Reasons why my dishwasher smells and how to fix it


Once considered a luxury, a dishwasher is now standard in most homes. This appliance makes clean up in the kitchen so much easier. But every now and then, dishwashers get a rather unpleasant odour, and getting rid of that smell isn’t always as easy as it seems it should be.

If your dishwasher’s funky smell is causing embarrassment or even making you think twice about cleaning your dishes with an appliance that smells so bad, read on.

What causes a smelly dishwasher?

Dishwasher odours are generally caused by a build-up of trapped food or grease. They can clog the filters, spray arm, drain hose and other little areas around your dishwasher.

If they build up over time, these food particles begin to smell and let off fishy or funky odours, which can then transfer onto your dishes. Bacteria builds up and your dishwasher becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

Fortunately you can clean your stinky dishwasher with these tips:

1. Clean the spray arm

If the spray arm becomes clogged with food, the dishwasher’s ability to clean plates, cups, and silverware diminishes greatly. The dirt also leads to a smelly dishwasher.

What to do:

  • Remove the upper and lower spray arms.
  • Hold spray arms over the kitchen sink and remove food particles using dish cloth or swab.
  • Run water through the spray arm to make sure all the holes are clear.
  • Repeat until clean

2. Wipe down the inside

Over time, grime can accumulate on the interior walls of the appliance. A quick wipe down can do wonders for removing that dishwasher odour.

What to do:

  • Remove the upper and lower racks and run them under hot water in the kitchen sink.
  • Scrub the inside of the dishwasher with a rag or sponge dampened with hot water.
  • Wipe down the door as well, which can collect mold.

3. Remove odour with vinegar and baking soda

Vinegar is a potent odour-fighting agent, yet it’s completely natural and safe to use. Baking soda is also excellent for neutralizing smells without chemical cleaners. You can use both – but not at the same time to sterilize your dishwasher.

What to do:

  • Empty the appliance of all dishes.
  • Place one cup of white vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher.
  • Run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle available. The acids in the vinegar will break down deposits on the interior of the appliance and leave it smelling fresh.
  • Remove the bowl from the dishwasher once the cycle is complete.
  • Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the floor of the dishwasher.
  • Run a short cycle at the hottest temperature setting to ensure all the baking soda dissolves. This should leave your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean.

4. Check drain hose

If odours linger or return quickly after following these steps, something could be wrong with the drain hose, especially if you notice water at the bottom of the dishwasher after each cycle completes. A little check should fix the problem.

What to do:

  • Pull the dishwasher out to inspect the hose on the back.
  • Make sure the hose isn’t bent or restricted, which can limit the flow and lead to water in the dishwasher.

If none of these work, maybe your dishwasher is too far gone and it’s time for a new one. Shop for a new one from our wide range. Also read our blog on what to look for in a dishwasher.

You can also never go wrong with investing in an Easyfix Maintenance Plan. All repair costs for your dishwasher and other appliances or electronics can be covered from as little as R99 per month. You already have so much going on, why not have the peace of mind that accredited professionals will take care of things?