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Beat the Stink: 4 Common Culprits of a Smelly Dishwasher (and How To Fix Them)

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Bad smells are lurking everywhere in your home—and we don’t just mean in your refrigerator’s moldy veggie drawer or your musty closet. So for those incredibly stinky smells that just won’t go away, we’ve launched a series called “Beat the Stink.”

This week’s smelly culprit? Your kitchen’s cleaning powerhouse: the dishwasher.

Maybe you’ve recently cooked up an abundance of dishwasher-clogging meals. Or perhaps you are finally admitting that your dishwasher has reeked like a smelly sock for over a month. Whatever the case, we’re here to help you banish the nastiness from your dishwasher once and for all.

Here are four common causes of smelly dishwashers and tips from cleaning pros to send the stink on its way.

1. Clogged drain filter

For those who aren’t familiar with the anatomy of a dishwasher, a drain filter prevents leftover food particles from clogging your drain. However, when left unemptied for too long, the filter itself can become clogged, leaving you with a toxic-smelling dishwasher.

Dishwashers manufactured before 2010 usually have a self-cleaning filter, which operates by grinding down food particles until they’re small enough to wash away.

“But newer models typically have a removable filter that needs to be taken out and cleaned periodically,” says Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance.

To clean your dishwasher drain filter, follow the owner’s manual instructions to remove it from the appliance. Then rinse the filter thoroughly under warm water. If any sticky food debris remains, soak the filter in hot, soapy water for several minutes and gently clean it with a soft brush before rinsing it.

And mark your calendar with reminders to clean the filter monthly to avoid a stinky buildup of debris in the future. And avoid putting certain hard-to-clean objects in the dishwasher and wash them by hand instead.

2. Kinked or clogged hose

Does your dishwasher still smell after cleaning your filter? Then let’s look further down the rabbit hole of dishwasher parts. When you do, you’ll find your dishwasher has a hose that drains the dirty water after each use. If you start seeing—and smelling—a buildup of water in the bottom of your machine after unloading your clean dishes, it’s time to check for a kink or clog in this hose.

“The dishwasher drain hose is the flexible corrugated hose you can see looking under the sink,” says Shimek.

Since many dishwashers connect to garbage disposals, he recommends running the disposal first to ensure the issue isn’t the disposal but the hose.

“If water is still in the bottom of the dishwasher after running the disposal, the next thing to do is trace the drain hose and see if something has been put on top of it and kinked it,” he says.

If a hose is kinked, simply smooth it out. But if there is no knot in your hose, it’s time to move on and look for any clogs.

“With some manufacturers, the hose is opaque and lets you see where a clog might be, showing up as a dark spot,” says Shimek. “If you see a clog, use a drain snake.”

If you can’t reach the clog, it might be time to call in a professional.

Keep clogs from reappearing by cleaning your filter regularly and running a hot water cycle every so often to keep the hose clean.

3. Trapped food debris

Is the source of your dishwasher stench not at the drain or hose level? Then your smelly issue might simply be that you haven’t cleaned the inside of your dishwasher in a while.

“The first step to ridding your dishwasher of that rotting food smell is cleaning the dishwasher tray,” says Adriana Aziz of MaidForYou. “Food particles collect there over time, and if you’re not quick to remove them, they’ll contribute to a foul odor in your home.”

Aziz recommends removing all parts of the dishwasher that can be easily removed and cleaning them in hot, soapy water. Parts to wash include your dishwashing racks, spray arms, utensil holder, and filter.

“Then put everything back in and run a full cycle at the highest possible temperature with a dishwasher-safe container filled with two cups of white vinegar on the top rack,” says Aziz. “Once the cycle finishes, scatter some baking soda throughout the dishwasher and rerun the cycle.”

Repeat cleaning with vinegar and baking soda monthly to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh.

4. A dirty seal

So what if the source of the stink isn’t coming from inside the dishwasher? Then it’s time to investigate whether or not the seal where your dishwasher door meets the machine needs a deep cleaning.

“The seal around the dishwasher door gets dirty in no time as water doesn’t come in contact with the area,” says cleaning expert Cathy Abraham, of Everything Better. “Once every two weeks, wipe the area with a damp cloth dipped in diluted dishwashing liquid. If there are stubborn food stains, use an old toothbrush to scrub them off gently. Avoid using steel wool as it may damage the seal.”

The post Beat the Stink: 4 Common Culprits of a Smelly Dishwasher (and How To Fix Them) appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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