Cleaning with a dishwasher

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher

Mary Smith
By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher

The dishwasher has become our best friend when it comes to washing the dishes: just turn the machine on and we've saved ourselves from all that scrubbing. But all good inventions have a downside and, right now, we have to talk about those bad smells that sometimes occur in the dishwasher. Given that we are going to have to eat with that cutlery or drink from those glasses, the bad smell is even more unpleasant. So here at we'll explain how to get rid of bad smell in the dishwasher so that your plates, glasses and cutlery smell good after each wash.

Steps to follow:


The most helpful method is to use fresheners that you can buy in the supermarket or at a retail store. But you shouldn't forget that these contain chemicals that not everyone wants to use, and even less so in a dishwasher.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher - Step 1

A common way to get rid of bad smell in the dishwasher is to use citrus peel, such as from lemons, oranges, tangerines or grapefruits. You can cook them before putting them in the dishwasher but the temperature the machine reaches itself is enough to release the citrusy smell. Another method is to put some citrus fruit in the top rack - remove the seeds first - or put the slices in a thin cloth bag. Depending on how often you use the dishwasher, you may have to change it every three or four days.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher - Step 2

Sodium bicarbonate also helps get rid of bad smells. To do this, simply empty half a cup at the bottom of the dishwasher and then turn it on. It doesn't matter if it is full or empty, it won't damage the dishes or pots and pans and the result will be very effective. The reason is that the bicarbonate acts as an odour neutraliser, so when you use it in this appliance the odours disappear and your dishes coming out smelling nice and clean.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher - Step 3

No doubt you have vinegar in the kitchen, so you can use it to get rid of the smells in the dishwasher. Depending on how bad the smell is, you can add more or less but generally a glass of vinegar is enough. Once you've added the vinegar, put the dishwasher on a full cycle at full power. Again, it depends on how often you use the dishwasher but it's recommended to do it every two months. Remember not to hermetically seal it with the vinegar inside.

For more household uses of vinegar, check our OneHowTo tutorial.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher - Step 4

If all else fails, it may be time for a deep cleanse. Sometimes traces of grease or food accumulate to give off an unbearable stench. Often this debris does not pass through the filter, so removing the filter and cleaning it occasionally is a good idea, both to get rid of bad odors and to prevent them in the future.

You should also pay special attention to the hidden areas, such as the groove at the bottom where plenty of detritus etc. often accumulates. Make sure you follow your dishwasher's instructions to clean it properly.

How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher, we recommend you visit our Home cleaning category.


  • Rinse dishes, cups and other items before putting them in the dishwasher so that bits of food don't clog up the dishwasher.
  • If a dirty plate has been sitting in the dishwasher for two or three days it will start to smell.
  • If your dishwasher has a clean function, use it: it's not a waste of water or energy.
  • Some lunchboxes or other plastic products cannot be cleaned at high temperatures.
  • When finished, open the dishwasher and let the dishes air dry on their own.
  • Always leave the dishwasher door open for ventilation. The bad odours will not accumulate and the machine won't smell.
Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
My dishwasher is broken so I can't run it. Until it is fixed or replaced what is the best way to remove the smell?
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Maggie,

Your question is answered in the article, but if the best option is simply toe best option which works for you. Good luck!
After trying all of the tips online I discovered that putting wooden spoons or spatulas in the dishwasher was causing the odor so now I never do this.
OneHowTo Editor
Thanks for the tip Anne!
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How to Get Rid of Bad Smell in the Dishwasher