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Dishwashers are fantastic. There is also an argument to be made about dishwashers being eco-friendly – modern ones are very good at minimising water consumption.
No longer do you have to spend time after every meal scrubbing and washing plates, pots, pans, cutlery, glasses etc. All you have to do is load them up in your little machine, put on the tablet or dishwasher pod and press a button. Come back an hour or two later, and all of them are fresh, clean and ready to be used again.
Now imagine the very machine responsible for cleaning what you use to cook and eat, smelling like the sewer or rotten eggs. It’s a disgusting thought, and certainly not good for your health. So you need to do something about it ASAP!
Why does your dishwasher smell so bad?
There are a number of different foul smells your dishwasher can give off so it’s important to identify what it is before going about fixing it.
If you’ve had a brand new dishwasher put in, your machine can give off the kind of smell you get when you do DIY or have the painters in. It will be a smell of varnish or paint or petroleum, but don’t worry, this can happen when the machine is new and this goes away over a period of a few months with increased use.
At times when you open your dishwasher after a cycle you can get a bad burnt smell coming from inside. This is often because you have put plastic containers in there which aren’t suitable. Be sure to check on the back of your utensils and plates for a sign which depicts plates in a dishwasher rack. Too much misuse can lead to dangerous situations such as a fire.
One of the most common reasons for the bad smell is a clog caused by a buildup of leftover food. It is so important to make sure you scrape off all scraps of food from your plates before loading them into your machine. Being careless once in a while may seem harmless however that food has to go somewhere and most times gets stuck in the filter. When those leftovers get drenched in water repeatedly, they start to cause a real stink.
Another common explanation is standing water. Over a period of time this standing water starts to smell and you will often find the same smell coming from your kitchen sink, as the pipes of the sink and the dishwasher are usually connected.
How can you fix sewage smell coming from a dishwasher?
Finding the problem is the first step, but once you’ve located the source you have to fix it! Here are a few DIY steps you can try before calling in the pros!
- The first thing you should do is clean your dishwasher thoroughly. Get in there with a toothbrush and clean all the crevices to make sure you get rid of any food particles which have got stuck in any nooks and crannies.
- Remove the drain filter and rinse and scrub it properly. A clean drain filter is a key to a clean dishwasher. Do this on a regular basis to make sure there is no build up. You can soak your filter in warm water and vinegar and leave it in the solution for a while.
- Take out the racks and fill a dishwasher safe bowl with up to two cups of distilled vinegar and place it at the bottom of your machine. Run the ‘clean’ cycle setting, which all modern dishwashers have without the cleaning tablet. Then remove the bowl and insert the tablet and run the ‘clean’ cycle again. The vinegar will act as a non corrosive detergent which will clean your dishwasher well. This is another simple step you should do regularly.
- Finally, if none of these steps eliminates the odor, check your drain hose. This is the pipe which leads out of the dishwasher and connects to the main drain. If there is a kink or a bend in the hose it can cause the waste water to come back into the machine causing your dishwasher to smell like sewage or rotten eggs. Also, make sure there is no air gap in between the hose and the dishwasher, if you find one, ring your local plumber to come and have a look at it.
How often should I clean my dishwasher?
You should always consult your dishwasher manual to know what’s right for your personal machine, however, a good rule of thumb is cleaning the drain filter and running the vinegar solution once a month.
You can give your dishwasher a thorough deep clean with a brush or toothbrush once every two months.
What to do if it’s not just your dishwasher which smells disgusting?
It often happens that as well as your dishwasher, your washing machine can also smell like sewer. If this is the case you most likely have deeper problems with the pipes and you’ll have to call a plumber to inspect it. However, in the meantime there are some things you can do to get rid of that sewer smell from your washing machine.
If you are environmentally conscious or live in a rural area, it’s quite possible that you have a septic tank. If this is the case, oftentimes that foul odor coming from your machines and sinks is actually your septic tank!
It’s important to monitor your septic tank to avoid this situation and you should know how to tell your septic tank is full!