I spent a lot of time researching why our dishes smell like wet dog every so often. I was very glad to see the millions of hits I encountered as now I know I am not weird.
I think I may have solved it. After years of wondering about this I looked at everyone's answers and by process of elimination discarded anything that did not work or apply. I have two new Miele dishwashers and two new hot water tanks; therefore, it cant be the build up on the anodes. I have used all the good soaps, to no avail. Sometimes it is true that eggs will contribute to the smell, but then I should not have the smell if eggs were not used. I thought about chemical reactions with the well water, but then again people on municipal water have this problem. My water softener is new too with no odor to it. I wondered about chemical reactions during damper days, I added bleach, I added vinegar, baking soda, whatever I could. Sterilized the darn thing totally, removed the filters, cleaned out the bottom, checked the piping. Sometimes I would simply rewash the dishes using vinegar after the first pre-rinse cycle. The odd time I could still smell the darn dog.
So recently I decided to experiment again. I decided to add a little bit of vinegar to the machine after I unloaded it. Sure it would smell pretty strong for a while but then the smell would dissipate. Voila! For two weeks now my dishes have not smelled whatsoever. I am wondering whether or not the acid is neutralizing something in the bottom of the dishwasher which I normally can't access.
Anyways for all its worth. Try adding vinegar at the beginning of the day so that it can sit there until you turn the dishwasher on. I am very curious to see if this works for anyone else.
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Chris, you've certainly done a lot of work. Over my years of living, I've had at least 6 different water heaters, using at least 3 through their end of life. All but 1 heated city and village chlorinated water. I've never encountered smelly water as a by-product of a water heater.
I'm also on my 4th dishwasher ~ this is my 1st efficiency model and the 1st having a stainless steel tub and the 1st one encountering "the smell". And so, I consider the new design for energy efficiency the bottom line cause of the problem, and the likelihood of egg residue as a contributor to the stink. These efficient dishwashers are certainly poorly designed considering that users need to repeat cycles and add products in order to eliminate "the smell".
One stink required me to re-run a wash 5 times, using baking soda and vinegar and Dishwasher Magic to rid it. Leaving a bit of vinegar in the washer between washes has worked, but I wonder if the 'acid' bath will cause harm.
Eggs cause wet dog smell in my dishwasher. Prewash anything that has come in contact with either raw or cooked eggs before putting it in the dishwasher. I haven't had the smell since I figured this out.
This is the absolute answer, you either have no "Air Gap" or vent off the garbage disposal drain outlet or the vent hose is kinked or the garbage disposal drain outlet is practically blocked with organic debris that creates the smell. We have tried all you mentioned and more and finally found the answer. First we added a air gap vent (the vent in top of the sink because I had a soap dispenser there before) which solved the problem completely then after that the problem re-occurred even with the air vent gap, we removed the outlet from the disposal and found onion skins lodged in the garbage disposal outlet. Removed them and problem solved again. Bottom line, add an air gap and check for debris. Problem solved. We struggled with this for over two years before finally solving the problem. I hope this helped. :) Best Wishes!
By Lelia Jo Cordell06/24/2010
Annie, I love your persistence and ingenuity. Your comments also gave me a good chuckle!
By Melanie Jackson06/24/2010
Something else that people recommend is putting lemonade flavor Kool-Aid in the dishwasher, and run it with no dishes. We do it, and it's nice and fresh! Only lemonade flavor will work, however. Anything else, and you'll end up with an unintended dye job in your dishwasher. X_X
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After the dishwasher is done, there seems to be a pond water smell on the dishes. I run the dishwasher 1 to 2 to times a day. I do run hot water over the garbage disposal and have put liquid detergent, lemon rinds and ice cubes (separately) while running it before I start the dishwasher. I've also tried a vinegar wash. There isn't any water sitting at the bottom of the washer when it is finished. None of the things I've tried seem to work. Any suggestion on this is appreciated!
Cnil from Northern CA
By Cheryl from Missouri
Have you tried baking soda or vinegar? (10/17/2005)
By Karl from Florida
By Cheryl Elliott
By Grandma Margie
Does anyone know what is causing this and is there anything we can use with each wash to get rid of it? I don't like the idea of bleach on stuff we eat or drink out of. (04/26/2008)
By Amy from NC
By Mary Lee
By nanacy l
I'd like to see dishwasher manufacturers add their own water filters to the machines to prevent this increasingly common problem (due to global warming, algae blooms can be expected to worsen in the next few decades). (08/08/2008)
I think there must be something that adheres to the metal surface that eventually develops the odor. Just wondering if anyone else has the Stainless Still type and have the same problem. (08/24/2008)
By Roger of Tulsa
Pete1, don't be afraid of bleach in your dishwasher with stuff you eat and drink from/with. The active ingredient in bleach is typically chlorine. The city puts chlorine in your water supply in minuscule amounts to ensure your water is still clean when it gets to your faucet in your home. Emergency preparedness measures and camping instructions suggest using a small amount (a tablespoon or so per bucket) of bleach to treat questionable water before drinking. Always use plain unscented chlorine bleach for cleaning involving anything meant for human consumption. Check your local Red Cross, FEMA Office, Camping Supply, etc. for the exact dosage for purifying water intended for human consumption. Ingesting too much chlorine can be harmful, like most things. (01/13/2009)
Good evening. I am very passionate about cooking, keeping a clean kitchen, and most important brewing good beer. So when I started having water odor issues I was frustrated to no end and in a mood to kick some serious microorganism butt. There is nothing more unappetizing than trying to enjoy a wonderful IPA from an offending pint glass.
Anyway, I found this discussion board while attempting to solve the exact same issue as most of you. Anything that came out of my dishwasher (a brand new Maytag) dishes, bowls, cups and glasses both ceramic and glass smelled swampy or as others describe, like a wet dog.
I know exactly what is going on here and I can guarantee you that no amount of bleach, vinegar or citric acid in the dishwasher is going to solve your problems. For one the dishwasher is most likely not the heart of the problem. In fact most modern dishwasher units are designed to not allow grey water to back-up into the unit during or after a cycle. Also if you are like me and you rinse your dishes prior to loading the unit, your grey water should be fairly sanitary. On the flip side if you leave grease and chunks of food on your dishes when loading you washer then yes you may have to take the thing apart and clean out the filter, drain hoses, etc.
About my demographics - I live in a small city in Northern California and the water is 100% ground source water and it's harder than heck and full of dissolved solids. That being said my first inkling was to get the city involved or at least notify them off our problem, which is exactly what I did. The city was very responsive and offered to come out and take a water sample and chlorine reading if I wasn't able to solve the problem myself.
Ruling out the dishwasher (it's brand new, for heavens' sake) I began to conduct some experiments. The first thing I did was borrow a clean glass from a neighbor and filled it with water from the out side hose bib closest to the city service line. I filled it up and let it sit for a while. I came back and gave it a good sniff. No odor. I even dumped it out, let the glass air dry, filled it again and the same thing (as expected) no odor and no point in getting the city involved any further.
Most houses have a pretty simple plumbing setup. Main line coming in from the city service; a bunch of pipes usually copper or galvanized, providing service to a handful of appliances.
Appliance-wise, for most homes it's usually just a water heater , dishwasher and washing machine. That is of course unless you're like me and you own a water softener. Do you own one? If so do what I did. Open the lid where the salt is added, take the cap off the brine well and take a big whiff. Any off-odors? I am not talking about a slight salt brine smell or organic ocean like smell. I am talking about the smell of decaying organic matter, a bacteria-like odor similar to a dead animal either heavy or ever so slight. Any off-odors from the softener point to a bacteria infection within the unit and most likely the softener's resin tank.
Welcome to the heart of the issue. If you read your water softener appliance guide there is usually a blurb on how to sanitize the unit. In fact right out of the box, most manufacturers recommend that the unit be sanitized. Depending on where your softener I located you may need to sanitize it regularly. I also recommend that you use a high quality softener salt. I recommend Morton's. With regards to the salt, keep in mind that a 60 pound bag of salt pellets will run you about five dollars and a one pound box of Morton's Kosher Salt flakes will run you about the same. In other words softener salt is not very well refined, probably contains impurities and is definitely not a par with quality culinary salt.
Sanitizing a softener - I own a Kenmore Ultrasoft 100 unit and sanitizing it was a simple affair - 3 gallons of clean water with 1.5 ounces of chlorine beach into the brine well, then press down the on/off/hold button to start a cycle. Most softeners take about 2-3 hours to complete their cycle. When finished give the softener another sniff test and repeat if necessary. I sanitized mine twice for good measure. Unfortunately there's more work to be done after the softener is done cycling. You see the softener also services all the other appliances down your home's appliance chain (i.e. the water heater, dishwasher, and washing machine. All of these units need to be sanitized as well, especially the water heater.
If you sanitize your water heater, you can also sanitize your dishwasher (empty), washing machine (empty or do a load of whites) by simply running a cycle. Sanitize your water heater by turning the pilot off as well as the cold water inlet valve . Drain a large portion of the tank and then close the drain valve. You may want to purchase a hose cap prior to this just in case your drain bib won't seal. Next open the cold water service line fixture on the top with a wrench and pour a gallon of bleach into the tank. Reconnect the cold line to the water heater, turn on cold inlet valve, check for leaks, and turn the pilot back on. Let the tank fill and wait a couple hours. Once this is complete I recommend running hot water fixtures in the house to get the bleach-water flowing through the house.
I also recommend running the dishwasher and washing machine. Once this is complete you can either drain your water heater again or just let the chlorinated water work it's way out. I chose the latter and it took a few days for the chlorine odor to dissipate . These two steps made a huge difference and everything coming out of the dishwasher is odor free. You'll probably need to rewash some tainted dishes and wash clothes that are probably tainted. Good luck. (04/27/2009)
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