A fishy or foul smell is last thing you want from an appliance meant to clean the dishes you eat from. Unfortunately, a bad smell from your dishwasher can build up over time and cause you to question the cleanliness of your hardest-working kitchen appliance. Luckily, we can help you get your old clean dishwasher back!

What is causing that smell?

When your dishwasher starts to smell bad, there are a few different things that could be happening. If you don’t rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (especially if you let it sit for a few days before washing), it could be the smell of bacteria building up on the leftover food. Even if you do consistently rinse off your dishes, smaller bits of food can built up in the crevices of your dishwasher over time. Bacteria thrive in warm, wet environments like the inside of your dishwasher. Luckily, they’re not permanent and can be handled without too much difficulty!

Cleaning out your dishwasher periodically will keep unwanted smells at bay and ensure the cleanliness of your dishes for the next several washes.

Check the filter

When was the last time you looked at the filter in your dishwasher? Have you ever? The problem may actually be the filter in your dishwasher, not the dishwasher itself. The filter is responsible for catching any leftover food and mess from your dishes, so it can get especially dirty very quickly. If you notice your dishwasher smelling worse than usual gradually, it may be time to take out the filter and clean it.

Cleaning your dishwasher filter regularly will not only help with “dishwasher smell,” but will keep your dishes themselves cleaner. Since it’s the filter that traps the leftover dirt and debris from cleaning, it can get overwhelmed and not do its job as well. Ideally, you want to clean the filter on a monthly basis if you run the dishwasher regularly.

  1. Empty your Dishwasher
  2. Remove bottom rack
  3. Remove filter – it’s usually on the bottom floor of the dishwasher
  4. Clean around the area of the filter with a damp cloth to remove all debris
  5. If the dishwasher has a closed filter*, open it (you may need a screwdriver) to remove all the buildup inside
  6. Mix (baking soda, and bleach) and pour it in the dishwasher to let it sit. Overnight is long enough, and then you don’t need to set a timer. 
  7. Run the dishwasher the next morning without dishes, and voila! Your dishwasher’s ready for a new day.

If cleaning the filter doesn’t fix the smell, it’s probably an issue with the machine. Luckily, there are several ways to clean a washing machine.

First, you may want to check your water softener if you live in an area with hard water. If your glasses come out cloudy, you may have hard water. It may not be that your dishwasher isn’t cleaning well, but that it’s actually the buildup of minerals. If you have hard water, you need to use more detergent with each wash.

If residue is building up in the dishwasher itself due to mineral buildups, running a cycle with two cups of white vinegar (without drying) will help clear out the residue and leave you with a sparkling clean dishwasher!

You should also either check your water softener, or consider getting one in the first place if you don’t have one. Water softeners negate the buildup of calcium and magnesium in hard water (usually with sodium). Along with improving the water everywhere in your house, it can help ward off dishwasher odors and residue to boot.

We are Bates Cleaning Service, a reputable and reliable residential and commercial cleaning service company in Austin, Cedar Park, and surrounding areas!