What To Do When Plastic Melts In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White

Ooops. We know. It doesn’t smell nice. Melted plastic is one thing that no dishwasher owner wants to see in their dishwasher. However, this happens very often, so what’s the following line of action?  Plastics easily fall off the rack during a wash cycle, and they can land on the dishwasher’s heating element, which melts them. We’ve got you covered. This guide tells you what to do when plastic melts in your dishwasher.  It explicitly explains how to make the smell disappear entirely and clean the dishwasher thoroughly. It also provides you with tips on avoiding running into something like this in the future.

What causes the plastic to melt in the dishwasher?

Plastics can fall off very easily from the racks during a wash cycle, as mentioned earlier in the introduction. When these plastics fall on the heating element, they melt and leave off that terrible strong smell in the dishwasher.

Also, not all plastics are meant to be placed in a dishwasher. This is why some brands explicitly indicate whether their plastics are safe for dishwasher use or not. If you place a plastic that is not safe to be used in a dishwasher inside the appliance, it may melt due to the heat.

Quick fixes for the smell

The quickest way to eliminate that unpleasant smell is to allow proper ventilation into the dishwasher. Turn off the power supply and let the dishwasher cool off. Take out the dishes, after which you can open the dishwasher and allow some air in. 

Open the detergent compartment and replace the detergent with some baking soda. Run a normal wash cycle, and things should be fine.

If the smell persists, you can place a bowl at the bottom of the dishwasher and leave it there overnight. 

Things you will need

To remove the melted plastic from your dishwasher and get rid of the horrid smell, you need several things.

First, you need an ice pack and a zipper bag. When the plastic melts in your dishwasher, please resist the urge to remove the melted plastic while it’s hot. You might damage other parts of your dishwasher. So you need the ice pack to make the melted plastic hard and easy to scrape off. 

It would be best to have a non-metal scraping tool. You need some baking soda to remove the smell. 

You also need a nail polish remover. Make sure it has some acetone in it. You can also use pure acetone if you have some at home. 

You need about two clean clothes at different points during cleaning. 

You also need some dish soap towards the cleaning process’s end.

How to clean the dishwasher

Cleaning the dishwasher of melted plastic is not as difficult as you think. First, turn off the power supply to the dishwasher and allow it to cool off. Take out the dishes and the racks to let you have easy access to the bottom of the dishwasher, which is most likely where the plastic has fallen to.

Get the ice pack in a zipper bag and put it right on the melted plastic for about thirty minutes. When the melted plastic is hardened, it becomes easier to scrape off. Remove the ice pack after thirty minutes and scrape the plastic off.

After getting a huge chunk of plastic out:

  •  use that acetone or nail polish remover we talked about earlier. 
  • Pour some of it into a clean cloth and clean the heating coil. 
  • Be careful not to damage the heating coil or any other part of the dishwasher in this process. 

You can also add some dish soap into warm water and clean the environment again. Using clean water, rinse the soap off, and you should be left with a clean dishwasher. 

Avoid doing this in the future

To prevent a repeat of this, make sure that the dishes sit appropriately in their racks. Due to the intensity of a wash cycle, an item not correctly placed in the dishwasher can easily fall off. Small dishes like cutleries can also slip through the space between the racks. So be sure to arrange your dishes next time carefully. 

Confirm that any plastic you are putting in your dishwasher has been certified by the manufacturer to be dishwasher-safe. Not all plastics can handle the heat of a wash cycle. Instead, they get melted and result in a messy terrible smell. 

Seeking professional help

If, after cleaning your dishwasher, you discover that the heating coil is not working well, it’s best to have an expert look at it. 

Sometimes, the reason why you are getting that melted plastic smell in your dishwasher is not that a plastic spoon fell off the racks. It might be a factory problem with the dishwasher. 

Hence, after inspecting and ascertaining that no plastics slipped off during the wash cycle, request professional help to find out the problem and how to fix it. 


Dishwasher smelling of melted plastics is one typical report that dishwasher-owners complain of. This guide thoroughly provides you with how to act when melted plastic is inside your dishwasher. 

It provides practical ways to get that horrible smell out of your dishwasher and tips on avoiding plastics melting inside your favorite appliance. It also lists the things you need to carry out this cleaning process. 

However, if you are having a little trouble with what to do, it’s okay to have a professional look at it and figure out what is going on.

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