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What Causes The Bad Smell In My Dishwasher?


Your kitchen is that place of your apartment, which you would want always to smell fresh and clean. Sorry to say, but some pretty bad smells oftentimes originate exactly in that place where you have to deal with food. It may equally be some food leftovers that you didn’t take out on time or unwashed dishes left overnight on the sink or a wastebasket. Any bad kitchen smell is quite unpleasant.

However, one bad smell in the kitchen that can outdo all the others is a stinky dishwasher. Of course, the very fact that you smell that odor from the thing that is intended to make things cleaner can make that stinky smell even worse to perceive, but anyway, dishwashers are exactly those places where bad odors appear quite often.

At times, the smell is so bad that it will seem to you your dishwasher has concocted some real stink bomb against you and throws it into your face each time you open its door. This can be quite daunting.

Well, we will try to keep your worries at bay and tell you all you want to know about some common causes of a stinky dishwasher. Moreover, we will provide you with some efficient advice and solutions to save your sense of smell.

Сommon Сause – Food Trap

Picture yourself a situation when someone has put a mousetrap somewhere in an apartment and eventually forgot about it. So, the next thing that will make the apartment host or hostess remember about it might be a reeking odor from it in case the trap has worked, and a poor mouse was left there for some time. As a result, that unbearable smell comes from the mouse starting to decompose. Well, sorry to say but the same thing happens to food leftovers trapped in some places in your dishwasher.

The most common place is a filter designed to trap large food particles that get washed off your dirty utensils. However, these particles may be too big to pass down the inner hoses in your dishwasher or the drain. The filters we are talking about are designed to prevent hoses and drain pathways from blocking, and the food trapped in them will stay there until you remove it from there manually. If you forget about it, the food will start to decompose, and you will eventually end up with a repugnant whiff flowing all over your apartment.

The solution to this issue is a pretty simple one — all you have to do is to clear the stinky particles away from the filter. You can find the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher, right above the drain. If your dishwasher’s filter isn’t removable, you can just put on a pair of rubber gloves and scrape it the best way you can. If it is removable, pull it out, scrape the stinky mess into the rubbish bin and thoroughly rinse it with warm tap water to get rid of minor particles.

What Is Air Gap?

If you have never heard of it, don’t worry. Most people don’t know what it is either. Moreover, some dishwashers are not equipped with it. However, in case your dishwasher has one, it would be good to know a bit about it. An air gap prevents water from overflowing within your dishwasher but directs excessive water into your kitchen sink. An air gap also keeps waste that may come from your kitchen sink from entering the dishwasher. Consequently, if there is no air gap in your dishwasher, the food leftovers from the sink may well enough become the source of some awful odors in your machine.

The solution is simple as it is, even though it needs some skills. If you constantly experience issues with a smelly dishwasher, you may want to install an air gap in your sanitary ware. We recommend you to hire a trained installation specialist. Then, you can be sure that everything is done perfectly well.

How to Clean a Dishwasher?

When you’ve already tried both remedies mentioned above but still get that nasty smell from your dishwasher, you’ll have to clean it all! Just like in the case of everything else we have in our possession, a good cleaning routine will help you get rid of any unwanted smells.

Even though the dishwasher is a cleaner itself and uses strong detergents, it needs cleaning as well. The matter is that the chemical agents used for dishwashing are meant exclusively for that kind of cleaning. They are actually unable to scrub all the dishwasher innards. Moreover, detergents we use for dishwashing are then quickly flushed out with hot water at the end of the cycle, leaving the inner hoses and cavities of your dishwasher with some small food leftovers. They can become the source of bad odors and need more effort to get rid of them.

There are many solutions to that issue. You can try commercial dishwasher cleansers or such popular alternatives as vinegar, citric acid, or baking soda.

All it takes is to place your dishwasher cleanser inside your machine. If you are going to use a liquid cleanser, pour a bit of it onto the bottom of your machine. Now, run a regular cycle and check the results. If the smell persists, a few more cycles may help. If not, try some different solutions. To keep your machine clean and fresh, we recommend you to run a dishwasher cleaning cycle once a month.

That’s it. We’ve told you about three different approaches to dishwasher cleaning, which should help you resolve your problems with bad kitchen odors. If you’ve tried all of them and still have that nasty smell, you probably want to check your drainage system. This is the situation where a good specialist can come in handy.

Author: Jacob Dillard
My name is Jacob Dillard, and I am the author of articles at Appliance Repair Expert. Since childhood, I have been fascinated by technology and spent much time reading different books and trying to repair my first CD player. Then, I graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Applied Science and Engineering. In a year, I got my first job as a technician at an appliance repair company. After years of practice and working with professionals, I decided it was time to share my knowledge and experience here at Appliance Repair Expert. I want to help you understand everything related to appliance repair, maintenance and installation in the simplest way possible. It will be fun, believe me!

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