Discover why your glassware smells bad and how to get rid of that wet dog odor.
Do Your Drinking Glasses Smell Weird?
Do your drinking glasses smell bad after washing? Maybe your glassware comes out of the dishwasher stinking like fish or a wet dog? It’s bad enough when you’re thirsty and get a whiff of something not right. When guests notice that odor, it can be embarrassing.
You’ve probably noticed that it’s not just one glass, either. Maybe you’ve tried running all of them through the dishwasher again to get rid of the smell. Sometimes that helps for a while, but the odor returns after a few days in your cabinet. Or it’s there the next time you wash them. That’s because you haven’t treated the source of the odor on your drinking glasses.
Why Your Drinking Glasses Smell Bad
Ever since the EPA required soap manufacturers to remove phosphates from dishwasher detergent, many of us have noticed our drinking glasses smell bad even after washing them. Some liken the smell to fish; others say it’s more like rotting meat or a wet dog. Those phosphates softened water, which meant the other ingredients in your dish detergent could work better. But they also caused algae blooms in waterways, so they’ve been banned.
Some Detergents Make Dishes Smell Bad
As if the smell wasn’t enough, you might also see your glasses don’t look clean after washing. Instead, they have a cloudy haze that makes them look grimy. Again, that’s because removing phosphates lessened the detergent’s effectiveness, especially if you live in an area with hard water.
Over time that film builds up, and your once-clear drinking glasses look etched. If you do nothing, that can become permanent. Even if you don’t see the haze yet, it’s the source of the smell because the residue is rough enough to hold onto bacteria. And where bacteria breeds, odor breeds.
Sometimes It’s Also Your Rinse Aid
People using detergents with built-in drying agents seem to have the most problems with smelly drinking glasses. There’s a reason for that. Drying agents or dishwasher rinse-aids leave a thin layer on your glasses, silverware, and dishes. This slick layer helps water bead and roll off the way raindrops roll off of a properly waxed car. But this layer can also trap bacteria between it and the surface of your glasses or dishes. And, as explained above, where bacteria breeds, odors occur.
Why Dishes Smell Worse When It’s Humid
So, you’ve got bacteria trapped between the surface of your glass and the haze or layer left by a rinse agent. Then you suddenly discover your drinking glasses smell even worse, especially if it’s humid or you’ve got the windows open. That’s because warmer, humid air provides an ideal breeding ground for trapped bacteria, and when bacteria breed, they cause odors. Add warm ambient temperatures to the heat of the dishwasher, and the problem gets even worse. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for cold weather to get rid of the stink on your dishes.
How to Fix Smelly Drinking Glasses and Dishes
So, there are a couple of ways to treat this problem, depending on whether you hand-wash your glasses or stick them in the dishwasher. Giving up detergents containing sheeting or drying agents to leave dishes spot-free isn’t really an option since manufacturers don’t disclose all of the ingredients they use.
But you can minimize smells on your drinking glasses and dishes, first by getting rid of any buildup then by keeping buildup from growing on them again.
In the Sink
- Line the bottom of your basin with a thick towel and arrange glassware on it.
- Add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar, then run the hot water until the glasses are completely submerged.
- Wait 20-30 minutes to give the vinegar time to dissolve and remove the odor-causing haze, then scrub with a dishcloth or a clean kitchen sponge, wash, and dry them thoroughly.
In the Dishwasher
- Pour 2 cups of white distilled vinegar into the bottom of the machine.
- Let the dishwasher run for a minute or two then pause the cycle for 20-30 minutes to give the vinegary water time to dissolve the haze. (In most dishwashers, this involves popping the door open about an inch.)
- Close the door and allow the cycle to continue as usual.
Tips To Keep Drinking Glasses From Smelling
• Don’t overfill your dishwasher’s soap dispenser. Switching to dishwasher tablets helps control how much you use. Otherwise, take care that you only fill the dispenser to the indicator line.
• Swap vinegar for your rinse-aid. To prevent hazing in the future, fill your dishwasher’s rinse aid reservoir with white vinegar — it works just as well as Jet Dry or similar products and saves money, too.
• Maintain your dishwasher properly. Deep clean your dishwasher monthly, so it’s not circulating bacteria-filled water or growing hidden mold. Then remove and rinse the filter at least once a week since food residue and other grime build up in there.
• Or try a dishwasher cleaning product. Some get added to your empty dishwasher, and then you run it with just the cleaner inside. Others like Affresh can be added along with a load of dishes.
• Give your glasses an occasional vinegar bath. Wash them with regular dish soap, then rinse them in a sink of water with a cup or two of vinegar added. This will help clear away any haze and bacterial buildup so your dishes don’t stink.
Where to Next?