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Dishwasher - Odors/Burning Smell

Odors associated with new appliances are normal. The processes used during manufacturing often may leave a "newness" odor that may not dissipate until after several washing cycles. This condition is completely normal. You can alleviate this condition by running the dishwasher through several cycles using detergent.

A dishwasher will not normally retain odors. Odors present for extended periods of time should be considered abnormal.
  • Food Odors: If abnormal odors are observed in the dishwasher, check for food particle residue on the tub bottom. If any particles are found, remove them.

    Check around the pump inlet on the back right hand side of the tub bottom. Remove any paper, plastic or other debris that may be blocking the inlet to the pump.

    Also, check the spray arm jets. If any jets are blocked, use a small object such as a paper clip to loosen the debris blocking the jets. Be careful not to damage the jets in any way as that will affect wash performance.

    After performing the above operations, run the dishwasher with a full cup of detergent and nothing else inside. This should flush out the machine and eliminate the cause of food residue odor.

    To prevent this from reoccurring, scrape off plates before placing them in the dishwasher. Remember, the dishwasher is not a food disposer.


  • Odor from dirty water in the tub: Dirty water building up in the dishwasher between uses is an installation problem caused by an improperly installed drain hose. The installation instructions require either an air gap or a high drain loop. When this problem is observed, the drain hose was installed without either a high drain loop or an air gap. Click here for more information or refer to the installation instructions.


  • Plastic Tub Smell: During initial use the consumer will detect a distinctive smell that is attributed to tub material, chlorine bleach in detergent and the smell of rinse aid. This is normal and the smell will tend to dissipate during normal use.


  • Burning Odor: Check for packing material on the heating element (on newly installed models).

    Also, remove lower rack and check for something laying against the black heating element. Sometimes plastic articles can fall on the element. They will get hot and melt. Clean the item off the element and it will be ok to use again. Make sure the heating element is cool before touching it.

    To remove plastic from the dishwasher Calrod® element:

    Mechanical (Dial) Models -
    1. Advance the timer to the "Dry" cycle and allow heat for approximately. 4 minutes.
    2. Advance the timer to the "OFF" position, unlatch the door and remove the lower rack.
    3. Scrape the plastic off with a non-metallic object such as a wooden spoon.
      Use caution when scraping. The element will be hot.

    Electronic Models -
    1. Reset the dishwasher control by pressing the "Reset" pad if the dishwasher is not already off.
    2. Wait approximately 30 minutes for heating element to cool down.
    3. Open the door and remove the lower rack.
    4. Scrape the plastic off with a non-metallic object such as a wooden spoon. Use caution when scraping.


  • Mildew Odor: Mildew can be removed from the interior or gasket of the dishwasher, using one of the 2 cleaning solutions listed below:

    1. Mix one gallon of water with 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach
      OR
      Mix one gallon of water with 1/2 cup of ammonia
    2. Wipe out the interior with a cloth or sponge
    3. Run the dishwasher through the rinse cycle to remove any residue before loading dishes.

    Note: These solutions will not harm the interior, gasket or outside surface of the dishwasher.
    CAUTION:Mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia together will cause toxic fumes. DO NOT use them together. Only mix them separately with water.

    DO NOT use abrasive cleaners or concentrated cleaning agents such as Janitor in a Drum, laundry detergent, dish detergent, etc.

    Running the dishwasher at least once per week can usually prevent this odor, especially if food residue is present.
LemiShine machine cleaner can also help with residual food odors or when the dishwasher has been used for a long time. Use LemiShine following the instructions on the package (can be purchased from GE Parts- part number WX10X10019 or at the local supermarket).

View a short video about causes for odors in your dishwasher:
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