Here are a few of our favorite tips.

One of my least favorite games to play is called "What's That Smell?" This game—you can play it alone or with others—usually takes place in the kitchen at our house. After getting a whiff of something especially rank, participants wander around, sniffing audibly, and try to locate the source of the smell. Usually it leads to the trash can. Other times, it's the garbage disposal, or something that's gone off in the fridge. Recently, the game took a surprising twist—it was the dishwasher!

Before then, I couldn't tell you the last time I cleaned the dishwasher. Unlike other appliances in the kitchen, the dishwasher doesn't seem like something you actually need to clean, since that is its primary function. But just one sniff of the musty machine was all it took to convince me otherwise.

Thankfully, it's easy to clean a dishwasher, and it doesn't require any special equipment or tools. Or scrubbing on your knees! There are three ways you can do it—choose the one that works for you, or try them all if things get really stinky.

Baking Soda

This pantry staple will help deodorize the inside of the dishwasher and make it look shiny and new. Sprinkle about 1 cup of baking soda over the bottom, then run a hot water cycle as usual, but with no detergent.


Another pantry staple, distilled white vinegar, can clean and deodorize a dishwasher. Pour a cup of vinegar into a small dishwasher-safe bowl and place the bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a hot water cycle without detergent.

Check the Drain

Under the bottom dish rack (in most dishwasher models), you'll find a drain filter. This is often where bits of trapped food get stuck, causing unpleasant odors. Remove the filter and wash it with dish soap and hot water. If it requires a deeper clean, use a toothbrush.