The Science of Smelly Dishwashers: Understanding the Causes and Solutions

Dishwashers are amazing products, but they have the habit of forming an unpleasant smell when not cleaned properly. While the inside of your dishwasher may look clean, there are nooks and crannies where food particles may get stuck. These food particles can quickly start to attract bacteria, mildew, and even mold. 

It can be hard to keep your dishwasher clean; we do–after all–run bits of food through them nearly every day. Thankfully, Ahh-some Watercare™ has your solution. First, let’s dive into why your dishwasher may be smelly to begin with.  

Why Is My Dishwasher Smelly?

Food Particles

A good dishwasher and detergent can clean your dishes flawlessly, even when you don’t rinse them before loading. However, the food particles on those unrinsed dishes have to go somewhere, and it’s not always down the drain. There are areas such as the filter and crevices in the plumbing where food can become stuck, causing the food to rot if it is left for too long. Rotting food may easily be the cause of a smelly dishwasher. 

Mold and Mildew 

Rotting food can also lead to mold. It is not uncommon to find mold in the filter area or in the rubber seal on the dishwasher door. These areas not only have the ability to trap food particles, but they also have a tendency to hold water, creating the ideal environment for mold to grow. Mold and mildew can have a strong, musty odor that is hard to get rid of once it forms. If you start to see or smell mold, it is time for a good cleaning. 


Bacteria and other microorganisms are another common cause of smelly dishwashers. Microorganisms grow together in a slimy substance called biofilm. Biofilm thrives in areas that are underwater or kept moist for long periods of time. Once a community of biofilm has started, the microorganisms inside of it will reproduce quickly; this can become tricky to eliminate because its microscopic size allows it to grow in the smallest openings. Bacterial odor in your dishwasher will likely be noticed around the seal of the door. If you are noticing a smell here, bacteria thriving in biofilm may be the culprit. 

The Best Product for Fixing a Smelly Dishwasher

Regardless of which issue is causing your dishwasher to smell, Ahh-some Watercare has your solution. Their dishwasher bio cleaner does it all. This cleaner is formulated to target organic contaminants such as bacteria and mold, which are common issues when it comes to a smelly dishwasher. The product works by drawing all of the biofilm, mold, and other gunk out into your dishwasher for an easy wipe-up. The product also effectively kills any living compounds, rendering them safe to clean up by hand. 

How do I use Ahh-some’s Dishwasher Cleaner?  

Using the Ahh-some dishwasher bio-cleaner is simple. Simply add ½ teaspoon of the cleaning gel into your dishwasher’s main detergent compartment and run the dishwasher for a full cycle. If your dishwasher has the proper settings, a heavy wash with hot water will be the most effective–there is no need to add a drying cycle. 

Once your dishwasher has completed its cycle, open the door and wipe away any junk that it brought to the surface. Check the creases between the door and the base, around the seal, under the sprayer arms, and in and around the filter for any loosened material that can be wiped off. 

It is recommended that you run a cycle of your normal dishes with your normal detergent shortly after the cleaning cycle to ensure all of the loosened material is washed out. 

If you are more of a visual learner, click on this video to watch the cleaning process in real-time. 

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