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My Kenmore Dishwasher Smells Bad

Tara Kimball

When you use your Kenmore dishwasher frequently, you might notice an odor. If the dishwasher is new, the odor might have an easy explanation, but if it has already passed the breaking-in period, you'll likely need to clean it to remove offensive odors.

New Plastic, Petroleum or Varnish Odor

New Kenmore dishwashers can emit a new plastic, petroleum or varnish odor in the first month or two of use. The new plastic odor is inherent to a new dishwasher's components, and should fade with regular use. The petroleum odor is a result of insulating material used to reduce noise. This fades during the first month of use. The varnish odor emanates from the motor because some motor components are treated with varnish.

Food Odors

If stale food odors are in your dishwasher, clean out the bottom of the unit to remove any food buildup. Pull the lower rack out and set it aside. Use a damp cloth or paper towels to wipe out inside the bottom of the dishwasher. Scrub it with a sponge dipped in a baking soda and water paste to clean out any residual odor.

Regular Odor Maintenance

Run a short cycle through your dishwasher without any dishes once a week. Add 1/4-cup of white vinegar or lemon juice to the detergent cup before you run the load. The vinegar will result in a residual odor of vinegar throughout your kitchen briefly, but the smell will dissipate within an hour or two. Lemon juice will emit a citrus scent that might be more pleasing.

Musty Odors

Musty odors inside your dishwasher indicate stagnant water. If your Kenmore dishwasher is not draining properly, the water can develop bacteria and produce offensive odor. Clean the bottom of the dishwasher with a clean rag or paper towel. Scrub the surface with a mixture of baking soda and water on a soft sponge. If the problem persists, contact a plumber to address plumbing clogs or drainage problems.