Smelly Dishwasher – What You Can Do

Nothing worse than having a Smelly Dishwasher that smells rotten, like fish, or just plain wrong. The dishwasher is the last place you want odors to exist. You expect something that cleans never to get smelly.

smelly dishwasher

We have gathered some tips to help you with your odor problems with your dishwasher.

First Thing First

The first thing you need to do is clean out the drain filter. The drain filter is usually the main culprit for the odors that may occur. Bacteria love to live there since it’s wet and get food particles stuck to it.

Bacteria that develop cause the smell to occur. The drain filter is the perfect place for mold and mildew to grow too.

To get to the filter, you must remove the bottom rack and twist it on out. Every filter is different, but I like to take a paper towel to it to scoop out the gunk. After that its best to run it under some hot water. If it’s bad, let it sit in some hot water with some dish soap like dawn. 

clean dishwasher filter

Clean The Gasket

Every dishwasher has a rubber seal/gasket around the door. This is a common problem with machines that use gaskets. For example, front-loading washers have the issue where the gasket can hold water and cause mold, mildew, or even bacteria to grow and cause it to smell.

The same problem can occur on a dishwasher.

Take some multipurpose cleaner and a cloth to the gasket. Make sure you get into the gasket to get any foodstuff that may have gotten stuck. 

Scrub It Down

I like to take some Simple Green and scrub the inside of the washer the best I can. Simple Green works well and is biodegradable.

It works best to use a scrubbing pad.

Make sure you go back through with some water and a rag to wipe the residue of the Simple Green out.

Wash The Racks

You got to make sure you wash the racks in your smelly dishwasher. Leave no stone unturned.

Just place the racks in the sink and let them sit in some hot water for a bit. Take a Scrubbing Pad with some dish detergent and clean the whole rack. 

Skip The Crap

Let’s be honest. Dishwasher cleaners exist. Why not use them?

They work very well and are simple to use. It’s best to use them once a month or every other month depending on the stink of your washer.

Home Remedies

If some home remedies are what you’re looking for, then we can call old friend vinegar in.

Vinegar doesn’t smell the best if you ask me, but boy does it remove smells from the dishwasher.

You can scrub the inside with some Vinegar (white distilled) to kill any bacteria or mold that may have grown. That’s why vinegar works so well; it’s a natural solution to kill germs.

You can also leave a cup of vinegar in the dishwasher overnight to allow it to fill the washer up and kill the bad smells. Don’t need to turn the dishwasher on, leave the cup in the washer with the door closed.

To get the full effect. The next morning turn the washer on so that the vinegar gets shot around. This will be super effective.

Baking Soda

You can also use baking soda to fight the odors. It’s also a natural solution. Just watch out and don’t use too much. You need more water than baking soda, or you’ll end up with a gooey mess.

Mixing both baking soda with vinegar will create a reaction that bubbles up. This bubbling can be effective at cleaning too. You have to experiment on this one to see if it works for you.

dishwasher racks

Still, Stinks!

If it still smells terrible at your dishwasher, then it might be something around the dishwasher or the backports.

You’ll need to check behind the dishwasher. You could have a leaking hose or even something dead or stuck behind the dishwasher. I also have seen some dead mice and roaches before. You never know.

A lot of dishwashers are near the sink and will have a drain that goes to the sink drain too. You can remove that hose to check to make sure nothing is clogged, causing it to smell from the sink. Don’t do this if you don’t feel comfortable or never tried something like this before.

Make sure the drain hose is nice and tight. Sometimes the sink will back up to the drain of the dishwasher hose, which is fine, but if the hose is loose, then it could be dumping nasty smelly water into your floor. To keep this from happening, just put a bend on the hose, kind of a “u-shape” or a Loop so that it can’t make it to the output of the hose. Don’t put a kink in the hose; this will be bad.

While the dishwasher is out, its best to clean the floor that’s under it, dust and other germs can lay under the place that is hard to get. So while you got it out of the way, get some kitchen cleaners and clean the floors and the sides of the countertops.

Make sure too that you don’t have any exposed wire behind the washer. Bad connections can lead to burning smells and a fire hazard if you’re worried its best to get an electrician evolved.

Also, make sure to have an air gap or even check it. 


The main problem is that food gets stuck and will stink. Before loading the dishwasher, makes sure you thoroughly clean the plates and cups before placing them in.