How To Clean A Smelly Dishwasher

Few things are more frustrating than pulling open your dishwasher only to find the remnants of last night's meal on your plates and cutlery. Or, opening your dishwasher to a puff of smelly air instead of just clean steam.


Fortunately, your smelly dishwasher doesn’t necessarily have to lead to an expensive service fee. Follow our simple steps below and you're dishwasher will be back to its old self in no time.



1. Scrape off excess food.

Although you don’t need to rinse your dishes before each cycle, you should remove any large piece of food that could get stuck and start to rot in your machine.1


2. Rinse and/or replace the filter.

Some dishwashers have a filter located at the bottom of the machine, which helps to stop food from clogging up the drain or ending up on your clean dishes. Check your dishwasher manual for information on how often you should clean or replace your dishwasher filter.


3. Clean the nooks and crannies.

Food debris can become trapped in the tiny crevices of your machine, so check areas like the rubber seal around your dishwasher door and inside the spray arms for crumbs and debris. Hot tip: try using a toothpick or a bamboo skewer to remove food particles from hard-to-reach areas. 


4. Use a dishwasher cleaner.

Remember to clean your dishwasher once a month using Finish® Dishwasher Cleaner or more regularly, using our In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner, to make sure minerals and particles don't have a chance to build up.


If you've done all these steps, consider repeating them just to be sure. Then, if your dishwasher still smells, seek professional advice.


How to clean a moldy dishwasher

In your fight to eliminate dishwasher odor, you might not have realized that it could actually be mold causing the problem. It’s a common misconception that dishwashers are self-cleaning with every cycle. In fact, certain types of mildew, fungi and bacteria consider your dishwasher the perfect breeding ground thanks to its hot temperatures and moisture.


Take these steps to clean mold out of your dishwasher.


1. Use baking soda and vinegar.

When added together, these ingredients create a foamy paste that is both safe for the inside of your machine, and the perfect solution for killing off mold. Mix a small amount of baking soda in a cup of vinegar until the mixture becomes foamy, and then use a dishwasher brush (or toothbrush for smaller areas) to effectively scrub the interior.


2. Spray with vinegar.

Next, put vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the inside of your dishwasher, or alternatively, place a full cup of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.


3. Run a regular cycle.

Once the cycle is done, leave your dishwasher open to dry as thoroughly as possible.



Once you have successfully removed the mold from your dishwasher, it’s up to you to ensure it doesn’t grow back. Monthly cleaning using Finish® Dishwasher Cleaner is advised, as well as cleaning the interior and all parts separately using dish soap or detergent as needed.2




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