July 3


How to Clean a Stinky Dishwasher: A Comprehensive Guide

July 3, 2023

Maintaining the hygiene and efficiency of your kitchen appliance requires understanding how to clean a stinky dishwasher. Over time, food particles, grease, and soap scum can build up in your dishwasher leading to unpleasant odors. However, with proper care and maintenance techniques, you can easily get rid of these smells.

In this guide on how to clean a stinky dishwasher, we’ll delve into several effective methods such as clearing debris from your machine using microfiber cloths and deep cleaning with distilled white vinegar during the wash cycle. We will also explore the use of essential oils for added freshness.

We won’t stop there though; regular filter maintenance is key in preventing bad odors – we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on doing it right. Additionally, understanding areas prone to food residue accumulation helps target cleaning efforts more effectively.

Lastly but importantly, tips on balanced loading of dishwashers coupled with selecting specific cleaners will be discussed alongside emphasizing complete air drying post-cleanse for odor prevention due to frequent usage.

Table of Contents:

Clearing Debris from Your Dishwasher

A smelly dishwasher? Time to clean up the mess. Start by removing all the dishes and utensils. No room for debris in there.

Removing Dishes and Utensils Before Cleaning

Empty your dishwasher completely. Say goodbye to plates, cutlery, and glasses. Now you can see all the hidden gunk.

Using a Microfiber Cloth to Wipe Down Surfaces

Grab a damp microfiber cloth and get to work. It’s like a superhero for cleaning – no scratches, just sparkling surfaces. Wipe down the sides and clear out any debris on the floor. If you need extra power, remove the bottom rack.

Got stubborn stains? Don’t give up. With some elbow grease and patience, you’ll conquer the dirt.

Cleaning your dishwasher regularly not only eliminates odors but also keeps it running smoothly. It’s a must-do for busy families who want a hassle-free home.

Utilizing Vinegar for Deep Cleaning

A clean dishwasher is a happy dishwasher, and nothing does the job quite like distilled white vinegar. This kitchen staple is not only affordable but also highly effective in breaking down grease, grime, and hard water stains that can lead to unpleasant odors.

Filling up Glass Container with Distilled White Vinegar

To start this process, first ensure your dishwasher is empty of any dishes or utensils. Then fill a glass cup or bowl with about two cups of distilled white vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar will work wonders on those tough spots inside your machine.

Running Hot Water Cycle in Dishwasher

Position a vessel containing vinegar on the top shelf of your dishwasher. Run a single cycle at the hottest setting possible – usually referred to as ‘Sanitize’ or ‘High Temp Wash’. You don’t need detergent for this step; let’s allow our trusty friend vinegar do all the heavy lifting.

The hot water combined with vinegar will penetrate every nook and cranny within your appliance ensuring it’s squeaky clean from inside out. Once you’ve completed running this cycle, leave its door open for about an hour afterward to air dry completely. According to the American Cleaning Institute, airing out helps evaporate any residual moisture which could otherwise contribute towards mold growth leading to further bad smells.

This method has been proven effective time and again by numerous homeowners who swear by Good Housekeeping’s guide to maintaining their dishwashers using natural ingredients readily available at home. Remember, consistency is key here – make sure to repeat these steps once a month to keep odor at bay and maintain the overall hygiene and efficiency of your device.

Key Takeaway: 


To clean a stinky dishwasher, fill a glass container with distilled white vinegar and place it on the top rack. Run a hot water cycle without detergent, then leave the door open to air dry. Repeat this process monthly to maintain cleanliness and prevent odors.

Adding Essential Oils to the Mix

If you’ve ever tried utilizing vinegar for cleaning, then you are aware of its potency and effectiveness as a natural cleaner. Truth be told, the scent of vinegar can be rather overpowering. Enter essential oils. Essential oils can not only give your dish-washing a great scent, but also have anti-bacterial qualities that take the cleaning to another level.

Choosing the Perfect Essential Oils for Extra Freshness

When it comes to essential oils, there are plenty of options to make your dishwasher smell divine. Lavender oil is perfect if you want a calming aroma to fill your kitchen. If you prefer something more refreshing, go for citrus-based oils like orange or lemon. They not only smell great but also pack a punch against those pesky microbes.

Incorporating Essential Oils into Your Deep-Cleaning Routine

Adding these magical oils to your deep clean is a breeze. Just drop 10-15 drops of your chosen oil into the vinegar-filled cup, pop it on the top rack, and let the hot water cycle work its magic. Not only will it mask any lingering vinegar smell, but it’ll also leave your dishes with a delightful fragrance. Suddenly, doing the dishes doesn’t seem so bad.

The combination of vinegar and aromatic essential oils creates a non-toxic cleaning solution that tackles grime without leaving behind any nasty chemicals. It’s perfect for families who value cleanliness and health safety at home.

But wait, there’s more. These plant-derived extracts aren’t just about the smell. They also have powerful antimicrobial properties that keep harmful bacteria at bay, ensuring a healthier kitchen environment overall. For an extra layer of protection, consider adding a few drops of essential oil to your cleaning routine.

Key Takeaway: 


Adding essential oils to vinegar when cleaning a stinky dishwasher not only masks the vinegar smell but also adds a delightful fragrance and extra freshness. Different essential oils like lavender or citrus-based ones can be used, providing calming or refreshing aromas while also having antibacterial properties for a healthier kitchen environment.

Paying Attention to Filters

Your dishwasher’s filter is like a superhero cape for fighting off unpleasant odors. But if you neglect it, it can turn into a stinky breeding ground for mold and mildew. Gross.

Importance of Regular Filter Maintenance

Keeping your dishwasher’s filter clean is crucial for its superpowers to work properly. A clean filter lets water flow freely, making your appliance more efficient and less smelly. No more stink bombs.

Steps to Clean Filters Effectively

  1. Remove the Filter: Give that filter a twist or pull to free it from the bottom of your dishwasher.
  2. Rinse with Warm Water: Blast away the big debris with a stream of warm water.
  3. Clean with Soap: Scrub away the stubborn grime using an old toothbrush and some dish soap or baking soda paste. It’s like a spa treatment for your filter.
  4. Rinse Again & Dry: Rinse the filter thoroughly and let it air dry completely before putting it back. No moisture means no bacteria or fungi party.

If you spot any damage during this process, don’t be a hero. Replace the filter ASAP. Damaged filters can’t do their job properly, leading to poor cleaning results and wasted energy. You can find replacements easily online or at your local home improvement store. Don’t let your dishwasher go filter-less.

Ensuring Thorough Cleaning of Other Parts

When it comes to keeping your dishwasher smelling fresh, cleaning the main compartment is just the beginning. Don’t forget about those sneaky areas that can hide food residue and cause stinky odors over time.

Identifying Areas Prone to Food Residue Buildup

The spray arm, drain hose, and garbage disposal area are notorious for collecting scraps. These neglected spots can really stink up your dishwasher if not properly maintained. For example, the drain hose can get clogged with food particles and grease, making it a breeding ground for funky smells.

Tips for Cleaning Those Funky Parts

  • Spray Arm: Take it out (if possible) and give it a nice soak in warm soapy water for 15 minutes. Rinse it off thoroughly under running water.
  • Drain Hose: Carefully detach it (you might need some tools) and blast it with a high-pressure garden hose or something similar to get rid of any gunk.
  • Garbage Disposal Area: If your dishwasher has a built-in garbage disposal, don’t forget to clean it regularly. Run hot water through it while using the grinding function every few weeks at least.

By taking care of these parts, you’ll not only banish bad smells but also ensure that your dishwasher performs at its best. Each component plays a vital role in keeping your machine running smoothly, so show them some love.

And remember, regular maintenance is key to the longevity and efficiency of all household appliances, including dishwashers. So don’t neglect them when planning your cleaning schedule.

Avoid Overloading And Use Specific Cleaners

Don’t cram your dishwasher like a game of dishwasher Tetris. Give those dishes some breathing room, so they can get clean and not stink up the joint.

Understanding the Importance of Balanced Loading in Dishwashers

Let each dish have its moment in the hot water and soap spotlight. No dish should feel left out or dirty. It’s all about equality in the dishwasher world.

Selecting The Right Cleaners To Maintain Hygiene And Efficiency

Don’t just use any old cleaner. Get one specifically made for dishwashers. It’s like giving your dishwasher a spa treatment. Ah, the luxury.

Please note: if you’re planning on using vinegar as part of your deep-cleaning routine (as mentioned earlier), don’t mix it with chlorine-based detergents. We don’t want any toxic fumes ruining your cleaning party.

Keeping your dishwasher in top shape doesn’t have to be a hassle; use the tips from Magnolia Cleaning Service and make sure your kitchen is always sparkling clean. Follow these tips from Magnolia Cleaning Service and keep your kitchen smelling fresh. Cleanliness is next to dishwasherliness.

Why Proper Drying is Dish-tastic.

Want a kitchen that smells as fresh as a daisy? Let your dishwasher air dry overnight after each cleaning sesh. It’s the secret to banishing those mystery odors.

The Power of Air Drying

Air drying does double duty: it stops bacteria and mold from setting up camp in leftover moisture, and it lets those vinegar and essential oil scents escape instead of getting trapped inside.

Don’t Let Odors Crash the Party

Using your dishwasher a lot? No worries. Just make sure you’re giving it some TLC. Clean the spray arm and drain hose regularly to keep food residue at bay. And remember, don’t overload. Inadequate cleaning leads to stinky smells.

In a nutshell,

a well-maintained dishwasher that dries properly will smell amazing and work like a charm. So keep it clean, avoid overloading, and let it dry…and say goodbye to stinky dishwashing.

FAQs in Relation to How to Clean a Stinky Dishwasher

How do I get the horrible smell out of my dishwasher?

To eliminate those funky odors from your dishwasher, make sure to clear out any debris regularly, give it a deep clean with vinegar, add a few drops of essential oils, and always let it dry properly after each use. Learn more here.

How do I deodorize my dishwasher without vinegar?

If you’re not a fan of the vinegar smell, fear not. You can deodorize your dishwasher using baking soda or try out some of those fancy dishwasher cleaners specifically made for banishing odors. And don’t forget, regular maintenance and loading your dishes properly can also help prevent those stinky smells. Find detailed steps here.

How do I clean my dishwasher with vinegar and baking soda?

For a sparkling clean dishwasher, start by adding some distilled white vinegar into a container placed in an empty washer, run a hot water cycle, and then sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom before running another cycle. Voila. Check out the step-by-step guide here.


In conclusion, this guide has provided valuable tips on how to clean a stinky dishwasher. By clearing debris, using vinegar for deep cleaning, adding essential oils for freshness, paying attention to filters and other parts, avoiding overloading, using specific cleaners, and ensuring proper drying, you can eliminate odors and maintain your dishwasher’s hygiene and efficiency.

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