We live in a furnished apartment complex and they provide a Hotpoint dishwasher (not sure what model but it's pretty old, maybe 5-10 years). We've been using it for 8-9 months now, and until recently everything was fine.

A few weeks back, I realized that there was a bad smell in all the glass and porcelain/ceramic dinnerware as they came out of the dishwasher. A "rancid" smell, kind of like the smell of eggs or raw chicken. I even tried running them a second and third time with bleach but to no avail. The only way to remove the smell was to hand wash them with bleach after getting them out of the dishwasher.

I'm not sure if it's related, but I think the first time this happened was when we washed our cat's ceramic bowl with the dishes. Since then, our dishes have been coming out smelly almost every time. I even tried to wash a load without putting the cat's bowl and it was still the same.

I've realized also that the smell intensifies when leaving the dishes out after unloading the dishwasher (sometimes the dishes smell relatively fine as they come out, but putting them in the cupboard brings the smell out). I do not face the same issue with hand-washing, and plastic stuff like taperwares do not smell either.

Has anyone else faced a problem like that before? I would appreciate any ideas!

  • You should check to see if something is caught in the drain of the dishwasher. Maybe someone accidentally left a bone on their plate and it's catching food in the drain. – Andrew May 19 '16 at 15:05

It's often described as smelling of "washed dog"

As far as I'm aware it's a bacteria build up & is really difficult to get rid of. Simply putting the things back through another wash, as you've discovered, doesn't do it.

Commercial dishwasher cleaners work up to a point, as do low-odour anti-bacterials, & even vinegar - but what you will probably find is that you actually need to get in there & clean the machine properly beforehand.
Any regular kitchen surface cleaner will do for the removable components. I use Dettox, which is a low odour anti-bacterial cleaner, available from any supermarket in the UK. Your market will likely have something similar.

There should be removable filter elements in the bottom of the appliance. Take these out & clean thoroughly. Don't get any cleaning product or other contaminant in the salt container - you can damage the water softener permanently - in fact, leave it closed, once you've established that the lid & screw thread are clean by rinsing in hand-hot water.

Next, you will find the rubber strip that seals the door when closed is likely to also be removable - that's the culprit that everybody misses.

Once you've got it clean, reassemble & run a dishwasher cleaner in an otherwise unloaded machine, on as hot/long a cycle as it will go.

Only after that is it worth trying to get the smell from all the dishes.
Once it has built up over a few days/weeks & been stacked away in the cupboard, you may find the only real solution is to wash the whole darn lot, several times.

Especially in warm weather, use the commercial cleaner once a month - before you notice the smell again - & keep the removable components clean too. It's the particulate matter stuck in the filters & seals that seems to be the key to the whole thing.

Further note:
Avoid running the rinse-only setting, especially in summer. Essentially what that does is leaves you with a warm box full of stagnant water. It's less environmentally-friendly, but rinsing things individually to remove the main detritus from the crockery before putting it in the machine is going to keep it cleaner longer.

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  • It's because the source of the smell is still stuck in the filters & behind the seals. – Tetsujin May 19 '16 at 15:29
  • BTW, 'taking the dishwasher apart' is a part of the routine care of the machine, it's not a 'technician's job' – Tetsujin May 19 '16 at 16:18

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