What to Do If Dishes Smell Bad After Washing


If you’ve got your dishes out the dishwasher or sink after washing them and they’ve come out smelling like a wet dog or fish, then it looks like you’ve got more cleaning to do. Sometimes after washing dishes, they come out giving an unpleasant smell and you might get a whiff of this when trying to use the plates to eat or the glasses to drink with. If you have guests over and your dishes are smelling bad, this can be embarrassing for both parties.

Sometimes you can wash your dishes and they come out smelling good and other times they can come out smelling bad. It’s not certain why they come out with this smell but there are a few reasons why it can happen.

Why Does Your Dishes and Glassware Smell Bad?

There are a few reasons why your dishes and glassware will have a wet dog, fishy, or eggy smell to it. If you’ve ever heard of EPA required soap, this is a soap that helps to remove phosphates from dishwasher detergent, and you may have noticed your dishes smelling bad after using them. If you’ve noticed this, stop using them. If this isn’t the case, then it could boil down to you not washing your dishes properly, or something in your sink or dishwasher is causing the dishes to smell bad.

Important: If you use Amazon a lot, you can enjoy FREE same-day delivery as well as FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items for 30 days with an Amazon Prime free trial. Sign up in 2 seconds with the click of a button if you're already logged into Amazon.

If you're still struggling to find good shows to watch on Netflix, you can also enjoy instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Other Prime perks include unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs, borrowing books for FREE from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and skipping the lines with 2-hour delivery on a wide selection of fresh ingredients.

You may have even noticed a cloudy hue to your glassware that makes them look grimy. If you don’t clean this, over time it can build up until it gets etched onto the glass and this can cause the smell to become permanent. If you don’t know where the source of this smell is coming from, there are a few things you can do to get rid of it.

1. Clean Your Sink

One of the main reasons why you’ll get nasty smelling dishes is that your sink is dirty. When your sink is filled with rotten food and your dishes have been soaking in there, it can cause the dishes to smell after you’ve washed them. Or, when washing them with hot water, the gases from the rotten food can transfer onto your dishes. The first thing you’ll need to need to do is to clean your sink.

Get rid of Rotten food

Since the rotten food in the sink can cause it to smell, you need to make sure that you get rid of any food in the sink and in the drain filter. To do this, you can wear gloves and scrape everything out the sink and pick out any food from the drain plug. When you do this, you need to make sure that your dishes don’t have any food on them as well. In this case, scrape any food that’s left on the dishes as well and make sure that you’ve got rid of any food lurking in the sink.

Scrub the Sink

The next thing you can do to get your sink clean is to scrub it using soap and water. You’d think that soap and water that flows through your sink would be enough to clean it, but it’s not. Soap deposits, food deposits, water spots and rust all build up on the sides of your kitchen sink and if not cleaned regularly, it can cause your dishes and glassware to smell after you’ve washed them. To clean your sink of deposits, you’ll need to squirt dishwashing soap around your sink when its empty, run the tap, then use a brush or sponge and wipe down the sink using water. Make sure to clean all areas of the sink making sure to get rid of any deposits that have collected up the sides. Make sure to clean the sponge regulatory whilst doing this.

Use Baking Soda

Sinks that are made up of nonporous or acrylic based solid surfing are stain resistant. However, its important that they’re cleaned routinely because dirt can build up around it and this can cause the dishes to smell when you’re washing them here. To do this, you need to use soap and water like before. Then, make a paste by adding baking soda to some water. Dab a sponge into the mixture and wipe down your sink with it. Once you’re done, you can rinse down your sink with water.

Clean with Lemon Juice

After you’ve removed any deposits from the sink, you can use lemon juice to clean down the sink further if you didn’t have any baking soda. If there are still stains left around the sink that could cause bad smells, you’ll need to clean them using some lemon juice. To do this, you can make a paste with powdered borax and the juice of a lemon. You need to dab some on a sponge and begin to scrub around your sink making sure to get rid of any stains. Once you’re done, you can rinse down the sink with water.

Use Vinegar to Clean Lime

If limescale has built up around your sink, the tap, or around the drain, then you can clean it using vinegar. If you aren’t able to recognize limescale, look out for white spots around your sink. These can easily cause your sink to smell if not cleaned and later on cause your dishes to smell. To use this, you can pour some vinegar around your sink making sure to target the white spots. Wait 10 minutes and then wipe down with a kitchen towel. When you’re done, run water around the sink to stop it smelling of vinegar.

Keep Drain Clean

As well as the sink itself, the drain may be projecting the bad smell onto your dishes. If your drain is clogged with dirt and rotten food, you’ll need to unclog it and make sure it’s clean. To do this, mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of salt and ¼ cup cream of tartar. You can store this in a container because you’ll be using it to periodically keep your drain unclogged. Every few weeks, you can pour ½ the mixture down the drain followed by some boiling water. Make sure to do this whilst the drain filter is on the sink. Avoid getting grease, hair, or food down the drain as it can clog it and this can cause your dishes to smell after you wash them.

2. Wash Sponges

Another reason why dishes could be smelling is due to a dirty sponge or brush. If your sponge or brush isn’t cleaned periodically, overtime, it can build up with grease, dirt and food particles and this can get onto your dishes when you wash them causing them to smell. There are a few ways to clean your sponge to make sure that they’re ridden of horrible smells and all of them are quite easy to execute.

Use a New Sponge

If you have a new sponge, you should use it to clean your dishes rather than using old sponges. Old sponges can start to smell over time, and this can affect the way your dishes smell. The easiest way to get rid of this is to throw the sponge in the bin and bring out a new one. A new one won’t have any previous history; therefore, you’ll be able to clean your dishes without them smelling.

Wash Them

The first and easiest way to clean your sponges and brushes is to wash them with hot water and soap. Although this is a simple classic method, it can be quite effective. It should get rid of anything on your sponge that could be projecting onto your dishes and glassware. You should load up your sponges with soap and scrub them with your hands under the hot water tap. After doing this for a few seconds, the sponge should be clean.


Another way to get your sponges and brushes clean is to put them in the microwave. When you put them in the microwave, the microwave will heat up any moisture in the sponge and this will kill 99.9% of the bacteria on the sponge. To do this, you can put the sponge in a mixture of water and soap and leave it in the microwave. From here, you can heat it up for 1 minute then rinse it under the tap once you’re done.


You can clean your sponges with vinegar, and this will get rid of 99.6% of bacteria on the sponge. To do this, you need to soak the sponge in a container full of vinegar for 5 minutes. After doing this, you should rinse it with water and it should be clean enough for you to use on your dishes.

Clean Dishwasher

If you use your dishwasher to clean your dishes, then you need to clean it because over time your dishwasher can end up smelling. The vapor from the dishwasher can stay on your dishes and this will cause them to smell once they come out of the dishwasher. Food deposits, grease, and limescale can build up on your dishwasher overtime causing your dishes and glassware to smell. Your dishwasher has a few components so cleaning the entire thing is going to be a long process. You’re going to need some white wine vinegar, baking soda, and soap to make sure each component gets thoroughly cleaned.

Turn off the Dishwasher

The first thing you need to do is turn off the dishwasher. Since you’re going to be dealing with vinegar and water, you don’t want it damaging any electrical components of the dishwasher. There could be an exposed wire somewhere and if it gets wet, this can cause it to short circuit causing it to damage the dishwasher.

Clean the dishwasher racks

Since the rack’s house your dishes, it can get dirty overtime, and this can cause the dishes to smell once they leave the dishwasher. In this case, you’ll need to remove the racks and give them a thorough clean with soap and water. Most dishwasher racks can easily be removed so you shouldn’t have any problems doing this.

Clean the Spray Arm

The spray arms go around the dishwasher and spray hot water around the dishes. They don’t usually come in contact with food particles, but it does come into contact with water and this can make it a home for mildew and mold. To stop this from happening, you need to remove them like the dishwasher racks, and scrub them down with hot water and soap.

If you’re not sure how to remove the spray arms, you need to grab the arm and firmly grip the base. Then, turn it counter clockwise and the arm should come out the base. There are two spray arms so make sure to get both of them out and give both of them a good clean.

You Need to Know This About Your Dishwasher!

If you’re always having problems with your dishwasher, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the dishwasher repaired or replaced. Having a working dishwasher is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.

If you want to save $100s on Home Repair, learn the most important home maintenance procedures, and increase the value of your home, you can download our Home Improvement Solutions book now. With it, you’ll learn about a wide range of home maintenance and improvement topics, and you’ll be able to make your home a better place to live in. There are also a bunch of tips in there that’ll save you loads of time and money when it comes to repairs, DIY, and general home hacks that you can’t find anywhere else.

Whether you are a new homeowner, have owned a home for years, renting, or just love home repair and improvement topics, our guide will give you an in-depth explanation of many everyday home maintenance procedures. A lot of our readers use this book to increase the value of their homes, and they’ve saved a lot of money on things like repair that would have cost a professional handyman $100s of dollars.

Clean the Drain Filter

The drain filter, just like the one in your sink will gather up food during cycles to make sure that they don’t stick to your dishes. If your drain filter has been overworked to the point where it no longer works, then food particles can get all over the dishes causing them to smell. If you’ve ever taken your dishes out after a cycle and noticed some food on them, chances are the drain filter is dirty.

You’ll first need to check that your dishwasher has a drain filter. Once you’ve removed the rack, you need to look at the bottom of the dishwasher for a mesh filter tube. If you notice food particles on the mesh, this is a big indicator that it’s dirty. Once you’ve got it out, you need to clean it with hot soapy water like you would your dishes.

Run a Cycle

The last thing you should do is run an empty cycle. To do this, assemble the dishwasher again and place a cup of vinegar into the dishwasher. Run an empty cycle. This is going to spray the vinegar all over the dishwasher and this is what you want to happen. It’s going to break away any particles that are left over. Once the cycle is done, sprinkle some baking soda and run another cycle. Both of these combined will ensure that your dishwasher doesn’t smell – this in turn will stop your dishes from smelling bad each time they leave the dishwasher.