How to Deodorize a Dishwasher – Step By Step Methods

How to Deodorize a Dishwasher – Step By Step Methods

Let us be frank. Have you cleaned your dishwasher recently? I mean like giving your machine a deep clean. If we are to guess that is a long time ago. It is important that you know how to deodorize a dishwasher.

How To Deodorize A Dishwasher
Photo Credits: Edward Nelson,

Dishwashers do a lot of work cleaning dirty dishes and in the process, small particles of food debris, soap suds, and grease get stuck in its different parts. 

After a long time of accumulation, your dishwasher starts to smell so bad and looks dirty. This reduces its lifespan and affects the machine’s overall efficiency.

Running empty wash cycles only is just not enough to clean the crates, cartridges, filters, drains, and all other parts of a dishwasher. While the dishwasher’s main job is to clean things, it also needs to be thoroughly cleaned occasionally.

Maybe your dishwasher has been smelling awful, it is time for you to give it a deep clean. You probably have been buying chemicals from grocery stores, they are quite expensive. 

The good news is that you do not have to worry about deodorizing your dishwasher. You can clean it by following very simple steps or methods and using natural cleaning items that are relatively cheap. 

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here.

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How to Deodorize a Dishwasher — Steps

  1. Empty your dishwasher.
  2. Fill up the sink under the dishwasher with hot water.
  3. Remove the lower dish rack to gain access to the drain.
  4. Clean out the dishwasher drain.
  5. Use hot, soapy water to wipe the interior of the dishwasher clean.
  6. Set your dishwasher to the hottest setting and run a normal wash cycle. Stop the wash cycle immediately the base of the dishwasher is filled with hot water.
  7. Add three cups of distilled vinegar (white) into the water at the base of the dishwasher. Let the solution stand in the dishwasher for a minimum of half an hour.
  8. Use a scrubbing sponge and the vinegar solution to clean the interior of your dishwasher. Be mindful of small corners and groves and crevices inside the dishwasher.
  9. Close the door and run the wash cycle again.

How To Deodorize A Dishwasher By Cleaning the Parts of The Dishwasher

The first step to deodorizing your dishwasher is cleaning the different parts of your dishwasher regularly. To do this, begin by cleaning the dishwasher drain filter.

Next, clean the interior of the dishwasher using warm soapy water and vinegar. Clean the drain pipe. Use a microfiber towel and dry the dishwasher completely before using it again.

These cleaning processes not only remove the existing smell from your appliance, but it also prevents future reoccurrence and maintains the parts for optimal function.

Cleaning Supplies Needed To Deodorize A Dishwasher

  • Sponge.
  • Mild liquid soap.
  • Warm water.
  • A cup of baking soda.
  • A cup or small bowl with white vinegar.
  • Bottlebrush.Cotton swab.
  • A soft cloth or paper towels.
  • Lemon peels (optional).
  • Essential oils like orange, peppermint, and lavender oils.
  • Mild bleach.

Video: How To Clean Your Dishwasher Filter

This video explains everything you need to know about cleaning your dishwasher filter.

The Parts Of A Dishwasher That Require Thorough Cleaning Include:

  • Control panel
  • Pump motor
  • Door gasket
  • Height adjuster
  • Check valve
  • Spray arms
  • Detergent dispenser
  • Drain hose
  • Vent and Fan Unit
  • Timer
  • Electronic Control Board
  • Drainage System
  • Drain Pump
  • Power Control Board
  • Water Inlet System
  • Water Inlet Valve
  • Pump Motor
  • Heating Elements
  • The Sump and Motor System
  • Electronic Control

The Drain Filter

A lot of dishwasher models have a filter that prevents debris and food remains or particles from blocking the drain. After some time, this food remains, or debris accumulates in the filter and starts to decay. 

As a result, it oozes out an awful smell and is the major cause of foul odors inside the dishwasher.

How To Clean A Dishwasher Drain Filter

  1. To clean the drain filter, remove the lower rack of the appliance so you can see the filter in the drain.
  2. Detach the filter from the machine.
  3. Wash the drain filter in the sink inside the kitchen with sponge, soap and lukewarm water.
  4. Clean the hard to reach areas of the filter using a bottle brush.
  5. Check the drain for any food remains and dirt. Remove them and clean the drain with a sponge, soap, and hot water.
  6. Replace the filter to the drain.
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You should be cleaning the filter regularly at least on a monthly basis. When you do, it is enough to keep it clean and smelling fresh. This helps it to work better. 

However, if the filter is always smelling and blocked before your monthly cleaning, you may have to change it.

Spray Arms

When it is blocked with food particles or gunk, it reduces the machine’s efficiency. which results in poorly washed dishware or kitchenware. 

This also causes the dishwasher to smell. When you clean it occasionally, it increases the quantity of water that it pumps out over dirty dishes increasing its cleansing action.  

How To Clean A Dishwasher Spray Arms –Steps

  1. Remove the top and bottom spray arms.
  2. Hold them individually over your kitchen sink.
  3. Use a cotton swab to remove all food debris.
  4. Rinse the spray arms after removing food debris stuck inside with water.
  5. Make sure the holes are completely clean.
  6. Return them to the dishwasher.

The Silverware Basket

This gets easily grimed; a weekly cleaning routine will do. 

How To Clean A Dishwasher Silverware Basket — Steps

  1. Remove the silverware basket from the appliance.
  2. Remove any stuck-on food debris or dirt to prevent mold infestation.
  3. Wash it using soap, warm water, and a bottle brush.

The Door Gasket

Food remains that are washed off your dishes can sometimes get stuck onto the sides of the door gasket during a washing cycle. This leaves gunk on it giving it a grimy look and can be infested by mold or mildew.

How to Clean A Dishwasher Door Gasket — Steps

Clean the dishwasher door gasket with a mixture of vinegar, hot water, and bleach. Add half cup of vinegar, and half cup of bleach to three cups of hot water. Deep a soft towel into the solution and clean the door gasket. Use the same solution to clean the grove that houses the gasket. Use clean water to rinse everything.

The Door Latch

A few years after consistent use, the door latch can get rusty a little. To get rid of this, do the following:

How To Clean A Dishwasher Door Latch — Steps

  1. Clean it using steel wool and a stainless-steel cleaning agent. 
  2. Rinse the door latch and dry with a soft or cotton cloth.
  3. Coat the door latch with clear nail polish. This serves as a waterproof to prevent future rust.

How To Clean Dishwasher Control Panel

To clean your dishwasher control panel, use a moist towel and a little soap and wipe the surface of the panel thoroughly. Finish the job with an appliance wax or polish.

How to Clean a Dishwasher Pump Motor

  1. Take the filter out and clean it using a soft brush and soapy water.
  2. Remove the pump cover. It is below the filter.
  3. Use clean water and a soft sponge to wipe the pump clean. Remove food particles leftover on the pump. Rinse the pump and dry using a microfiber towel.

Clean Other Internal Compartments

With constant use, dirt is accumulated inside the dishwasher, including the walls and compartments. A simple cleaning process can help get rid of dirt and all lingering odors inside the appliance.

How To Clean Internal Parts Of A Dishwasher — Steps

  1. Remove the top and bottom racks and wash them in your kitchen sink with warm water and soap. Rinse when you are done.
  2. Clean the inner areas of the dishwasher with a sponge, warm water, and soap.
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How to Remove Smell from A Dishwasher

To remove smell and odor from your dishwasher, wash the dishwasher with a deodorizer. The best deodorizers are the baking soda and white vinegar. White vinegar is a natural deodorant, and it is very safe for cleaning your dishwasher. It removes stubborn stains and dirt from your machine.

Baking soda is also a good deodorizer. It gets rid of the smell from dishwashers. They are a relatively cheaper and better option than any other chemical cleaning agent.

But you can not use them at the same time, your choice is fuelled by your preference.

How to Deodorize a Dishwasher with Lemon Peels

To deodorize a dishwasher using lemon peels:

  1. Fill a cup or small bowl with lemon peels.
  2. Run a short, normal wash cycle.
  3. At the end of the cycle, check the filter under the lower rack underneath the dishwasher for lemon peels. They could fall from the lower rack during the washing cycle.


You can also add some freshness and aroma to your dishwasher and kitchen by adding a few drops of essential oils to the vinegar. For example, you can use orange, peppermint, or lavender oils for extra effect.

Apart from deodorizing your dishwasher, they also contain some anti-bacterial properties.

The Drain Hose Needs Some Cleaning Too

If after following these steps above your dishwasher still smell bad, then something is probably wrong with the drain hose. In this case, you might notice stagnant water below your appliance at the end of each cycle.

Remember that the drainage system in your home is attached to the same main drain hose as the appliance. If this is the primary cause of the smell oozing out from the dishwasher, you will have to check by following these steps.

Steps To Clean A Dishwasher Drain Hose

  1. Empty your dishwasher.
  2. Ensure that the hose is not bent so water flows out freely.
  3. Remove the drain hose and wipe it thoroughly with a firm wire and thin wet cloth. Repeat this step till you get all the dirt off the drain hose.
  4. After cleaning the drain hose with the wire and cloth, use mild bleach to dissolve any left-over food inside the hose and run cold water through it.
  5. Cut the lemon into tiny bits and run a cycle. This will help to sterilize or deodorize any lingering smell.
  6. If you notice that used water from your kitchen flows into your appliance, raise the drain hose loop higher than it is. This will prevent water from the kitchen sink flowing into your dishwasher.

Check out these interesting articles from our previous posts:

How to Deodorize A Dishwasher —Additional Notes

If you constantly have to purify your appliance, you might have to invest in an advanced model. There are newer invented dishwashers that have self-cleaning filter features. 

Previously, they used to be in the form of a loud grinder that grinds food particles or debris to fine particles that cannot clog the dishwasher drain. 

Recently, they have been updated to a fine mesh kept on top of the drain that does not allow the passage of food debris. Water pushes the food particles under pressure via the mesh and dissolves it into small particles that easily flow out to the drainage system.

This prevents the accumulation of these food particles in the drainage system over time that can block the drain and cause the appliance to smell. The advantage of these models is that it won’t cause any additional noise in your home.

Safety Precautions While deodorizing Your Dishwasher.

  1. During the deodorizing processes, do not add any dishwasher detergent except the cleaning agents.
  2. Pay attention when mixing vinegar and bleach to clean your dishwasher. A combination of these two can cause a formation of fumes.
  3. Use one cup of strong bleach. For example, using chlorine to clean the appliance. It will help to keep the interiors of the appliance sparkling white.
  4. Strong bleach should not be used to clean stainless steel parts of the machine.

Parts Of A Dishwasher And Their Functions

Control Panel

It is also called the control console. Control panels are embedded on top of a dishwasher door. Where it houses different settings, functions, buttons, or displays for regulating the dishwasher. 

It is connected to an electronic control board via a ribbon wire cable that transmits information from the display functions and control buttons. 

Pump Motor

Otherwise known as the circulation pump motor, it pumps water to the spray arms by rotating the circulation rotor or blade during the washing stage of a washing cycle.

Dishwasher Door Gasket

The door gasket is a rubber that is also known as the door seal. Like its name, it seals the edge of a dishwasher door on the outside and the gap between the dishwasher basin opening. 

The door gasket has a magnetic strip inside that helps it grips the dishwasher door frame. This prevents water from leaking out of the machine during dishwashing cycles. 

Drain Filter

This is found in the drain, and it prevents food debris or particles from blocking the drain.

Height Adjuster

It is a mounting plate that comprises track wheels for top rack height adjuster. Each side of the top rack is propped up with one plate. 

These plates hold the top rack and make it possible to adjust the height of the rack either up or down as the user desires.

Check Valve

This contains a flexible piece of rubber or plastic that bends to only one direction sealing an opening in the outlet water hose. It forms part of the outlet water path in the drainage system that allows used water to drain from the dishwasher. 

This prevents water from flowing back to the dishwasher basin.

Spray Arms

These are hollow tubes that spin continuously spraying water on dirty dishes in order to get them cleaned. It propels water from the dishwasher tub round the dishwasher.

Detergent Dispenser

It is embedded in the inner door panel. The detergent dispenser contains the dishwasher detergent in an enclosed compartment. The outer lid of this dispenser has a clamp or hook that is regulated by a timer. 

The dishwasher detergent is distributed around the machine when the clamp opens the outer lid of the dispenser at the right time during a washing cycle. 

The dispenser components also have a rinse aid that comes to play during the last stage of the washing cycle.

Drain Hose

This carry used water after a washing cycle from the drain pump to the sink through the drainage system.


It is embedded in the dishwasher’s control panel. It regulates all the electro-mechanical parts of the machine. They include the heating element, drain pump, water inlet valve, and wash pump. 

The timer either turn them on or off depending on the instruction. It also aids the control buttons during a washing cycle.

Vent and Fan Unit

The vent is found below the dishwasher. It opens during a drying cycle to allow the fan to send moist or hot air from the dishwasher. 

When it is faulty, dishes will not dry properly because of the moist air that remains within the machine’s tub. Also, when the fan fails during a washing cycle the machine stops working. 

Drain Pump

This removes used water from the dishwasher tub during draining and rinsing stage of the washing cycle.

Drainage System

It consists of the drain hose, the drain pump, and the sink drain. They carry used water from dishwashers out of the house. 

A blockage of this system hinders proper drainage of water away from the machine during a washing cycle. This leads to flooding within the dishwasher.

Electronic Control

This is the control room of the dishwasher. It begins and stops the overall functions of the machine. These functions are the filling of water, washing cycles, draining, and drying. 

It collects information from the control console or panel when the user selects the control buttons. It also displays data on the control panel such as the status of the cycle, time, and so on.

The Sump and Motor System

It is found below the dishwasher basin below the machine. It moves water away from the sump collection area through the spraying arms. 

The sump consists of the water filters, chopper blade system, pump housing, water collection chambers, drain pump, and sensors.

The motor system consists of the circulation pump, pump motor, the sump and impeller or rotor.

Heating Elements

It is located below the dishwasher basin. It increases the temperature of the water during the washing and rinsing stage of the dishwashing cycle. 

This enhances the cleaning and general sterilization or filtration process of the dishes and the machine. It is regulated by the timer.

Pump Motor

This is an electric motor attached to the impeller or rotor inside the dishwasher sump. It spins the rotor at a high speed to force water through the spraying arms under great pressure.

Water Inlet Valve

The water inlet valve is a solenoid valve that has coils that open when the inlet valve is triggered by the timer. It is operated electrically to control the flow of water into the dishwasher during the filling stage. 

This valve does not open when there is no voltage. Consequently, water will not flow into the dishwasher basin from the water supply.

Water Inlet System

This is an anti-siphon system that is attached to the left wall on the outside of the dishwasher basin. It acts as an airgap and delivery system for the inflow of water. 

Water flows into the dishwasher via a water hose connected to an inlet situated on the side of the dishwasher basin. When water flows through this system, it fills the dishwasher basin prior to the washing cycle.

Power Control Board

Power control boards are attached to the voltage (120V AC power) entering the appliance. It uses a built-in transformer that changes the AC power of 120V to a low DC voltage.

This low DC voltage is used with the dishwasher sensors showing on the control board.

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Dishwashers are one of the kitchen appliances that work so hard. From washing the dirtiest cleaning items, it also gets grimed in the process. If this is accumulated over time, they make it ooze out a foul smell. 

It can also make its numerous parts to malfunction reducing the efficiency and lifespan of the appliance.  Since this is not what you want, there is a need to regularly clean the machine. 

By following these simple steps and methods mentioned in this article, you can deodorize a dishwasher.

We hope that you found this article helpful. If you did, we would love to hear from you. Drop your comments, questions or suggestions in the comment section below.

How To Deodorize A Dishwasher –Related FAQs

Is Vinegar Bad For Dishwasher?

Vinegar alone is not bad for your dishwasher. It is used in treating spots and hard water mineral deposits built up on the dishwasher and dishware. The low pH of vinegar makes it a strong acid. If the vinegar mixes with salt, it will discolor internal parts of your dishwasher. Vinegar mixed with salt will also discolor flatware, metal pans, and mixing bowls.

Use vinegar that has just five percent of acetic acid. It will cause the least amount of damage to your dishware and your dishwasher. Do not pour vinegar into the dishwasher’s rinse aid compartment, instead pour the vinegar into a cup and place it upright at the base of the dishwasher.

Do You Really Need Rinse Aid?

The use of rinse aid is not compulsory when using the dishwasher to clean your dishes. However, if you find out your dishes come out wet with water spots and food bits stuck on them, then you must use a rinse aid. It helps to alter the surface tension of water, making it harder for water to stick to the dishes. This process improves the efficiency of the dry cycle.

Use the most prolonged and hottest wash setting available on the dishwasher. This will ensure you do not have any rinse aid leftover on your dishware after running a wash cycle.

Why Does My Plate Smell Like Wet Dog After Washing?

Your plate smells like wet dog after washing because the water in your dishwasher is contaminated. This water comes from leftover food particles or standing water in the dishwasher. As the bacteria contained in the contaminated water dries, they give off a strange wet dog odor. This odor is then transferred to your plates during the wash cycle.

To get rid of the odor after a wash cycle, add half cup of bleach into the tub under the dish rack and let it stand for one hour. Place two cups of white vinegar at the top shelf of the dishwasher and run a wash cycle. Clean the dishwasher filter and rinse the dishwasher.

Why Does My Dishwasher Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Your dishwasher will smell like a rotten egg when you have food trapped in the dishwasher drain filter or door seal. Leftover water standing in the dishwasher will also lead to an unpleasant egg smell in your dishwasher.

The dishwasher drain filter is another culprit. If you have food particles trapped in the filter, your dishwasher will give out a stale smell like that of a rotten egg.

To put an end to the smell, clean the dishwasher using a dishwasher odor neutralizer like baking soda or vinegar.  

Why Does The Garbage Disposal On My Dishwasher Stink?

The garbage disposal unit hooked onto your dishwasher will stink when it has food particles trapped in the grinders. This smell will make its way to your dishwasher and will result in stinking dishes after a wash cycle.

To resolve this, insert a stopper into the garbage disposal unit, then fill it up with hot soapy water. Unplug the sink to let the water run through, then turn on the garbage disposal unit. Doing this will take care of the odor.

How Do I Get My Dishwasher To Clean Better?

To get your dishwasher to clean better, do these:

  • Clean the filters, drain hose, and spray arm regularly. This will ensure your dishwasher will constantly break down food particles.
  • Make sure you have enough space between the dishes stacked in the dishwasher. 
  • Do not overload your dishwasher. It is economical to run two wash cycles than to run one overloaded cycle that will return dirty dishes.
  • Add a cup of lemon juice into the dishwasher top rack and run a wash cycle. The lemon juice will keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.
  • Run an empty wash cycle with the wash setting at the hottest. This will get rid of any food particle trapped in the intricate parts of the dishwasher. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

You should deep clean your dishwasher every month. The dishwasher is designed to self-clean after every wash cycle, however, that is not the case. Continuous use of your dishwasher without deep cleaning will lead to a build-up of grime and food particles.

If not addressed immediately this build-up will clog your dishwasher. Fixing a clogged dishwasher is more expensive than carrying out a regular deep clean of your dishwasher. After cleaning your dishwasher, ensure you leave the door open to air. This will prevent your dishwasher from giving off a stinky smell. 

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