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My new dishwasher smells like a wet swampy bird merged with an aquarium...gross!

Beach Chick Jun 8, 2012 02:09 PM

My beloved high end Kitchen Aid that was the mothership of all dishwashers that busted it's ass for me 5-6 times a week, for 7 years when we built the house, finally went to dishwasher heaven..

Bought a cheaper $700 version floor model since trying to find a mid-range dishwasher in stock is almost impossible...at least in San Diego...there is super cheap or super high end..no middle.

Anyway, I've put vinegar in the rinse cycle because you can really smell the wet swampy bird/aquarium...nothing like trying to drink wine, ice tea and you get the waifs of skunk ape hanging in the Everglades all summer and it's so horrid and it won't go away..

Do any of you have any ideas how to get rid of the smell..
I will forever be thankful.

  1. h
    HillJ Jun 8, 2012 02:20 PM

    Is the interior plastic, fiberglass, stainless or a combo. Can you pinpoint where the odor is coming from? Did you try calling the dealer and asking them if this is why this was a floor model? Did you notice a smell in the floor area where your old d.w. was removed? $700.00 ain't cheap. Baking soda and vinegar, lemon juice and products sold to de-funk sinks all come to mind as long as you don't cause a harsh chemical issue for the appliance parts.

    6 Replies
    1. re: HillJ
      Beach Chick Jun 8, 2012 02:41 PM

      Interior is plastic..and being a floor model, DH thought maybe their was some water in the lines..he's retracted that statement.
      Beloved dishwasher conked out 5 hours before a dinner party at the house and we were frantic to replace since I had a full dishwasher loaded ready for the wash cycle.
      $700 ain't cheap and we were frantic to get a dishwasher before the party..floor model looks just like the other one except the name and the interior is plastic vs. stainless..they took $100 off and they said it was because of a ding at the top that we couldn't see.
      The vinegar worked for the first week and now, its back to skunk ape in a rainstorm with a eau de sulfur smell too.

      I really appreciate HillJ any and all tips you have...would dryer sheets work..hee hee

      1. re: Beach Chick
        HillJ Jun 8, 2012 02:55 PM

        If you hired an installer or the dealer sent their own guy, ask about the work he did. Did he use putty at the water line that smells? It could be related to the install and not the dishwasher itself. I would call the dealership. Good luck!

        I'm afraid dryer sheets won't work this time, :))

        1. re: HillJ
          Beach Chick Jun 8, 2012 03:00 PM

          LOL...my 'installer' is my beloved husband..there lies the smelly problem.
          He's a MacGvyer kind of guy...I'll ask about the putty at the water line.

          1. re: Beach Chick
            HillJ Jun 8, 2012 03:08 PM

            Lol is right...your installer-husband does he have a sense of smell? Does he smell the same thing you do, lol!! How about under the dishwasher, anything smelly there? If you tried de=funking the appliance already, my guess is it ain't the appliance but something connected to it.

          2. re: HillJ
            Kelli2006 Jun 9, 2012 11:28 PM

            I am wondering if he installed the drain line about the sink trap because it sounds like it might be below the sink trap which would allow sewer gas to get back in the dishwasher.

            There is a possibly that there is water pooling somewhere in the discharge line instead of draining out.

            1. re: Kelli2006
              Isolda Jun 11, 2012 04:22 PM

              Yep, this happened to us. We had a plumber come and do it correctly and everything was fine. Usually, you know this is your problem because you'll have water coming back into your dishwasher from the discharge line after the cycle is complete.

      2. h
        HillJ Jun 8, 2012 02:21 PM

        I also read this, sit a dish filled with baking soda inside the dishwasher for a day or two to absorb any remaining odors.

        1. w
          wyogal Jun 8, 2012 02:52 PM

          Have you called the dealer and told them about the problem?

          1 Reply
          1. re: wyogal
            Beach Chick Jun 8, 2012 03:01 PM

            Next on the list..
            ;- )

          2. jmcarthur8 Jun 8, 2012 03:19 PM

            Beach Chick - try this - take a paper towel and run it down along the front edge of the dishwasher tub, between the door hinges, from side to side. There's a rubber flap that seals that area when the door is closed, and it can get really funky in there. Mine gets a film of black mildew, and a good wiping out with bleach water helps. I got a Samsung just a year or two ago, and have had this problem from the beginning.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jmcarthur8
              HillJ Jun 8, 2012 03:34 PM

              Wow, excellent call, jm. But gosh you had that odor on the rubber from the minute you bought your box? That's some lousy funky rubber!

            2. Bill Hunt Jun 8, 2012 09:33 PM

              OK, you have got to be more specific.

              Is that "swampy bird" an egret, a seagull, a sea-eagle, an osprey, a frigate bird, or maybe a wet albatross? Each smells different, so it might be useful to know exactly WHICH "swampy bird" you are talking about. I'd guess a Gray Gull, but could be wrong.

              Now, let's address the smell, regardless of the species of "swampy bird," and get on with things.

              Do not load the dishwasher with dishes. Place 2 tbs. of Borax, or Boraxo (the "20 Mule Team " stuff, that President Reagan touted, before you were born), and then run your kitchen faucet on hot, until the water IS hot. Then, run your dishwasher on the max (I know Kitchen Aid units,but not sure what you got). Let it complete the cycle. Open the door, and prop it open for a day.

              Smell inside. "Swampy bird" still there?

              If so, repeat, but add one half cup of vinegar, right into the bottom of the unit. Run hot water, until it IS hot, then turn on the dishwasher. Let cycle complete, and dry.Smell again.

              If you still have a "swampy bird" smell, please remove he dead albatross from the upper rack, and try again.

              Good luck


              9 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Beach Chick Jun 9, 2012 06:42 AM

                Laughing my ass off on your post Bill...
                ;- )

                1. re: Beach Chick
                  HillJ Jun 9, 2012 06:49 AM

                  Yeah he's a real hoot. Did you figure out the culprit?

                  1. re: HillJ
                    Beach Chick Jun 9, 2012 07:04 AM

                    He's a piece of work...
                    Called the customer service but closed till Monday.
                    DH thinks there's a little funk in the lines and I think I have Bigfoot with swamp bird living in my dishwasher.

                    1. re: Beach Chick
                      taos Jun 11, 2012 06:08 PM

                      Sounds like you have algae or mold from water pooling somewhere instead of draining correctly.

                    2. re: HillJ
                      Bill Hunt Jun 13, 2012 07:58 PM

                      Yes. We looked and found that an albatross had gotten into the dishwasher, at just the wrong time. Hey, it happens.

                      We had the smell of a "dead, swampy (though in that case an "ocean") bird, plus there WERE the feathers.

                      After we removed the albatross, and the feathers, a bit of Borax, and vinegar, cleaned things up nicely.

                      Now, had it been a loon, who knows? Those guys are really hard to clean out.


                  2. re: Bill Hunt
                    sunshine842 Jun 9, 2012 06:52 AM


                    and here I was going to suggest making sure all the filter baskets have been emptied and rinsed in a mixture of hot water and vinegar....

                    ..make sure you leave the door open (just a few millimetres/a fraction of an inch is enough) so you don't trap a lot of excess moisture when it's not running. A very easy way to do this is just to lay a pencil on top of the door -- the pencil is just big enough to keep the door from closing completely.

                    Run it on the pot-scrubber/hottest/power wash cycle -- empty - with just a spoonful of bleach to really kill all the gremlins that it sounds like you have living there.

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      Beach Chick Jun 9, 2012 07:06 AM

                      Thanks sunshine!

                    2. re: Bill Hunt
                      toodie jane Jun 20, 2012 10:22 AM

                      Bill: Boraxo in the bottom AND vinegar in the surfactant port?? OK to add vinegar to the surfactant port if there's still Jet Dri in there?

                      1. re: toodie jane
                        Bill Hunt Jun 21, 2012 06:47 PM

                        I sprinkle the Boraxo (actually Borax, as I am not sure that the Boraxo brand is still around?), and then I pour the vinegar into the detergent container, and shut the lid. On my Kitchen Aid DW, I run Normal+High Temp Scrub+Sani Rinse.

                        Hope that helps,


                    3. s
                      shikken Jun 9, 2012 04:18 PM

                      Make sure he installed a drain loop on the drain hose.The drain hose also shouldn't run thru the flloor to the basement,then back up the the kitchen drain pipes/disposal. It should simply run though the common wall next to the sink to hook up with the drain pipe or disposal.

                      The problem could also be a faulty or broken off anode rod in your water heater that is causing the odor with your water.

                      1. j
                        Jerseygirl111 Jun 11, 2012 04:16 PM

                        Umm, dead mice between the dishwasher and the wall? Hey, you never know...


                        1. b
                          Beach Chick Jun 12, 2012 07:30 AM

                          I finally got a hold of customer service rep and the nice man said that 3 possibly scenarios..
                          #1..a mouse or small animal in the sump pump area.....freaked the freak out when he was telling me this..#2 air in the lines..not possibly since we have an air gap stop...#3 algae in the hose line.
                          MacGyver the DH, states that the animal situation would be way smellier than swamp bird meets an aquarium..
                          Rep said smells are more common than you think and and 2 cups of white vinegar, usually does the trick and since its under warranty and not to meddle to void the warranty.

                          Loving all your responses!

                          16 Replies
                          1. re: Beach Chick
                            HillJ Jun 12, 2012 08:00 AM

                            So....what's your game plan :)

                            1. re: HillJ
                              Beach Chick Jun 12, 2012 08:10 AM

                              Fire MacGvyer and bring in Mr. Appliance man..
                              ;- )

                              1. re: Beach Chick
                                HillJ Jun 12, 2012 08:51 AM

                                Excellent plan! :0)

                            2. re: Beach Chick
                              sunshine842 Jun 12, 2012 08:31 AM

                              not to mention that dead critter doesn't smell like swamp - -it smells like...dead critter.

                              1. re: sunshine842
                                Beach Chick Jun 12, 2012 09:03 AM

                                Just the thought of a dead critter in my wash cycle and having 'dead critter' film all over the glasses/dishes...quivering like a chihuahua just thinking about it.

                                1. re: sunshine842
                                  dixiegal Jun 12, 2012 12:22 PM

                                  LOL, I have so enjoyed reading all this. Though I know next to nothing about dishwashers (other than my hands), I am familier with dead animals and the smell. With an outdoor cat (that likes to hunt), 2 dogs (also likes to hunt and bring home dead things), nearby fields of cattle, and local deer hunters shooting deers nearby, I know all about the dead animal thing.
                                  Dead animals do not smell like a swamp or wet birds.
                                  I am betting on the algea, mold thing and water not draining properly.

                                2. re: Beach Chick
                                  Bill Hunt Jun 13, 2012 08:00 PM

                                  Now, a mouse in line # 1 is OK, but NOT in line#2. Got to get that sorted out!

                                  My rec. would be to meet Hunt on an Hawai`ian beach somewhere, and let "The Maytag Man" sort things out. THEN, just return, when all was cool, and enjoy your dishwasher.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                    Beach Chick Jun 14, 2012 06:42 AM

                                    Aloha Bill...
                                    'My rec. would be to meet Hunt on an Hawai`ian beach somewhere'
                                    Excellent idea and would love that..Mama's Fish House in Maui!

                                    Albatross in your dishwasher...are you pulling my leg?

                                    1. re: Beach Chick
                                      Bill Hunt Jun 14, 2012 07:45 PM

                                      Sounds great, but NO, I am not kidding.

                                      An albatross smells a bit different, than a gray gull does. If your dishwasher smells of albatross, then I would definitely use Borax (two tablespoons) and then add white vinegar to the surfactant dispenser (where you do JetDry), and first, run the kitchen's faucet on HOT for about 3 mins.. Then, run the empty dishwasher (make sure that there are NO albatrosses, or gray gulls in it), on the max cleaning setting. For me, that would be Normal>Sani-Scrub>High Temp Rinse. Your dishwasher might differ.

                                      Just make danged sure that there are NO albatrosses, or gray gulls IN the dishwasher!



                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                        jmcarthur8 Jun 14, 2012 08:21 PM

                                        Bill, wouldn't that be albatri? ;-)

                                        1. re: jmcarthur8
                                          Bill Hunt Jun 15, 2012 07:31 PM

                                          Or maybe albatroiss?

                                          Not sure what would be correct, for a "gaggle" of albatross birds. Hey, are a bunch of them a gaggle, or maybe a "herd," or something else?

                                          Hard to say, but let's just state that if the dishwasher smells like more than one albatross, then something is wrong.


                                        2. re: Bill Hunt
                                          Beach Chick Jun 15, 2012 06:59 AM

                                          How the hell did an albatross fly into your dishwasher?
                                          Inquiring minds want to hear all about this one.

                                          1. re: Beach Chick
                                            Bill Hunt Jun 15, 2012 07:33 PM

                                            Could have been a gray gull, who just ate a bunch of Monterey Bay sardines, and smelled rather like an albatross?

                                            What if it was really a wet loon?

                                            Still, I'd do Borax and vinegar. Should be helpful.


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                              Beach Chick Jun 16, 2012 04:39 AM


                                              1. re: Beach Chick
                                                Jerseygirl111 Jun 17, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                While it is true that large dead animals smell putrid, dead mice sometimes have a sour or baby diaper smell. I used to work for an air duct cleaning company and we pulled all sorts of dead animals out of air ducts -and walls- mice, snakes, birds, bats, rats, squirrels, raccoons, etc. in our office we had a dead mouse behind the built in desks in the office, we could not find it for the longest time...it does not smell like your average large dead animal, it just smelled like sour milk.

                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111
                                                  taos Jun 17, 2012 06:35 PM

                                                  Dead mouse smell like rotten cheese

                                  2. a
                                    acgold7 Jun 20, 2012 09:42 AM

                                    Please don't leave us hanging. You must come back and tell us what the final answer/solution was.....

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: acgold7
                                      Beach Chick Jun 21, 2012 07:04 AM

                                      Hey ac!
                                      Going to make an appt that will be paid for under warranty but the smell hasn't come back in the last couple of weeks..
                                      I'll video tape when Mr. Appliance man is here so I can see him pull out the flock of seagulls and a small aquarium..
                                      ;- )

                                      1. re: Beach Chick
                                        HillJ Jun 21, 2012 07:13 AM


                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          Beach Chick Jun 21, 2012 07:21 AM

                                          you took the' bait.'..love it!

                                          1. re: Beach Chick
                                            HillJ Jun 21, 2012 07:46 AM

                                            Oh come on now, that was a given!

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              Beach Chick Jun 21, 2012 08:36 AM

                                              hee hee

                                          2. re: HillJ
                                            Bill Hunt Jun 21, 2012 06:50 PM

                                            Now, I knew that LG had some 'fridges, that had video monitors on the front door, but dishwashers? That is new to me.


                                          3. re: Beach Chick
                                            Bill Hunt Jun 21, 2012 06:48 PM

                                            Oh great. We'll get a half-hour of your plumber, bending over the DW, with his trousers half-way down his backside... [Grin]

                                            No, please DO let us know the "cure."

                                            Good luck,


                                        2. toodie jane Jun 20, 2012 10:16 AM

                                          Have to weigh in on this and say my newer Bosch has had the same problem. Old gym socks soaked in green aquarium water is how I'd describe it. It gets bad sometimes. My plumber thought maybe bits of food stuck in discharge line, but pulled it and it was fine. He says to run bit of hot water to fill the bottom of tray, add cup of bleach and run. This works for a few days, then the smell returns.

                                          I do regularly clean the mesh screen in the sump area, but water that stands there is always a bit funky. The thing is our original cheapo contractor-installed Generous Electric (Thump-O-Matic plastic model) got dishes sparkling and never smelled. The next, a Maytag, left ground-up food residue dried on. Now the stainlessBosch (about $1K) is stinky.

                                          Is this just another round of Appliance Hell? (new Whirlpool fridge has already had new thermo and new freezer drawer glides @ 3 months. sheesh.)

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: toodie jane
                                            tfed Jun 20, 2012 03:40 PM


                                            how often do you run the DW? there is always standing water in a DW to keep the seals wet. you should be running a few times a week.

                                            also check the drain loop to make sure that has no kinks and has a smooth high run to the drain

                                            1. re: tfed
                                              toodie jane Jun 21, 2012 12:46 PM

                                              Running almost daily . Hose run looks good. but THANKS. Do you think it'd be ok to put a couple --2-- drops lavendar oil in the water? It's a disinfectant and antibacterial.

                                              Hubby would've been able to fix ;-(

                                              1. re: toodie jane
                                                sunshine842 Jun 21, 2012 01:27 PM

                                                I wouldn't -- just because it will then deposit a thin film of oil right back on your dishes. Probably not enough to taste, but enough to make a smeary film.

                                                1. re: toodie jane
                                                  Vetter Jun 21, 2012 01:42 PM

                                                  I don't know that two drops of EO will make dishes greasy. I put more grease in there via my plates all the time. BUT: what about an enzyme cleaner? Whenever I catch a whiff of dishwasher funk, I squirt a generous amount of Biokleen Bac-Out around the thing and let it sit. It works well.

                                              2. re: toodie jane
                                                Bill Hunt Jun 21, 2012 06:56 PM

                                                Going back some years (well probably a decade), we had a DW that got rather funky. It died, and we replaced it with the top-of-the-line GE Monogram of the day. One thing that it had was a "waste food grinder," that pumped into the garbage disposal. For the two years that we lived there, never a bad smell.

                                                Moved and had a Kitchen Aid, that was an upper-level "builder's" model. After about 8 years, it died, and we replaced it. I looked for something like that old GE, but found zero. Finally went with the top-of-the-line (for that time) Kitchen Aide, and I do get some funky smells, but just do my cleanup routine, about every two months.

                                                What I normally get is a stale milk/cream (old lactic acid) sort of smell. It does help if we do a pre-rinse of the dinnerware, prior to inserting into the DW. Not sure how "green" that might be?

                                                Still, if the smells get real notice, the Boraxo and vinegar come out, and things are "clean and sweet smelling" for a month, or two.


                                              3. a
                                                acgold7 Jul 17, 2012 11:47 PM

                                                I am still waiting on pins and needles to find out if this ever got resolved....

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: acgold7
                                                  Beach Chick Jul 18, 2012 06:36 AM

                                                  LOL...you are a riot acgold7!
                                                  All is good with the smelly new dishwasher...gave it a splash of white vinegar and let it sit in the bottom for awhile and then ran and so far...so good.

                                                  The wet swampy bird has left the dishwasher...can I get a hallelujah.

                                                  1. re: Beach Chick
                                                    HillJ Jul 18, 2012 06:43 AM


                                                    1. re: Beach Chick
                                                      acgold7 Jul 18, 2012 10:14 AM

                                                      Glad to hear the problem is solved, but was really hoping for something more dramatic. Was leaning towards Hunt's suggestion of the Albatross with the sardines.

                                                      Anyway, glad it's fixed.

                                                  2. s
                                                    Sarasa Jul 19, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                    Please keep us posted on future success. After a year of ownership, I have had the same problem periodically with Kitchen Aid DW. I don;t know which is worse: the smell itself, or the embarrassment of having a guest come in the kitchen and catch me sniffing their glass and plate before serving. Yes, running a load with a cup of white vinegar in pyrex measuring cup in bottom basket gets the dead fish stink off the dishes but a few days/weeks/months later it comes back. I scrub off egg; I run disposer before starting DW; I keep rinse agent filled; I wipe out inside 'dead' area under door where goop can collect; I scream curses at my husband when he puts an unrinsed salmon salad dish in the DW. This has never happened with any other DW and since this didn;t happen for the first year I owned the Kitchen Aid I don;t believe it is a kink in the line.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Sarasa
                                                      HillJ Jul 19, 2012 07:40 AM

                                                      When this happened to my sister it was a dead rat in her crawl space. The rat died near the line in the space and the fumes finally caught wind in the kitchen area. Once the animal was removed and the space it got in through dealt with, smell never returned.

                                                      1. re: Sarasa
                                                        toodie jane Aug 21, 2012 04:09 PM

                                                        see below

                                                      2. toodie jane Aug 21, 2012 04:08 PM


                                                        Info and helpful agents

                                                        1. g
                                                          gbbaber Jan 5, 2014 01:15 PM

                                                          Two possible solutions:
                                                          1. Use a bottle of "Dishwasher Magic" to clean up the unit
                                                          2. Use Orange Cascade liquid or equivalent in lieu of Bosch's recommended tablets.

                                                          Note some dishes actually retain the bad smell...might have something to do with the glaze type.

                                                          Since doing the above, we've had a sweet smelling dishwasher experience.

                                                          1. g
                                                            gbbaber Jan 21, 2014 07:52 AM

                                                            New possible solution: reduce the amount of dishwasher soap to 1 tsp or 1 tbsp.

                                                            To see if it's your soap that's causing the problem (i.e. too much soap being used0, run your dishwasher with dishes and do not add any soap at all. When I did this, I had no odor at all. Further, once I reduced the amount of soap to between 1 tspn and 1 tbsp., the odor has not returned.

                                                            1. w
                                                              wintersummer Mar 17, 2014 02:03 PM

                                                              I'm having almost the exact same problem and just posted another post seeing if there are any new answers to this problem. I've read every suggestion here and tried every one of them. In addition to reading here on Chowhound, there are tons of other posts all over the internet describing comparable situations.

                                                              My challenge is that this problem is only happening every 20 cycles or so, making it challenging to track down the problem.

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