Why do my dishes stink like wet dog...

…when they’ve been through a perfectly good dishwasher cycle?

I suspect it’s too much detergent, which doesn’t get rinsed off well enough, and I guess bacteria like to eat it. I believe this because an extra rinse goes a long way toward solving the problem. Portland has great tap water but it’s very soft so not much detergent is needed.

My advice is to stop washing the dog in the dishwasher…

You might also have mildew in your washer. We had/have that in our clothes washer, due to the rubber seals degrading, I think.

Not that I have any idea how to solve the problem, if that’s what it is.

I would check the Drain. Stuff could be getting caught in there. Plus, how long do you leave dishes in the dishwater before you run a cycle? Sometimes we forget to turn it on and it gets whiffy.

Google search says to rinse with some white distilled vinegar and than run the cycle and follow it up with baking soda. They even tell you where to put the two in the diswasher for best effect. I looked it up on Molly Maid YMMV

I knew I was doing something wrong!

(Don’t actually have a dog–I already have a job, thanks – but thanks for the laugh.)

We recently had this exact issue. And yes there was a bunch of gunk in the drain. But a thorough cleaning of the trap and the white vinegar solution mentioned above cleared it up.

I was going to suggest to stop eating dog.

This was our problem. We have a water softener, and also find that we need to use very little detergent or else we get the “wet dog smell”. We can’t use the dishwasher pods, because they’re too much detergent. I have to buy powdered detergent (which seems really hard to find these days - the stores all carry pods, and I often have to buy the powdered stuff online) and only use a small amount each cycle.

On the plus side, one box of detergent lasts us a year and a half.

Sooo we’ve had this problem for years, across numerous households, at others’ houses, whether machine or hand washed, possibly even at certain eateries. It’s annoyed the hell out of us. Obviously we’ve wanted to know what causes it because said dishes are clean but they smell disgustingly ‘doggy’, as we’ve always said. Wet dog is exactly the smell.

Well a few years back I realised what caused it or at least made it most apparent: egg and fresh air. My girlfriend and I love eggs on toast at home, and most places we stay serve fry-ups for breakfast which obviously include eggs. We’ve noticed that plates that have had egg on them (in the past, not currently), even when they’re clean, can have this smell. During the warmer months when we’re likely to have the windows cracked open to get some fresh air into the kitchen (bacon can stink the place out), we tend to smell it most often then. When it starts getting colder and we leave the windows closed, the smell is a lot less common or apparent.

This sounds crazy, I know, but it’s bore out for us. I recall being at a friend’s place and we’d had breakfast with eggs and helped them wash the dishes. We stacked the plates on the table across from their open backdoor. When we sat at the table afterwards, there was that strong wet dog smell. It kind of blows my mind that more people don’t notice it because it’s gross but then I have a pretty good sense of smell. It’s a curse to be honest.

To combat it, we usually just take a clean drying towel and give the dish a good rub around and that eventually removes the odour. When it comes to the dishwasher we just hand wash everything that’s been in contact with eggs because ‘egg water’ tends to make the whole dishwasher stink. I’ve no idea what the science is behind any of this but we’ve found that things like chicken, turkey and pork have quite ‘doggy’ smells when left to cool in open air so we try to keep them submerged in their stock, sauce or wrapped/covered tightly.

If this is a gunked up dishwasher thing then… well, now you know about our experience! :)

@JoshL The dishwasher is pretty new so I don’t think it’s had time to get mildewy, but I’ll keep it in mind.

@geewhiz I thought about that and check and there was very little there. I do a really good job of scraping them off before putting the dishes in there.

@Hansey Yeah, it’s crazy how the industry is pushing those pod thingies as a “one size fits all” solution when anyone with a lick of sense can see they’re not, just so it can sell more detergent. I use liquid stuff myself because the powdered stuff doesn’t last as long before going bad.

Does the powdered stuff go bad? In what way? I haven’t noticed any issues personally, and as I said, one box lasts me over a year. I don’t have any problems with clumping or anything, but maybe it’s just the way I store it?

When we first moved in and were having a problem with our brand new dishwasher, we had an appliance guy come out and look at it. The first problem was that it had been installed wrong, and the hose had no “high loop”, which he fixed, but then we talked about the soft water problem. He told us specifically that the liquid detergent was terrible (I honestly can’t remember why though, I’m afraid), and that we should use the powdered stuff.

I got the impression that it can leave a residue in your pipes which steadily gunks up. Probably not helped if you’ve got soft water too.

I use Cascade Platinum pods and white vinegar in the rinse dispenser. Never had a smell problem.

I just read somewhere that the powdered stuff gets ineffective (at least) after more than about six months, probably due to air+humidity. May depend on how humid your house gets as a rule.

I’m reading all these and note that as a house with hard water, we don’t seem to have issues like this. The only dishwasher smells we get, rarely, are due to a specific smelly item going into the dishwasher without being cleaned or rinsed beforehand.

But we have a 20 year-old dishwasher. I’m just happy the thing is still kicking.

Just to come back to this, I’ve been having better luck lately. First, I bumped my water heater temp up a bit (somehow it had gotten below the mark that’s supposed to yield a 120F temperature). Second, I’m putting in an almost comically small dollop of this Cascade liquid (but gloopy) detergent, which I suspect is more concentrated than I originally thought. Those two things seem to have done the trick.

Ahh, why do I always forget white vinegar? I have a dishwasher thing where my chopsticks will get white furry mold on them if they are in there for a few days and I was trying to think of a non-poisonous way to broadly sanitize my washer. Next load gets a cup of vinegar!

I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving the dishwasher door slightly ajar after each load, giving it a chance to dry out and keeping down any moldy odors.

I do this as well, it works.

Thanks for the vinegar tip. I had known you could use it to clean the dishwasher, but never connected thar with using it in every wash. Its made a big difference.