How to Banish Dishwasher Smells Naturally: Tips & Facts

Common Causes of Dishwasher Odor

When it comes to dealing with a smelly dishwasher, understanding the common causes of the odor is key. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Food Residues: Leftover food particles can accumulate in your dishwasher, leading to unpleasant odors.
  • Improper Cleaning: Neglecting to clean the dishwasher regularly allows mold and mildew to grow, causing foul smells.
  • Clogged Filter: A clogged filter hampers proper drainage and contributes to odor build-up.
  • Hard Water: Mineral deposits from hard water can create a musty smell in your dishwasher.
  • Standing Water: Water that pools at the bottom of the dishwasher provides a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.

To address dishwasher odor effectively, it’s crucial to tackle these underlying causes.

Best Ways to Clean a Dishwasher

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly is crucial for keeping it smelling fresh and working efficiently. Here are some practical steps to help you maintain a clean and odor-free dishwasher:

  • Remove and clean the filter: Regularly check the dishwasher filter for food particles and debris. Clean it under running water to prevent clogs.
  • Wipe down the interior: Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the dishwasher’s interior walls, door, and gasket.
  • Deep clean with vinegar: Place a cup of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack and run a hot wash cycle to eliminate odors and buildup.
  • Baking soda refresh: Sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short cycle to deodorize.
  • Check the spray arms: Ensure the spray arms are free of obstructions and can rotate properly for efficient cleaning.
  • Run an empty cycle: Occasionally run your dishwasher empty with a specialized cleaner to remove grease and limescale buildup.

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Regular maintenance and cleaning will not only keep your dishwasher smelling fresh but also prolong its lifespan, saving you money on repairs in the long run.

Natural Remedies for Eliminating Dishwasher Smell

Unpleasant odors in your dishwasher can be a nuisance, but you don’t have to rely on harsh chemicals to banish them. Here are some natural remedies to help freshen up your dishwasher:

  • White Vinegar: Place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack. Run a hot water cycle to deodorize and sanitize your dishwasher.
  • Baking Soda: Sprinkle baking soda along the bottom of your dishwasher and run a short, hot water cycle to neutralize odors.
  • Lemon: Cut a lemon in half and place it cut-side down on the top rack of your dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle to leave your dishwasher smelling citrusy fresh.
  • Essential Oils: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (such as lemon, lavender, or tea tree oil) to a dishwasher-safe container on the top rack. Run a short hot water cycle for a fragrant boost.

By incorporating these natural remedies into your dishwasher maintenance routine, you can enjoy a fresh-smelling appliance without the need for harsh chemicals.

Tips for Preventing Future Odors

  • Use Powdered Dishwasher Detergent: Switch to powdered detergent instead of liquid to help reduce buildup and odors in your dishwasher.
  • Scrape Off Food Debris: Before loading dishes, make sure to scrape off excess food debris to prevent it from accumulating in your dishwasher.
  • Rinse Aid Usage: Incorporate rinse aid in your dishwasher routine to help prevent spots, film, and odors from developing on your dishes.
  • Run Monthly Cleaning Cycles: Regularly run cleaning cycles with no dishes inside using a dishwasher cleaner or a vinegar solution to keep your dishwasher fresh.
  • Check Filters and Spray Arms: Periodically inspect and clean the filters and spray arms of your dishwasher to ensure proper water flow and prevent odors.
  • Empty the Drain Trap: Don’t forget to empty the drain trap located at the bottom of your dishwasher to prevent clogs and odors from forming.
  • Leave the Door Ajar: After completing a wash cycle, leave the dishwasher door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape and prevent musty odors.

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Fact Data
Total US households with dishwashers 80%
Average lifespan of a dishwasher 9-11 years
Gallons of water saved per load compared to handwashing 5 gallons
Estimated annual water savings with an Energy Star dishwasher 3,870 gallons


You now have a range of options to combat dishwasher odors naturally, from white vinegar to lemons and essential oils. Remember to follow preventative measures like using powdered detergent and cleaning filters regularly. By implementing these tips, you can ensure your dishwasher stays fresh and odor-free. Don’t forget to enjoy the benefits of owning a dishwasher, such as saving water and time compared to handwashing. Keep these insights in mind to maintain a pleasant kitchen environment and make the most of your appliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some natural remedies recommended to keep a dishwasher smelling fresh?

A: White vinegar, baking soda, lemons, and essential oils are effective natural remedies for preventing odors in your dishwasher.

Q: Besides natural remedies, what additional tips can help prevent odors in a dishwasher?

A: Other tips include using powdered dishwasher detergent, scraping off food debris prior to loading, using rinse aid, running monthly cleaning cycles, checking and cleaning filters and spray arms, emptying the drain trap, and leaving the door ajar.

Q: What are some interesting facts mentioned in the article about dishwashers?

A: The article features facts such as the high percentage of US households with dishwashers, the average lifespan of a dishwasher, water saved per load compared to handwashing, and estimated annual water savings with an Energy Star dishwasher.

Charlie Thomson is Appliance Mastery's expert on laundry appliances. With a degree in mechanical engineering and over 8 years of experience in the appliance repair industry, Charlie is a go-to resource for homeowners who want to tackle common issues with their washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

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