I recently moved into a new place with two others, and we've found our dishwasher to be unusually stinky. A day's worth of rinsed-off dishes is enough to get this really funky smell, completely unlike anything I ever experienced living alone. The other two have lived together for many years and never experienced anything like this either.

Is there something we should be putting in the dishwasher to remove the odor? We shouldn't have to run it every single day, should we?

4 Answers 4


it sounds like there is something wrong with the unit or the manner in which it is plumbed into the drain line. Here is something to try:

this evening, set up the dishwasher to run with no dishes in it. load the cup with detergent and select HOT wash. let it run. halfway through the WASH cycle, stop the machine, open the door and pour in about 1/4 cup liquid laundry bleach, close the door and resume. let the machine run through the rest of its cycle- rinse, dry, etc. leave the door shut at the end of the cycle.

Next morning, open it and smell the inside CAREFULLY. there should be NO STINK AT ALL. If there is, there might be something wrong with the drain plumbing.

Let us know what you find...

  • Another thing to check (on a different run from the bleach): immediately after the machine stops making noise, with dry cycle off, there should be no water standing inside the machine. If there is, it isn't pumping out correctly or there's a plumbing problem.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 24, 2018 at 18:00
  • Perhaps vinegar or lemon juice (less noxious than bleach) would be another effective way to kill hidden mold. Aug 26, 2018 at 12:06
  • agree, but note that the objective of the bleach flush was not specifically to kill mold, it was to allow determination of whether or not the drain line and pump were functioning properly. Aug 26, 2018 at 18:03
  • We finally gave this a shot about a week ago and the smell went away. I didn't notice any sitting water after the cycle finished (aside from a few dishes that didn't dry completely)
    – codehearts
    Sep 14, 2018 at 15:13
  1. Purchase dishwasher (DW) cleaner such as 'Affresh', 'Finish' or 'Glisten' at appliance parts counter or major grocery outlet,
  2. After running the hot water tap adjacent to the DW for about 30 seconds, place recommended amount of DW cleaner (per product directions) in the DW, and run a regular DW cycle,
  3. If the DW still smells, unplug the DW, and clean-out the filter/screen assembly with specifics dependent on the DW make & model (google that); and then run another DW cycle using DW cleaning product after plugging the DW back in,
  4. If no luck with the above, confirm that the dishwasher drain hose is looped high under the counter dropping into the kitchen sink drain pipe,; and that the kitchen sink / drain pipe is plumbed-with a proper P-trap (google that),
  5. Assuming DW smells better, continue using Glisten product or the equivalent with every DW load to clean, deodorize and remove lime within the DW, DW pump, and the DW drain hose.

An alternative to purchasing a DW cleaner product is to pour 1/2 cup or so of household vinegar into the DW, and following the above process a couple of times. Also, the filter/screen assembly s/b cleaned every couple of months.

P.S. If you can't unplug the DW because it's hardwired (i.e. no plug), then turn off the breaker at the electrical panel for the DW circuit, before sticking your hand into the sump area inside the DW for purpose of cleaning out the crud (unless you've always hoped for a spot in the annual Darwin awards!).


The dishwasher manual will recommend a vinegar rinse for odors (and tell you how), but also look for a grill-like cover near the top inside of the door. Give it a whiff. This grill can trap grease and fibers and smell really bad. Pry it off carefully with a butter knife and clean the (sickly pink color) gunk with a toothbrush.


The funky smell is mold. If the mold is black it is toxic. Wear gloves and a face mask to prevent breathing in the spores. clean the rubber seals of the door as well as the interior of the dishwasher with vinegar. Afterwards run a cycle with hot water and about 2 cups of vinegar (with no dishes inside to avoid cross contamination). Then after everything is done leave the door open enough to allow the dishwasher to thoroughly dry out.

When using dishwashers or clothes washers after use leave the door open. High moisture and no air circulation is an environment that mold loves. Avoid mold and no more funky smell. In the case of a clothes washer no more cadaver stench.

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