a damp cloth.
  • Check if the smell has gone. If not, you will need to give your dishwasher a deep clean. 

5. The deep clean way

If your dishwasher is smelling extremely bad, we recommend giving it a deep clean. This involves removing all the parts from your dishwasher and giving them a good clean by hand. You will then run it through a wash cycle, followed by a cleaning of the door gasket and outside of the appliance. 

Here’s what to do:

Clean the spray arms.

Your dishwasher has one or more spray arms in it that distribute water around the appliance during a wash cycle. The spray arms can be removed and then washed by hand with hot soapy water. When washing the spray arms, make sure you thoroughly rinse them out to get rid of any loose debris and grime.

Clean the dishwasher filter.

Once the spray arms are clean, the next step is to remove the filter from the bottom of your dishwasher. This can be done by removing the bottom rack and then unscrewing both parts of the filter. Once removed, give the filter a thorough clean in a sink full of hot soapy water.

Put your dishwasher on a cycle.

Once the spray arms and filter are nice and clean, you can place them back in your dishwasher. You can then fill up the detergent drawer with a commercial or natural dish powder (see recipes above to make natural powders) and place a few tablespoons on the bottom of the dishwasher. Once the detergent has been added, turn your dishwasher on a cleaning cycle or, if you don’t have that option, put your dishwasher on a heavy-duty cycle and the water setting up high, and then press start.

Clean the door gasket.

After the wash cycle ends, open the dishwasher door and give the door gasket/seal a good clean with a cleaning spray and a damp cloth. If you have a small brush, you can use that to get into the hard-to-reach spaces of the gasket.

Clean the exterior of the dishwasher.

Once the door gasket is clean, give the exterior of the dishwasher a clean using your cleaning spray and a new damp cloth. Your dishwasher should now be nice and clean!

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