How to Get Bad Smell Out of Drinking Glasses

There is nothing more annoying than inhaling a whiff of foul odor when your glass comes close to the tip of your nose when taking a drink. And today we’ll learn how to get that bad smell out of supposedly clean drinking glasses.

Many have reported bad smells from their drinking glasses ranging from rotten eggs, wet dog or spoiled fish – any of which are equally bad.

Let’s break down the reasons why, despite our usual attention to wash, rinse, and dry; our goblets remain stinky and most importantly how to get that bad smell out of our drinking glasses.

Why Do My Drinking Glasses Smell Bad After Washing?

Hand Washing Troubles

1. You’re smelling the sponge

Our handy washing tool, the dishwashing sponge absorbs odors from whatever food item it is swiped on, be it spices like garlic and onions or pungent smells of uncooked meat.

Even when thoroughly washed, many of the smells are still sticking onto the sponge and will most likely transfer to your drinking glasses as you swish them around.

These might also harbor some harmful bacteria that might hop onto the dishes when you think you are cleaning them!

We already shared tips on how to clean a dirty kitchen sponge, but here’s the summary:

  • Don’t let your sponge soak raw juices from meat or poultry. Use paper towels instead to avoid contamination and that subsequent rotten smell in your sponge.
  • Wash your drinking glasses with a clean sponge before you deal with dishes that may have aromatic leftovers sticking to them.
  • Clean your sponge well after doing the dishes. Hot water plus soap usually does the trick. Some recommend moistening a washed sponge with water and popping it in for a minute into the microwave (USDA).
  • If all fails, replace the sponge, it may have stopped being the cleaning tool that it should be.

2. There’s something suspicious in your sink!

Considered to be the hardest working part of the kitchen, your sink may be the reason why your beverage cups reek.

Many things can go wrong when we allow our glasses to soak in the sink, even if it is in hot soapy water. Check for rust if you have metal parts such as the drain.

For porcelain tubs, there might be tiny cracks and crevices that hold particles of food and bacteria.

If you suspect your sink is causing the stench, here are some useful tips:

  • Avoid soaking your glasses in the sink.  Food smells from other dishes might transfer onto them. Use a separate tub should you intend to immerse them.
  • As much as possible use running water when washing your drinking glasses.
  • Use the drain filter to avoid food clogs within. Always clean your sink well after each dishwashing with detergent.

The Dishwasher Dilemma

Problems in your dishwasher are usually characterized by a fishy smell emanating from the unit itself when you open the door.

Here are the usual reasons why this happens and how to get the bad smell out if the causes listed below are the culprits.

1. Something is Stuck!

Check the nooks and crannies of your dishwasher interior for any pieces of food that might have been inadvertently fallen off.

When wedged some days, these emit a foul odor that stays on your drinking glasses. Simply remove and give the area a good wash.

2. Freshen up your filter

Check your dishwasher filter regularly. You will find instructions on how to remove it in your appliance manual. Give it a full scrubbing with hot soap and water and then replace it correctly.

This will eliminate tiny pieces of dirt that have accumulated over time that transfer odors onto your drinking glasses.

3. Wash the dishwasher interior

Do regular washes on your dishwasher’s interior since bacteria tend to proliferate on the nooks and crannies there.

You can use a simple cleaning solution of 1 quart of water, 1/4 cup of mild bleach and a cap of your favorite dishwashing liquid.

A gentle inner scrub will do wonders followed by an empty dishwashing cycle on the hottest temperature available on your unit.

I have an entire article dedicated to this topic, so make sure to read my guide on how to get the bad smell out of your dishwasher.

Other common fixes for bad smelling drinking glasses

1. Choosing the right detergent

Whether hand washing or using a dishwasher, you must know if your dishwashing solution is working for you.

Since many governments have banned the addition of phosphates for their water contamination side effects, many cleaning solutions seemed to have lost the sheen and means to keep glasses sparkly and squeaky clean.

Look for detergents that have innovative plant-based or natural ingredients such as citrus which aids in cleaning and deodorizing effectively.

If you prefer organic options, make sure to check out my article about the best organic detergents for your kitchen.

2. Check your water source

If your tap gives out hard water, this might spell out the reason for your dingy and smelly drinking glasses.

Hard water may contain chemicals and metals like iron that stain and transfer certain odors onto what we wash. Consider using a salt softener to filter your water. 

If you are already using one, check if it is compatible with the hard water in your area as it might address the particular composition of your local water source.

3. Check your after-washing care routine!

After you have gone through all the trouble of fixing potential problems (or just washing the glasses themselves), a drinking glass will still smell if wiped down by a smelly piece of cloth or stored immediately without proper drying.

Sometimes in our haste to accomplish all the housework, we cannot afford to be petty and overlook these last two simple items that might put all our efforts in vain.

Make sure that you use a clean cloth if you really need one (you can just let the glasses soak naturally) and post-washing causes of bad smell will disappear.

Avoiding bad smell from stored drinking glasses

So now, you’ve set everything right for the perfect conditions to have sparkling clean and fresh drinking glasses.

Let us now deal with the stored ones which have been lurking in your cabinets and cupboards, wearing that distinct unsavory smell that you just have to get rid of.

Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure they are in tip-top smell!

1. Hot Water Treatment: Pour a small amount of hot water to make the glass warm, then add lukewarm water diluted with detergent. Soak for at least half an hour in a small tub then rinse well.

If you prefer, you can use citrus peels or tea leaves at first then wash and rinse after.

2. Salt Soak: Make a salt solution using 3 tablespoons of salt to a gallon of water and pour it into the smelly glasses. Salt is an effective deodorizer and sterilizer which will leave your drinking glass smell-free. Wash and well rinse afterward.


Keeping drinking glasses stink-free may entail a little extra effort but it’s worth the extra mile.

Let’s save ourselves the embarrassment of serving up a round of ice-cold smelly fish when the guests come around.

There’s absolutely no need for garlic-flavored water and of course, we need to be able to enjoy our favorite drink at the end of a long arduous day. Cheers!

1 thought on “How to Get Bad Smell Out of Drinking Glasses”

  1. Change your dishwater! If you notice the odor from something you just washed, look at your dishwater—-it’s doubtful that the water is fresh. Fresh water + Dawn = No smell. Can’t help you with the dishwasher, don’t have one.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.