Skip to Main Content
Stay Up to Date

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Terrible?

When you open your dishwasher, you likely aren't expecting to smell mildew, mold, or rancid food odors. However, the conditions in and around the sealing of your dishwasher are ideal for bacteria and fungi growth, which can lead to some pungent odors. The odor coming from your dishwasher is a great way to determine what's causing the horrible smells lingering in your appliance. If the odor is rancid, the source is likely food trapped in a drain filter or caught in the sprayer. If you search your dishwasher for food and find nothing, the source is likely caused by mold growth. A clogged drain could be responsible for your dishwasher odors. When a drain is clogged, the clog can settle in the back of your drain, causing hard-to-miss sewage odors. If you can't find a clog, standing water, or spoiled food in your dishwasher, the smell could be coming from an issue further down your drain line. A plumber would need to investigate your system and clean your drains if needed.

What Causes Dishwasher Odor?

When it comes to preventing dishwasher odors, you have to start by knowing what causes your appliance to become smelly. Most dishwasher odors are caused by food particles, dirt, and grime caused by heavy usage. The filter and walls of your dishwasher can quickly become caked with grime and food particles causing clogs and drainage issues. Standing water is a common cause of horrible dishwasher odors. When you have water left behind after your dishwasher has drained, the smell is caused by food breaking down and mold growth because the water is warm and ripe for bacteria growth.

4 Tips for Keeping Your Dishwasher Clean

Before you call in a plumbing professional, you should make sure the problem isn't something simple – like your dishwasher is just dirty. The first way to ensure your dishwasher doesn't have lingering odors is to ensure that it's clean. A clean dishwasher means cleaner dishes, but it also means that you won't be left wondering where that smell is coming from in your kitchen.

Here are four tips for keeping your dishwasher clean and ready to wash your dishes:

Check Your Seals: A dishwasher is prone to grime and gross smells because it's warm and dark, providing the perfect environment for gross things to thrive. The seal around your dishwasher should be wiped down with a cloth every week to avoid grimy buildup.

Check Your Dishwasher Trap: Your dishwasher's lower sprayer has a trap beneath it for catching bits of debris that aren't pushed into your drain. You should empty your trap and rinse it well. If you're reading this and admitting you've never once touched your dishwasher's trap, then be sure to make a note that this is an important step toward keeping your dishwasher clean and smell free. If you leave it unattended, you could end up with some foul growths from mold, rancid food, or grimy buildup.

Clean It Every Month: Once per month, you should run an empty cycle and add a cleaning agent to your dishwasher to give it a bath. You can use a store-bought cleaning detergent created for dishwashers or choose the DIY route. Vinegar has been used for centuries as an all-natural cleaning agent. You can add a cup of white vinegar to your dishwasher at the beginning of the cycle and run the dishwasher as usual.

Check How You're Loading Your Dishwasher: If you are being plagued by smelly dishwasher clogs or the grimy remnants of soap and food residue, the best thing you can do is change how you're using your dishwasher. If you are mindful of what you're putting in your dishwasher, you can avoid many problems that can lead to dishwasher odors. You should also avoid placing certain utensils and cookware in the dishwasher.

Refrain from putting the following items in your dishwasher:

  • Cast Iron Cookware
  • Wooden Utensils
  • Fine China
  • Copper Cookware

These items can slowly break down over time from regular dishwashing, leaving deposits in your dishwasher filter. If you're still having issues with your dishwasher smelling less than fresh after you've cleaned it and checked it for residue and rancid food, it may be time to call in a plumbing professional to check your sewer line for clogs or other plumbing issues. The plumbing experts at Wallner Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning are highly trained and experienced professionals. Our team knows how to solve your plumbing and sewer issues quickly and effectively. Contact us today at (530) 223-5622 for more information or to schedule an appointment.