Dishwashers are a common occurrence in many households. When it comes to cleaning dishes quickly and efficiently, a dishwasher is more than likely the solution. Not to mention, you are in no way held responsible for handwashing all the dishes, which is nice.
The downside? Like all machines, eventually, over time, something goes wrong. Whether it’s something breaking or smelling rotten, there will likely be a time when you have to troubleshoot your machine.
Not sure where to start? No worries, let’s take a look.
You just finished enjoying a large meal with friends and family and are headed over to take on the daunting task of dishes. Which, we suppose, aren’t too daunting when you have a wonderfully working dishwasher. Except when you run that dishwasher and are met by the very unpleasant smell of rotten eggs. Yuck. How does that even happen? Do dishwashers need routine maintenance?
How Does A Dishwasher Work?
Dishwashers have become such a part of our everyday lives we can sometimes forget how they operate. To understand why your dishwasher smells like rotten eggs, let’s first look at how your average dishwasher works.
When you close the dishwasher door, the basin at the bottom of the unit fills up with water. Then, a spray on rotating arms soaks the dishes before the actual wash. The internal heater heats the water to the desired temperature, and then the detergent is released simultaneously with the water.
This is what cleans the dirt and debris off of the dishes. Finally, the dirty water is drained, new warm water is added, and the dishes are rinsed. From there, the water used to rinse the dishes is also drained, and the inside of the dishwasher is heated to dry the dishes inside.
We know; we just ruined the magic of dishwashers. On a different note, if something is preventing your dishwasher from running as it should, it is best, to begin with how the appliance works rather than diving straight into troubleshooting.
Why does my dishwasher stink while running?
Generally speaking, when food particles get stuck in some portion of the dishwasher and begin to decay, a rotten smell is the result. The tricky part is often finding where the smell is coming from and going from there. Let’s take a look at how to clean your dishwasher and get rid of that smell properly.
An excellent first step is to clean your dishwasher. An unclean dishwasher is often the result of the egg smell. Before you get crazy with taking apart the dishwasher apart and troubleshooting, start with a good ol’ dishwasher cleaner and run a complete cycle with it. (this means you cannot put your dishes in the dishwasher, it’s the machine’s turn to get squeaky clean).
Clean The Filter
Now, if you have since run the dishwasher with the cleaner and the smell did not go away, the next step is cleaning the filter. Many dishwashers have filters, but remember that it is not something every machine has. Start by taking a look at the owner’s manual. It is generally at the bottom of the machine and helps clean the water as it makes its way from the dishwasher to the garbage disposal. The filter is often very fine and is prone to getting particles in it.
To clean the filter, first, disconnect it. Filters are located at the bottom of dishwashers but refer to your owner’s manual to determine exactly where the filter is. Once the filter is removed, grab a cleaning solution and some warm water. Clean your filter, and replace it once complete
A good rule of thumb is to clean your filter twice a month to avoid any food particles getting stuck and causing particularly rotten smells.
Clean The Door Gasket
Who would have thought dishwashers need routine maintenance? The whole point was so they would clean your dishes rather than you cleaning the dishwasher.
The good news is that the routine maintenance of a dishwasher required is not terribly complicated. The door gasket is a black seal of rubber that goes around the dishwasher door. While the machine is running, it prevents water from leaking out onto the floor. Over time, food particles build up and cause a smell of decay. Use a warm rag and some detergent to wipe down the door gasket, and you’re golden.
Check The Electrical Connection
While it may sound strange, electrical connections can often lead to foul smells in a dishwasher. Underneath the dishwasher’s door is a junction box. Unplug the box, and determine if there is anything wrong with the electrical connection.
If both you and your owner’s manual are unsure of how to determine something is wrong with the dishwasher, contact a professional and go from there.
Check the Drain Hose Or Air Gap
All dishwashers require a drain hose that removes the dirty water from the machine and a high loop that keeps it from flowing back into the dishwasher. The loop works by securing the drain hose under the sink preventing it from backfilling the dishwasher until it flows into the drain pipe. An air gap is also usually mounted to the sink, allowing fresh air into the house. This helps remove the possibility of suction to draw the dirty water back into the dishwasher.
If either of these systems is faulty, dirty water may flow back into the dishwasher, causing it to smell like rotten eggs. Check the drain hoses for any built-up debris, and if any is found, remove the drain hoses and clean them out with hot soapy water.
Use an Odor Neutralizer
If troubleshooting is not in your near future, and you still want a smell-free dishwater, look into getting an odor neutralizer. A few different solutions get rid of the odor without requiring a terrible amount of effort. Let’s take a look.
Pour white vinegar into the dishwasher, and run a deep clean cycle. Use about a cup of vinegar so as not to overdo it. Make sure the cycle is done, and no residue is left behind before proceeding to do business as usual.
Another option is bleach if you do not have vinegar (you should get some because that’s just weird). Because bleach is such a strong chemical, only use it on a dishwasher with a plastic interior. If the interior of your dishwasher is stainless steel, use a method other than bleach, as bleach tends to harm steel. Using about a cup of bleach, pour it into the dishwasher, and run a long cycle. Again, because it is powerful, you may have to run the dishwasher more than once to eliminate all of the bleach lingering inside.
One last option is to pour a small amount of baking soda evenly across the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, wait overnight, giving the baking soda enough time to absorb the smell of the rotten eggs. Run the dishwasher in the morning, and resume business as usual.
Why does my sink smell like eggs when I run the dishwasher?
If you have a garbage disposal, this may be causing your sink to smell like rotten eggs when the dishwasher is running. This is because the dishwasher pumps wastewater into the garbage disposal.
The good news is that cleaning your garbage disposal isn’t terribly difficult. Let’s take a look at several different ways to do so.
One way is to fill the sink about halfway with warm water. Then, add a few pounds of ice, ⅓ cup of lemon water, and ¼ cup of baking soda. The ice helps to lift the tough dirt and grime from the blade. The lemon water and baking soda help remove odor, grease, and debris from the unit, removing the dirty smell.
Suppose you don’t have enough ice, no worries. You can clean the garbage disposal without ice, but you will need a bit more elbow grease. Take a bottle brush and a cloth, and clean the hose in the garbage disposal. At no point during this process should you turn the disposal on (we figured this is common knowledge, but hey, you never know). After scrubbing the unit, pour a healthy dose of vinegar down the disposal. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can cut some lemons and run them through the disposal.
How To Maintain Your Dishwasher
There are a couple of different things you should routinely do to maintain a “healthy dishwasher,” if you will.
One is not to over-rinse the dishes before you put them into the dishwasher. Though it may sound counterintuitive, your dishwasher is built for cleaning and needs some grime left behind to do its job and continue to work correctly.
That said, do not leave massive food particles on your plate; your dishwasher is not built for large food remains.
Don’t overload the dishwasher. When the dishwasher is overloaded, it cannot fully clean the dishes to the extent it is meant to. This leaves more room for food particles to get into places they shouldn’t be and begin to decay.
Regularly clean the arms inside the dishwasher, as it prevents any unnecessary build-up in the machine.