let our family take care of your family

Cody's Header Logo
    • About Us

      How was your experience with us?

  • Contact
my kitchenaid dishwasher has odor

How to Clean a KitchenAid Dishwasher That Smells Bad

All home appliances need to be cared for with proper maintenance, and that includes your dishwasher. Foul odors and other issues can develop without regular cleaning. To help banish bad smells, we’ll review how trapped food particles and other factors cause dishwasher odors. We’ll also detail how to clean a KitchenAid dishwasher filter and interior and unclog a blocked drain.

Eliminating Odor: How to Clean a KitchenAid Dishwasher

Regular monthly cleanings go a long way to prevent dishwasher odor from becoming overwhelming. But how to clean a smelly dishwasher in the areas that need it most? We’ll pinpoint the source of the smells and detail how to clean a KitchenAid dishwasher to prevent and eliminate odor. But first, here’s some background on where dishwasher odor originates.

What Causes Dishwasher Odors?

Trapped food particles are the most common source of dishwasher odors. Though the dishwasher’s water flushes most particles through the filter and down the drain, some still find ways to stay behind. Most often, they collect in the interior and clog the filter or drain. As these food particles break down, they emit a foul odor and you’ll quickly notice your KitchenAid dishwasher smells like mold.

Sometimes dishwasher odor can have other causes. Standing water can create a musty smell and dishwasher leaking issues that may indicate a clog. Meanwhile, these odors are common to new dishwashers and should fade in 1-2 months:

  • Petroleum: while petroleum is not used in dishwasher construction, a sound-muffling substance that is used has this odor
  • Varnish: this substance is used to treat several dishwasher motor components

kitchenaid dishwasher smells bad

Best Way to Clean Dishwasher Interior

Now that you know where dishwasher odor originates, what is the best way to clean the inside of a dishwasher, eliminating the smell? Follow these simple steps using a commercial dishwasher cleaner to remove or prevent odor:

  1. Place one cleaning tablet in the dishwasher’s detergent dispenser
  2. Place a 2nd tablet in the pre-wash dispenser or in the bottom of an empty dishwasher
  3. Run a heavy-duty wash cycle on the hottest temperature
  4. If your dishwasher and disposal share a drain, place a 3rd cleaning tablet in the disposal and slowly run hot water for 15 seconds

For a natural cleaning method, place a bowl with 2 cups of white vinegar in the top rack of an empty dishwasher. Without adding detergent, run a complete wash cycle.

How to Clean a KitchenAid Dishwasher Filter

Since a dishwasher filter is a common source of trapped food particles, it requires separate cleaning to eliminate odor. Here’s how to clean a KitchenAid dishwasher filter quickly and easily:

  1. Remove the dishwasher’s bottom rack and twist the upper filter counterclockwise while lifting upwards
  2. To remove the lower filter lift slightly and pull outward
  3. Rinse both components separately under warm running water
  4. For stubborn particles, brush each filter with a soft bristle brush
  5. Replace the lower filter, aligning it with the opening for the upper filter
  6. Lower the upper filter into the opening and turn clockwise until it drops into place. Keep turning until it locks in place.

Also, try scraping off large chunks of food before loading dirty dishes. This will improve your dishwasher’s cleaning performance and reduce the need for frequent filter cleaning. You should skip pre-rinsing though as it can be counter-productive.

Modern dishwasher detergents utilize enzymes that will get your dishes even cleaner when some food particles are left on your dishes. Just scrape off the large bits before loading and you’re good to go!

how to clean a kitchenaid dishwasher
Image from KitchenAid

KitchenAid Dishwasher Drain Clogged

Drain clogs can occur when food particles slip past the filter and accumulate in the drain. Cleaning the filter regularly can prevent drain clogs but these tips can also help:

  • Clear the garbage disposal: many dishwashers and garbage disposals share a drain. Running the disposal before the dishwasher will empty it of food particles that could cause clogs
  • Clean the air gap: if you have an air gap it also shares a common drain with the dishwasher. Clean the air gap before a wash cycle by removing the cap and clearing away any visible debris.

To break up an existing dishwasher drain clog, pour a solution of baking soda and vinegar down the drain, After 10 minutes, pour hot water down the drain to flush the solution and break up the clogs.

Tips to Prevent a Dirty Dishwasher

The best way to avoid dishwasher odors and poor cleaning performance is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Start with these tips:

  • Use only detergent approved for automatic dishwashers. Do not use soap designed for hand-washing dishes unless it specifically says that it is compatible for dishwasher use. Soap that was not designed for a dishwasher may cause clogging.
  • Run hot water from the tap before starting your dishwasher. By running hot water in advance, you ensure that the water going into the dishwasher is hot. If you do not preheat the water, it will initially be cold and then gradually warm up. This starts your cleaning cycle off on the wrong foot. Hot water performs better than cold water, both for cleaning your dishes and maintaining your dishwasher.
  • Refill your rinse aid dispenser roughly once per month. Rinse aid not only helps to get your dishes cleaner, but also breaks down the particles that collect inside the washing machine. However, rinse aid should not be used if your water supply has already been treated for hard water.

While knowing how to clean a KitchenAid dishwasher is part of regular maintenance, sometimes there’s no way to avoid a repair. For a quick and expert dishwasher service call Cody’s Appliance Repair!

You might find these related articles helpful...


subscribe to our newsletter

Join for free advice on maintenance, care, and use of your home appliances.

find repair tips for your...

browse more useful content...

recent posts...

Help us win Idaho's Best of 2024!

Please cast your vote before April 12 in the Home Improvement - Appliance Repair category. We appreciate your support.