Your Guide to a Fresh, Fragrant Dishwasher

By Martin B November 7, 2023

Ah, the dishwasher, that trusty kitchen companion that whisks away our dirty dishes and leaves us with more free time. But what happens when your once-beloved appliance starts emitting odors that could rival a skunk’s stench? A smelly dishwasher can definitely put a damper on your kitchen’s good vibes, but fear not, because we’ve got the scoop on how to vanquish those funky smells and bring back the fresh, clean scent of culinary happiness.

The Smelly Culprits

First, let’s uncover the mystery of why your dishwasher might be moonlighting as an olfactory offender:

  1. Pesky Food Remnants: Picture this – tiny food bits and debris staging a not-so-cozy sit-in within your dishwasher’s nooks and crannies, filter, and spray arms.
  2. Standstill Water: Sometimes, leftover water hanging around post-cycle turns into a bacteria and mold breeding ground, leading to aromas that can curdle your enthusiasm for clean dishes.
  3. Grease and Detergent Drama: Over time, a buildup of grease and detergent in various dishwasher parts can turn your kitchen haven into an odor battleground.
  4. Hard Water Havoc: In regions with hard water, mineral deposits can accumulate and unleash a musty smell while diminishing your dishwasher’s cleaning efficiency.

Now that we’ve cracked the case, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and freshen things up.

Olena Ivanova / Shutterstock

A Breath of Fresh Air: Your Dishwasher De-Stinkify Guide

But, before we embark on this aromatic adventure, please ensure your dishwasher is empty and its power is safely disconnected.

1. Say Farewell to Dish Racks and Utensil Holders:

Begin your odor-eradication mission by evicting the dish racks and utensil holder from the dishwasher. This opens up the playing field for your cleaning prowess.

2. Filter Fun Time:

The filter is the food flotsam’s favorite hangout. Give it a thorough rinse under hot, running water. A soft brush or a toothbrush can be your trusty sidekicks in dislodging any stubborn debris.

3. Spruce Up Those Spray Arms:

Inspect the spray arms for potential clogs – these culprits can hinder your dishwasher’s performance. If you spot a clog, carefully remove it with a toothpick or a slender wire. Once the arms are free and clear, set them back in their rightful place.

4. Show Some Love to the Interior:

Grab a damp cloth or a sponge and give the dishwasher’s interior a good wipe-down. Don’t forget the door gasket, walls, and the bottom. Sneaky grime can hide in corners and crevices, so be vigilant.

5. Drain the Drama:

Dishwasher drains can sometimes play host to food debris blockades. Remove any visible clogs and send a mixture of baking soda and vinegar (about a cup each) down the drain. Let it sit and work its magic for 15-20 minutes, then give it a hot water flush.

6. Seal the Dishwasher Seal:

The rubber seal around the dishwasher door can harbor mold and mildew. Keep it fresh and mildew-free by wiping it down with a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar.

7. Enlist the Cleaning Cycle:

To give your dishwasher a real spa day, consider using a commercial dishwasher cleaner or a DIY solution. Fill a cup with white vinegar or a specialized cleaner, place it on the top rack, and then let the hot water cycle work its magic. This will help dissolve grease and mineral buildup.

8. Hard Water Woes? No Problem:

If you’re dealing with hard water deposits, a mixture of equal parts water and citric acid or a commercial lime scale remover can do the trick. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

9. Make Maintenance a Habit:

Prevention is the best policy when it comes to maintaining a fresh-smelling dishwasher. Rinse your dishes before loading them, scrape off excess food, and run your dishwasher regularly to keep stagnant water at bay.

10. Keep It Dry and Happy:

After each cycle, be sure to leave the dishwasher door slightly ajar. This allows the air to circulate and prevents moisture buildup, keeping your dishwasher smelling as fresh as a daisy.

Oxanaso / Shutterstock

By following these steps, you can kick those pesky dishwasher odors to the curb and enjoy a kitchen that’s as aromatic as a freshly baked pie. With a little tender loving care and some regular maintenance, your dishwasher will continue to be your trusty kitchen sidekick, leaving you with more time to enjoy your squeaky-clean dishes and a kitchen that smells as sweet as a spring breeze. Say goodbye to the stink and hello to a happier, odor-free kitchen!