Say Goodbye to Stinky Dishwashers: Common Causes and Easy Solutions

Dishwashers are a fantastic invention that saves us time and energy by cleaning our dirty dishes for us. But when they start to emit foul smells, they can quickly become a source of frustration and embarrassment. If your dishwasher has started to smell, don’t worry – you’re not alone! In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common causes of dishwasher smells and show you how to eliminate them.

Common Causes of Dishwasher Smells

Food Scraps

The most common cause of dishwasher smells is food scraps and residue that have been left on dishes and inside the dishwasher itself. These scraps and residue can attract mold and bacteria, which can cause unpleasant smells.

If left unattended, these scraps and residue can fester and lead to more significant issues and the smell can become more persistent, making it even harder to get rid of. It is important to keep your dishwasher and dishes clean to prevent these smells from forming in the first place.

Detergent Buildup

Detergent accumulation in the dispenser, hoses and other parts of the dishwasher can be a common cause of odors.

Overuse or incompatible detergent can lead to mold and bacteria growth, resulting in unpleasant smells.

Keep the dishwasher parts clean and use recommended detergent for best results.

Hard Water

Hard water can lead to dishwasher smells due to mineral buildup on dishes and in the machine. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium in hard water can attract mold and bacteria which generate bad smells.

It’s essential to descale your dishwasher regularly to avoid this problem and keep it running efficiently.

Clogged Drain

A clogged dishwasher drain can result in bad smells. Debris such as food scraps, grease, and other particles can accumulate in the drain, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, leading to unpleasant smells.

Make sure to check and clean the dishwasher’s drain regularly to prevent this issue.

How to Eliminate Dishwasher Bad Smell

Clean the dishwasher

The first step in eliminating dishwasher smells is to give the dishwasher a thorough cleaning.

Start by removing any food scraps and residue from the dishwasher and the dishes. Then, clean the dishwasher’s interior, including the dispenser, hoses, and other parts, with a solution of white vinegar and water.

Run a cleaning cycle

Once the dishwasher has been cleaned, run a cleaning cycle to help eliminate any remaining smells.

You can use a dishwasher cleaner, such as Affresh, or simply add a cup of white vinegar to the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser and run a normal cycle.

Use the right detergent

To prevent detergent buildup, make sure you’re using the right detergent for your dishwasher.

Avoid using too much detergent, as this can lead to excess suds, which can trap food scraps and debris and create smells.

Descale your dishwasher

If your dishwasher smells due to hard water buildup, you’ll need to descale it.

To do this, add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser and run a normal cycle. Then, add a cup of lemon juice and run another normal cycle. This will help to break down and remove any mineral buildup in the dishwasher.

Check the drain

Lastly, make sure to check the dishwasher’s drain for clogs. If you notice any clogs, remove them and clean the drain thoroughly.


Dishwasher smells can be a nuisance, but they don’t have to be permanent. By understanding the common causes of dishwasher smells and taking the steps to eliminate them, you can enjoy a fresh-smelling dishwasher once again.

Remember to keep up with regular maintenance and cleaning to prevent odors from returning. With these tips and tricks, you can say goodbye to stinky dishwashers for good!