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Jul 15, 2013 03:05 PM

Fish water smell from dishes

My husband is a super smeller. I find that with certain detergents, we will get what he calls "fish water smell" in glasses that have had water sitting in them for a while. Switching detergents normally stops the problem for a while, but it always seems to come back.

The glasses do not initially have that fishwater quality, but if you let the water sit in them for an hour or so, when you go to take a swig, you get a hit of aquarium smell. It didn't bother me in the past, but the longer I live with him, the more he challenges my nostrils to detect what he can smell, and I now find it pretty offensive too.

This happens other places that just our house. It's noticeable at friends and family's houses too. Any input what may be causing it? I have several different dish detergents under my sink from switching them out as the fish water smell inevitably returns.

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    1. I wonder if you are not smelling what your muni water smells like after it sits?

      You might like it better if you used a filter, either on the faucet or in a pitcher in the fridge. I filter my water and it tastes good as long as I am not due for a filter change.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sueatmo

        Hi, Sue:

        I think you're firmly on the trail. If the DH has a high acuity (both a blessing and a curse), I am wondering if there is something perceived that is *associated* with fish-i-ness, e.g., trace iodine or chlorine. This is a chronic problem with high-level wine tastings, and I get it regularly with restaurant stemware.

        The OP is silent as to *how* they're washing their glasses. There is a tendency to think one can "wash away" residual odor(s) when, in fact, the washing--if not the water--is the *source* of the problem. In things that depend on neutrality of perception, like wine judging glasses, a simple rinse of distilled water is often the lesser evil.

        My advice to true supertasters is always that they be careful not to cultivate their hypersensitivities. For example, even an average wine judge can teach him/herself to recognize TCA (the "corked" perception) at levels in the single-digit parts per TRILLION. Many fine, edifying wines fail under this level of scrutiny, and all the hard-won acuity accomplishes is bankruptcy or boorishness.


      2. Does this happen in paper/plastic cups -- vessels that do not go into the dishwasher -- as well?

        Does it happen if you let your water stand for said period in a bowl?

        Is it possible that your glasses are picking up a scent from your storage cabinets? Have you tried water in a glass that has been stored in the cabinet vs. a glass that has just come from the dishwasher?