How to Clear Mold out of a Dishwasher (in Under 10 Minutes)


Is there mold in your dishwasher?

You’re not alone. There’s nothing worse than pulling out a whole set of dishes, only to find they all smell super funky.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to fix this issue.

To clean mold from a dishwasher, run a cycle using a tablet cleaner and sanitizer. You can also use bleach to solve the issue. But, if you prefer a more natural solution, try using baking soda and vinegar. Remember to keep the door open after each cycle.

That’s the short answer, but there’s more detail than that.

Read on to find out how to clean mold out of your dishwasher for good.

Why trust us? This article was written in collaboration with James Blackford, our appliance repair expert. James has over 16 years of experience as an appliance technician, works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair company.

How to Get Rid of Mold In A Dishwasher: 3 Simple Ways

The combination of moisture and warmth in dishwashers provides an ideal environment for mold to grow.

Unfortunately, mold in a dishwasher can make you sick, especially if you have allergies or any respiratory condition.

Don’t worry, though. There are simple ways to get rid of mold and keep you and your family safe. These are:

#1 Use Cleaning Tablets and Sanitizer

You can get rid of the musty smell by running a tablet cleaner and sanitizer in the hottest setting multiple times until the odor and mold disappear.

Sanitizers usually come in a bottle with a wax seal that melts during the dishwasher cycle. This enables the sanitizing solution to effectively disinfect your dishwasher.

It’s also important to clean your garbage disposal with a foaming tablet cleaner as well. Since dishwashers and garbage disposals are typically connected through the same system, cleaning both appliances will help prevent unpleasant odors.

Then, make sure to keep the door open to allow air to circulate and help moisture to evaporate, allowing your dishwasher to dry. This will prevent mold from reappearing in your dishwasher.

It’s worth noting that some dishwashers retain more water than others, which can result in them being a bit smellier compared to higher-end models.

#2 Use Bleach

As mentioned above, running a tablet cleaner and sanitizer multiple times can help remove mold.

However, this process may take some time. So, there’s an additional top you can try for quicker results.

Try diluting one cup of bleach in a gallon of water and scrub the inside of the dishwasher with a stiff brush. Use an old toothbrush to scrub into any nooks and crannies in the machine.  When you’re done, run the machine empty for one cycle to rinse out any bleach residue.

Chlorine bleach can easily kill mold and remove mildew stains. However, it’s important to open the windows and use protective gear to protect your skin and eyes.

You should NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or acid products, such as vinegar. Mixing these cleaners can create toxic fumes that can be harmful to your health.

Remember, once you’ve finished the cycle to rinse, leave the door of the machine open fully to allow the inside to dry out thoroughly.  You can help dry out puddles or damp areas with a clean, dry cloth. 

#3 Use Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you prefer a natural cleaning solution, you can use baking soda and vinegar instead.

Pro – tip:  Baking soda and Bicarbonate of Soda is exactly the same thing!

Use baking soda and vinegar to remove mold from your dishwasher!

Take a cup of vinegar, and add small amounts of baking soda until you have a foamy paste.  Using a scrubbing brush, use the paste to clean out the dishwasher, paying close attention to all those crevices and hard–to–reach areas.  As in the other method, you can use a toothbrush to get into really tight spots.

Once you’re done scrubbing, you can use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the inside of the machine, OR you can put a full cup of vinegar in the top drawer of your machine and run it through a regular cycle to kill off any lingering mold bacteria and microbes.

Once you’re done with those steps, open the door of the machine and leave it open so that the machine can dry out fully.

Preventing Mold In A Dishwasher

Once your dishwasher is clean, it’s important to take on some new habits to make sure we can prevent more mold from appearing in the future.

One of the most important prevention methods is to leave the dishwasher door open when not in use!

This is ESPECIALLY true on higher end dishwashers, and on Samsung dishwashers specifically. These models seal extremely well, so a closed door means a dark box full of moist air. In other words, mold paradise.

Keep your door open – especially after a dishwasher cycle – and it’ll help prevent mold.

In addition to keeping the door open, follow these steps to make sure your dishwasher stays mold-free:

  1. Always clean up visible food bits left in the machine with paper towels and mild detergent. And once a month, run the dishwasher on empty using dishwasher cleaning tablets.
  2. Clean the accessories and parts that make up the dishwasher.  So –
    • Take out any removable racks, and the utensils holder.
    • Clean off any food debris with paper towels or a damp cloth.
    • Using an all-purpose cleaner, wipe down and disinfect the parts.
    • Use a toothbrush or soft scrubbing brush to clean the spray arm – this will get rid of any clogs that are stopping the machine from cleaning effectively. You can also use vinegar to break down any stubborn buildup.
  3. Clean the dishwasher filter. You can check your manufacturer’s manual, but typically you can take the filter out and run it under hot running water to dislodge dirt and food particles. Try using a wire or hard nylon brush.
  4. Get rid of rust stains. They can encourage mold growth, so get rid of these too by adding a cleaning product designed to remove rust from the machine’s soap dispenser drawer/cup.  Also, sprinkle a thick layer of the same rust remover over the bottom of the dishwasher (inside).  Then, run the empty dishwasher through a complete cycle and allow drying well afterward.
Your dishwasher door can become a safe haven for breeding mold because most have nooks and crannies where mold spores can hide in. 
  1. Clean your door out effectively by opening it wide to get into the top, bottom, and sides.  With an old toothbrush and a gentle cleaning agent that’s safe for the finish of your appliance, gently scrub in and all around the door with hot water.  Make sure you get fully into all the grooves and crevices of the door!
  2. The door seals/gaskets also have to be kept clean and mold-free.  This means cleaning them now and again.  You can do this by taking a damp cloth and wiping them out with hot soapy water.  When they’re spotless, and you’ve tackled all those hard–to–reach bits, dry them thoroughly with a dry rag or cloth to prevent future mold growth.


What Is Mold?

Simply put, mold is a type of fungus.  It grows in multicellular filaments (or strings) called hyphae.  It’s those fuzzy and thread-like bits that give mold its weird and wonderful looks, and because there are many different types of fungi, it can take on a number of forms. 

Below are some examples of mold growing in petri dishes. 

Mold spores

Mold grows from spores that float around in the air, so no home is truly immune from its presence. 

Although mold causes household damage and food spoilage, it is important for making tasty things like cheese, but they are also used to make the antibiotics that fight off disease when we’re ill.

How Do You Know If You Have a Moldy Dishwasher?

Often, you may have mold in your dishwasher and not even be aware of it – many forms of mold are tiny, and some kinds can be colorless, so they can be very hard to spot.  To be on the safe side, it’s best to assume that you do have mold in some crevices of your dishwasher – that may not even be obvious to the naked eye.

If your dishwasher smells of a ‘mildewy’ or musty odor, that’s a bad sign.

The problem is, mold spores can survive without growing or being visible, they’ll just sit around waiting for the right conditions to grow and spread.  For mold spores, the right conditions are humid, warm, and moist – just like the inside of your dishwasher!  So, regular anti–mold measures just make sense.

Can Mold In A Dishwasher Make You Sick?

Yes, mold in your dishwasher can make you sick, and here are some health problems it causes:

  • Mold can cause fungal allergies to start
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Breathing Problems – like asthma
  • C.O.P.D – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder
  • Irritating symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and throat inflammation
  • Skin Irritation and Rashes
  • The Aspergillus fungus has been found to cause Cystic Fibrosis

Some health issues caused by exposure to mold can be life-threatening, and the effects can linger on for years – so we certainly don’t want it in our dishwasher or anywhere else!


Thank you once again for joining us, we hope that you’ll visit other areas of the site for much more information on the appliances throughout your home, and how to care for and get the best out of them! 

See you next time!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more