Cleaning the Dishwasher
When I was a youth, I spent a lot of time at my house washing dishes by hand. So I became a big fan of the dishwasher when I rented my first apartment in college. The love affair with the dishwasher has continued all these years later.
But as much as I do love the convenience, there is a problem: when any of us wash dishes, lots of debris gets stuck in and around the dishwasher. Over a period of time, these tiny pieces of old food, cooking grease, and... stuff that is sometimes hard to identify kind of join together and get take over the hard-to-get-to spaces of the unit.
Of course, if these buildups aren't cleaned, they soon become a source of nasty stink.
What's The Solution?
In general, if the water smells funny in your dishwasher, it is time to clean the unit. If the water smells funny in other areas of your house, there may be a bacteria or pH imbalance that is causing the odor. In a case like this, call your local water department and ask for their help.
Check out the filter and remove any food particles stuck there.
Remove the dish racks and take an old toothbrush and soapy water and hit the rubber seal and the hard-to-get spots. Use a sponge for all the other areas.
Vinegar is nature's version of duct tape... it does about everything. In this case, it helps sanitize and remove the cruddy odors inside the dishwasher. Once everything has been scrubbed down, put the dish racks back in and place a cup of white vinegar in the top rack. Go to your sink and turn on the hot water, then run it until you are at the maximum temperature. Turn off the faucet, and turn on your dishwasher for a cycle.
If you are in a pinch for time, you can try the vinegar trick without the full clean.
Baking soda almost falls into the "nature's duct tape" category. Simply put baking soda in that little pocket where the detergent usually goes. Run a cycle and the baking soda will help get rid of the odors.
Typically, a water temperature of no less than 135 degrees F is required to appropriately breakdown most dishwasher and to provide a sanitary wash.
Some dishwasher manufacturers, like Whirlpool, recommend 145 degrees F as the lowest temperature to use when washing.