What's strong enough for a man, but made for a .... dishwasher?
March 19, 2013 7:08 PM   Subscribe

My dishwasher stinks! Please advise.

My dishwasher smells like ... well, like BO. A guy's BO, if you get my drift. The smell seems to be coming from the vent, and mostly during the dry cycle. It doesn't smell too bad inside the dishwasher itself, and the dishes always come out clean and odor-free. I've tried a couple rounds of dishwasher cleaner, and it slightly improves for a short time, but always comes back.

We rent our house. Is there a DIY solution, or should I phone the caretaker? I'd prefer DIY if it's sensible.

posted by Koko to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Clean it out!
posted by xingcat at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had this problem (well, it smelled mildewy) and when maintenance came to look at it, said nothing was wrong. He suggested making sure the water was warmed up before running it (something about cold water something something mildew) and now I run the sink until the water comes out hot. The smell disappeared within a few days and hasn't come back.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:12 PM on March 19, 2013

They do make pre-made dishwasher cleaner packets you just toss in and let run for a cycle, may be something to pursue.

When we had this problem, the maintenance dude told us to make sure and run the garbage disposal before running the dishwasher because food in the garbage disposal would block the dirty water from the dishwasher from draining, so all that muck and old food would back up in the drainage line and start to smell.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:24 PM on March 19, 2013

Have you tried running it empty with a cup or so of vinegar?
posted by bluedaisy at 7:25 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

When we moved into our new place, our dishwasher smelled fishy at the end of the cycle, awful.

What fixed this was doing a run with citric acid (aka "Dishwasher Magic"--Tang powdered drink actually works, too, due to its citric acid content). Be sure to run it empty, though, as citric acid can strip the enamel/paint/decorations/logos from dishes (found this out the hard way...measuring cups don't show measurements anymore...).

Once you've done that, with regular cycles, putting a shotglass of vinegar in the top rack will help out a lot and make your glass really sparkle.

Also, yeah, on preview, what Ghostride The Whip & bluedaisy said.
posted by jenh at 7:30 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

My dishwasher has a trap at the bottom that you can remove and clean. It often ends up with bits of ick trapped in it and a good scrubbing cleans the smell.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:44 PM on March 19, 2013

Start by cleaning out the screen filter in the bottom. Often there are multiple layers to it; lift it out by the handle, clean thoroughly and replace. With the door open, clean under the rubber seal at the bottom of the door, where it meets the cabinet; lots of gunk can get trapped there. If the underside of that seal has a surface texture that tends to hold dirt, e.g. several parallel ridges, then clean it carefully too. Once you've gotten all the slime and partially decomposed solids out of accessible places, then run it with the dishwasher cleaner / citric acid stuff.
posted by jon1270 at 2:19 AM on March 20, 2013

After my dishwasher cycle has finished, I use a plastic cup to prop the door slightly open so it can dry out and not grow mold. I'm a household-of-one who doesn't run the dishwasher every day, so I find that airing it out between uses helps.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:53 AM on March 20, 2013

The repair person told us to run it empty with some bleach. It worked.
posted by neutralmojo at 6:43 AM on March 20, 2013

I keep vinegar in a squirt bottle under the sink and every time I do a load of dishes I squirt generously inside and fill the soap dispenser about 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 soap. Just like with washing machines, a lot of times is the excess soap that builds up and clogs the filters and drains.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 2:18 PM on March 20, 2013

Best answer: You need to shove some Lemi Shine up in that dishwasher's grill, kiddo. It is AMAZING - and thankfully, becoming more widely-available.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:46 PM on March 21, 2013

Response by poster: I didn't want to tinker around with it myself (the spray arm is on the bottom, so accessing the seal would have been difficult), so I got the appliance guy to come and look at it. He said there was nothing wrong but he flushed it out with something called Ysano, a rust remover. It doesn't smell great, but the worst of the smell is gone. I also got some Lemi Shine, which I've been using in hopes of cleaning it further / keeping it clean.

Thanks for all your suggestions!
posted by Koko at 5:48 PM on May 4, 2013

« Older A WebEx is Leaking   |   How do you find a psychiatrist anyway? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.