Do your glasses smell bad after washing? Maybe they come out of the dishwasher smelling like a wet dog, or you dishes smell like fish? 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.
I tried everything I could think of, but that smell kept returning. It was worse on warm days, especially when I left the windows open. Other times, my glasses were fine when I put them in the cabinet but that smell returned when I got them out to use. So, I investigated.
Why Glasses Smell Bad After Washing
Bacteria left behind by your detergent or poorly-performing dishwasher breed on your glasses, sometimes trapped by rinse aids, and breeding bacteria stink.
Part of the Problem is Detergent Changes
Glasses stink more now because the EPA made detergent manufacturers remove phosphates that softened water. Softer water lets detergents work better. Without the softener, things don’t get as clean. But that softener did more than just boost the detergent.
Hard Water Does Not Help
Softeners also keep the minerals in hard water from causing buildup and leaving microscopic scratches in glasses and dishes. Those scratches become breeding grounds for bacteria, and breeding bacteria cause odors.
Then there’s the Rinse Aid Problem
Many of us turn to rinse aids to help leave glasses clean and shiny. Rinse aids work like wax on a car, creating a slick layer that helps water bead and roll off. But that layer is also to blame for glasses smelling bad, because it traps those odor-causing bacteria.
Now Add in Humidity or Open Windows
Okay, picture it: you’ve got a less than effective detergent plus hard water, or a dishwasher that’s not working well. So all those little bacteria get left behind in the microscopic grooves I mentioned, maybe even trapped in place with a rinse aid.
So, guess what happens as soon as they get a whiff of warm, moist air coming through your windows? They start breeding like crazy, making that bacterial odor, and you don’t even have to put on Barry White.
How to Fix Smelly Glasses and Dishes
I’ve found two ways to get rid of the wet dog odor, and they both come down to using vinegar to remove that haze and eliminate the bacteria behind the smell.
In the Sink
To get rid of the smell on your glasses in the sink, soak them in equal parts white vinegar and hot water for 20-30 minutes. Then scrub them well in soapy water, rinse, and dry them with a towel.
In the Dishwasher
You can also use your dishwasher to get rid of that wet dog smell. For this, you’re not going to wash silverware or any plastic—load only the smelly glasses and dishes. Also, skip the detergent for now.
- Turn two glasses upright on the top rack and fill them to the brim with white vinegar.
- Start the dishwasher but stick close by. When you hear the detergent door pop open, pause the machine.
- The vinegar will have splashed around onto your other dishes, so now give it 20-30 minutes to work
- Continue the dishwashing cycle.
And, hey, it’s not a bad idea to deep clean your dishwasher once you’re done so you know there aren’t bacteria lurking in there.
Tips To Keep the Smell from Returning
Nothing involving cleaning is ever a one-and-done task, is it? So, let’s go over some ways to keep your glasses and dishes from smelling again.
• Don’t overfill your dishwasher’s soap dispenser. If you use powdered detergent, measure it. Or switch to pods.
• Keep your dishwasher clean. Follow the deep cleaning steps I mentioned, or use a dishwasher cleaning tablet once a month.
• Put vinegar in your rinse aid dispenser. Remember what I said about rinse aid trapping bacteria? Vinegar helps dishes dry quickly while preventing the haze and bacterial buildup that makes glasses and dishes stink.
Liked that? Now let me tell you how to get your dish cloth to stop smelling, too!