Does Dawn Cause Smelly Sponges And Dish Cloths?

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I've gotten lots of reviews and experiences from readers lately, all sharing how Dawn has caused smelly sponges, dish cloths and rags.

This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, since many also report that this didn't use to happen, and they've been using this dish soap for years.

However, there may be some formulation change, or perhaps its the antibacterial nature of some of the soap versions, but something is giving kitchen and cleaning sponges as well as dish rags an odor described as stinky, musty, or smelly.

Of course, you should wash your dish rags and cloths regularly, and really old ones will begin to stink if they haven't been washed often enough. In addition, sponges can harbor lots of bacteria so you should clean sponges regularly, such as in the microwave or dishwasher.

However, this phenomenon of stinky sponges and dish rags seems to occur almost immediately when you use Dawn dish soap, as opposed to building up over a couple of days -- so its most likely something in the soap instead of a build up of odor causing bacteria.

I'm still trying to research a cure for this problem, besides washing your dish rags and cloths daily, and cleaning and changing our your sponges often, or switching to a new dishwashing soap brand. (You can try a dish soap that is designed to keep your sponges smelling fresh, for example, like Palmolive Dish & Sponge Fresh which several people have reviewed at the link, although it has now been discontinued.)

Have you experienced smelly sponge syndrome with Dawn? If so, I'd love to hear from you, including what exact scent or formulation you're using that seems to trigger the problem. In addition, if you've got a cure for this problem, please share it with us all! I know many people are interested! You can share your experiences and/or cures here.

***Update: I've experienced this exact problem myself when trying out Dawn Direct Foam (click the link to read my review and problem)! ***End Update

Does your sponge or dish cloth begin to smell almost immediately, despite cleaning it regularly? Your soap may be to blame. This happens with lots of soaps, but there have been a LOT of complaints about Dawn. Read lots of comments and stories from readers here to see if you can identify something similar happening in your kitchen. {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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Dawn Dish Soap Leaves Stinky Smell On My Sponge Or Dish Cloth

by Sylvia

Sylvia shared a problem she's having when using Dawn dishwashing liquid.

Sylvia says:

I love Dawn liquid detergent for its cleansing power. I can use a lot less than other brand to clean the same amount of grease.

The big puzzle is that Dawn leaves a stinky smell on my sponge or dishcloth.

I tested this a couple of time by changing to a new sponge and using different liquid detergent (Palmolive). That bad smell was gone.

Once I switch back to Dawn, there's a bad smell again. I hope Dawn's R&D can fix this problem.

Taylor says:

Sylvia, sorry to hear you're having this trouble with this dishwashing liquid.

Has anyone experienced anything similar with this or any other soaps, and if so, do you have any suggestions for Sylvia of what to do about it?

I would normally think the smell was coming from an old sponge, since they can get stinky after using them for a while if they're not properly cleaned. However, I'm not sure that is your problem, in this instance, since you say you switched to a new sponge.

Hope you can figure it out soon! Otherwise, check out the reviews of other dishwashing soaps here so you can hopefully find a new one that works as well as Dawn, but doesn't have that unpleasant odor for you.

Photo by the Original Muddog

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It Finally Dawned On Me Why My Sponges Smelled So Bad! (Pun Intended!)

by SR101 Reader

SR101 Reader says:

I happened to be reading the reviews about this soap and I finally realized why my sponges smelled so bad.

I had no idea. I thought that it was because I had left them without rinsing them or they hadn't had enough air circulating around them.

I have never had this problem before using Dawn.

Taylor's note: Picture courtesy of a reader, Keone, who said, "Dawn, Apple blossom does cause smelly sponges! Trust me!"

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I Think Dawn Stinks Too

by SR101 Reader

In response to the review above where Sylvia shared her opinions about Dawn leaving behind a bad smell, another SR101 Reader wrote in to agree with her.

SR101 Reader says:

I have tried numerous Dawn soaps and they all leave a nasty smell on my hands as well as the sponge.

It is not a matter of using an old sponge, it is the soap itself.

I had used Dawn before (years ago) and didnt have this problem. I started using Palmolive and I like it but it's expensive so I bought a few bottles of Dawn (in different fragances) and they ALL leave that nasty smell. Very disappointed. I went back to Palmolive.

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing your opinion and experience with me.

I'll confess I've used this dish soap quite a number of times, but never really noticed this issue. Next time I buy it again though, I'll pay more attention.

I'd love to hear from even more people sharing their experiences with this brand of dish soap, or any other, telling me what you like, or don't about it, and why.

Photo by bimurch

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Dawn Makes My Sponges Smell Moldy

by Heidi

Does your sponge or dish cloth begin to smell almost immediately, despite cleaning it regularly? Your soap may be to blame. This happens with lots of soaps, but there have been a LOT of complaints about Dawn. Read lots of comments and stories from readers here to see if you can identify something similar happening in your kitchen. {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
I have had problems with all variants of Dawn dish soap as well in regards to it making my sponges moldy.

There is only one which hasn't and that's the direct foam.

I just checked ingredients and the direct foam is the only one with alcohol denat in it (basically like rubbing alcohol), but I have no idea if that's why it doesn't make everything smell moldy.

I have been using Palmolive and then I'm going to try some natural brands.

I would say it was the pH of the soap doing it, as mold likes more acidic enviornments, but Palmolive is on the acidic side too.

It's just weird.

All I know for sure is Dawn makes my sponges moldy, and if you touch the moldy sponge to anything, the odor transfers, even to hands, and it stinks. The odor is hard to get rid of. Yuck.

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Dawn Makes My Sponges Smell Horrible!!!

by SR101 Reader

I was using the Dawn Original Concentrated dish soap (the blue one).

At first, I thought maybe my sponges were not rinsed out or dried properly, but they still dried with a nasty moldy disgusting smell.

Then, after cleaning the same sponges with a different dish soap brand (Ajax) and very hot water, the smell suddenly went away that same day.

I think the makers of Dawn need to be aware of this. Maybe there is an ingredient in the soap that creates an unpleasant smell, or encourages the growth of bacteria.

I wish someone can do research on this, as I'm curious to know.
As for now...I will buy other dish soap brands. ;)

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I Can't Stand The Smell Of My Dishcloth!!!!

by Kris

I too am having "issuse" with Smelly Dishcloth Syndrome.

I have been using Dawn for as long as I can remember. Right now, I have the ultra concentrated original scent Dawn dishwashing liquid.

I can't even go 2 days after doing dishes without the cloth smelling so bad it needs to be washed. It smells like it was left in the washer for 2 days in 100 degreee heat!! Very NASTY.

I kept thinking it was the quality of dishcloth I was buying, but after stumbling upon this site, I'm having second thoughts!

I don't want to change, but am going to to see if the problem goes away. :(

Photo courtesy of erix!

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I'm Throwing It Out & Going Back To The Cheap Stuff

by SR101 Reader

In the past, I have noticed a fuel-oil type smell on my hands and sponges and never knew why.

It went away and it was always puzzling to me but I forgot about it when it went away.

At some point, I inadvertently stopped using Dawn for other reasons a couple of years ago and recently bought some.

Now I notice the fuel-oil smell, and have just now connected it up to this brand of soap.

So today, I googled 'dawn dish soap leaves funny smell on hands' and saw your news on the subject.

It must be the degreasing agents that some other cheaper brands don't have.

I'm throwing it out. Anything that smells that bad CAN'T be good. Going back to the cheap stuff.

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It Not Only Makes Sponges Smell But Also My Fingers

by Chris
(Las Vegas )

I was looking for a solution to the smell of my sponges, even though I replace them frequently, and saw that Dawn detergent seems to be a common cause of this.

Funny, I really noticed it when I switched to Dawn because I was tired of the giant jug of another brand that I had been getting from Costco.

Now I see that my initial impression may have been right, so no more Dawn for me.

I am tired of my fingers smelly funny after washing dishes in clean, hot water.

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I Think Dawn Is Causing Stinky Dish Cloths Too!

by Rene

Wow! I accidently came across this "smelly" conversation!

Just a few weeks ago I was talking to my family about the funky odor on our dish cloths.

I make sure I rinse the dish cloths thoroughly and I wash the rags frequently, but in a day or two it never fails...the smell is there again!

The smell even stays on my hands after I've washed out the rag and dried my hands. Yuck!

I believe it has something to do with the formula also. I will no longer be using Dawn "Apple Blossom" Antibacterial. Are other different Dawn dish detergents smelling too?

Taylor says:

Rene, thanks for telling me which variety of the dish soap you're using that is causing the smell.

Some people have suggested it is the antibacterial versions, but others are using the regular blue Dawn version, which isn't antibacterial, and say it stinks too.

Let's all share which exact scent and variety we're noticing this problem with, to see if it is just a few scents, or all of them!

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Dawn Antibacterial Dish Liquid Caused Moldy Smell On My Sponge

by SR101 Reader

An SR101 reader also shared her experience with this product.

SR101 Reader says:

We always used Palmolive or another brand, but recently my husband got Dawn Antibacterial on sale.

Actually, first, I got Dawn ultra concentrated dish liquid to make some bubble solutions for kids. It's supposed to make great bubbles.

That's when my kitchen sponge started smelling moldy.

I didn't know why, so I threw it away and used a new sponge, and it got stinky again and again.

I was extra careful about drying them and everything.

So I googled it to find out what's up and how to deal with it. Then I saw some people mentioning about the same problems. It was the soap!!!

I am going to get rid of the soap. I din't like the fact it's antibacterial toxic.

I would rather eat dirt than toxic chemicals...

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I also got another similar quick review from another reader, Sarah Rath from New Orleans.

Sarah says:

Dawn has something in it that caused sponges to have a disgusting moldy smell within 24 - 48 hours. It makes you want to throw them away.

One might think the makers of Dawn sell sponges too.

Photo by Horia Varlan

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Thought I Was Going Crazy But It Does Make My Dish Cloth Smell!

by Shelley M.

Shelley says:

I seriously thought I was losing my mind.

I have used Dawn for years but in the last year or so I have noticed even after 1 use with a fresh cloth it smelled weird!.

We have a water softner and I though it was because the salt was low...but nope!

Then I switched dish detergents and I didn't have this problem.

It saddens me because I love Dawn. But I can not stand the smell of those dish cloths!

Although I am happy to know I am not nuts like my hubby thinks I am!

Taylor says:

Thanks for sharing your experience Shelley.

You're not the only reader who has told me they thought they might be going crazy because they couldn't figure out the smell. Another reader shared with me:
I like the soap. My wife is named Dawn so it fun to say Dawn always does the dishes even when I'm the one who gets the dish pan hands. :)

Every time I use the stuff the sponge smells nasty though. I can't tolerate the smell.

I wish they would find a way to fix the problem.

Also, thanks for this forum, I thought I was alone on this!

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Dawn Mediterranean Lavender Scent Also Makes Sponges Musty

by Lorraine
(Glendale, CA)

I just did a Google search on what makes a sponge musty and smelly, and came upon this site, along with several others.

Having just "nuked" my sponge in the microwave before finding this site, I now realize that it's the Dawn that's making it smell, not because it's dirty or old or whatever.

What a shame, because I really like Dawn and the lavender scent, and I don't want to stop using it.

But, I will, because that musty smell is horrible, and, constantly tossing sponges is money down the drain.

The manufacturer needs to be made aware of this. I'm sure they would take steps to eliminate it.

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Dawn Still Stinks In 2013

by David G.

It's been a couple of years now that this smell problem surfaced, first with Dawn plus power scrubbers.

The stink sticks to sponges, cloths, and worst your hands and it is hard to get rid of the lingering stink from you hands.

Our visiting family thought we let our cloths get smelly from lack of cleaning them. NOT!

So now it's 2013 and things may have changed so I decided to try Dawn Ultra bleach alternative last night, sold by the 5 minute power soak marketing glurg and the sale price and coupon.

It did not take long for the stench to start. Everything is stinking again.

If I recall last time even washing the dish cloth there was still a remnant of stench.

Called customer support who said they do get a few reports of this. But not a lot.

Perhaps it is usage. However we don't leave the sponge or cloth soaking. We rinse and wring and hang up the cloth. A few hours later it stinks.

They will send coupons for Ivory, and Dawn to try a different version beside the Power Lift

In the meantime as I told them I will be back to Palmolive for now.

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I Never Smelled Anything But My Mom & Sisters All Have!

by Jill
(Milwaukee, WI)

Funny thing is I have not smelled anything, however, my mother and sisters all stopped using Dawn dish detergent due to the fact they said their dishcloths STUNK.

I thought they were crazy and I kept using Dawn.

My mom was in town and staying at my house. When in my kitchen getting a glass of water she immediately could smell my dishcloth, since it was on the sink.

Right away she commented about the smell and told me I must be using Dawn, which I was.

She went out and brought me different dish detergent. I did not smell anything but I do not have a good sense of smell.

I tried looking up other people's thoughts about this, and found your site....thus reason for this post.

I'm not convinced it is the Dawn that causes the smell they are referring to, but for years my sister couldn't figure out why she gets the smell in the dishcloths she me, she is a cleaning freak, until she switched her soap. BIZZARE.

I love using Dawn....especially as a spot remover on clothes.

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Blue Dawn Power Clean Dishsoap Is Stinky!

by SR101 Reader

I'm so glad that others are experiencing the same problem!

I usually buy the big jug of Palmolive from Costco but they were out so I ended up with a big jug of Dawn Power Clean (the blue one) and it makes my dish water, my sponge and my hands smell awful!

It kind of seems like the longer I use it the worse it gets.

I know it's not the sponge's fault because it was brand new when I started using the Dawn.

I zap my sponge in the microwave but it barely helps.

And this Dawn is supposed to be extra strong with overnight soaking power in 5 minutes, but I soaked a jar for about half an hour and the jar now smells like stinky sponge even after repeated washing. So gross!

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Original Blue Dawn Causes Problem Too

by Lola

I thought I was going crazy until I Googled "Dawn and smell on dish cloths," and see it's happening to others.

I'm using the ultra concentrated original scent, not antibacterial, and it makes my sponge and dish cloth smell awful.

I tried the "Ajax" brand (only because Consumer Reports rated it very high) and NO SMELL.

A year went by, I'm thinking maybe Dawn changed their product, just bought some and ONE day later the stinky smell is back on my dish cloth - and it stays on my hands as well.

Wasted 2 bucks - it's going in the garbage.

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Yep, Dawn Kills Your Sponges

by SR101 Reader

Yes, it's definitely the Dawn.

We used Dawn at our restaurant for years (the blue stuff.) I used the perfume and dye free at home (see picture above).

A couple of years ago I started going through sponges at an alarming rate, even though I am meticulous about keeping them rinsed and dried.

After the mildewy, rotten food smell started I put the sponges in the dishwasher, soaked them in vinegar, microwaved them, boiled them, ran them through the laundry, etc. --- still smelly sponges.

It stopped when I switched to a different dish soap.

I had to buy an emergency bottle of Dawn at a convenience store during a camping trip last year, and my camping sponge was stinky by the next morning.

It's the Dawn, it's something new in the formula, and it happens even if you don't use the anti-bacterial formulations.

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It Never Dawned On Me It Could Be The Soap!

by John
(St. Paul, MN)

We've been having a problem with very smelly dishcloths for years.

I know we used to not change them for several days. But with the stinky cloth issue, we changed every day in the morning. And by the evening wash, just a bad smell again. Bad.

About a week ago, being just fed up, because I thought it was something we were doing, just for the heck of it, I thought to try different soap.

I changed to Palmolive....and voila....NO more stinky cloth.

We had been using Dawn. It never 'dawned' on me it could be the soap.

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Dawn Leaves My Dishcloth Stinky!

by Holly

Holly has also made a similar observation about how Dawn effects her dish cloths.

Holly says:

I have been noticing that my dishcloth smells musty/ it needs to be washed just one day after I have gotten it out fresh.

This never used to be a problem.

I could use a dish cloth for 3 days at least before it smelled "musty" and icky.

Since I have been using Dawn antibacterial dish soap I notice that my dishcloths ALWAYS smell bad very very quickly.

Taylor says:

Thanks Holly for sharing your experience.

As you can see, there have been several readers who've all experienced this phenomenon, so I'd think its not coincidence.

Seems strange though, doesn't it?

I'd love to hear from even more people who've noticed this issue, sharing exactly what scent and type of Dawn they were using when they noticed this problem.

Plus, I'd love to be able to share solutions with you of how to solve this stinky problem. Please share your experiences or suggestions for fixing the problem here.

Obviously, one way to fix this problem is to switch to another dish soap brand. If you're interested, I've got lots of dishwashing soap reviews from readers that you can read to find a new brand for you. (Feel free to add your own review too for your favorite brand!)

Photo by Alexanderpf

Related Links At Stain Removal 101

House Cleaning Supplies Reviews & Experiences

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Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Reviews

Dawn Power Dissolver Reviews

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Comments for Dawn Leaves My Dishcloth Stinky!

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New soap helped
by: Anonymous

I switched to Palmolive from Dawn and my stinky sponge is cured.

It Stinks!
by: Amanda

Yes, I use Dawn and within just a couple of days my rag smells NASTY!!! I let it dry between uses and hang it up to air out. But it still smells like a**!! Palmolive DOES NOT have this effect.

My Suggestion For A Cure To This Problem
by: Anonymous

Try using unscented clean and clear dishsoap... you will never have the problem again... It is the scents in the soap that make the sponge stink.

Gross Sponge Smell
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem as all. Been using Palmolive for the longest time with no problems with SSS (Stinky Sponge Syndrome). Got a free bottle of Dawn Ultra Original Scent (blue). Within 1 day the sponge had that disgusting rotten smell, that got on your hands after washing the dishes. It wouldn't even come off after washing my hands. Needless to say I chucked the Dawn and am back with Palmolive. I have noticed the stink smell in the past with Lemon Fresh Joy.

Stinky Dawn Dish soap
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem with Dawn. I can use any other dish soap and it doesn't stink up my sponges. I think it's a protein that is put into the dish soap that get's the grease out. The protein must grow bacteria at an alarming rate thus the stinky sponges. I used to use Tide in my front loading washing machine and the same thing would happen, the machine would stink. These heavy duty grease cutters produce a lot of bacteria/mold. Although they do work great. I just wish they didn't stink.

How To Fix The Problem
by: Anonymous

I love Dawn, it cuts grease and I just plain prefer it. You must rinse sponges very well to remove odors. The odor will remain in anything that retains soap or residue.

Dish rag smells like solvent
by: Helen

I use Dawn for hand washing dishes. I always rinse the dish rag out after washing the dishes and hang it over the faucet or dish drainer to dry out.

It always starts smelling like paint thinner or something similar after one or two days.

I throw it in the laundry and put out a clean rag every one or two days.

I don't know if it's just this brand though because a few years ago I was using Joy for the dishes and it started with the solvent smell, so I switched to Dawn.

I'm about to try another brand, but I'm wondering if there is some ingredient they are putting in dish soap in recent years that causes this.

I never had the problem prior to about 10 years ago.

Relieved to know I'm not imagining the stink!
by: Hampsteader

We're having the same problem with stinky sponges, dish clothes (and hands!) as many other Dawn users. I couldn't image what the cause was, as none of our other towels or linens stink when wet. We even changed brands - but made the mistake of trying Lemon Fresh Joy, which I see someone else also reported causes the same stink issues.

Will try Ajax or Palmolive or some other natural brand as recommended. Thanks for creating this site and sharing the information. What a relief to know the source of this problem!

Yes It Does
by: Anonymous

I have this problem with this brand. I used another dish soap, Sunlight, no problem. If I go back to Dawn it smells again. I will have to stop using this soap.

Another user that hates the funk
by: Linda

My roommate just asked if I could stop using Dawn (Direct Foam original scent) because of the funky smell. I love that I use a fraction of Dawn compared to Palmolive and I ALWAYS squeeze out the sponge and dish rag and rarely have the smell to the point it is intolerable.

He, on the other hand has a nasty habit of hanging up the rag and sponge wet, which only exacerbates the problem. Funny, the month he was gone, there were no funky smells. :D Why do men have such trouble wringing things out? (ex-DH had this problem too)

He suggested two sponges/rags but that's ludicrous, the kitchen's already more cluttered than I like - I think I am going to have to give in on this one though - maybe I'll agree to use his Palmolive and just save the Dawn for the really tough stuff and then put out a new sponge/rag after using.

Metallic Smell
by: Mab

I find it to be a repulsive metallic smell, and, I notice it from the get go. Meaning, the soap itself reeks. It never was like that YEARS ago. Switched to Palmolive Fresh Green Apple about 3 or 4 years ago and now that's been discontinued. Don't like the smell of any of the Palmolive reformations. So they have lost my business too. I've decided to head in the Eco-friendly direction and am giving Seventh Generation dish soap (Lemongrass and Clementine Zest scent) a try.

It leaves stinky smell on everything
by: Bill

For about a year now we have been experiencing a nasty, moldy, sour smell on our dish cloths, even though they had only been in use for one night.

I kept telling my wife that I thought it was the Dawn we were using, but she didn't think that was the problem.

Last night however, I proved my point. We had made bean soup and before we went to bed we emptied the pot into tupperware containers and rinsed the pot out. It was almost clean but my wife decided to let it soak overnight with Dawn and hot water. She also placed the lid on the pot.

Fast forward to this morning. As I was waiting on coffee I decided to wash out the pot.

To my surprise when I removed the lid I was hit with the same smell that our dish cloths get -- sour, moldy and nasty.

Keep in mind that only Dawn and hot water were in the pot. There was very little food residue.

We will now change to a different brand in hopes that the nasty smell this soap leaves behind will disappear.

Side neighbor works for P&G and I asked him if there had been any complaints about this issue. Guess what he told me? Never.....I then asked if they had problems with dish cloths stinking and he said, matter of a fact, we have.

He said it never really dawned on him that it might be the soap until I told him the pot story. Now he is going to check on it!

Problem even with new sponges
by: Dennie

I have tried several varieties of this soap and they all make my sponges stink. Even brand new sponges.

I switched to another brand to test and sure enough no smell. Back to Dawn and back to terrible smell that gets on your hands for you to smell all day.

I'm gonna have to switch for good. Hate to, because I like the way this brand lasts.

I Think It's The Ultra Version
by: Anonymous

I believe this stink started when they changed the formula to "ultra" Dawn. - The non ultra kind is still available in some dollar stores.

I thought I was going crazy...
by: Anonymous

I just threw out a pile of newer dishcloths, thinking maybe they were inferior. I bought some new, expensive North American made ones for this reason. Same problem. I am fastidious with cleanliness of my dishcloths, like to have tons on hand and change them out usually every 2nd day. I thought I was going crazy. So much so I had to google it. So glad I found this! I checked my detergent and it's Blue Dawn. Palmolive or Ivory for me tomorrow! Thank you for this.

It DOES create a bad smell
by: Ann

I am a clean freak and always store my sponges properly. But I find with Dawn soap no matter what I did - the smell would always come back. I specifically use the blue Dawn ultra with super suds bottle, in original scent. The only solution is to use new sponges every 3-4 days. I have not had this problem with other dish soaps.

stinky dish rags
by: Anonymous

I have had this problem for a while and its been with using Dawn. I decided to see if anyone else noticed it. Now I know I'm not alone. I was blaming it on the water in eastern NC. Then it happened here in the mountains. No more Dawn for me. Once it happens it even bleeds into towels that you wash them with.

I've not had this problem
by: Melissa

I've never had an issue with this and I exclusively use Dawn. Of course, I also thoroughly rinse my sponges after each use and put them in the microwave at least twice a week to kill any bacteria. Not sure if that's what keeps me from having a problem but my sponge is smell free!

It makes my sponges and hands smell terrible!
by: Steve White

I am so glad to find this page which confirms my observations! I am typing this now with fingers that stink, having just washed the dishes. We have gone throufh several cycles of buying Dawn vs. buying the cheap store brand. Each time the result is the same, Dawn makes the sponges and your hands smell terrible, the store brand does not. Whatever it is that causes the smell seems to soak right into your skin and won't wash out. Your hands smell bad all day. I am beginning to worry that whatever grease cutting chemical they are adding goes right through your skin and gets into your system.

Dawn does the dirty to sponges!
by: B$

Yes, I just realized that it's the DAWN making me constantly have to replace my sponges, giving them a mildew-y smell. I realized this because I was without this brand for a week and was using some hippie dish soap from Whole Paycheck (Foods) and my sponge was fine..... until I picked up a bottle of DAWN and within 3 days I can smell the stink starting to set in! Darn it Dawn, why did you do this to me!? I used to love your product, now I can't justify how many sponges it ruins!

Ultra blue version does it too
by: Anonymous

I began using Dawn Ultra Original Scent a few days ago. I quickly noticed a rank, musty smell coming from the new sponge I was using. The smell sticks to your hands after handling the sponge, but not if you wash your hands directly with the soap.

Not buying again
by: Jan

I've noticed lately that when I use this product my dish cloth is getting a really stinky smell. This doesn't happen with other dish wash detergents. Needless to say I am not going to buy it again.

My smelly sponge
by: Anonymous

I just googled "Dawn soap smelly sponges" and found this site right away.

I was using cheaper soap but then decided to upgrade to Dawn. I use less soap because it's so concentrated but I noticed my sponge was smelly. I switched out the old one for a new one and almost immediately, the new sponged smelled moldy. YUCK!

Everyone here is right. Dawn causes stinky sponges!

Stinky Dawn
by: Ava

I have always used the Blue Original Dawn Detergent. I thought it was just me until I discovered this site, quite by accident. It was a couple of years ago that I noticed my scrubbie getting a horrible odor. I tried to eliminate the odor by washing the sponge in hot water or putting it into the washing machine. The clothes that I washed it with picked up the odor. I even tried different methods in the microwave (hot water, vinegar, baking soda etc...) nothing worked. I have since switched to Palmolive Antibacterial soap with no problems.

No Problem Here !!!
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn since the day it hit the market and I have NEVER had ANY KIND of problem with it. I have tried several different kinds of Dawn and my all-time-favorite Go To is the Original Blue Dawn.

Being a person who likes to "test the market," I have, over the years, tried different brands of dish shop ... Dawn is the BEST, hands down.

I don't use Dawn just for dishes. It is one of the ingredients I use in several of my "homemade cleaners." I even use it at time to shampoo my furbaby !!!

Personally speaking, it is Dawn all the way for me !!!

(I am not a paid spokesperson ... nor am I an employee, family member or friend of an employee) !!!

I thought it was something I was doing
by: Anonymous

I have had the same experience. I bought a huge bottle from Costco so it lasted a long time. It was just the regular Dawn dishwashing liquid. I thought that it was something that I was doing, not cleaning enough, not squeezing the water out enough. It was driving me crazy. After I ran out I switched to Melaleuca lemon brite dishwashing liquid and have not had any problem with the sponge going smelly. I will never, never use Dawn again!

Same problem here...
by: Anonymous

We've noticed the same problem. Going to try a new dish detergent and see if it goes away. It's a constant source of conflict in our house, not to mention the stink. :)

only happens with stainless steel sink
by: Marlene

I think it's using Dawn only if you have a stainless steel sink. From experience!

definitely the brand!
by: Karisa

It's definitely Dawn! I've used other brands and it doesn't leave them smelling yucky! It was on sale and bought it, it stinks!

describing the smell
by: Lindi

It's a weird metallic smell, not musty or moldy- it takes your breath away and can happen after the first use!

switched to Method
by: Mimi

I used to use Dawn (from Costco) and did notice the sponge getting smelly. Switched to Method dish soap and sponges haven't gotten smelly.

doesn't happen with Seventh Generation
by: Jessica

When I use Dawn my sponges stink to high heaven overnight, but using Seventh Generation nada. No stink.

I think it's all the chemicals
by: Debbie

My dish rags smelled awful after using this brand, even after 1 use. (I use 1 rag all day), but I honestly never believed it was the fault of the soap until I switched to Melaleuca's dish soap, and then to 7th Generation. Even by the end of the day, they don't smell anymore at all. I think it has something to do with the chemicals in the soap, which companies can change at any time without being obligated to notify the consumer.

no problem once switched to Shaklee
by: Karla

I don't know that it caused it, but more likely didn't *prevent* it. I switched to Shaklee and haven't had the problem since.

Palmolive Oxy better
by: Elisabeth

OK, here's my truth, and my Dad is the person who taught me this. Dawn = Stinky Sponge. Palmolive Oxy = You will never have a stinky sponge again! Sorry, Dawn fans, but Dawn just doesn't do the trick!

switched and now don't have this problem
by: Kristie

We have switched from this brand, and now after reading this I realize that we have not had a stinky sponge in quite some time.

hard to get stench off hands
by: Merrill

Is that what is causing that horrible smell? For real, it's been since I bought blue dawn for a 'recipe'. I'm going to go back to what I had before. Seriously if you get the stench on your hands it's hard to get off.

don't use this brand for this reason
by: Traci

I do not use Dawn because it does just that, makes rags and sponges stink!! I use the brand Seventh Generation. It's more natural and my rags/ sponges never stink!!

I've never had this problem - it's bacteria
by: Anonymous

I use this soap all the time. I have never had smelly cloths. If the cloths are rinsed and hung to dry properly they will not smell no matter what soap you use. It is the bacteria that causes the cloths to stink. When the cloths are not rinsed and dried properly the bacteria stays in the cloths.

I use Dawn
by: Anonymous

I have noticed that my dishcloth does not smell bad when I rinse it with cold water before hanging it to dry. I think the bacteria grows faster in a hot dishcloth.

stinky feet
by: Anonymous

I do not like it. It stinks on your hands. To me it smells like stinky feet. I will not use it any more.

Dawn Dish Soap May Not Be the Problem
by: Ari Ana

I've used several different sponges/dish soap brands and have concluded that it may be the fact that you don't squeeze out all the soap and water. By this I mean that you have to run water over your sponge while squeezing it to rinse out all the left over soap. This will allow the sponge to dry... Smell free.

Sponges should be tossed out every week or placed in the microwave once a week for one minute to kill bacteria. Hope this helps.

I use Dawn antibacterial soap daily and purchased my sponges from the 99 cent store. Brand is USO and love them. They are similar to Scotch brand sponges, but I buy them as a 3 pack for $1 =)

Switching to Ajax
by: Anonymous

I haven't noticed anything, but my husband has been saying that our dish cloths smell like something is rotten. We have switched to Ajax to see if it helps. Glad I stumbled on this post, I thought my husband was nuts!

No wonder
by: Sandy

No wonder my sponges always smell bad even when brand new. A brand new sponge smells after a couple of days. The smell lingers on my hands and it is disgusting. Time for new dish soap.

Place to write in concern
by: Old Bat

I wrote the company to let them know my complaint about the stinky sponges and dish cloths.

Above is the link.

Not just cloths and sponges
by: Pauline

I washed an item at our church, and because all the dish towels and cloths were being washed, I use a paper towel and their Dawn. My hands smelled like 2-day old laundry. And it wasn't just where I had my hands in the water, it was wherever the damp of the paper towel touched me. :(

Noticed smell lately
by: Marlene M

I've used the green apple Dawn since it came out and have used Dawn the blue before that since I can remember, many years. Lately, I've noticed how the dish rags smell horrible!!! Just mostly the most recent bottle or two I've bought. I didn't have this problem before. I bleach all my dish rags in the wash too. I don't know if they've changed the formula or what but they need to do something about it. I'm not crazy about other dish soaps for one reason or another but I might have to buy something different next time. Just bought a new bottle of Dawn today.

slimy too!
by: Anonymous

Not just musty smelly but rather slimy too! I am going to have to abandon the Dawn and go Joy or one of the other brands, but Joy seems to not want to rinse off dishes well and leaves a soapy taste on glasses! Frustrating!

Smelly dish cloths & cracking fingers
by: Anonymous

Not only does Dawn leave my dish cloths smelly I also noticed my fingers "cracking" open on the edges of my fingernails. I switched to Palmolive and haven't had the problem anymore. I think the Dawn was overly drying to my hands.

Yes, it stinks
by: Anonymous

It not only makes my dishcloths smell, the soap itself smells yucky on my hands after rinsing. It didn't used to smell like this, they must have put something else in it to make it stink the way it does.

Solution for stinky sponge/cloths
by: Sue B

I use this brand because I believe it has the best grease cutting solution and like others, my dish cloths and/or sponges tend to stink after just a few uses. I prefer to use a bar mop cloth - plain white - and when I clean my kitchen sink with Clorox Clean up I also saturate the dishcloth with the "Clean-Up." Not only does it take the smell away, it takes all the stains out and whitens the cloth again. You just can't beat Clorox Clean-up in my opinion.

it's the Dawn
by: Melissa

It's Dawn dishwashing liquid. It makes my dish rags smell the same way too. I always wash them out and throw them into the wash.

Stinky Dish Sponge
by: Anonymous

Yes, my dish sponge stinks! I have been using Dawn with Bleach for the past year. Did not realize until this was posted. Dawn please fix this!

no smelly odor
by: Anonymous

I have never experienced any odor on my sponge while using Dawn dish soap. It could be the water you are using, maybe it's too hard or too soft? But I love Dawn. It's the best out there for me and my dishes.

Bad bad odor
by: Anonymous

Definitively Dawn soap fault. Never smell that odor before using Dawn. Back to Palmolive, odor gone! Worst soap ever.

remedy - cold water
by: Anonymous

I had a friend tell me if you rinse your dish cloths out good in cold water that they won't smell. So far it has been working but I never tried it with this brand.

no stink here
by: Anonymous

I've used Dawn for years and have never experienced that. After use wash your dish rag out good with cold water!

by: Anonymous

I even complained to the company. They sent me a coupon for free Dawn. I'm not gonna use it unless I know what's causing the smell! They said someone would get back to me on that-a month ago. I quit holding my breath :( So I switched back to Palmolive soap. And I don't use sponges, I use dish cloths and change it twice it daily. So I know it's not the dish cloths. It's the Dawn.

slimy sponges
by: Anonymous

My grandma and I use Dawn and it happens to our sponge too. I just squeeze it out real good and one spray of Clorox cleanup did the trick. They smell great and don't have that slimy feeling the next day. She uses the regular blue one and I use the clear.

think caused by bacteria
by: Anonymous

I think it is the bacteria in the cloths that cause them to smell. Maybe using Dawn removes bacteria from the dishes and is absorbed into the cloths? Rinsing them thoroughly and letting then air dry may be a solution.

smelly dish cloths
by: Sandy

I use Dawn and notice a smell in my dish cloths similar to gas or kerosene. It's terrible. Even when I buy new cloths, which I do ofter, soon after using they become stinky. I often wondered if it was the dish soap. Isn't it petroleum product based? If so that may be the problem. Input on this post will be appreciated. :)

Dawn...You stink!
by: Mrs. Dennis

I absolutely love Dawn Platinum dish detergent! I recently noticed a mildew like smell coming from my sink or at least I thought it was coming from my sink. It was actually my dish cloths that were smelling. I washed them all in hot water with laundry detergent, vinegar and baking soda. This always removed that mildew smell that towels and wash cloths sometimes have. After washing and drying the dish cloths and after a couple of uses the smell returned but only from the dish cloths. I guess it's safe to say it's the Dawn dish detergent.

smell bad after using
by: Susan Herbert

My dish rags, towels and sponges smell really bad after I use them with Dawn dishwashing liquid. This smell is so bad I usually bleach them to get the smell out. So I changed dishwashing liquid. Now no more nasty smells.

Clean bacteria free kitchen rags and towels!
by: Anonymous

I've started using paper towels and Clorox wipes, since I saw on TV dish rags and sponges have more bacteria than toilet seat. However always have washed kitchen cloths and towels alone with detergent and Clorox. Can wash in dish washer or sterilize in microwave. Change often, rinse and dry cloths after each use!

I thought it was just me
by: Angela Scory

Yes I have experienced smelly sponges! I thought it was just me not cleaning out the sponge good enough after each use! I use a variety of Dawn dish washing liquid! I try to get antibacterial or some kind of extra strength, mega dirty dish type formulas! Good to know it's not just me going crazy!!

vet versus smelly stuff
by: Anonymous

I have this problem too but the vet says to use only Dawn to kill fleas so what's a girl to do?

It stinks
by: Nancy Hampton

Dawn also smells on bad my hands when I wash them with it. Don't notice the smell on the dishcloths because I change them out and wash them everyday.

Sponges are disgusting
by: Val

The problem is not the soap, it's the item. Sponges have literally proven to harbor more bacteria than the inside of a toilet. They are gross.

If you use them, make sure to rinse and squeeze out all liquid. I only use after it's been through the dishwasher and it gets tossed weekly. I honestly prefer paper towels for dish washing.

Kitchen towels should be cleaned daily.

I use Dawn with no issues but I change out my washing utensils frequently and make sure everything dries.

smelly rags
by: Anonymous

Yes. I couldn't figure it out. My cloths smelled soured after just one use. I was washing them daily and they were always smelling.

thought it was my water
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn dish detergent for years. I used to use the Hand Renewal I think that's what it was called) now it's Dawn with Olay. I like the lavender although since they changed the name it doesn't smell as strong. I thought the smell in the sponge had something to do with my water. We used to be on well water then switched to city water. That is when I noticed the smell. I keep a bottle of Soft Soap next to my Dawn and when I get through washing dishes, I wash my sponge with the Soft Soap. I used to microwave my sponge but that seemed to enhance the bad smell. Washing the sponge in the washing machine did not help much either. I just throw them away and use a new one. Now that I've read your article I will try a new detergent.

no more smelly rags
by: Anonymous

I wonder if it is that now some of the Dawn says 2x's concentrate on it. We have always used this brand and it seems to me since it changed to 2x the rags are smelly because a friend of mine uses the Dawn with bleach alternative and her rags never smell. Hope this helps.

my dish rags smell awful
by: Kim

I thought it was just me but I do use Dawn ultra with active suds. My dish rag smells awful. I never connected the two. Glad to see others are having the same issue. I just smelled the dish rag I started using yesterday and it has an odor that I wouldn't want to wash my dishes with.

by: Deborah Bountifull Davis

OMG really? C'mon people. What are synthetic sponges made from? What is Dawn known for? Petroleum products! Dawn breaks them down, sponges are made from them. Get natural sponge, or better yet, USE NATURAL SOAP!

maybe it's the water?
by: Anonymous

I have this problem and always rinse them and hang to dry. I did notice when in Florida this year that my dishcloth only lasted one day before it got stinky. I always use Dawn. But at home the dishcloth will last a couple of days. Wondering if it could be something to do with the water??

dawn is smelly
by: Anonymous

I will not use Dawn because of how nasty of a smell it leaves on my sponges and wash clothes!!

no issues here
by: Ashley

I have not had that problem at all. I use the Dawn Advanced from Costco. I switch out my sponge/rags every day or two. Could people be using softener on their dish cloths? That could cause them not to get as clean over a period of time. Dawn is frequently used to help "strip" cloth diapers of build-up from detergents. I am having a hard time accepting that Dawn could be the problem! ;)

by: Anonymous

This is so funny!!! I just threw out a sponge today because it stunk so bad, and it's not even 2 weeks old. I use Dawn antibacterial dish washing soap, so I'm assuming that is the culprit!! Will be switching tomorrow, so gross!

My dishcloth never gets stinky or slimy
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for years and years. My dishcloth never gets stinky or slimy. Immediately when dishes are finished I rinse my rag with hot water, as hot as I can stand it for at least a minute if not longer. This gets all the tidbits of food and any soap or grease that was left in your dishcloth out.

Me too!
by: Dorthy

I have been noticing a foul smell in my sponge and dish rags lately. I was puzzled as to why this was happening. I have used Dawn for YEARS. I think it might be time for a change.

I have noticed this for many years now
by: Debbie C

I have noticed this for many years now. I tried all different scents and formulas of Dawn and it still creates a very stinky sponge. My work only orders the GIANT Dawn bottle for our work kitchen - I REFUSE to use it. The sponge always stinks and I feel like my dishes are only getting dirtier. GROSS! Palmolive does not leave this stinky smell. And the generic brands just can't cut the grease or clean the dishes the same way. So I recommend anyone that has this problem - SWITCH TO PALMOLIVE - If you haven't done so already.

by: Julie

Mine get stinky moldy smell with Dawn also. I soak in Shaklee Basic G or vinegar in a soak pail until it's time to wash in the machine. After washing they come out clean smelling.

happy to figure out the problem
by: Anonymous

I am so happy right now! I have been having smelly dishrags and sponges and have not been able to figure out why. I have been going crazy trying to figure it out.

could be the newer versions, doesn't happen with the green one
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for years, but I use the generic no frills type. None of the newer ones that have come out. I always get the green. Could it be the newer versions.

after reading most comments, I can say I haven't had these problems
by: Jessica Faulk

I use non-concentrated Dawn with bleach for my dishes and miscellaneous cleaning. I use Dawn hand renewal, the pink peachy colored one I think it's pomegranate scent, as just hand washing soap. My sponge gets a smell only when someone rinses the soap completely out. I've use Dawn since I was a kid and love it, will yell at hubby if he dare buys any other kind. I always lightly rinse my sponge, never completely rinsing out the soap and it doesn't smell. I wash my sponges in the washing machine and reuse until it itself is not useable anymore and get a new sponge.

Everyone should report their experiences to the makers of Dawn so they can run tests!!

sponges smell like wet dog almost instantly
by: MJQ

Dawn must have done something the past 2+ years to their formula because that's about when our sponges started smelling like wet dog almost instantly. Great product, stinky smell. They need to change it back or I need to change brands because my hands have the same lingering smell for up to 12 hours after using the sponge.

Myth busters
by: Anonymous

Myth busters proved repeatedly that a kitchen sponge is THE dirtiest thing in your house. The toilet seat is cleaner. Don't use sponges.

Orange scent stinks
by: Penny

Dish cloths and sponges reek and must be changed daily, and I often cannot get the musty smell off my hands after handling the cloth or sponge. Will never buy this product again and as a matter of fact my son has gone through the same thing, and it's really too bad as I really like the performance of the dish soap but the smell of cloths and sponges is little to be desired.

blue version does it too
by: Shannon

After just a few uses of a new sponge it starts smelling REALLY bad and the smell stays on your hands. Awful. We have been putting them in a container; covering with water and microwaving for 5 minutes. The smell goes away but comes back after a couple of days. My son told us it was the Dawn detergent. He quit using it and has not had any problems since. Is it really the Dawn detergent causing this problem?

switched soap, problem solved
by: Lisa

I had issues with my dish clothes smelling and could never get the smell out. I mentioned to my sister and mom and they both asked if I was using Dawn because they had the same issue. The smell in the rags get on your hands and is hard to get rid of. I tossed all dish clothes and bought different soap and clothes and problem solved.

Orange color antibacterial does it too
by: Cathy

For the last six months or so I could not understand why practically new sponges were stinky already. It took me a while and then I finally started to think, this seems to happen when I use Dawn soap. So after about 20 sponge throw outs I said let me Google stinky sponges and Dawn. And here I find this website talking about the problem I am having. I know for sure it is from Dawn because I bought a different soap at Whole Foods and different sponges and and I use them for at least three weeks without a smell. During this time I hid my Dawn soap from my cleaning lady. The following week I forgot the Dawn soap on the counter and I came home to a stinky sponge after she used it for less than a day.

I'm going to use the rest of my Dawn soap for the bathroom and I will not be using that soap ever again. It's too bad because somehow they ruined a really nice product.

don't use it regularly anymore
by: Cristina

I love using it for stain removal but for everyday kitchen cleaning it makes my sponges and cloths stinky.

No problem here
by: Becky

I've used blue Dawn forever and never had this issue. Ever.

it's a real shame
by: Anonymous

I never expected to hear that it's my detergent that gives off the odor! Yet, I too have used DAWN for too many years to remember and only the last year or two have I been having a MAJOR problem w/my dishcloths (and hands) smelling 'funky.'

I'll put DAWN aside and try another brand - shame, tho', because I like the way DAWN cleans everything.

Mildew smell on sponge
by: Anonymous

I used this and my sponge smelled like mildew really bad. I have switched to Palmolive and got rid of the problem right away. I would never use Dawn again.

my rags stink
by: Cat

I was told years ago to always use Sunlight soap if I didn't want smelly rags. It was so true. I switched to Dawn and can't stand the putrid smell. I'm buying more Sunlight immediately.

Stinky Sponge
by: Pam

Yes! I thought I was going crazy. In the past 6 months to a year I have noticed that my kitchen sponges (which I wash and replace regularly) quickly develop a metallic smell that transfers to everything it touches, especially my hands. It drives me crazy. I switched to Dawn in the past year and I was wondering if there was a connection. Now it looks like there may be. I'm switching dish soaps and getting a new sponge!

My dish cloth is stinky too
by: Nancy

My dish cloth starts to stink In a couple of days! Never used to. It reminds me of a garbage smell! It never used to do this! I've started putting some Febreze Mr. Clean in my dish soap container, it seems to help some, but I can still smell the stinky odor eventually! Makes me feel like my kitchen is dirty!

I've experienced the problem with the blue, orange and some fruity kind
by: Lisa Dunlop

Thank you! I googled this for my fiancee because he thought I was crazy, because he smelled it too but didn't think it was that serious. Me, I have to wash my hands with soap 2-3 times cause the smell is so bad (after say wiping my counters after the dish cloth sat a few hours). I have been washing my dishcloths every day!

Dumb Question
by: DavidJRoth2002

This may seem like a stupid question, but has anyone actually brought this to Proctor & Gamble's attention instead of just whining about it on an obscure web page? I mean, there's an 800 number right on every bottle.

Taylor's note: Yes, DavidJRoth, people have complained to Dawn directly, as you would note if you read the entire page. Plus, this "obscure website" gets over 1/2 million page views a month. :)

Going back to my old dish liquid - Dawn makes them smelly
by: Joanne

I am so glad I'm not the only one! I've always been meticulous about washing my dishcloth every day, but when I switched to the Original blue Dawn, they became smelly immediately. The smell permeated the whole house. Now that I've stopped using it the smell disappeared immediately. Does anyone know if there is a cure?

I don't have stinky sponge syndrome
by: Audrey

First off, I do not use sponges. For at least 30 years I have used only white dishcloths and cleaning towels. I change my dishcloth daily, sometimes more than once if it gets grungy. I allow them to dry on the edge of the "dirty rag hamper" before tossing them in. I do a load of cleaning rags each week using bleach in the wash and an extra rinse with white vinegar added. In nice weather I sometimes hang them on the line to let the sun work it's magic. Yes, I admit to being a little OCD about cleaning, but it works for me. I buy the Dawn from Costco which is currently labeled Platinum. I use it for hand soap in both bathrooms too. I have Simple Human Pump Soap Dispensers filled with the Dawn in both bathrooms and at the kitchen sink. My husband wants Dawn in the bathrooms because it cleans well and he can't stand the way the other hand soaps "stink."

Washing Machines
by: Anonymous

I think the problem is front loader washing machines - they don't clean well! I use bleach for my dish rags.

Dawn original
by: Anonymous

I use microfiber sponges. I thought I wasn't drying them thoroughly but now I wonder if it is the Dawn.

Not just my dish cloths but my sink drain too!
by: Anonymous

We have a dishwasher and we use it but I do wash my pots and pans by hand daily. I use a dish pan in the sink and when I'm done washing I dump the dish water and then rinse and dry my sink. We have a problem with awful smelly black gunk growing in the drain on the side I dump my dish water and only on that side. I have to use bleach in it a couple times a week to get rid of the gunk. If I use my dish cloths more than one time before washing they get that same nasty smell. My husband said he thought it was the Dawn causing the problem. As much as I hate to admit it I think he's right...this time.

It's not just the sponges and rags...
by: anitat

I'd be interested in hearing from people with sensitive noses because I can smell that smell on DISHES a day or two after they are washed with Dawn, unless they are dipped in vinegar or bleach water before drying. I thought it was just my nose, needing to do the sponges and rags constantly.

I called Dawn company...
by: Old Bat

I called the Dawn Company and complained about my sponges and dish towels stinking after sitting for a bit.

1. They sent me free coupons,
2. Suggested rinsing them really well
3. When it smells it needs to be washed
(I put mine in the dishwasher in a little plastic container that has a lid to keep them from floating or falling off the rack.)
4. They are looking into what can be done.
5. When they smell it will alert to keep from bacteria growing. A safety measure a friend told me from her Home Ec. instructor.

Good Luck to Everyone!

Dawn foam
by: Anonymous

Dawn foam leaves an odor so I add Clorox in my water or directly on my sponge. Helps a lot.

Stinky towels.
by: Anonymous

I use Dawn dish soap & have noticed my dish rags, towels & sponges also sour within a days time. But my bath towels & wash rags do the same thing. Does anyone have any ideas of why or have the same problem? I thought maybe it was because of the weather until I read articles on Dawn soap. Wonder if some of the liquid bath soaps do the same thing?

Same thing, but an interesting twist
by: garyZ

This problem seems to occur from some interaction between Dawn and the Scotch Brite scrubber sponges which are often purchased together at warehouse stores like Costco. The problem doesn't happen with other soaps and those sponges, BUT the problem also does not happen if I use Dawn on, say, a paper towel to wash a dish, or if I just wash my hands with Dawn.

Now here is the kicker: Not everyone smells it! There must be some weird genetic component, because I have met a couple of people now who complain about the smell and comment that their spouses can't smell the same problem! So this is truly the perfect storm of unintended chemical and genetic circumstances. If your spouse says you're crazy, don't worry - it's just that some people simply can't smell the problem.

I'm writing this in August 2014, and wondering if Dawn ever acknowledged or addressed this problem.

Smelly Sponge and more
by: Maggie

I recently switched to Dawn Original dish soap (the blue one).

When I opened the Dawn I started with a brand new sponge. Within two days of using the soap my sponge had that terrible moldy knock-your-socks-off smell. Then I realized that my dish towels had the same smell as did a dish cloth that I use occasionally. After doing the dishes my hands smelled bad too.

I went on a mission to find out what was causing the problem. By process of elimination I was shocked to find it was the Dawn. Who would have guessed??

I switched to Ajax dish soap and have not had a problem.

Rather than throwing out the remaining Dawn my husband said he'd try and use it to wash the cars and to do other outdoor cleaning chores. When it's finally gone you can be sure I won't be buying it again.

A smell disaster
by: Anonymous

As someone who is seriously sensitive to fragrances I struggle with Dawn. I only have it because it was on sale, but what a waste! While I "toughed it out" with the fragrance (which is not pleasant in the least) but my clean dish cloth smelled mildewed the next day. It took me a while to make the connection between Dawn and the instantly smelly dish cloth, but that was the deal breaker. Now Dawn is only allowed in small quantities in my laundry room for taking out cooking grease spots on clothes. As soon as I find another treatment that works without that offensive odor that will be gone too.

by: Anonymous

I have had to throw away my dish rags. Most of the time you can get rid of that smell by washing in a little bleach, even that didn't get rid of it!!! Wont buy it again.

I add bleach
by: Amy

I've used this brand for years. My dish rags and sponges don't stink. I also every load of dishes use bleach. Splash or two, depends on the load.

it reeks
by: Anonymous

Dawn original reeks on dishcloth and sponges. Palmolive dish soap doesn't clean as good as Dawn. Actually no dish soap cleans grease as well. Just this odor is rank!

I've experienced it
by: Anonymous

It happened with Dawn except for Dawn with Oxy. Joy also caused the same problem for me. I don't use either brand unless I get Dawn with Oxy.

Dawn's after effect
by: Anonymous

Dawn does make dish towels and sponges smell foul.

use unscented dish soap
by: Chris Castro

I have noticed that my sponge and dish cloths get smelly, sour smell after using any soap with a fragrance. I use the dish soap without fragrance and there is no problem, no yucky after smell of any kind. So I would have to say the problem lies in whatever is used when adding fragrance to the soap. I would love to buy lemon or apple or any great smelling dish soap but if it makes my dish cloth and sponge smell awful later then I can live without the perfume. Hope that helps.

never use same dishcloth twice
by: Anonymous

I have not noticed any bad smells with the use of Dawn.............but, I never use the same dishcloth twice. If I use a dishcloth in the morning, I use a fresh one in the evening. Just do not like the thought of bacteria growing on a used dishcloth & I never use sponges. Sponges just look like a breeding ground for germs. I'm really surprised to see how many people use the same dishcloth for a 2nd or even 3rd day......ewwwwwwwww!

Stopped using Dawn
by: Lizzy

I stopped using Dawn dish detergent when my husband brought to my attention that the sponge smelled bad. I informed him that I had just put a new sponge in the sink the day before. I am a sponge freak and change it out weekly. I couldn't believe that it had already had a smell but I changed it out for a new one anyway. The next day the same thing happened. When I saw a FB post about Dawn I figured I would test it out myself and found that the Dawn was the culprit. I was very disappointed because I used Dawn for so many household tasks including ridding my dog of skunk smell. Trust me a little Dawn, baking soda and water and your dog will be nice and fresh again.

Original Blue Dawn
by: M. Butler

Wow . . . Glad to see this post. I thought somehow my dish clothes and sponges were just getting the case of the funk. I wash my dish clothes, towels, and sponges every few days. I have been known to buy my dish detergents in bulk . . . Do they possibly have some sort of a shelf life expiration?

not me
by: Anonymous

I have been checking all the time since I first heard about this. I have not had any odor. Only when it is time to wash anyway can I smell even a slight scent. I love Dawn.

It has been driving me crazy
by: Debbie

I am so happy to read this. It has been driving me crazy. I couldn't figure out what was causing my dish rags and sponges to have that rank odor. I have been using the regular blue Dawn. After using the rag one day it has to go in the wash. Thank you for this information.

squeeze water out of sponge
by: Anonymous

I noticed it happens more if you don't squeeze all the water out of the sponge.

happens with hand renewal and platinum versions
by: Cindy Dean

I've used both the scented version (hand renewal) and the platinum version, and noticed the foul smell within a couple of days. I'd love someone get to the bottom of this. I've even tried washing the dishcloths in the dishwasher. Still doesn't help.

how I've resolved the problem
by: Anonymous

Any kind of Dawn leaves a smelly rag. The only way I have resolved this problem is to rinse and rinse my dish cloth, running clear water thru it, air drying it doesn't help as the smell is there once it's wet. What's up, I only use dawn.

Dawn Ultra active suds
by: JV

The liquid soap itself scent is so awful it is not the sponge or something else and I think it is the ingredient used in it. A good thing is that I bought the small bottle. And I will never ever buy this product again.

For those who will read this comment. Stay away from the blue Dawn Ultra. Don't buy this.

If you are curious you can also try it and just buy the small bottle.

I've been racking my brain
by: Elizabeth Hauswirth

I have been racking my brain as to what is making my dishcloths smell so bad. It is so offensive. You can smell them as soon as you approach the sink. I do wash them regularly and keep them rinsed and wrung out and placed so they can keep from being wet constantly. When I launder them I use bleach. Since I read this article some time ago I have switched to a different dish soap and the smell is gone! I loved Dawn Original and swore by it for years! If they change it back to the "Original," I'll be a loyal customer once again!

Dawn smell or not
by: BW

I've used blue Dawn for decades and have not had a problem with it. The problem I do have is with the bacteria that grows on dishcloths & sponges that are NOT rinsed well and allowed to dry. I use dishcloths over the sink divider in lieu of one of those rubberized mats and it is constantly wet which allows the bacteria to grow. The sponge is in constant use and neither my husband nor son are good at rinsing it well and squeezing it dry so it stays wet & gets smelly from bacteria. When I squeeze it well & place it where it can dry completely overnight it never gets smelly. When I've handled either when they have become smelly and that mildew (which is what it is) transfers to my hands, I use the blue Dawn to wash my hands, getting between my fingers really well and REMOVES the mildew smell. I have also now switched my dad from Joy to blue Dawn. He was having a lot of trouble with mildew-smelling dishcloths...but again, it was the same reason, he doesn't rinse them well and allow them to dry completely, and leaves them wet in the sink using them for days.

No problem with Dawn
by: Anonymous

Ive used Dawn for years & never had a problem with odors; I always spread my dish cloth over the last pot I wash, so it dries between uses.

Couldn't figure this out
by: Anonymous

Thank you. I cannot say 100% for sure that Dawn was causing this but I think you may be correct. I'm going to change brands and see if it goes away.

It stinks
by: Shanmuga

I was searching for anyone else experiencing similar issue and here it is...

The dish soap leaves stinky smell on the the sponge, dish, sink and hands.

The smell was extremely strong when I once washed a hot vessel removed from the stove. I guess it could have something to do with the temperature of the water too, as I don't experience this every time.

finally an answer
by: Paul Cottrell

Answers the question finally.

Removing the musty
by: Charlene

I, too, have been using Dawn blue for years. I've noticed the (very) strong musty smell on my dish rags for about a year and a half or so. I was thinking it was our water, but now that I've seen this it makes perfect sense. If I think about it when I purchase dish rags I'll buy chlorine-resistant ones so that I can wash them with the whites. If not, I soak them in a vinegar mix (50:50) with water, then throw them in the regular laundry loads.

Is this a scheme?
by: Hodibear

I use dawn all the time. I have never had any odor on my hands or my dishcloths. Don't use sponges. They get stinky no matter what you use. Maybe you are not rinsing them when you are through washing dishes. I love it. Is this some type of propaganda because it is so popular?

Taylor's note: No, this is not "propaganda." This all started with readers sharing their observations about something with me. Obviously some people agree it smells, others don't. I do not get paid by any dish soap company to discuss this issue. It is just a topic that seems to be popular.

add baking soda to soap bottle
by: Nancy

I had this problem all the time when i was using Dawn and one day out of nowhere I was like I wonder if I add a touch of baking soda to my soap bottle and voila that did the trick. No more smelly sponges or hands.

Stainless steel sink?
by: Anonymous

If you have a stainless steel sink the smell may be able to be removed from hands by lathering hands and rubbing them on the sink while rinsing them. I use the upright part between my double sinks to get between fingers. Works for other smells too (onions, garlic) - every time.

Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Apple Blossom
by: Dish Guy

August 2014 and Dawn causes funky smelling sponges within two or three days. Hate to throw out the new bottle but I hate the stink on my sponge and hands.

This has surprised me
by: Janice Giddens

I have been using Dawn for ages, but have never experienced this reported problem with "stinky" sponges or dishcloths. This article was a surprise to me.

Use Vinegar
by: Anonymous

I keep a spray bottle of part vinegar part water by my sink. I mist it on my dish rags and counter tops. Vinegar is a natural cleanser and will reduce odors. I know you are probably thinking that the vinegar smells worse, but the vinegar smell does not linger.

stinky here also!
by: Anonymous

Wow that's crazy because I have been using Dawn for years and lately I noticed always having stinky sponges and hands! I was thinking it was because they weren't being cleaned right. Keep getting out new sponges. Glad I saw this post! Maybe I'll switch soaps!

It's not just Dawn
by: Louis D

I think all "Ultra" dish soaps do this. We've tried Joy, Dawn and others. We now use Ajax, the cheapest on the shelf. It works fine and we have no more stinky sponges. Save yourself some money and frustration. Buy Ajax.

Yes! Yes, I have!!
by: Jodi

I hadn't put it together that it is the Dawn dish soap but I just started using it and then recently noticed the stinky cloths. Assumed my kids hadn't wrung them out properly or left them in a heap on the counter or something....but now this explains it!! I use the plain blue version.

It has never left my sponge smelling bad
by: Jean

I have used Dawn and only Dawn for years. I have never had any stinky sponge experiences. I am meticulous about my sponge care and go to great measures to make sure I squeeze every last drop of water out of my sponge before I let it dry in a well ventilated area. I routinely sniff my sponges to check for a bacterial problem brewing. Following my sponge habits I rarely have problems.

Orange scent ultra antibacterial now stinks
by: Anonymous

Been a Dawn user for many years. Love the Orange Scent Ultra Antibacterial until now. New bottles have a change in formulation. Smells like some sort of solvent. Not like it used to. Old formulation Triclosan 0.10% - new formulation Chloroxylenol 0.30%. Smells so bad will not be using again. Bottles and labeling look identical except for active ingredient.

YES !!!!
by: Kristina M

I almost have always used Ajax dish soap simply because it's inexpensive and worked. It was the middle ground for me. When I moved into my new place there was a half bottle of original Blue Dawn here. I thought "great! I don't have to buy dish soap for a while". After just 2 days I noticed a smell... my hands, the sponges. I'm thinking I must have washed something really dirty. I soaked the sponge in bleach for a while, rinsed it out and let it dry. It seemed clean to me. Until a few days later. Darn sponge was stinking again! I threw it out and got a new one. A few days later SAME THING! I was going nuts!! I finally figured it MUST be the dish detergent. I quickly bought a bottle of Ajax and within ONE DAY the smell was gone. I haven't used Dawn since. Fast forward 4 years 8 months. Dawn ultra goes on sale. They had nice scents... Pomegranate and New Zealand Springs. Wouldn't you freaking know it.... just ONE DAY after using the New Zealand Springs with a BRAND NEW SPONGE... that darn smell is back!! So I tried the other one. Cleaned sponge w/ bleach and tried again. SAME THING! I am SO DONE with Dawn dish detergent! How can anyone possibly use it without smelling that horrid bacterial smell? I can smell my hands right now. There's the tiniest hint of scent but it's overridden by that bad smell. Good thing the Dawn was on sale for 96¢ so I only wasted $1.92. Back to Palmolive Ultra and Ajax!

Smelly Dish Cloths
by: Carol Herdman

I have found that Dawn causes my dish cloths to smell moldy.

I had used this product for years and this has only happened for approximately the past 3 yrs. I have discontinued using it for dishes, but do, however keep it on the shelf for laundry stains.

this hasn't always been a problem, but it is now
by: Ann

I am so glad I googled this subject, although I really didn't expect to find anything, but there are numerous sites and zillions of entries on each, almost all of which point to Dawn Dish Detergent, which I have used for years. Something has changed, though, because the sponge stink has not always been a problem and it seems to have worsened recently. I was sitting at my computer a few days ago and could smell that same stink, and couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I finally realized it was my hands! The sponge wasn't the culprit that time, either - I had just done the dishes a while earlier and bleached the sponge before I started doing them. I used to nuke my sponge when it started to stink, but then the odor was all through the house, so I switched to bleaching the sponge, and need to do it about every second day. I'd like to know WHY this is happening!

I hate Dawn
by: Anonymous

I used Dawn in the past and we were getting sick with dirty sponges. I told my wife to change the sponge frequently or microwave it to clean because it smelled horrible after a few uses. After a couple of arguments she started microwaving and cleaning and still complaining about it as not her fault. Finally, I asked my cousin about having the same problem. He uses the Palmolive and he never had a problem. So I switched to Palmolive and I am crossing my fingers at this point. But Dawn has made us sick with body aches and headaches sometimes like allergy symptoms. Every time we change sponge, symptoms improve but comes back with continuous usage of same sponge. I am going to continue my observations and see where it ends. I will update my results soon. I bought this at Costco and going to complain about it to them too.

sad, but probably switching back to Palmolive
by: Sue

I love Dawn Ultra, except for the stinky sponge issue. I used to use Palmolive and had no issues with my sponges. I recently switched to Dawn and I think it works better overall. I love using it on grease stains on clothing too! I think I may switch back to Palmolive but keep a small bottle of Dawn for the laundry room.

Oxyclean works...
by: Anonymous

I have noticed the same thing with Dawn. I did find a way to remove the odor. I put the sponge in water and boil it with a little bit of Oxyclean powder for a few minutes. When I removed it the smell was gone. I suppose it will be back again when I use Dawn, but at least for now the sponge smells fine.

never realized it could be my dishwashing soap
by: Anonymous

I never realized it could be my dishwashing soap, but I did wonder why the washcloth I use in the bathroom hardly ever smells but the kitchen ones smell all the time. Could it be that easy, that it is the soap? I do understand that I need to change the cloths regularly but twice or three times a day?

Stop stinky sponges
by: Anonymous

A few drops of Clorox in the dish water stops this!

Same here!
by: Milena

I've noticed the stink on my dish cloths also! I use the original Blue Dawn, it also seems to be the only dish soap I can use with out an allergic reaction! I've tried others to get away from the smell but I always end up in hives or irritation! So I only use a dish cloth once and wash it shortly after in the washer with vinegar in the rinse to get the smell out!

If anyone has a soap that doesn't cause an allergic reaction and doesn't cause the stink I would greatly appreciate the tips!

by: Anonymous

Yes! I'm so pleased to have stumbled upon this post. My husband and I have noticed this most awfully pungent scent that seems to be completely exacerbated by the Dawn detergent, now that you mention it. Two things: 1) we haven't insisted on using Dawn until more recently and 2) we haven't noticed the constant existence of the smell until more recently. It's a terrible, indescribable smell--one I haven't smelled anywhere else, ever. It's the times we accidentally use the washcloth without smelling it first and then want to cut off our hand to rid ourselves of the lingering smells. Oh, so awful. Awful, awful, awful. We'll be reconsidering our soap purchases now, I'm sad to report. Thank you so much for this miraculous--and unfortunate!--insight!

stinky metallic odor in my dishrag as well as me sponge
by: Molly

I use the regular Dawn blue, grease fighting brand, and have noticed a stinky metallic odor in my dishrag as well as me sponge. Thoroughly rinsing them in cold water after each use helps but chlorine bleach is the only working solution I have found.

have trusted it for years, but now disappointed
by: Bobbie Jo

I've used Dawn dish soap for years and years and now I've become very disappointed in it. My rag-sponges smell within 24 hrs after washing my dishes using it. I rinse my rags/sponges out very well so that is not the cause, so please can you explain why this is happening now after years of use? I'll always use it for stains but now I'm thinking of switching my dish soap cause a stinky rag makes me not so happy about the product I have trusted in for years.

Outdoor relief
by: Anonymous

Yes mine are very stinky! To the point I have to hang them outside to dry till I can wash them. They stink up my laundry room till they dry. Yuck.

thought it was the sponge brand . . . no, it's the soap!
by: Rowynna

I have been using Dawn with Olay for months now and I've noticed that my sponge stinks even just after a day. I clean the sponge every 2 days and change it to new ones every 10 days. At first I thought it's the sponge that I'm using. So last week I bought a new brand of sponge and it's the same. So it's the dishwashing soap I'm using.

Rinse with cold water
by: Kariland

When I was a waitress years ago I was taught to use cold water to rinse out the wash cloth and then hang it. Rinsing with hot/warm water gives bacteria an environment it needs to grow. I do this in my own home with sponges and wash cloths and it works. I have used all kinds of dish soaps from Dawn to Great Value to Gain. If the washcloth ends up not being rinsed properly or laying in the bottom of the sink it's going to stink.

only a problem when sponge left in the bottom of the sink
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn since the beginning of time, and only have this problem when the sponge is left in the bottom of the sink. As long as I rinse out the sponge and place on the counter to air dry my sponge is fine. I also throw it in the dishwasher too.

switched and no stink!
by: Anonymous

Yes, Dawn causes smelly cloths. I switched to Palmolive Oxi dish soap and the smell is all gone!

Fed up with smelly cloths and sponges
by: Anonymous

Yes. I have noticed this. I wash my sponge in the dishwasher every week and change to a new sponge at the beginning of every month and it still smells! I also wash my dishcloths at least every second day and they still smell. Why is this?

the type I use doesn't cause a stink!
by: Anonymous

Dawn with stinkers.

do they stink? - yes, fiercely!
by: Anonymous

Yes fiercely. I wash them or put some in microwave seems to help!

It made my sponge stink!
by: Lisa Zain

Yup! That is true! My sponges never, ever smelled bad before. I am constantly using them and I have noticed that. Well, recently I noticed my sponge smelled and was surprised. I did recently start using Dawn. Going to use up what I have and be done with it! Don't like those stinky sponges.

Sometimes I put some bleach in the soap, so that might help?

Blue Dawn seems to be the worst offender
by: Anonymous

I have used the regular Blue Dawn as well as others. The blue seems to be the worst offender as far as making dish rags smelly. It also makes them kinda slimy. I also have good municipal water. The fruit scented doesn't seem as bad.I still use it because it makes wonderful bubble solution too.

The only way to clean the rags is by baking soda and bleach. I have tried the microwave, but no luck. I only use the dobie scratchy sponges and they go in the dishwasher every time it runs.

never had this problem
by: Edye

Have been using regular (non foaming) Dawn for years, clean my sponges regularly and have never had this problem!

always wondered about this
by: Anonymous

Yup. I use Dawn and always wondered why my sponge stinks. Just smells moldy and it is not old!!!!

something to do with citric acid?
by: Anonymous

I use Dawn cause a lot of them have citric acid in them an that is bad for granite and sand stone counter tops. Maybe that is why it stinks. I change my dish rag out daily any ways. Scrubbers and brushes I put in dishwasher.

Dawn Ultra--yuck!
by: Sally F.

I have used Dawn for years and have noticed that in the last couple of years my sponges stink as soon as I use them with this brand. Dawn definitely does the best job cutting grease, but I can't stand the smell. If I microwave my sponge every night it can last almost a week. If I miss a night, there's no going back. I minored in microbiology, so I'm meticulous about wringing the sponge out and keeping it clean. I've been using Dawn Ultra (blue) and Dawn Ultra Antibacterial (green), and both definitely cause the problem. Bummer. I'm going to be throwing away two large bottles of Dawn. But I'll recoup the money by using my sponge for more than a few days.

And I thought it was just me...
by: Denise

I have the same problem with Dawn Ultra Escapes Hawaiian Pineapple. Gonna find a new brand!

No stinky problems at my house!
by: Anonymous

I use Dawn and always have. Currently am using the bleach alternative. No smelly problem with it or any other fragrances. I use bamboo dish cloths and the purple sponges made by scotch, called stay clean. The sponge is guaranteed no food to be left trapped. I am in Ky. Maybe the complaints stem from the area you live in and your water supply.

I used to think it was because people didn't rinse their sponges, but no, it is the soap!
by: Cheryl

I have actually had this problem for years and thought it was because people didn't rinse the cloths good enough. But when I switched soaps that went away. Now I never smell the dishcloth no matter how old. Hey, I have 4 teenagers so they get dirty but they don't smell if I don't use Dawn.

stinky stinky
by: Anonymous

Well, I can say that I'm glad it's not just me going through this. Yes, I too use Dawn. After this new bottle I just opened, I'm switching as I cannot afford to throw anything away at the moment.

Rash from Dawn
by: Anonymous

Dawn also makes my hands break out in a rash. Method is best!! Re-fillable.

Dawn Platinum
by: Gloria

My dish cloths have become very odorous! I just use the cloths to clean dishes. The product is great on dishes but please if a cure for the odor. I was daily never reuse same cloth. I've used vinegar and baking soda, help!

Green Apple Antibacterial scent
by: Anonymous

After just a bit they smell awful! Would SO love to know how to get rid of it- Love the dish soap- HATE THE SMELL!

I have noticed this very recently
by: Anonymous

Funny I have noticed this very recently myself. I have been using only Dawn and was not sure what was happening. I now use dish rags so I can wash them daily. Sponges seem to really smell the worst of a moldy/musty odor.

Nope, I do NOT have the problem of smelly sponges
by: Jo Le Mere

Nope, I do NOT have the problem of smelly sponges because I use the original Dawn for our dishes and I do put them in the microwave for one minute daily. And, yes, I do believe it is probably the Anti-Bacterial Dawn formulations that are causing the stinky sponges and dishcloths. I also change our sponges every 2 weeks and I use the good brand of sponges/scrubbers, not generic.

maybe they changed the formulation
by: Kate

I've used Dawn for years, have never had this problem until now -- maybe they changed the formulation. I have tried both Dawn with Olay and Dawn Ultra (2x suds). Both make the sponge STINK within 2 days. I buy the sponges that are anti-microbial. I hate to do it but I'm going to switch and try a different soap on a new sponge.

nothing to do with bacteria/mold
by: garyZ

Folks, this has nothing to do with bacteria or mold or keeping a "clean" sponge. At least not the problem I've run into and several have written about. It's some sort of chem reaction between Dawn (maybe just some kinds) and certain sponges (3M scrubber sponges sold at Costco, for instance). The smell gets on your hands and doesn't easily wash off. Worst part is, genetically some people simply can't/don't smell it, so they look at us like we're crazy. If I use Dawn with paper towel, no smell.

Used it for years
by: Suzanne in NJ

I've used Dawn for years and have never noticed this issue at all. I don't use a sponge, just a scrubby and a disposable dish rag.

Just tested this theory
by: Stephanie

I use Dawn. I love the way it cleans. I have never noticed a smell. So I tested it. Made a sink of soapy water and did dishes. No smell other than the soap. I only use dish rags so I did not try sponges. And I only use my rags one day. Any time you leave a rag or sponge out longer it grows bacteria and gets a smell. Sponges just harbor bacteria. I saw Gary above posted about a chemical reaction with the sponges. I would agree. And those who use rags, it's probably a reaction with something you are using in your laundry.

Never had this problem with the original kind
by: BRDR

I always buy the old original Dawn. It's located on the bottom shelf at Walmart, the bottle looks generic and unattractive, and actually costs less than the other options. They even have a large economy size to pour into your own bottles. It works great, smells nice, and doesn't leave an unpleasant odor on the dishcloths. I've never tried the newer formulas, but I have tried other brands and I prefer Dawn. Maybe it's just me, but I've never had the odor problem and am a longtime, loyal Dawn user. As long as they offer the old original standby, I'll stay loyal.

Biodegradable and Antibacterial
by: WALT

Microwaved my sponges after Dawn and the smell disappeared. I'm wondering how Dawn managed to make antibacterial and biodegradable dish detergent at the same time in the same bottle. How anything could have these to qualities at the same time? How in the world that could even be possible?

use bleach when washing dish cloths
by: Rita Stokes

I find that my dish cloths get smelly. I usually wash my dish towels and other items for the kitchen and use bleach. That takes all the smell out and keeps your dish cloths white. I usually use white dish towels and dish cloths. I usually do this at least once a week.

switched to Palmolive, plus add baking soda
by: Angela

With all my dish soap use I've started boosting it with baking soda! Just because I enjoy the texture :) strange but no longer do my dishes sit in the sink! It's fun to use! Lol
K I'm strange!
BUT! No smelly sponges, or cloths!
I've switched to Palmolive as well, so try it :)

I boil my sponges and dishcloths every night
by: Dawn

I buy Dawn all the time, {I won't buy nothing else!!} and yes the formula was changed. I never had no problems with my sponges or my dishcloths smelling "sour" or having a "rotten" smell to them. After every night of dishwashing I take my towels and dishcloths and my sponge and I put it into a boiling pot of water. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work, but you have sterilized dishcloths and sponges. Not only that, but they are extra clean!!! and when they are in the pot I am scrubbing down the sinks, the countertops, and cleaning the floors!!!

It stinks! Literally!
by: Emily J.

After years of buying anything but Dawn (I just don't like the price) I ended up with a bottle. After using it for ONE day there is a funky smell on my kitchen sponge that I recognize all too well. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law both have the most disgusting smelling kitchen sponges and rags. For years I have avoided using them or have to wash my hands several times to get the smell off my hands. I was sure they were full of gross bacteria because the smell was so bad. I even snuck a brand new sponge into my MIL's kitchen once. I never said anything but I would owe them an apology as it is clear to me now that the Dawn dish soap is the culprit. They both use Dawn too. I never put it together because the dish soap itself does not stink but there is no other explanation. Now my sponge smells just as bad as theirs!! I checked the internet and found many other similar stories. I'll never buy another bottle.

Use Clorox bleach
by: Annie

I'm a big fan of Clorox bleach. I add a few tablespoons to my dish soap and is a great solution for smelly sponges. Also it is a great disinfectant and germ killer.

Smelly Sponge and Hands!!!
by: Anonymous

I narrowed down that the smell was coming from the Dawn dish washing soap and then looked online to discover that I am not alone. It smells like a bad chemical or combination of them has been added. It smells toxic to me!!!

New formulation for apple blossom scent = pew
by: Barney

Contacted Dawn just the other day and while customer support is concerned about reports of bad odors while the 'apple blossom scent' is used, it's not about to revert to the old version. I won't buy this particular product again and hope others will file suit.

Never Dawned on me too!
by: Sheryl S.

I use the original blue Dawn and have to soak my dish rags in bleach several times a week! I'll have to switch detergents to see if it really is the Dawn we're using.

my heavens, didn't realize until now
by: Dodie

My heavens, I thought it was just my kitchen drain, then I noticed my dishcloths. I change mine every other day. I put Dawn down my drain regularly to "degrease." Now I notice my drain smells musty. Also I use a dishwasher pod that has Dawn in it and my dishwasher smells musty too. I wonder if they changed something? I have used Dawn forever and never had this odor.

why is this happening?
by: Sherry

I use Dawn ONLY! My sponges stink to high heaven! Why?

not Dawn, but Tide!
by: Eli

I don't use Dawn so have not had this issue, BUT I have a similar problem when I've used the laundry detergent Tide. I finally stopped using it years ago after repeated problems. Any wash that sat in the washer, after having gone through the wash cycle, for more than a few minutes would smell sour. Sometimes it wouldn't be noticeable right away. I'd put the laundry in the dryer, dry and fold and put away. It was only after I'd be wearing something that I'd notice the foul odor! yechhh!

Dawn in silver bottle caused this problem for me
by: Gina V

I HAVE noticed the sponge smelling. I do microwave mine, but not every day. It took me a while to figure out where the smell was coming from. It started when I switched to the new Dawn in the silver bottle. It's supposed to be so potent and everything, but honestly it does the same job, just smells different, and then now this. I'm switching back to the orange one after this is gone.

I have to buy unscented dish soap for this very reason
by: Anonymous

I find this happens to me when I use any dish soap that has a fragrance, not just Dawn. I have to buy one that is fragrance free and that completely eliminates the problem. I miss the smell of fresh lemons or apples but I don't like musty, sour smelling dish towels or sponges.

caused my daughter's thermoses to be a stinky musty mess!
by: Anonymous

I normally do not use Dawn but had a coupon and it was free so my daughter's thermoses are a stinky musty mess! We have had them for years and have never had this problem! I have them soaking in a vinegar water solution to hopefully salvage these. Has anyone else experienced this? They are stored for the very few days when not in use open and are drained in a wire dish drainer so it is not because they were sealed while still damp.

I would love to find out why this is happening
by: Anonymous

I use Dawn original blue dish soap and love it and always will, however I have to agree on the smell. Every time I'm rinsing something or washing a pan my sponge stinks and the smell doesn't wash away. I would love to find out why.

Souring kitchen rags until I switched brands, and now no problem!
by: Rachel

I have always used original blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. I have noticed the rapid souring of my kitchen rags. I thought it was the material, so I bought new ones. But same problem continued. I saw a previous post about Dawn being the cause. I switched dish soap and what do you know? my rags have not soured before I'm ready to wash them! I'm sad to stop using Dawn. They need to correct the problem!

Dawn soap = sour clothes
by: Anonymous

It took me weeks to figure out what was causing souring clothes. I blamed my new washing machine, changed soaps 2 times, disinfected it, etc., until I realized it was DAWN. And when I run them through in the washing machine it spread!!!!

Dawn Orange Smells Different
by: Susie W

Bought a new bottle of orange Dawn antibacterial dish soap this week. I have used this product for the last year and noticed a distinct change in the smell of the recently purchased bottle. Interestingly, the smell reminds me of the scent used in McDonald's restaurant pump soap which is strong and medicinal. Although the Dawn liquid is not as powerful a smell as McDonald's the scent stays on my hands after using it. Possibly the antibacterial ingredient has changed.

No admission
by: GaryZ

Unfortunately the Dawn folks don't seem to admit or even acknowledge the problem. I emailed them and got a coupon back for Dawn! Useless to me. I would have preferred to know that they are looking into the situation, but it's been like this now for years, with no changes. You would think if we all ran into it they could reproduce it and debug it easily enough in a lab, isolate the offending smelly compound that's being formed, and update their formulation to eliminate the problem. Instead they are losing buyers and probably are worried about liability.

Dawn is Funky
by: Anonymous

First time I noticed this Dawn funk was camping! The sponge smelled so bad that even after cleaning and rinsing the sponge I noticed traces of the stink in my hands-gross! I was using the foaming Dawn (blue I think). Second time was at home and I came home to a stinky kitchen from the little scrubber sponge I use. I have never bought Dawn products since.

switched brands and now don't have this trouble
by: Cheryl

We have always used Dawn dish soap and I'm thinking in the last 6-9 months we started noticing our dish rag smelling. Tried new dishcloths without any difference, but then saw a post about Dawn dish soap. We switched brands and no longer have any problem. It's a shame because I really like the way Dawn cleans much better than other brands.

won't buy it anymore
by: Ruth

I use a sponge and a dish rag, they both started smelling bad within 24 hours. Dawn cleans great, stopped using it for years because of this very reason. Then needed dish soap and didn't like the other options, so I bought Dawn. Equaled disappointment. Whether the original blue or the green apple scent that I bought, that is not what I smell on my sponge or my dish rag. YUK! Won't buy it anymore.

Ivory dish soap stinks too
by: Anonymous

I have used Ivory dish soap lately, I think lemon Joy also. I agree that it's a new formulation that is causing the odor. It never used to happen. I'm wondering if it's the 1,4 Dioxane added or similar chemical. I have recently switched to Dishmate dish detergent and am pleasantly surprised I no longer have the instant stench on my dishcloths. Try it!

has stunk for years, but it is a great grease cutter
by: Anonymous

It's been years since Dawn dish soap did not make the sponge stink. To us it smells like cockroaches. I use Palmolive and Kirkland brand of dish soap, they do a great job but I keep a small bottle of Dawn for it's excellent grease cutting power. I use it for the kitchen drains with hot water as a drain cleaner. Squirt all around the sink and let the hot water run for a few minutes. Fourteen years and the drains still flow like new.

I never thought it was the dishsoap
by: g. nash

I never would have come to that conclusion. I love Dawn for its great cleaning. But yes my sponges, rags etc. smell like moldy stale water and subsequently so do my hands, glassware etc. I thought it was me and I wasn't allowing them to dry properly, but it happened with a brand new sponge that I took extra care with in air drying and I'll be darned I grabbed it to wipe a counter and after putting the sponge down smelled my hands and they smell like old water. How do I fix this?

So that's it!
by: Anonymous

I have been having trouble with my dish rags smelling foul even after they have been washed and dried. I had to throw some away. I never even had a clue that it was Dawn dishwashing liquid. I have been using it for over 20 years and it never happened until the last year or two. I think I will go back to the original brand and see if that works.

generic Walmart version doesn't do this
by: Cindy

I have to say I have not noticed but it could be because I am using the Walmart generic version of Dawn. I also use a clean dish cloth every day. I notice a smell after 24 hours, have for as long as I can remember so just change it daily. Maybe the generic has not caught up with the name brand yet.

moldy smelling sponge
by: Anonymous

I change my sponge once a week. I've used dawn for years. Just a couple months ago I noticed my sponge was smelling after only using it twice. I have found if you leave soap in it, it doesn't smell as fast. I never thought about it being the Dawn. I use the regular blue kind. I will have to find something else to use. I don't like Palmolive. I feel like it doesn't get the greasy feeling off the dishes.

by: Sue

I have noticed the same problem with the blue Dawn liquid. I change the cloths daily, rinse them out, and hang them to dry before laundering. Even dry they have that stink smell. Years of this problem.

sponges can be washed, too...
by: Jennifer

I throw them in the dishwasher every week, and this keeps the funk away. When we didn't have a dishwasher I threw them in the washing machine with the rest of the dishcloths and towels.

I've noticed it with other brands, also, though. Yes, Dawn is usually the strongest yuck smell. My theory: it lifts the grease off of things and the cloth or sponge absorbs it, so your left with a stinky food smell, not a stinky soap smell. I also think that how hard your water is can play a part in the problem, just as it effects the smell of cloth diapers.

smells bad always
by: Sheri

At first I thought I wasn't rinsing the Dawn out thoroughly, so now I rinse in hot water only. That did help but it still makes my sponge stink anyway, just not as fast. I can spray Windex on the sponge and that seemed to solve the problem. I just have to rinse the Windex out before using it on dishes.

Palmolive does it to
by: Anonymous

I use Palmolive dish detergent and have the same problem. Dish rags and sponges smell rancid. I've even thrown some away thinking it's the cheaper brand of towels I've bought. I've been trying to put everything in the dishwasher which uses lots of electric.

Noticed this myself
by: Anonymous

I use Dawn Original and have noticed it myself. I thought I was going crazy. However it's the only stuff my husband wants to use.

toxic Dawn
by: Laura

It's likely the chemical makeup of Dawn. The antibacterial versions contain ingredients including Triclosan. Try using a natural brand like a robber or Ava Anderson Non Toxic. Since switching to a natural brand I've never had this problem.

it's not soap
by: John

If you don't hang your dish cloth to dry it will always smell real bad. Nothing to do with soap.

I don't think it's the Dawn!
by: Louise

I have been an avid Dawn user for years. I change my dish cloth out every few days. Sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria! I also use bleach every few days in my dish water. Just a capful or two. But it's not Dawn, it's the dish cloth. It should actually be changed out after every meal, or at least once a day. Think about the food you cook with and combining that with a few more days of food, of course it's going to stink. You shouldn't be worried about the smell, you should be worried about the bacteria that is being transferred around your kitchen!

blue Dawn
by: Anonymous

I use blue Dawn all the time. I have never had a problem. I even put it on stains and it works amazing. I love Dawn. Never have stinky rags nothing.

stinky dish towels
by: Lizsette

I also have experienced the problem with smelly dish towels after using Dawn. Sometimes the smell is still there after they are washed so I've thrown a lot of them away. Even when I wash them out after washing the dishes by morning they smell up my entire kitchen. I've started soaking my dish towels in bleach over night to get rid of th the odor.

big bottle from Costco does this too
by: Anita

I had stinky sponges so I changed them, and sure enough, within just a few days of using Dawn the sponge started to stink almost a mildewy smell.

happens with lots of soaps
by: Rose

Not just Dawn. I've tried others and I still get the same result. Smelly sponges.

No one thought to contact the company?
by: Anonymous

Just curious as to why no one has attempted to contact the company and complain about this? They have obviously changed the formula and if enough file complaints? I'm sure they'll revert back to the original. Just sayin'.

finally confirmation!
by: Rebecca

I'm extremely sensitive to odors and I've been saying this for a year. My family thinks I'm nuts but now I finally have confirmation that I'm right!!! I used to love Dawn so I too hope their researchers can resolve this problem!

Smells like mildew
by: Anonymous

I use the traditional Dawn and we have had this problem for a while now. The odor even transfers to your hands. It normally occurs within 24 hrs of getting out a new cloth. And I've tried rinsing them till they run clear and making sure they are able to dry properly but nothing helps. We buy new cloths constantly because I have a lot of medical problems and was unsure if this was adding to it. We've had the same problem with other soaps as well. No dishwasher here so we have to wash by hand several times a day. I honestly think it's the bacteria in the water more then it is the soap or cloths. I did a test on our water for hardness not long ago and it registered at the highest end.

Dawn Clear
by: Claudia Lee

I have the same problem, stinky smell on my sponge/ towels. It starts pretty much on the same day I start using Dawn.

I'm switching back to my old standbys
by: Celia

I am a 70 year old woman. I have washed a lot of dishes in my time. I started using Dawn about a year ago because I was hearing what a great grease cutting detergent it was. I could not figure out why my towels, sponges, etc. started smelling bad. After reading a few articles today it's clear it's something in Dawn. I will start using my old standbys again until I hear Dawn has fixed their problem.

Gain vs Dawn, smelly sponges
by: Lily90n34p3

I use Gain, but remember using Dawn. My sponges stink but not my hands? Thank goodness, is it the degreasers?

switched to other brands after using Dawn for over 20 years
by: Sandy

I have used Dawn for 20+ years. Over the past 5 or so I have been accusing my poor husband of not rinsing the dish rag and hanging it to dry. Same with the sponge. I started doing dishes more, as I am no longer working outside the home. I rinse the rag and hang to dry. The next day the rag smells very musty and old. I have used all the formulas and scents, all with the same outcome. My solution, I now use Gain or Palmolive.

happens daily
by: Anonymous

I have the same issue. Horrible smell sometimes I can't even remove the smell from my hands. It happens every day.

I don't have this problem
by: Marilynn Layden

I use Dawn to wash dishes and Tide HE liquid to do my laundry. I just checked my dishcloth that I have been using for over a week. No smell on it or on my hands. I was wondering if it could be a water problem? I live in Colorado and there is very little or no additives added to our water. Just a thought.

switched to orange Palmolive and no more stink!
by: Geejayduty

I also was using the Blue Dawn original scent and my dish rags always smelled. I am changing the colors in my kitchen so I picked up some orange Palmolive so it would match my kitchen (I know who matches their soap to kitchen colors, it's an OCD thing). I have a pretty decanter that holds my soap and it is clear, so the matching orange was important. Wow I was amazed no more stink since I made the switch. I am so pleased I am going with orange in my kitchen instead of blue.

I've written to Dawn/P&G - you should too.
by: garyZ

Not sure this posted the first time....
I have contacted Dawn/Proctor&Gamble a couple of times on this, the last time was about two weeks ago. I referred them to this discussion list. (So if you see a slew of "I don't have this problem at all!..." posts, judge for yourself. ;-)

They said they would look into it, because I ranted. The first complaint was met with the usual first-level, offshore canned response and a coupon for Dawn!!! I asked them to "escalate" the second comment I sent. I told them this was harming their sales and business. You should too.

I've found that, amazingly, not everyone smells the mustiness/stink. Something genetic there. Weird, so people who can't smell it think we are nuts. Frustrating.

thanks for the info!
by: Anonymous

I have been puzzled as to why my kitchen sponges smell so terrible! It has a metallic smell to it that transfers and lingers on my hands for while! We do use Dawn so will be discontinuing the use because of that nasty nasty smell! Thank you for the information!!

Not alone
by: Anonymous

Been helping my mother out for a few months and have been tossing sponges like crazy. Like everyone else, the smell become unbearably bad and sticks to your skin. It takes alcohol to remove the odor. You have to wonder? What's in the new Dawn? & yuck! Done with Dawn and that nasty odor.

No smell, but I use a scrub brush
by: Carol

I have never noticed a smell and I have used Dawn for years, however I don't use sponges, and rarely use cloths, I mostly use a scrub brush!

How I beat the smelly sponge...
by: Mae

I had this same issue and switched dish soap, which only caused me major allergy issues. Well about a few years ago Scotch Brite introduced this new sponge called Stay Clean. I bought one to test it out and I have not used any other kind of sponge since. I went back to using Dawn and there is literally no gross smell anymore. The only thing I do to keep the sponge fresh is after I'm done cleaning up, I'll wring the sponge out under cold water then put a little drop on it and rub it in front, back, and sides, then wring it out under warm water, it will leave a little bit of the soap in there (it's very beneficial). Then lay it sponge side up on the sink or wherever you place your sponge and let it air dry. I have been doing this for the last few years and I don't have to replace my sponge as much as I used to. Hope this helps.

I thought it was imagination!
by: Coco

I thought it was my imagination! I have to wash dish rags and towels every day with Tide, baking soda, and white vinegar! I had suspicions it was the Dawn. AH HA!!

Yuppir...same thing here
by: Blake

I've found the same thing with Dawn, no matter which fragrance or concentration. Now I microwave the thing for 1-1/4 minutes on full power, then CAREFULLY place it on the edge of the sink beside the faucet. It is HOT and steaming.

We've tried Joy & Palmolive, and neither makes that horrendous stench, but the boss prefers Dawn, so...

Dawn Ultra Escapes, Fugi Cherry Blossom Scent
by: CS Cronmiller

I don't like the scent of some of the dish detergents or some liquid laundry detergents as many remind me of the smell of a public restroom toilet bowl freshener smell. This particular scent of Dawn was nice though. But a day after I started using it my dish cloth began to stink and no matter how much I rinsed it, it never went away. The same thing happened when I tried Original scent Ultra Gain Dishwashing Liquid. When I switched back to my usual Ajax Super Degreaser Lemon and/or Orange Scents, the stink didn't happen. I bought new dishcloths before I started using the Dawn and Gain. So there must be some chemical in the fragrance that is used.

Mrs Meyer's doesn't smell
by: Diane

I didn't realize it was Dawn making my dishrags smell until I switched to Mrs Meyer's dishsoap and did not have the same smell problem. It isn't always easy to find in the standard grocery store. It is in Target & Whole foods. I picked up a bottle of Ivory thinking it might be a milder soap for my hands, and again, my dish rags were stinky by the next morning. I am going to contact Proctor & Gamble and see "what the heck!". Anyway, a plug for Mrs. Meyer's. A little pricey, but not hard on hands.

by: Anonymous

I thought my husband was crazy telling me it was the Dawn dish soap that was causing our kitchen towels to stink. I love using Dawn, but after reading this article I'm convinced it the Dawn dish soap now. I will now be switching to something else to see if the smell goes away. I was thinking we have the problem that our washer stinks (we clean the machine regularly). Do you think it could be the Dawn that is causing our washer to smell too?

I have noticed this phenomenon too!
by: Curt

Old Dawn did not do this, but all the new stuff for the last several years, blecho, great job on grease, but not worth the nasty stink on sponge!

They need to get their head out of their butts and fix it!

Dawn's response when I wrote in to complain about this
by: Anonymous

I wrote to Dawn, and this is the response I received;

Thanks for contacting Dawn and for being a loyal consumer.

I'm sorry you’re disappointed with the cleaning performance of our Dawn hand dishwashing liquid. We’ve upgraded our formula by 10% to improve the grease cutting performance, so your report is a surprise as we would expect our formula to quickly and easily take care of the toughest jobs and dirtiest dishes. Your years of loyalty is very important to us, so we appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

There are some factors that can lessen the grease-cutting and cleaning benefits of a hand dishwashing liquid. Hard water, which contains a lot of dissolved minerals, is the number one cause of reduced effectiveness. It may help to know that hard water conditions can change day by day depending on environmental variations, and can cause you to have different results from sink load to sink load.

In addition to the issue with your sponge, here are some possible causes as to why this may happen;

•When leaving dishwashing detergent in a soaking solution; food soils are emulsified.
•Hot water necessary for cleaning dishes speeds up spoilage of food soils.
•As the water cools, the dissolved food soils and the product thicken, forming an unpleasant odor and/or a sort of slime which coats the dishcloth. To prevent this from happening, don’t allow washcloth to soak in dish water.

I hope this information is helpful. We’d also love for you to give our product another try so I’m sending you a coupon good towards a future purchase of any Dawn product. Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery via postal mail.

Thanks again for taking the time to write.

Dawn Team

Need to get back in touch? Please do not change the subject line, just hit reply. This makes sure we receive your message.

I do not think this was helpful!

Dawn Power Clean smells great at first, then...
by: Ashley

I think the Dawn Power Clean works great and smells great straight out of the bottle.

The problem is all of my dish rags smell disgusting now.

Soon after (maybe and hour or so after) using it on any of the dish rags and towels they start to smell like soured laundry that's been forgotten in the washer for a week.

A few sat in my laundry room for a day or so and the smell was overwhelming, throughout my whole house. Not just regular soiled laundry smell, but more like extremely stinky shoes, or mildewed clothing.

by: Anonymous

I did notice the stinky dishcloth issue. I just didn't put it together that it was the Dawn. I use just the regular Dawn. I've also noticed that my dishcloth sometimes feels slimey.

switch out dish cloths and sponges daily
by: Yvette Elliott

It's simple, would you bath in the tub two days in a row with the same wash cloth no matter what soap it was? I'm just saying. Wash daily, cut them smaller, use peroxide to kill odors.

Rinse rinse rinse
by: Anonymous

I found this to happen sometime ago. I find if I rinse out my dish rag well after doing the dishes and drape over the middle to dry smell is significantly less.

by: Cathy

Yep. They stink. It also takes moisture out of my hands.

had to switch brands
by: Margie Romero

I had to switch to Ajax brand dish soap from Dawn because my kitchen was starting to smell so bad. My sponges and dishes did not feel clean and the dish soap didn't seem to be getting my dishes clean either. I am not sure what is causing this. I am wondering if it isn't some sort of residue that builds up or something because Dawn seems to be very difficult to rinse from surfaces or dishes. I am just as perplexed as everyone else.

My theory...
by: Jennifer Prekopa

I find that it doesn't just happen with Dawn. While some issues, I believe, are related to water quality in a specific areas, I find that the soaps that have the worst lingering odors do the best job removing the grease from the dishes. I feel like the odor isn't caused by the soap as much as it is caused by the grease that the sponges/clothes are absorbing from the dishes as a result of the soap lifting it off of the dishes. Soap doesn't dissolve breaks it up and cuts through the grease. It has to go somewhere. So, into the dishwater and onto the sponge it goes. When they air dry, the grease left behind causes them to smell. I throw my sponges in the dishwasher when I run it and it keeps them fresh and extends their life ten fold.

Dish rag maintenance
by: Anonymous

I have not experienced any unusual odor with the Dawn (Lavender) that I use. However, each night I place the damp rag in the microwave for 1 minute, wait for the cloth to cool and then wipe the microwave out with it. Then rinse and hang to dry.

Original Dawn
by: Sheryl

We use original Dawn for dishes and for stain removal of my oil based clothing stains. I air dry those clothes and they all have that mildew smell when they get washed or wet. Our sponge not so much. Have no idea what is up but we have increased our clean cycle frequency in our washer. Doesn't appear to help either.

Cheap fix for smelly dish sponges
by: Nancy

I was looking for info on a soap a lot of people seem to be using lately that smells terrible to me when I found this page.

I just pour rubbing alcohol over my dish sponges when they get smelly. I use the ones with the plastic handles you can fill with dish soap. I always thought the handles might melt in the microwave so I tried the rubbing alcohol and it works like a charm. I use Dawn, too, but I never considered it might be the soap that was causing the funky smell. I just figured it was from the food residue on the dishes.

Depends on the water
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for years and never had a problem with smelly sponges. I moved in with my boyfriend about a year ago and started noticing the smelly sponges. My dad lives across town, near my old house and does not have this problem. It has to be the water.

I've always had this problem
by: Anonymous

I have always had problems with Dawn stinkiness. No matter the formulation. I tried every kind. I have switched to Palmolive many years ago and don't have that problem.

how to get rid of the smell
by: Lisa

Put your sponge in the microwave WET for 3 minutes to get rid of the smell.

Dish cloths smell bad
by: Deborah Huggins

I have been using Dawn Platinum and my sponges and dish cloths smell really bad after only a few hours. I have put my sponges in the dishwasher and they come out clean smelling then after using them for 2 to 3 hours they stink again. I wash all my dish towels with baking soda to help get rid of the smell. HELP! Make the smell go away!

love Dawn !!
by: Anonymous

I have always been taught (long before Dawn) if you rinse in cold water the odor causing bacteria can't grow ?? Works for me 😊

Absolutely I have smelly dish cloths.
by: Anonymous

Just by chance came across this page and I read to my amazement that I do have this. Used a clean dish cloth last night to do dishes and hung it up in my usual place. This morning ONCE again it is smelly like mildew. I have used the simply clean Dawn. The bottle is about empty and I will switch dish washing soap when I go to the store and see if this is the problem with the dawn. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I was really puzzled on what was going on.

Dawn stinks
by: Anonymous

Dawn dish soap stinks all by itself.

Smelly sponge, smelly sponge! What are they feeding you?
by: Anonymous

I have experienced this multiple times, especially with any of the blue versions of Dawn. Sometimes the smell shows up as quickly as a day! I've found a solution to it, however. When I'm done washing dishes, I rinse my sponge thoroughly and then wring it out like a towel. You have to twist quite a few times to get all the water out. Your sponge should look dry when it's wrung out completely. That's it! I've been using Dawn (with bleach alternative) and the same sponge for four weeks now using this method and no smell! Hope this helps. 😊

smelly towels
by: Anonymous

Yes they stink! Only if I do not rinse and hang them to dry after each use. When my 14 yr old son washes the dishes, omg the towel really stinks. He won't rinse it. Washing and rinsing is the key to keeping the problem under control.

how I clean my sponges
by: Anonymous

I have cleaned sponges in the dishwasher and then microwaved them to keep them clean.

I've not had this problem
by: Anonymous

Unlike those of you that have posted I have not had this issue. And I will continue to use my favorite dish soap. DAWN!!!

Dawn Apple Blossom Dish Soap
by: Erin

I have been using Dawn Apple Blossom Dish Soap (in the green bottle) for well over 10 years and preferred it over any other brand. I just opened a new bottle and noticed this awful chemically smell when I was doing the dishes. I thought it was coming from the tap water at first then I thought it was the sponge itself. Then I thought it was the non-stick cookware I was washing. Then I noticed my hands had the chemical smell after using the soap. I finally realized it was the Dawn dishsoap that smelled. I was looking up online for any recalls and stumbled on your page. It's not a musty smell it's a real strong awful chemical smell. I hope having used it on a few loads of dishes doesn't cause long term effects. I will be buying a new brand first thing tomorrow.

antibacterial soap seems to be the worst
by: Anonymous

Antibacterial soap seem to be the worst. This soap works fine but the odor returns in a day. I don't have this problem with green soaps. Only blue and yellow varieties of soap.

while on the subject
by: Anonymous

Yes, I refuse to buy Dawn for this exact reason. While we're on the subject of it, I am disgusted with so many trusted name brands that have been around for as long as I have been alive, I have noticed being reformulated, replaced, discontinued, and/or counterfeited and passed off as products that had long earned my loyalty and, "consumer confidence". And I am offended and insulted by it all! If you are still reading this thank you. Now let me ask you. Have you noticed an increase in your pepper consumption? In case you hadn't noticed it is now ground LITERALLY to dust! This is only one example among easily a 1000 I could name you off the top of my head. I can only assume the reason behind this was to hasten the consumption. or perhaps it's not the manufacturers but the real products, in transport, have been replaced buy cheap knockoffs, for whatever reason. In either case I wished someone would investigate into all these phenomenons!

This surprised me
by: Anonymous

This surprised me. I never think about the dawn dish soap, I was thinking the stinky smell in my sponges were my fault because I don't squeeze good or dry it after each dish wash, but now i think I'm going try another brand maybe that change, I hope!

Dawn works great but I can't stand the dishcloth smell!
by: Val

I've always used Dawn and always hated how my dishcloths smell. I recently bought Palmolive because it was on sale. Though I didn't care for the smell of the dish soap itself I enjoyed not having smelly dishcloths. When I bought Dawn afterwards I decided to research this to see if I was the only one. I will be contacting the company next!

by: Anonymous

I thought it was the weather change with humidity going up, but after one use with Dawn a sponge started to stink. Never happened to me before. It smells of mold. So there must be something in Dawn that accelerates the growth of mold on a surface. I'm switching back to Method or Mrs Meyers, not a problem.

by: Anonymous

I thought it was just a problem I had but now I know it's just not me! Yaaay!! I wont buy dawn because of it, it leaves my sponges and rags smelling like spoiled laundry!! Hate it so I use Gain dish soap. It works great!! No smelly sponge etc. You ladies should switch and the gain dish soap is pretty cheap.

by: Dena

I stopped using regular Dawn because my dish water felt slimy before I was finished with my dishes. I do not use sponges and use a clean cloth every time.

same here

I noticed this too about a month ago. Please fix this problem.

stinky sponge
by: Anonymous

After reading this it has made realize that it now makes sense. The smell is way worse faster with Dawn than with other brands. Will be testing it out again to check and make sure it really does.

Smell rags from dawn soap
by: Carol

I've used Dawn for years because it cleans the dishes so well and yes I have the stinky dish cloth. Lately I've been making a conscious thing to remember to rinse out the rag really good and hang it over the faucet. I can go 4 or 5 days before they start to smell, then they get thown in the garage and when I wash it with laundry soup and oxi clean in hot water and let it soak for 30 minutes and it's works great, wish i could get the smell off my hands as easy.

Blue Dawn
by: Alissa

I have not noticed a bad smell with Blue Dawn. It is the only thing we use.

Apple Blossom
by: Nancy

I don't use sponges so that is not a problem for me. I did get a bottle of the green Dawn (Apple Blossom). This Dawn stinks as soon as you open the bottle. I put it up and bought another scent no problem!

my only use for this brand
by: Anonymous

I only keep dawn to bathe dog between groomings. It kills fleas.

Mine too!
by: Linda

I asked my mother to pick me up new dish cloths the other day when she was out for this very reason, they smell, and washing them wasn't helping. The first time I used them again, the smell was back.

I had assumed that they weren't drying out well. I am a Dawn user, so now that I've read this post I'm going to try switching my dish soap to see if that solves this problem!

by: Anonymous

I've always used Dawn dish soap and didn't have this problem before. I started adding a little bit of bleach to my dishwater and I found this to lessen the dirty dish rag smell.

very frustrating!
by: Anonymous

I have the same problem with Dawn. All their liquids for doing dishes. Once my washcloth and dishtowel is wet a musty like, mildew smell comes out and is left on glassware and/or anything hand washed. Very frustrating. I am changing detergents!

bleach water helps
by: Vinci

Because of the awful smell I've started misting my sponge and dish cloth with 10% bleach water. It killed the musty, moldy smell.

wringing out thoroughly helps
by: Kristie

I used to have stinky sponges and dishcloths but when I rinsed and squeezed (or wrung out) until the water ran clear, it went away. Then I use the really well rinsed cloth or sponge to wipe down sink and counter before I am done with the final rinse.

Please help fix this problem!
by: Mary Jane Laws

I am 63 yrs old. I have been using Dawn since it's introduction into the market. My mother taught me to always rinse the soap out of the sponge and dish rag. In recent years I have noticed the sponge and dishrag and EVEN the green scrungy with no fabric getting sour. For a long time I blamed my kids and husband. Now that I live alone it's happening more frequently. Usually I just soaked the sponge in soda/water for half a day, and it would be ok for awhile. I clean homes for a living and I noticed other people living busier lives did not have this problem. I noted they were using an off brand. I used it, and sure enough it was the solution to the problem. I don't want to use another product that doesn't have the cleaning power of Dawn. I always use it for windows and large bathroom mirrors. (just a squirt in a bucket of water). I have other recipes for Dawn uses also. Please help.

Ultra Original Scent
by: Kris

This dish soap instantly makes a clean dish cloth or sponge smell like it's been used at least a week! Mildewy, sour smell. Yes, it's still great for cleaning grease, but since I'm forced to change my cloth on a daily (sometimes twice daily!) basis, I will never use Dawn again.

Antibacterial version
by: Bambi

This brand of Dawn has caused some very smelly dish rags and sponges at my house. The smell starts almost immediately or within an hour of using it. The best way that I have found to get rid of the smell is to use vinegar in the place of fabric softener. It works great to get rid of the smell but doesn't fix the smell once detergent is applied again.

Works great, but is stinky...
by: Janet

I think Dawn works the best on grease/greasy dishes. But, yes, it makes my dish cloths stink.

I no longer use sponges, I use a new dish cloth every day. That works for me.

We used Dawn when I was a kid, and I don't remember the stink. My mom did not wash the dish cloths every day, either. Perhaps they changed the formula?

I know that Dawn contains oil in the ingredients. For some reason (I'm not a scientist) oil helps to remove oil/grease. That's why they use Dawn on animals after oil spills.

I'll probably stick with Dawn.

It's true!
by: Keatta

It's true! It happened to my dish cloth as well. The bad smell stopped when I added a cap full old Clorox or fabuloso all purpose cleaner to my dish water.

Have you tried Liquid Organic Cleaners??
by: Anonymous

I have been using Liquid Organic Cleaner, Legacy of Clean dish soap and it is absolutely fantastic. It cuts through a sink full of greasy, dirty dishes with just a few drops. Patented formula with aloe vera and shiso extract delivers the cleaning power you need while leaving your hands happy.

Smelly sponges
by: Peggy

I have had the problem of the smelly sponge. I always use Dawn. I kept blaming my husband for not cleaning and squeezing out the remaining water in the sponge. I just put a new sponge out and in 1 day I got that mildew smell. I thought I was nuts. Thank God I saw this on Facebook.

Power Clean And Original Version Both Stink
by: Cathy

I have used Dawn for years and started smelling a stinky smell when I used the Power Clean. Now the original Dawn is doing the same thing. I thought it was the brand of sponges but nope. It's the Dawn. That smell transfers to the sink, hands and dishes and glassware. It's horrible. I love Dawn as it gets the grease off and cleans well, but that smell and replacing the sponges every few days is getting costly. A lot of the time cleaning the sponge in the dishwasher or microwave does not remove that smell.

Oh yes it does!!!
by: Anonymous

I have found that with just one use of any Dawn formulation that my sponge takes on a sour mildew smell that transfer onto whatever I am cleaning with the sponge. I change sponges frequently and I have tried using Dawn with a brand new sponge to the same stinky result. It is so disappointing because i love how it cleans but I refuse to purchase it ever again.

I want testing!
by: Anonymous

This is not some conspiracy theory! There is definitely mold or mildew or some form of bacteria present in all of Dawn's products and I wish that an independent company would test the soap to get to the bottom of this issue - who knows what we will be exposed to.

by: Julie Holcomb

I have been cursed with a hyper sensitive nose to mildew. If I let my laundry sit for more than a couple hours I smell mildew. And I am extremely allergic to mildew. I'm telling you right now that there is mildew in some form in that soap prior to even using it. Mark my words they will announce eventually that there is some form of mold or mildew or bacteria existing in that soap!

If the company hears from enough people...
by: garyZ

Email P&G from here:

So Glad I Read This
by: Anonymous

I like using Dawn because I know they help with animal clean up after oil spills. However, I do not like smelly dishwater or sponges especially before the day is even over! And a lot of times I haven't even washed pots and pans ... Just a couple of cups and plates ... Pretty much all scents even the new ones !! So glad I read this. I will definitely be switching to another brand. My husband claims it's because I don't use bleach! Bleach is not good for your hands. So sorry Dawn you have to go !!

Metallic Smell
by: Andy

I get a metallic smell after a day or two. A splash of bleach in with the last sink of dawn and it doesn't happen.

The same here!
by: Anonymous

Wow, I never get Dawn for my dishes but my husband bought it this time and I used it. Immediately the kitchen sponge started smelling bad. I threw it away and I got a new one, couple days later, it happened again! I decided to Google it and this is what I found from many sites. DAWN makes the sponge smell bad! So, why do people keep buying it?

Use a bit of bleach along with your dish soap!
by: Anonymous

I have never encountered smelly sponges for dish washing, perhaps it's because I always put a squirt of bleach in my dish water along with the soap.

Stopped the smell when stopped using the antibacterial variety
by: Anonymous

It is the anti bacterial soap that causes the smell. Once I stopped using that type of soap the smell stopped.

smelling it is genetic
by: plr

Like garyZ said, it's clearly genetic: some people smell it and some people don't. There's lots of things like this: to some people, cilantro tastes like soap, and they know what genetic changes cause this.

Maybe we can get 23 & me to figure out where the genetic variant is?

And, ICK! I *hate* it!

Smells like 10W30 to me!
by: Anonymous

After using Dawn for the first time in years it smelled like I changed my car's oil. Of course the partner said I was silly. There is a definite petroleum smell. It is absolutely horrible. I thought soap was supposed to smell clean. The only thing I can think of is that there is a petroleum product in it to help degrease since like sometimes gets rid of like. I'll stick to Dr. Bronner's or Seventh Generation for all my soap needs.

Vinegar Wash
by: Day

Sponges are gross. I use Dawn and change out my dishrags and towels every day. I throw vinegar in the wash and I have never had a stinky towel.

makes my whole kitchen smell, especially around the sink
by: Anonymous

This dish soap make my dishrags smell so awful it will gag you. I used the kind with bleach, which does not smell like bleach. I lived in a small apartment and my dishrags make my kitchen smell bad, especially around the sink.

sticking with Dawn
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for years and I have no issues at all with smelly dish clothes or sponges. I use the classic blue Dawn because I can not tolerate scents. I am also very sensitive to moldy mildew smells so I would have had to make a change. I'm sticking with my Dawn.

I've got the same proplem.
by: Julie C

I start every day with a clean dish rag. It stinks by noon. I never thought it might be the Dawn dish detergent, but I'll have to try something else. I thought my husband wasn't rinsing the dishrag after washing up his breakfast dishes. (Yes, he washes up on the days he fixes bacon & eggs.) And then I thought the problem would go away in colder weather, because I've had it happen before in summer, but not winter. But it still stinks. Very odd.

Who Knew?
by: Gina

I've had the stinky sponge syndrome forever. I would never have thought it was the soap. I use the original Dawn (blue). I am going to switch for a while to smell the difference.

Same here
by: EditorSEM

I had a couple of bottles of original blue Dawn sitting around, so when I ran out of my usual Method dish soap I reach for that instead. I do not use a sponge for dishes, I have a yellow/orange ChoreBoy scrubbie that dries out pretty quickly, but I noticed within a day or two that it was stinky. I tossed it in the dishwasher as I do from time to time and it was fine the next time I washed up, but the day after that, it smelled again already. I went out for a new bottle of Method as quickly as I could and haven't had a stinky scrubbie since then. The only thing I use Dawn for now is stain removal on clothes and cleaning the shower/bathtub...but even that might change when the bottle I keep in the bathroom runs out.

Made my hands stink
by: Sondra

Finally, I took the time to go on line to see if I could find out why my dishcloths are so smelly! I use a clean cloth one day and when I go to use it the next day it is smelly. I have to wash my hands with hand soap and water to get the smell to go away. I've been using the pink Dawn Hand Renewal dish soap because it does not dry out my hands and I don't seem to have the soap scum some dish soaps leave on my clear glasses (and other dishes I'm sure!). However, I hate the smell so I will be trying other brands of dish soap. So glad I have found the problem causing smelling hands.

Rinse after use
by: V DeFrance

As for the smell, I was always told to rinse the dishcloth in hot water, followed by another rinse of cold water. That helps, especially in hot weather. Otherwise, I change my dishcloth every time I wash a new batch of dishes. Mostly, because I wipe down the counters and stove top afterwards and I don't want to transfer bacteria or dirt to the dishes. I too use Dawn, so I will be anxious to know what can be done of the smell.

Bleach gets rid of smell
by: Rita

I have used Dawn for a number of years for the cleansing power. However like you said, it leaves a fowl odor, so I wash them in a bleach mix of water and bleach. I do this for both my sponges and dish clothes. I also use bleach on my dish towels for the sanitizing.

Done with Dawn
by: Janice

I just opened a new bottle of green apple dawn dish soap and kept smelling something smokey so I checked the dish rag, which I change daily, the disposal, and after a couple of times with the same smell I realized it's the dawn soap. It was always a great and more expensive soap but I'm going back to cheap ajax. After reading the review from the lady with moldy sponges I'm throwing it away. I looked for recalls but there are none.

Makes sponges smell awful
by: Betty Trotto

I have also noticed dish cloths smells soured, musty too! I soaked my dish cloths in bleach and water to get the stink gone. It works for about 2 washes, then they go back to their stinky smell. I really like Dawn but I can't keep going with the side affects. Dawn please fix the formula please!

Smell like petroleum
by: Anonymous

I've noticed that my dish cloth smells like petroleum from using Dawn green. Is that the smell you are talking about? I have to switch because I can't stand that smell.

Used for years
by: Bev

I have used Dawn dishsoap for many years, but in the past few months, I have been noticing a sour smell on my hands and sponge. The last time that happened, I immediately got out a fresh clean sponge and the same day it smelled just as bad after washing a few dishes and using Dawn. I like the way Dawn cuts grease, but I will be changing dishsoap brands if this issue can't be resolved.

Made me switch
by: Anonymous

I just went back to using Dawn after having bought a less expensive brand and starting having the stink problem! I had experienced it before with Dawn but thought it had something to do with water in our new home. I did use cleaning wipes that seemed to work with eliminating the smell and gave up on sponges. Has to be the Dawn.

Never had a problem
by: Mary

I've been using Dawn dish soap for many years and I have never noticed any bad odor. I start with a new rag or sponge every morning and throw it in the dirty laundry every night.

Husband thought I was crazy
by: Anonymous

My husband thought I was crazy but I have the same problem when I use Dawn. Problem disappeared when I use Palmolive so its definitely the Daws

Never had problem
by: Darcie

I've been using the original/plain Dawn & haven't ever had a problem.

Experienced this in workplace kitchen
by: Anonymous

I've experienced smelly sponges at two different workplace kitchens. I've never spelled that kind of funk before and thought it was interesting it was only at work. Could it be because both places didn't have a window in the kitchen? Not sure until recently I had some leftover Dawn Professional Pot and Pan. I used some to wash some dishes. About a day or two later the sponges smelled exactly how the stinky work sponges smell. Odd because the songs weren't more wet than usual at home and it seems very fast to develop that kind and concentration of mold. I then realized it may be the Dawn because it is very likely both work places used Dawn detergent which is probably the cheapest and most common detergent. At home we never use Dawn. We use the Target brand or some other middle priced detergent. Not sure what it is in Dawn or maybe even other similar ingredient detergents but it is causing hear stinky sponges. Before Dawn I have never had a stinky sponge like this. Anyone out there want to experiment and find out what in Dawn is causing this and if in fact this is bacteria or just some by-product smell of its ingredients?

Never had problem
by: Judy Lowe Bostick

I have not had the stinky sponge wit Dawn dish soap and it is the only brand that I use. However I find it sanitary to change wash rags and sponges out daily. You are working in a kitchen, I would never entertain the thought of using the SAM rag, sponge or dish towel for more than one day.

Tested this theory
by: Anonymous

My brand new freshly washed dish clothes started to stink almost as soon as I started using them. My daughter told me that she started having the same problem and heard that it could be from Dawn dish liquid. I checked and sure enough I was using the dawn. So, I tried an experiment and started with a fresh dishcloth and only used Ajax liquid. After three days (which I usually change clothes after one day) no smelly cloth! Dawn liquid will no longer be in this house! The smell was disgusting and would transfer from the cloth to my hand. Peeeeeeyouuuuuuuu!

Same problem
by: Desiree

This was a problem for us since around 2007. It would only be a couple of days and the smell was horrible even with putting in dishwasher each night to wash with my dishes. First we switched soap to Palmolive. That solved the problem. Then in 2011 I was introduced to Norwex and that has been the best thing ever. Got rid of the sponges and chemicals in my home.

Not an issue
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for over 30 years and never have had any issues. I do make sure I ring out my sponge or dishrag and leave it out to dry. I wonder if it is a combo of things, new formulas, water, what sponges are made out of etc.

Made me change
by: Anonymous

I've used the same brand sponge for years and I suddenly started having this problem about 6 mos ago. I tried all kinds of remedies and tossed several sponges after just a few uses. It never occurred to me that it could be the detergent but I'd never had this problem before, bye bye Dawn.

Clean sponges in microwave
by: Karen

I have only seen suggestions for cleaning sponges in the dishwasher or microwave. I wonder, however, if throwing sponges in the washing machine cleans them appropriately. I have been doing this for decades, usually two or three sponges a day get tossed in the washing machine. I can't figure how it would be different than throwing dishclothes or towels in the washer. I probably throw three towels a day into the laundry. I don't dry the sponges in the dryer. They wear out too quickly from the high heat. When the sponges wear out, I pitch them. Any thoughts?

Result of removing the phosphates?
by: Charlene Funkhouser

Could this be a result of removing the phosphates from the formula?

Why I don't use
by: Anonymous

Because of this I never use Dawn alone on a sponge or rag to wash dishes. I do use it as an ingredient in some of the home made cleaning products recipes you can find on line. Used half and half with vinegar and heated in the microwave to clean the shower stall-nope, can't say that there's much of an odor of anything but vinegar.

by: Anonymous

I do not think this has anything to do with Dawn dish soap because it also happens to washcloths and they are nowhere near Dawn dish soap! And no matter what dish soap you use, the same thing happens. I am positive it is something in the LAUNDRY soap.

Never for me
by: Wendy

I have used both Palmolive, and, Dawn. I have found that both are excellent products! It just so happened, that I have been using Dawn for the last few months. Both the Lavender, and, the Antibacterial (orange color). I have NOT had any bad/stinky/foul smells in my dishcloths, or, my hands! I will say that I only use a dish cloth and towel once, allow it to dry, and put it in the laundry basket. I never use a sponge to clean dishes. If I ever start to smell 'anything' I will recant my statement!

100 year old trick may help
by: Judi

Smelly sponges, dish rags and mops harbor bacteria and other debris. One solution to the smell problem I learned from my grandmother years ago. Once you are finished rinsing out the item, do a good final rinse with very cold water and hang to dry. Bacteria cannot grow in a cold environment. I also do this with wash rags and even my toothbrush. Seems to work quite well for me! Give it a try.

Never a problem for me
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for years and have never had the problem. My thought on the subject it is because
I always put a small splash of Clorox in the dish water. Everything stays smelling clean and fresh and I know I've flushed any germs down the drain. PS it also helps keep the garbage disposal smelling good too.

My experience too
by: Anonymous

I have always used Palmolive. I switched to Dawn Platinum a few months ago & finally figured out (I think) that the metallic smell is from Dawn. I had also purchased new cotton dish cloths around the same time so I though is coming from them. I have a stainless steel sink & figured that might have something to do with the smell but it is affecting the old dishrags too. I just bought more Palmolive yesterday & already this morning I don't smell the metal. Weird!

by: Anonymous

I completely understand what everyone is talking about. Thankfully I learned early on because I am very sensitive to smells and bad smells make me literally sick. I have avoided the blue and green Dawn like the plaque and rarely buy Dawn out of fear that a new scent may do the same. Unfortunately, someone thought they were helping me out and purchased a huge bottle of Blue Dawn. I'm not even missing 1/4 of a cup out of it and already have gone through 3 sponges. I'm trying to figure out how not to waste this huge bottle and not stink.

Add vinegar
by: Linda Car

I like Dawn but I add white vinegar to my Dawn 3x. Dawn in the pump bottle is not good. I use Dawn and white vinegar for all house hold uses. I change my dish rag everyday.

Yup, happened to me
by: Anonymous

Never had stinky dish cloth problem until I bought Dawn (original). I thought it was a coincidence. I wash my cloths regularly and even tried soaking them overnight with a bit of bleach. Regardless, as soon as I use the freshly washed cloths with this soap, they stink instantly! The solution? Switch brand!

It IS stinky.
by: Anonymous

I quit using Dawn because of the bad, repulsive smell it created on my sponges, hands, dishtowels,and counters. It leaves the smell on dishes, too. I wish they would do something about this problem. After years of using other soaps (which I have no issues with ) I recently bought a bottle of Dawn hoping it has been improved. But it was as bad as ever. I've tried most of the scents and they all have this problem. No more Dawn for our household. They need to stop selling this stuff. Gross !!

Thank you
by: Anonymous

I've wondered for years why my sponges started stinking and now I know it's the Dawn so we will not buy it again. Too bad because I liked it. We found that putting used sponges in the dishwasher would clear out the stink for about 36 to 48 hours. If you don't have a dishwasher, forget it. Tried microwave, alcohol, vinegar, boiling, leaving out in sun for days, leaving outside after washing dishes, putting it through the washing machine, nothing but the dishwasher works for getting rid of the stink for more than a couple hours.

by: Holly

I've had the same brand of sponges for months,(big pack from costco), I just moved recently and thought maybe it was the water? Nothing different in storing the sponge, besides the soap change. But after reading online I'm guessing it's the Dawn! It's Dawn Ultra Platinum kind. Moldy smell.

Use a Dobie
by: Dot

I've never liked sponges or dishrags because I always thought they smelled, and I wasn't using Dawn. I started using just a Dobie (or generic brand) for dishwashing and I rinse it out and put on a little rack to dry right away. I use Dawn and have never noticed any smell at all.

Add vinegar
by: Kristi B

I had this problem with a dish scrubber, the kind you put the dish soap in and has a sponge on the end, until I added some vinegar to it. No more bad smell! It has been a month and still no smell.

DAWN is the problem!
by: Anonymous

I used to always buy Palmolive but we recently moved and all of a sudden all of our sponges were smelling after a few days. I couldn't figure it out until I got to your website. I didn't think it was the dish soap since I don't buy DAWN but remembered that we got some dish soap as a housewarming gift. Sure enough, it's DAWN soap! Throwing it away and going back to my old soap. Thank you so much!

I don't blame this soap
by: Diane

I use regular blue Dawn a lot and have had no bad sponge smells or any such issues. I tend to use a sponge for a while then toss. They're inexpensive. But to switch from Dawn is not an option. Love the product - no smells, just clean grease cutting efficient product. I have had smells come out of some greasy residue I've cleaned. Maybe chemical reaction between the grease/seasoning residue in roaster and the Dawn as it does its job? But it's seldom and I don't blame the Dawn.

stinks after one use
by: Anonymous

I am also experiencing the stinky smell in my sponge and wash cloth after one use with Dawn. I love the dish soap but cannot stand the smell. I will try and use a different brand and see if that works.

changing brands because also makes the dishes stink
by: Michelle

I have been using Dawn Ultra original scent for years. Within the last year my husband will say all he can smell is the scent of a dirt on the rag when I am washing dishes. Even when it is a brand new sponge. He also smells the dirty rag scent on the dishes. The smell of the dawn reminds me of a balled up wet cloth. I am ready to change brands.

no odor because I regularly disinfect
by: Anonymous

My preferred washing up liquid is Dawn Blue. I've noticed no odor issues. However, I regularly disinfect my sponges/ wash cloths in the dishwasher or microwave. Other times I place those items on a draining tack and dowse them with boiled water, leaving them to air dry.

by: Anonymous

Omg I thought I was crazy or the worst cleaner. I noticed the stink. Chemically. Horrible. Spread to my hands after using a sponge. Microwaved the heck out of the sponges but still the stink since using dawn. Disappointed.

Didn't happen once I switched soaps
by: Anonymous

Yes!! I had this happen for years and figured it was just what happened to sponges until I bought Clorox Greenworks brand of dish soap and it NEVER happened anymore. I finally realized it was the Dawn soap. Since then I've used Dawn that was given to me and I didn't want to waste it but almost immediately it happened again. It didn't take me long to throw it out. I'm so glad someone else noticed this. I told my MIL once and she thought I was nuts! Soap causing

Use only natural dish soap
by: Pam

When I switched from a traditional dish soap to a Certified Natural Dish Soap - with no SLS or ALS - , my sponges do not smell-EVER!

Lauryl Sulfates wrought and this causes that musty mildew smell in sponges, dish cloths, bath towels and washing machines. Get rid of the toxins in your laundry and cleaning products and you will get rid of smells - all smells.

My microfiber sponge has been sitting at my sink for well over 1 year and has never smelled.

Sulfur like smell in dish rags
by: Anonymous

I've tried everything. I use a freshly washed dish rag & by the end of day it smells. It is so annoying that I am switching from Dawn. It's the blue one I've used. I add baking soda after use now until my Dawn is gone! It seems to help the problem. Why break it if it's not broken?? They're not getting my money anymore.

Stinky dish rags
by: KG

I'm so glad to find this article! Lately my dish rags smell after only using for less than a couple hours. I read this and looked and realized I had started using Dawn just recently. I was starting to wonder if it was something in our water because it didn't do this a month or so ago. I am definitely running out to get another brand right now to see for sure. My kitchen and laundry room stink all the time and so do my hands, yuk and thank you!

tired of this
by: Anonymous

Yes Dawn Ultra and Dawn original makes all my sponges smell bad all the time I'm going to try another brand, tired of this.

switching back to old brand
by: Anonymous

I started using Dawn original scent dishwashing liquid about two months ago and noticed the bad odors coming from my sponge and dish cloth. I'm going to switch to another brand because I never had this problem before. I had been using Seventh Generation Free and Clear before without problems.

even makes hands smell
by: Diana Barajas

Hello I've used Dawn a lot before it would smell but now it even makes you hands smell moldy or stinky and even old. So I've used other dish soap and new sponges even time and I don't get those results. Even if I use a new sponge with Dawn after it starts to smell again Dawn dish especially the blue soap it must have some type of chemical that makes it smell. I have even wash my sponge with bleach and dawn and it still smells. I've used bleach with other soaps and it doesn't. So my advice to Dawn company you should change it or find out why or a way? And to all my lovely people out there, just stop using it or maybe use the Dawn dish soap, wash it with bleach once a while, and maybe it can help but not too much. Final advice, just get a new soap dish and problem solve no more stinky, old moldy soap smell.

musty smell
by: Syllvia Piserchia

I too have experienced smelling sponges since I switched over to the Dawn dish soap. A shame because I love how it cleans. Hope something is done about this because I for one don't feel it is worth dealing with the musty mildewy smell. It is awful. I will be switching back to my old brand.

Stinky dish rag
by: Mary

I can only use it for one use then into the laundry it goes. I never thought it could be my Dawn soap. I even went out and bought all new ones as I thought that was the issue. Wow I hope they fix this issue because I really like this soap for cleaning.

Yay! I'm not imagining this problem
by: Lynda

So glad to see that I am not imagining the smell--a metallic sour odor that transfers to my hands--its yucky !! ONLY with Dawn--new/old sponges --doesn't matter --it happens within hours. Back to the dollar store Palmolive--never leaves any bad smell at all. Is something reacting with the sponges? Would love to know--Come on Dawn people --do a little research.

smells like stagnant water
by: Nicole

I quit using Dawn because it causes my sponges and dishcloths to smell like stagnant water. I buy new sponges frequently and always rinse them in cold water to discourage bacteria growth. I also bleach my sponge if I have forgotten to buy a new one or feel it necessary. I change my dishcloths frequently as well. After just one use and a few hours of using any type of Dawn, they stink and so do my hands. I don't have this problem with Ajax, Palmolive, or Gain. I refuse to buy Dawn ever again.

Dawn Ultra Antibacterial Appleblossom
by: Regina Roush

After my daughter bought Dawn Ultra Appleblossom dish soap, I've noticed the rags and sponges stinking faster than normal, seems like a day!! I couldn't figure out what was going on. Later I read about Dawn causing stinky rags on Facebook Household Management 101. I did an experiment, I used the Dawn Ultra with the evening dishes then checked the next day around 11:00 a.m., and the rag and sponge were stinky!!! (They were fresh and clean the night before). There was another dishrag I used the night before but not with Dawn. It smelled clean!!!!

I normally use Dermassage dish soap (my daughter recently purchased the Dawn), because years ago I discovered Dawn caused me to develop eczema on my hands. I tried natural expensive dish soaps but discovered Dermassage was not only cheaper but It also worked well and was gentle on my hands, no breakouts.

How we are solving the Dawn problem, we no longer purchase Dawn!!

Dawn Mediterranean Lavender dish washing saop
by: Nona Kohn

So, since Palmolive discontinued the Soft Touch/Aloe light green dishwashing soap, I decided to try Dawn. Whew, what a smell it left on each and every scrubbie I used, new ones, old ones, Scotch Brite, Rescue 2 pads, Greener Clean Naturals. I called Procter and Gamble and of course they do not have any other complaints registered yet it is all over the internet. Who cares now that they have lousy customer service. I will have to go back to some other Palmolive one since my scrubbies never smelled even when they were old.

Dawn Ultra Active Suds, blue color
by: Lis

Switched to this Dawn product last month. Since then I've had issue with sponges smelling like mildew and odor on hands after using. Threw them away but new ones began stinking within a week. Thought of testing water so googled to see what might be in water to cause this. That's how I found this site and revelation about Dawn. Switching back to Palmolive. Thanks for sharing this eye opening information.

Dawn Ultra platinum advanced power
by: Lorraine

Yes, this dish soap causes my sponge to be smelly after 1 or 2 days. I used to use Palmolive and did not have this problem.

I didn't realize
by: Judy Knowles

I find that every day I have to get a new dish towel because mine gets a musty smell to it and the only way I get rid of it, instead of going through 12 towels a day, is to put more Dawn on it and rinse it. Is this how they get us to buy more Dawn? I didn't realize it could be the dish detergent I am using.

I want to use it, but . . .
by: Jill

I also have this problem and I only use Dawn regular. I want to use Dawn because of their environmental work with oil spills and it's the best soap, but I hate the smell it leaves on sponges that are even new.

switching back to something else
by: Cassi

Growing up, my mom religiously used Dawn dish soap. It works great, except for the smell. As an adult, I have used different brands of sponges and settled on the Lysol blue sponges. I love them. Until they started to smell right after I used Dawn dish soap. I was using Gain and before Gain I was using Ajax. After I am done with this bottle of Dawn, I will definitely be switching back to Gain or Ajax dish soap. I am also crocheting my own dish cloths. After one use, the dish cloth that I used begin to smell horrendous and I had to throw it away and make new ones.

I don't have this problem since I let my sponge dry between uses
by: Tiffany

I use both Dawn and Palmolive. I haven't had problems with either. It may be because I use a sponge stand, which allows it to dry. I assumed it to be similar to the concept of downy mildew and leaving damp clothes in the washer for a longer period of time.

I agree!
by: Anonymous

Yes, I agree it makes sponges and dish cloths smell musty even after 1 day. I switched and it hasn't happened since.
Joy, Palmolive and even the Costco Kirkland brand work just as well and don't make things smell.

all my experiments
by: Blake

For most of a year I've noticed a terrible smell to our kitchen sponges. We buy the Scotch sponges from Costco in, of course, huge packages. I've tried Dawn regular and anti-bacterial, Ivory, Joy, Palmolive, and Sun brand dishwashing liquids.

When using Dawn Antibacterial, a new sponge develops a bad smell in a day or two. Untreated, this smell is atrocious. It seems to be some sort of a chemical stench, and you can't get it off your hands, clothes, or the dishes, unless you re-wash them, or cycle them through the dishwasher. I've thrown the dishtowel in the laundry, only to have to re-wash that load to get rid of the smell!

Now, after doing the dishes, I rinse it as clean as possible, then zap it for 1 minute in the microwave. I remove it from the oven, hot & steaming, and set it in a saucer near the sink so it dries completely. Doing this will get a couple of weeks out of a sponge, so that's the system I'm using at this time.

Dawn regular and concentrate - the sponge is nearly worn out before it starts to smell, so I usually pitch it. About the same with Ivory, Palmolive, and Joy, but the smell is just the normal "old sponge" smell.

When using Sun, the sponge doesn't develop much of a smell before the sponge is worn out, so no big deal. I don't like the performance of the detergent, however, so I don't count this as a win.

I'd be very interested in learning what the cause is, because, as it stands, when I finish this drum of Dawn, I'm switching back to Palmolive.

definitely a cause and effect relationship between Dawn dish soap and smelly sponges
by: Joan

There is definitely a cause and effect relationship between Dawn dish soap and smelly sponges. I have used different scents of Dawn and the same thing happens. I had bought Palmolive dish soap on sale and amazingly there was no smelly sponges while using it. I went back to Dawn, being my preferred brand, when the Palmolive was gone, and the problem started again. Immediately. Microwaving the sponge was a very short lived solution as the smell came right back with use. I won't be buying Dawn again unless their formulation is changed.

called customer service and told to clean my sponges and dish cloths
by: Kathy Keating

Last 2 bottles I purchased I have noticed a sour smell. It's not just in sponges or dishcloths. I burned a pan and put cold water and some dawn on it to soak (there was no food particles in the pan). Same dour smell. I have used this product for years and never had this problem. I contacted the company and was given a nice tutorial on cleaning my sponges and dish cloths.

smell fills entire kitchen
by: Kenda A

I have noticed that my sponges have started to have a very noted smell that actually fills my entire kitchen. I have used Dawn original, the blue, exclusively for 5+ years. I usually buy a small bottle from Walmart (which I do not notice the smell as much) and then buy a very large bottle from Sam's filling the smaller bottle with the larger one. I notice the smell definitively from the larger bottle from Sam's.

I am a nurse, have been for 10 + years, so smells don't usually bother me. But the smell is a putrid, moldy stink that smells like the sponge has been harboring for years instead of just hours. When I am finished with dishes, I always microwave the sponge for 2 minutes to "clean" it. But it does continue to contain the Dawn.

Now it makes sense
by: Anonymous

I clean dishes every usage in my house. I do not let them sit around. I thought it was just my sponges getting bad quickly but this makes sense. I use them strictly for dishes nothing else.

rancid smell
by: Brian K

Caused our kitchen sponges to have a rancid smell that was so strong it permeated our whole kitchen, dining and living room area with a pungent musty, mildewy odor that burns the nostrils.

Dawn Platinum
by: Alicia

For years we have used Palmolive Clear. Recently, our favorite grocery store stopped selling it. We switched to Dawn Platinum. While it smells lovely, we found our dish rags stink after one use. I am going to try the baking soda/vinegar boil and see if that helps, along with hunting for my regular dish soap.

I've tested the Dawn and the smelly sponges syndrome.
by: Anonymous

Totally true. I clean houses and I have a customer and my Dad that strictly use Dawn. While I agree with the cleaning power and sudsing, it leaves a horrible mildew smell on sponges that ends up on your hands and is gross! I use everything from dollar store dish detergent to all natural organics and never have smelly sponges. Dawn w/bleach was on clearance this week and I took a chance. After 2 days....stinky, smelly sponge and hands!!! ARrrrrgggggghhhhhh. WHY?!!!

causes stinky dish cloth
by: SewNeat55

I thought that I was going nuts as my dish cloth was so stinky constantly. I was so shocked that it actually occurs with other people that use Dawn (when I googled it). With other dish soap, like Sunlight or Palmolive, I have never had that problem. I always change my dish cloth frequently, but using Dawn, I have to change it daily. It is so gross. I only bought Dawn because I had a coupon. I will NEVER buy this brand again!

Believe it or not, it's genetic
by: garyZ

I've posted a few times waaay up the comments list, and I've complained to P&G a few times too. Just to reiterate an interesting thing I noticed about this issue: Not everyone can smell the must/rancid/moldy/icky smell. I don't know why, but my girlfriend thought I was nuts for forbidding Dawn use with 3M scrubber sponges (both sold at Costco and frequently purchased together). Then I talked to a few other people about it, and found a woman with the exact same problem - the smell made her nauseous, but her husband smelled nothing and thought she was crazy. I conclude there must be some genetic thing that makes some people smell it, and others not. That's why you have a lot of people on this list saying, "just clean your sponges better and don't let them sit wet". They don't smell it, so think the problem must be one of sponge hygiene. Nope. For those who smell it, this smell gets on your HANDS and stays there through a washing or two. It's really awful. But only some people can smell it. If I put Dawn on a paper towel and wash dishes with that, or use another brand of sponge (other materials), I don't get the smell. For me it's only with those 3M "Scotch-Brite" scrubber sponges.

For years
by: Anonymous

I have noticed this smell on sponges and clothes used to wash dishes with Dawn -- not Palmolive -- for at least ten years. I don't use it but when I go to my son's house or to visit friends and I use one of their cloths or sponge and notice the smell I ask what soap they use and the answer is always Dawn.

It's a distinctive smell that stays on my hands. It's a strong "mildewy" smell. I can't stand it!

Dawn Soap Leaves Stinky Smell
by: Anonymous

I noticed that my mason jars would stink after I washed them with Dawn and left them to dry. I bought a new scrubber/dish soap dispenser and noticed that it stank the same the day after I put in Dawn soap. Have to go buy some other soap. No wonder a bottle of Dawn was only 99 cents at Walgreen's.

causes stale-smelling sponges & rags
by: Lourdes

I went through several bottles of Dawn before deciding to switch back to Palmolive, which I'd been using for years. Within hours of washing dishes, my sponge smelled muggy and stale. Having to wash my sponge and clean rags out prior to doing dishes became bothersome.

what happened to my Dawn?
by: Super Clean Guy

After using Dawn Ultra 2X and constant rinsing of sponges I did get the Smelly odor, so I must boil to refresh them. I would like to know what happened to my favorite hard working Dawn.
Now I must buy the Dawn 3X with no scent to be effective.

by: Anonymous

Every time I use that soap. The sponges stink so bad in a few minutes after washing the dishes. Going to stop using Dawn. Not worth it to use it any more.

by: Anonymous

I have had the same problem with Dawn. I recently switched to Dawn and noticed the smell immediately. I thought it was perhaps my sponge, so threw it away and opened a new one. The sponge began to smell the same day. It is quite disgusting.

It stinks.
by: Anonymous

I have been a loyal Dawn dish soap user for years. However the last couple years I too have noticed the awful smell. I have thrown away many dish cloths now. I know I am not nuts and it is the dish soap after reading this. So I am going to ditch the Dawn.

metallic smell on my sponge and hands
by: Anonymous

I use the big refill bottle of Dawn from BJ's Wholesale. I notice that when I use this brand as opposed to their private brand or even Palmolive that my sponge smells like metal and the odor also gets on my hands. I thought it was a bad sponge but it did the same thing on a brand new sponge also. Any idea why there is a chemical reaction like this?

Dawn odor
by: Q

Smelly dish rags from Dawn have been around a long time because I remember going back to my mom's house and realizing she used Dawn original by the smelly dish cloth. I used it for dog baths and stopped buying the original scent. Other scents are much better. Or you can mix it with a lemony detergent to mellow out that odor. Thank you.

yes, it smells
by: Shirley

Yes, I have stopped buying Dawn Soap because of the smell, as soon as I use this soap my "clean" dish cloth or sponge smell.

At first I thought it was some food that I was washing off of a dish or plate, then realized that even if I wash a glass that had just plain water in it, the rag and or sponge would smell. I cannot describe the smell, just a dirty not nice odor.

Stinky Dawn
by: Tammy S.

Yes, I can honestly say that I believe Dawn dish soap to be the culprit. I was an avid Dawn user - would use nothing else! But found the dishrag to smell after only a couple of uses! I put it to the test - bought a different brand of dish soap. And voila! No smelly dishrag! As much as I love the cleaning power of Dawn, I won't go back.

Yes! So true
by: Anonymous

I've never used Dawn before but I bought some at ALDI a couple of weeks ago and I've since experienced the smelly sponge and rags. I've been going crazy trying to figure out what was causing the smell and now after reading this I know. Never had this problem with any other brand before. I bought the Dawn Ultra original scent.

Rinse your sponge
by: Anonymous

It's not the dish soap. Rinse your sponge thoroughly when you're done cleaning and let it dry on a well ventilated area. It's mildew that makes it stinky. Also put your sponge on the top rack of your dishwasher to get rid if the smell and extend the life of the sponge.

Dawn is slimey
by: Anonymous

It also makes them slimey, the dish water gets slimey quick too👎👎

I soak in bleach water
by: Diane

I use a dish cloth rather than a sponge, but this same hack would apply to either. After I empty the dish pan and rinse it out, I put a few drops of Dawn and a capful of liquid bleach into the dish pan. I add enough hot water to cover the dish cloth and any bottle brushes, vegetable brushes, etc. I let everything soak for fifteen minutes or so, then wring the excess water out of the dish cloth, drape the cloth over the dish drainer, and let it and the brushes air dry. I use the soapy, bleach water for wiping counters and the stove. My dish cloth and brushes do not have any odors, and I know they are fresh and clean for the next usage.

yes, but wonder why?
by: Amy

Wow yes!!! I thought it was just me having this problem. Even with new sponges after only a couple of days. And the smell sticks to your hands! I put them in the dishwasher to clean. Never thought of it being the soap. Wonder why???

It's not mildew or scunge
by: garyZ

The problem most of use are discussing is most definitely NOT an issue of mildew or sponge hygiene. The smell happens immediately on using Dawn on even a new sponge. For me it only happens with standard "Scotch-Brite" scrubber type sponges. Other brands - usually cheaper sponges, rags, and paper towels never have that same smell.

To reiterate my theory, there's a genetic component, and not everyone experiences the awful musty, almost nauseating smell that even sticks on your hands after using Dawn and those sponges. Even washing your hands once or twice does not make it go away. If you don't smell it, consider yourself fortunate. But it's definitely not simply a "clean and rinse your sponge better" situation.

I agree
by: Anonymous

I think Dawn detergent (original scent - blue) is great, but it's gotten to the point recently that a can't keep a sponge for more than a few days and my hands smell so bad after using it that they I can't bring them up to my face until the next day after using the sponge.

Thanks to all of you on this message board for helping me to realize that I wasn't crazy.

I thought I was the only one
by: Kim

Yep, I quit using it because of that, it's a very nasty odor. Never use Dawn any more.

Blue dawn stinks!
by: Kristine

I actually googled "dawn dish soap makes my sponge smell", and came across this page!!! I wasn't surprised by how many people have this problem. I was hoping I was wrong that it could really be dawn making my sponge smell so bad because I love the power of dawns degreaser! I have changed sponge brands so many times and the day after using the new sponge I could smell the mustiness. Has anyone brought this to dawns attention? I use the blue concentrated one with the baby duck on it.

Several have contacted Dawn/P&G
by: garyZ

Hi Kristine,

I know I've contacted Dawn (Proctor & Gamble) customer service a couple of times to report this incident. The first time I got the "clean and squeeze out and rinse your sponge" canned response, and they sent me a coupon... for Dawn! LOL.

I contacted them again and told them I didn't want a canned response. They seemed to take notice and said they would pass the information on. I never heard again, and Dawn's formulation doesn't seem to have changed - still causes the problem, so I'm at a loss. Possibly a petition but it would have to go directly to someone at the top, not their offshore customer service with no power to really do anything.

Frankly, I can't believe they "don't know" about the issue at this point. It's been years and they've lost business, but I guess not enough. And, if not everyone can smell it due to genetics or whatever, maybe not enough of the customer base is affected to warrant the development costs of reformulating. But you would think they would try. Of course, lawyers being what they are, P&G is unlikely to even acknowledge the problem, and I doubt a class-action lawsuit would happen from this. It's just a pain in the rear, and so I've switched permanently to Palmolive. Unfortunately, when I go to peoples' houses who use it, I can still sense the issue, and I don't help with the dishes. :)

Makes Sponges/Rags Stink
by: John Lai

I have the same problem. After using the Dawn dish detergent for a couple days, my table cleaning rag gets a stinky smell which makes you like to vomit. And the smell can get on your hands as well.

Please be cautious.

musty smell
by: Catherine

I started using Dawn months ago when I bought a large bottle at Costco. I noticed my sponges smelling musty relatively soon. I was replacing them every 2 weeks. I couldn't understand why this was happening, so decided to Google. And now I believe it from Dawn. Going back to Palmolive.

makes my dish rags smell
by: Denise

I used Dawn for years until I noticed the musty smell on my dish rags. After switching to another brand my rags stopped smelling. I have recently tried Dawn Platinum and the musty smell is back. It's horrible, and leaves that smell on my counters and anything I use my rags on. I hope they find a reason why it does this.

same problem
by: Anonymous

I have the exact same problem. Had to stop using Dawn.

Thanks for your post!
by: Jay

For over a year I could not understand why my new sponges and dish towels smelled awful! Even after one day, my new sponge would sink, as well as my hands anytime I washed dishes.

I was throwing them away on a weekly basis.

I turned to Google to help investigate this issue. Luckily your site popped up.

I was using Dawn Platinum dish soap, I only started buying it because Costco started selling it. I buy a lot from Costco.

I switched to Palmolive, and now...NO MORE STINK! Even after a month, the current sponge in use is still good.

My husband even commented that I solved the stinky sponge problem.


Maybe zeroing in on the problem?
by: garyZ

I may have a clue as to the problematic ingredient(s).

I stopped using Dawn long ago because of this issue. Recently noticed a bathroom hand towel and some other towels smelling similarly rancid, even if they had just been washed - right after I used them to dry my hands. Finally found it - I had found and was using up an oooold bottle of Boston Advance gas permeable contact lens cleaner. After due puzzlement at the smell, I narrowed it down to the bathroom where I usually put on my contacts, and eventually sniffed at the drops I was rubbing between my fingers to clean the lenses. Same smell. No ingredients jumped out at me but one, and it's also in Dawn: polyethylene glycol, or PEG. It's also in the several soap products someone was complaining about in this thread back in 2009:

Possibly an interaction with the aging plastic bottle material in the case of my contact lens solution. Definitely interaction with the sponge and cloth material for the Dawn, as when I use it with paper towels, there was no smell.

Now how do we get someone to investigate?

Smelly new sponges
by: Greg M

Thank you! I thought I was going nuts with these smelly sponges. This is not a bacterial smell. I would describe it as a toxic, industrial smell, and it clings! But I've been using Gain, not Dawn. Brand new sponges, very frustrating! Strangely, one color may be OK, but another color from the same package of sponges stinks! I'm switching to Palmolive. I would like to read about any follow up to the polyethylene glycol-factor theory.

Awful odor
by: Becky

I've also noticed the problem with Dawn leaving a foul odor on rags and sponges. I've used the traditional blue Dawn for years but the problem is more recent. I have a small kitchen. If I leave a rag hung over the sink to dry, or leave a wet sponge overnight, I wake up to an odor that fills my tiny kitchen. It's also gotten to the point that many of my rags are retaining the smell after going through the sanitize setting on my washer. As a side note, I have city water. So it's not mixing with the smell of well water.

by: Anonymous

I put my sponges and/or cloths in the microwave for 1 minute each night after doing the dishes. Wet throughly before putting in, it also cleans the microwave. Just wipe down with paper towel after nuking the sponge!

by: Anonymous

Yes! My sponges were always smelling. My significant other blamed me like I didn't know how to rinse out a sponge and let it dry properly. As soon as we switched from Dawn the sponges no longer smelled. Loved the soap and how clean it got my dishes but they need to fix the issue that causes the stinky sponges.

by: Anonymous

I haven't noticed my sponges smelling because I rinse them carefully when I am done, but if I soak something overnight, the next morning the water is slimy and smells REALLY bad. Don't know why, I do like the way dawn works, just not overnight!

I noticed too
by: Busy Momma

Yes, l noticed the same thing. I changed sponges and in couple days it starts to smell again, only with Dawn. I've boiled the sponge in water but the stink didn't go away. I put sodium bicarbonate in water and let the sponge soak for about 10 min and that did the trick. I hated throwing the sponge bc it was a new one.

Yes and others too
by: Kailla Platt

Yes! This happened with Dawn ultra. Right away. But I think it may have to do with ultra concentrated soap because it happens to my mom's sponge and she uses Joy Ultra. I think we don't actually use less soap when we use the concentrated formulas and the buildup is an attractant to mildew. Yuck.

Propylene glycol
by: Anonymous

GaryZ may be onto something. I narrowed down the stench problem a couple years ago to antibacterial soaps, not just Dawn. I also started to find it with a lot that weren't labelled as antibacterial, so I figured it must the new antibacterial formula is cheaper to manufacture so it's in a lot not labelled as antibacterial. My theory was that it killed off bacteria that then allowed WORSE organisms to grow unchecked.

After reading GaryZ's comment about propylene glycol I searched and found this in a technical article: "At very low glycol concentrations, for example below 1%, both Ethylene and Propylene Glycol act as a nutrient for bacteria."

BINGO! Our dish cloth has low concentration of antibacterial junk on it when diluted with water.

I use store brand now instead
by: Anonymous

I switched to a store brand blue dish liquid and had no problem. Have used the store brand for the past year... no problem. Hearing how to use Dawn for so many things, I bought a bottle of Dawn again and within days, my NEW sponge took on the smell. I recommend buying another brand of dish liquid (I got the blue version at Target.) Forget the hype about Dawn. It can't be all that good if the sponges take on that bad smell immediately.

Stinky sponge from Dawn
by: Lisap

The problem is definitely Dawn. I never had this problem with Palmolive and I thought I was going crazy so I did a test and sure enough it's the Dawn, won't be using that anymore. Yuck.

Thank you!
by: Anonymous

I totally agree with you. I think it is the Dawn Dish Soap. Thanks for this simple but logical explanation! I didn't think I'd been doing anything differently but have smelly sponges after just a couple of days.

Grease traps
by: Anonymous


1. Dawn is VERY good at scouring because it TRAPS GREASE so you can wash it away - trapped grease is absorbed heavily into the cloth/sponge during washing. This is bad because...
2. Parasites (fungus, viruses, bacteria, etc), heavy metals & toxins HIDE IN FAT CELLS - in humans, food, water, soapy sponges/cloths, etc. That is what fat cells are for!
3. This "slime" is often from the "fats" from animals and nature that will stay trapped in the cloth that isn't drying quickly enough.
4. Moldy homes add to the problem.(leading to 'smell')
5. Heavy metal content in air adds to the problem.(leading to 'smell')
6. Leaving sponge/cloth soaked in old soap, animal fats, and water will propagate mold/toxins.(leading to 'smell')
7. If you haven't rinsed your sponge/cloth properly/completely leaving all the gunk in it will make a petri dish out of it.(the stinky part)


1. Don't put cloth/sponge back soaked in fatty, slimy, food and bacteria-saturated soap.
2. Don't put your cloth/sponge back soaked with water so it won't dry quickly/properly.
3. Don't put your cloth/sponge back soaked in Dawn ENGINEERED TO DRAW IN GREASE - even just sitting in your cloth/sponge, Dawn will do this.
4. Remember to give your sponge a clean wash/rinse with a small squirt of dawn and hot water; wring out completely and allow to dry in the sun if possible - "irradiating" (rays from sun/UV lights like they use on food) kills germs and destroys/dries up fat cells.
5. Wash your hands, sponges, cloths, etc. in heavy baking soda/water mixture to remove smell.
6. Alcohol & hand sanitizer are also very good at eliminating smelly-cloth hands.
7. Lemon juice is also very good at cutting through smells/grease.

Dawns great, but you're underestimating just how far this product will go to kill germs by trapping grease and the toxins that come with it. :)

Hope this helps.

Switch soap brands
by: garyZ

Or just switch your dish soap brand to something that doesn't give you smelly sponges unless you jump through a bunch of hoops.

I still suspect that we're talking about something much more profound here than simple "sponge hygiene". I'm convinced it's a chemical reaction that only some people can smell due to their genetics. This is a nearly instant reaction, the moment Dawn dish soap touches an affected sponge/cloth the smell is evident, not only on the sponge, but on anything it wipes, including hands. Even heavy metals and grease don't work that fast.

Ivory dish detergent does, too!
by: Anonymous

Had the same problem with Dawn as others. I switched to Palmolive, no problems. Went shopping and couldn't find Palmolive, so I bought Ivory. It has the same odor as Dawn! Going back to Palmolive.

Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for these postings. I had used Dawn at my brothers house, and he had been using it for many years. And I always thought it's the sponges that are causing the problem so I kept replacing them. However I personally haven't used on for year now and I've used nice sponges from IKEA that I replace weekly. So the other day I bought Dawn and within hours I had a (brand new) smelly sponge, and my washcloth and hands stunk! I was surprised! So it's not the bacteria.
I guess I should tell my brother now.

Same issue
by: Anonymous

I have been dealing with this since I moved into my new home. We installed granite countertops and the installer recommended using original Dawn dishwashing liquid. It never occurred to me that it was the dishwashing liquid causing the problem. I've never had this problem before. Now I'm wondering if there's another dishwashing liquid that would work for my granite countertops without having this odor.

by: Brenda

Man oh man, it took me a while before I realized it was the Dawn dish soap. Didn't matter what kind of Dawn either. After buying almost every color of Dawn, I finally bought Dawn Ultra Hand Renewal, and SAME problem, smelly, musty, disgusting musty, odor, not just in days, but overnight! And try to get rid of the smell on your hands if you dare touch that dishcloth, just putrid. Finally I switched to Palmolive Soft Touch and the problem disappeared completely. I've finished with Dawn detergents.

Blue and Orange versions
by: Anonymous

Both my sister and I have used Dawn dish soap (blue and orange) and have horrible sponge and rag smell after only a day's use. One time the smell could not be washed out of the rag which had to be thrown away. The only thing that made it slightly better was rinsing it thoroughly so it did not have any soap build up. After changing to Ajax, the issue was resolved.

Glad not only one
by: Anonymous

I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one experiencing the phenomenon. For weeks I couldn't figure out where the odor was coming from. From cleaning the sinks, the drain, buying expensive sponges and still the odor kept coming back! At first I thought it was from my bio earth friendly sponge, threw all of them out, not I regret that now! The odor even transferred the smell to my hands! So I decided to switch to a different brands, and tested several, they all left no funky odor, even using the same sponge for weeks,it left my hands smelling clean and lemony. NO MORE DAWN!

Had to put sponge in microwave
by: Anonymous

I have been using more natural dish soaps for about two years now, since my baby was born. Now that he's a toddler, I opted to go back to Dawn as I was shopping with my husband and this was the better bang for your buck deal. As soon as the day after using this soap I started noticing I had to put my sponge back in the microwave, something I hadn't done in years!!

by: Anonymous

I have tried Dawn over and over as it does a great job but I can't handle the smell on my sponge and dish cloth even though I rinse them out well. The next morning half of my kitchen smells and I would be embarrassed if I had someone in for coffee.I just can't use it anymore. I love Palmolive!

by: Anonymous

I noticed maybe a couple of years ago, like everyone reported, I thought it was me not keeping things clean, but it is the soap. It leaves an odor on dishes and on my hands, it's terrible. I've gotten to the pt that I can walk into a kitchen, take a sniff and know if they use Dawn or not. Version doesn't matter, they all stink.

Stinks in more ways than one!
by: Deb H

For a long time my cotton knit dishcloth smelled but seemed to be worse in the last few years. I sanitize them with Clorox Clean up by spreading them out in the sink and spraying them down. But it seemed like the bleach didn't even smell like bleach anymore, it just smelled funky. I switched to another dish detergent brand that had no synthetic fragrances thinking that might be the problem. After a week I noticed no more stink! Also when I use the bleach to get my stained dishcloth white again the bleach smelled like bleach again! I suspect that there is some sort of chemical reaction with dawn and the chlorine, fluoride and what ever else is in the water.

Not just Dawn, Gain too.
by: Spring

I had the same problem with Dawn so I switched to Gain with bleach alternative, Honeyberry Hula scent and the same thing is happening. Both Dawn and Gain are Proctor and Gamble products so maybe it's just them. I even bought Dawn sponges hoping that would solve the problem but nope. Still stinky sponges.

Microwave and rinse
by: Tammy

Dawn is my favorite dish soap and stain remover for clothes but it does leave the sponge smelling moldy. I microwave and rinse my sponge everyday.

by: Jim

I have a very sensitive sniffer, and the smell from the rags just drives me nuts!

I always suspected the detergent (Dawn) may have something to do with it.

Rags shouldn't have to be squeezed dry or anything special done to them to keep them from stinking; we grew up with plain soapy rags that never smelled like this UNLESS they were unused for days.

I get the stink almost the same day in some of the rags.

What's worse, some of our bath towels have the smell in them!

I'm gonna experiment with different soaps!

And the reason I switched to Dawn was for cleaning grease from my hands after car stuff.

Palmolive ftw
by: Jeff

Same here, anytime I use Dawn I end up with a horribly stinky sponge and towel. I now use Palmolive Free & Clear and have never looked back.

I understand that Dawn is amazing for other things, but cleaning my dishes will not be one of them.

leaves dish cloth smelling bad
by: Anonymous

I noticed that dawn made my dish cloth smell years ago. My sister and sister-in-law also had same problem, Palmolive is the only dish soap that doesn’t make my dish cloth smell. The new Gain dish soap also makes my dish cloth smell. What Is It?

by: grashella

I have bought Dawn Dishwashing liquid a month ago for the first time, and that started our dilemma of having stinky sponges and dishwashing clothes. At first, we weren't sure what that stinky somewhat a smell of a cockroach and we don't have cockroaches on the house. We even changed our sponges and wash it thoroughly with other soap just to remove the smell but unsuccessful. After reading the reviews in this section, it is now confirmed that the Dawn Dishwashing soap is the culprit of the stinky smell. I will never use it again and will throw this out and buy a must cheaper version, at least it will be stink free.

For the makers of Dawn Dishwashing liquid, hope you solve this problem soon or you will be loosing your costumers very soon.

blue dawn smell musty
by: ALorn

A friend mentioned she stopped using this product because it made her dishcloths smell "fusty". I had been noticing the same thing but always loved blue dawn so thought I wasn't rinsing cloths out as well as I could. Began using javex to clean dishcloths & no smell for a few days, then back again. Going to try a new brand today.

Stinky Dishcloths
by: Anonymous

Ok, I’ve been using Dawn dish liquid for quite some time and I’m always complaining about how putrid my dishcloths smell. This summer while on vacation, I bought an off brand to use in our cottage. I didn’t use it all, so I brought it home to finish using it up. That stuff lasted forever, but I noticed one thing. No stinky dishcloths! It was then that I realized it’s the Dawn liquid that I’ve been using!

I’m so glad to hear I’m not crazy and someone else has noticed it too. I think I need to change dish detergent brands.

Smelly is right!
by: Nancy

I just bought 5 bottles of dawn. I opened the blue bottle to use and the next morning my rag smelled. It does come out with bleach. I also noticed it doesn't have a very good grease cutting ability. I wonder if they are pirated. Maybe, not really dawn.

Not happy
by: Jill

I have been having this problem for years, it doesn't matter if you rinse out and hang to dry or not. I have thrown away so many dish cloths because they stink like sewer and the smells stick to your hands. I don't use a sponge anymore because of it. And it will make your dish cloths slimy. Not using it for dishes anymore.

by: April

I wonder how old this post is. I first used Dawn dish detergent 15+ years ago. My dish rag started smelling sour soon thereafter, though I didn't catch that it was the Dawn for quite awhile. After all, dish soap doesn't stink. Does it?

Well, I finally went back to my old dish soap and, sure more stink. Ever since that experience, is not difficult to tell which of my friends use Dawn---their kitchen cloths and sponges smell like they've been around for weeks. I will not purchase Dawn dish liquid again.

Dawn, stinky sponges, and my solution
by: LW

I don't know how to describe the awful stink, kind of rotten rubber or something. It stays on the dishes and my hands and is impossible to clean out. I've noticed this can happen on different brands of sponges and definitely on the ubiquitous Scotch-brite blue sponges.

Both my sister and mother-in-law use Dawn, and I can smell it on their sponges too, although they say they don't smell anything wrong. Who knows, maybe not everyone can smell it, but it is very prominent once a sponge is used for just one day.

To those who keep suggesting that this is a cleanliness issue, I assure you it isn't. I've tried many brands of dish liquid and have only ever experienced this stink with Dawn.

The good news for me is that I stopped using a sponge and started using a scrubby microfiber mesh cloth, the smooth, shiny, porous kind that doesn't soak up water. I use that in our dish tub and have not noticed "the Stink." I still have plenty of Dawn and don't want to throw it out, so I don't allow the sponge and Dawn to touch each other anymore. I use Ajax when I don't need to do a full tub of dishes. It's cheap and effective and no smell!

No more stinky smell
by: Francesca

The smell left behind by Dawn dish soap is really disgusting! What I do is sprinkle a little baking soda on my sponge or dish cloth after use and the smell disappears. I’ll be doing this until I finish my stash of Dawn then I’ll probably switch brands.

by: Sarah

You betcha!! Dawn is terrible for making dishcloths and sponges smell! Yes, I launder my dishcloth frequently. I have stopped using it. I now use a plant based (not petroleum) dish detergent. I have yet to have a problem! Problem solved!

The Reason
by: Carmen

Yes! I finally figured this issued out. DAWN is the reason why my rags & sponges are smelling. I tried other dish detergents and it didn't smell. As soon as I returned to DAWN, it started to smell.

please help!!!!!!!
by: Anonymous

I'm trying this week gain bleach altern. but still the funk is on. what can i do?

by: Julie Holcomb

I have been telling my husband this from the moment he brought the stuff home. It’s not just that it leaves your sponges smelling awful, I have a hyper sensitive nose to mildew and I swear that I smell mildew in that soaked coming out of the spout. This is very suspicious and Bizzare in my opinion.

What we can do
by: garyZ

I've posted on this topic a few times now. Summary:
1. I think it's the polyethylene glycol (PEG) used in Dawn and other products. (PEG is several different specific compounds of various-length chains of PEG, actually). I'm no chemist, but I've noticed off smells from other household items that contain this substance. Maybe they can use a substitute chemical or a PEG of a different length.

2. After being accused (playfully) of being crazy by more than one person, and hearing the similar stories from folks like me who CAN smell it, but spouses cannot, I'm convinced that smelling the funk is a genetic thing; some of us can smell it and it's really awful, other's simply don't see the big deal, and tell us our sponges are just "dirty" - no, this happens with brand new sponges (3M scrubbers, in my case) the moment they touch Dawn. Maybe some interaction makes it worse. Both are sold at Costco, frequently together, I would guess.

Now what to do?
I've written P&G a couple of times. The first time they sent me coupons for more Dawn! I've directed them to read this website discussion and see how many potential customers are abandoning their product. No response, no action that I know of to reformulate.

My suggestion:
Tell your friends. Send them the link to this discussion. Tell Dawn/P&G about the problem - maybe if they hear it from enough people. Tell them you're telling your friends. Tell your friends to tell P&G. Tell P&G you have abandoned their - otherwise fine - product because of this issue and the YEARS of apparent inaction by the company.

They won't do anything if they think this is a UFO fantasy of a few kooks. Make them know this is a REAL issue, and they are losing a LOT of potential customers. Hit 'em in the pocketbook and maybe they'll look into it and into doing something about it. How happy would we all be - us and P&G - if we could use (and buy) Dawn again? But as long as they don't do anything about it, they're telling us they don't care about their customers. They don't even acknowledge the problem, which is the REALLY annoying part.

Good luck - that's all I can think of (apart from switching dishwashing soap, like I did, to Palmolive, with which I'm very very happy.

Stinky rags
by: Anonymous

Yes! Yes! Yes! I congratulated my wife for figuring this Chinese ancient secret out. She had her suspicions after we went a couple of weeks without smelling it too all the sudden smelling it every other day. What happened is we ran out of the Members Mark and I found a bottle of Dawn on a shelf in our basement. I proceeded to fill our MM bottle with the Dawn. She finally ask me one day if I changed the dish soap and I explained. So after that we did a test and for some reason Dawn dish detergent will spoil/ stink (and it has to be the worst smell ever and you can’t get it off your hands) after the dishrag sits out of water for a day or two. I can only speak about Dawn cause that’s the only one we tested. The detergent we use now is Members Mark from Sams.

no doubt in our mind this was causing the terrible smell
by: Gary & Rebecca

Started using Dawn dishwashing detergent about a year ago and immediately started smelling an unpleasant oder that was new to us and coming from our dishwashing rag. We tried everything we could think of to remove the offensive smell from the rag. Finally resorted to changing the dishrag practically daily to avoid having to breath in the smell while doing the dishes.

About two months ago we had endured the smell long enough decided to get rid of the Dawn detergent and opted for another brand, (Kirkland from Costco). Immediately the smell went away and our dishwashing rag and area around the sink now smells clean and fresh.

There is no doubt in our mind that the Dawn dishwashing detergent was the cause of the terrible smell in our dishcloth!

ultra version
by: Sarah

I have noticed lately that it is making my sponges smelly. And it happens almost immediately to a clean sponge after using it. It also makes my hands smell musty after washing dishes.

going back to Method
by: Suzanne Mace

Yes!! The same thing happened to me!!! My husband thought I'd lost my mind blaming the soap. I love the grease cutting power of dawn for certain jobs and thought why not use it everyday. Prior to that I had used Method for years with the same ocello sponges with no mildew smelling problems. Within one week of using dawn my sponges (I went through 2 in one week) and my hands stunk! After reading this I'm emptying my dispenser and going back to method tomorrow.

tried different scents, all cause stinky sponges
by: Bobby S

Dawn causes stinky sponge. I even tried different scents. Palmolive does not. I wonder if Proctor & Gamble is aware of the issue. There is no cure, you just have to use something else. I like eco friendly stuff but sometimes they don't cut the grease as well, for example Trader Joe's. I don't get a clean feel from it, and it leaves a residue. Costco Kirkland signature brand dish soap works well, but keep a bottle of hand lotion nearby because it dries your skin out.

antibacterial version
by: David

I've been plagued by this horrible odor in my kitchen and happy to read that I'm not alone, I'm switching to another brand, unless it's only the antibacterial formula?

I wish I had read articles at this site sooner
by: Shashi

My brand new sponges started to stink after a couple of days of use. I didn't know why new sponges at two different sinks were smelling bad. I did suspect it could be the new DAWN dishwashing liquid. I normally don't buy DAWN and because it was on sale and with coupon I purchased it this time. Once I replaced the soap, stinky sponge issue is gone. I wish I had read articles at this site sooner!!

won't buy anymore
by: Lori

I have always bought Dawn and just recently noticed my dishrags stink. I'm very diligent about rinsing them out when I'm finished using them, but this changes nothing. I won't buy DAWN anymore as I can't stand the smell. It never use to be this way. I wonder if they changed ingredients in some way????

Dawn ultra platinum
by: Anonymous

I just bought the 90 oz bottle. Started using it and my sponge stinks.

dishsoap smell
by: Anonymous

I have finally done some research with why my dish cloths stink almost instantly upon use with Dawn.

I found that washing my dish cloths with Tide and using Dawn seem to have an adverse reaction causing the "smell"

I am going to try some non-fragrance type of laundry soap..(only for dish cloths) and see how that works.

I will post results soon

Soured dish rags
by: JLB

Soured dish rags occurs after one use. Switched back to a cheaper lemon scented brand and the issue stopped.

metallic type smell
by: Anonymous

Ever since we bought Dawn dish soap all of my cleaning scrubbers, cloths, sponges, everything has a metallic type smell! My hands smell like I have been touching metal after using my scrub cloths. Its a very unique and unusual smell. So I got new cloths and sponges etc... and new soap and what do you know- the problem is gone! it was the Dawn Dish soap.

all varieties
by: Linda

I want to support Dawn because of their wildlife thing, but every single time with every single formula, my sponge stinks within 15 minutes of rinsing and wringing. Horribly. Every time. So I'll pull a back up dish soap out, and every single brand BUT Dawn immediately takes the smell away.

by: Anonymous

I had been using Palmolive to wash dishes and switched to Dawn Platinum. Our sponges become smelly within days of use. This never happened with Palmolive so I am definitely switching back!

it's not the sponges, it's the soap
by: Nancy Witt

I've been using cello sponges for over 20 years and swear by them. I always keep my sponges clean and I just started using Dawn about 3 months ago and noticed that just after few days the sponges started to smell. I had just bought 7 packs of cello sponges from Target and even though I opened up two more packs, the same thing started happening. It has to be the Dawn dish liquid and I just came up with that theory a few days ago and decided to Google it and sure enough, here are all these comments of people thinking the same thing

metal smell
by: Denise Dixon

I use a dishcloth for dishes, countertops and stove

It cleaned nicely.

It had a metal smell to the dishcloth.

had to switch to Palmolive
by: Rose

I love this dish soap, problem...I cannot use it my sponges mildew within 3 days of use. I have tried it also on dish rags, no better. I have called Dawn/Proctor and Gamble to inquire why this would happen, they are baffled (but did provide me with coupons). I have seen other posts about this problem, but no resolutions. I have microwaved my sponge and make sure they are wrung out well, but nothing helps. I now use only Palmolive with no issues at all. If anyone has an answer please let me know, I do feel Dawn is the #1 dish soap.

My rags do not ever smell but
by: Nicke

It's because I only use natural dish soaps like Method, Seventh Generation or Attitude. I too have been trying to figure out why my moms, sisters and the work dish rags smell. They all have the exact same smell!! My mom uses Palmolive, my sister uses Dawn and work uses Dawn but just changed to Ivory and it seems to be less. I even bought all new rags at work and the very first time they were used they had that smell. My rags have never had this smell nor have my scrubby pads. So I think this theory is correct, it is the dish soap. I also at one time thought was the laundry soaps but buying new rags that hadn't been washed proved that theory wrong. I also use only scent free and natural laundry soap. Hope this helps :)

Chemical (petroleum) smell
by: Pauline

Mine are not just musty or sour the chemical smell clings to my hands. When I use the dish detergent with bare hands no smell. Is anyone else reporting this problem?

Dawn soap stink
by: Natalie

I find that Dawn Original doesn't make my wash cloths smell like the newer scents. Any of the newer soap with antibacterial stuff in them make the cloth smell horrible the next day. Lavender is the worse in any brand. I ran out of Dawn and was using Sun lemon and it is terrible. I think the smell is like rain on hot dusty pavement, like wet dust. weird smell.

Stinky dish cloths
by: Jane

I have been using Dawn Ultra ( blue ). The bottle says 3x the grease cleaning power. My dish clothes smell terrible and I felt embarrassed like I am a poor house keeper or something. I tried everything to get the dish cloths to smell better and nothing worked. I was even throughing perfectly good towels out because they smelled . I am not sure how I got to this website but I am so very glad I did. I have always chosen Dawn because it works better than any other brand but no more. I am going to try something else to see for myself if this is the problem. I will be so happy to have this problem GONE!

Dawn what have you done??
by: Anonymous

I just bought new dish rags that I always use. I also have always used Dawn original blue liquid soap and never had a stinky dish clothe! Now out of the blue, no pun intended mine stink after 1 or 2 uses! What can you do? I was told to switch soaps! Dawn what have you done?? Please fix this!!

Hard water
by: Anonymous

We have the same issue with Dawn, but know other people that don’t so it’s a combination of Dawn with something in the water. In our case we have issues with hard water stains. I’m guessing that people with either hard water, or some other combination of water properties are having the issue. It is not a dirty rag, as soon as we use Dawn the rag or sponge stinks within 24 hours.

Yep, its Dawn
by: Alex

I always used Palmolive here in Canada, but want to try something different and bought the Dawn NZ Spring Scent. After 2 days I noticed a terrible chemical smell on my sponge, I thought it was the sponge and threw it away. But even with new sponges, after 3 to 4 days the smell comes back. I switched back to Palmolive and the smell is gone.

Well, I don't know if this is an old or new issue because did not see any date on the posts but today is Jan 21st 2019.

Dawn makes my dishrags stink
by: Anonymous

Dawn Ultra dish detergent makes my dishrags "stink"
really bad. After washing a few cups and saucers, then rinsing my dishrag really good, it begins to stink in just a few hours. I don't use sponges for dishes, but can only imagine what that would be like. However, I wash dishes for an elderly person who also uses regular Dawn and his dishrag doesn't stink after 2 - 3 days. He has well water and so do I, so is it only with the ULTRA brand?

musty smelly stinky sponges (dawn)
by: pb

I stopped using the blue dawn because I thought they made my sponges smell bad...(however I do use a drop on an oil spot on my laundry). I tried other dishwashing soaps and did not have this problem. Dawn had a good offer on "dawn ultra anti bacterial (green) so I tried it.. again.. in 2 seconds i'd walk into my kitchen and there would be an awful smell. Hate to waste or throw out a large big box store's purchase), but it also might be cheaper than changing my sponges every other day.

Cure for a smelly sponge
by: Country Girl

Rinse your sponge 2-3 times, squeezing out as much water as possible. Place in microwave and microwave for 45 Seconds. Voila! Smell should be neutralized. Of course, an older, really smelly sponge may need a couple of rounds in the microwave but if you start this procedure as soon as a new sponge starts to smell, the sponge should last you a while. Repeat when smell returns.

Yes smell with dawn
by: Laurie

Both me and my Dad had this problem. My Dad went as far as changing his sink out. He told me he eventually noticed nit was Dawn soap. My sponges dish clothes had a nasty smell, like a soured rag. I switched to another brand that was not anti bacterial and have not had a problem since, nor my Dad.

Dawn - Smelly
by: Anonymous

I have just started using Dawn cause I heard how good it was but all of my dish cloths smell like musty grease. And then it’s on my hands until I wash them a few times. I just bought a bulk size at Costco too. I think I will put it in the garage for outdoor cleaning unfortunately.

Yup, it's the Dawn
by: Chuck

I had been using Dawn for years and putting up with smelly sponges. As some have noted if you are diligent about rinsing and drying sponges then the problem is reduced, but this was a chore that I felt was unnecessary.

I decided to do an Internet search and quickly found this article. The next day I bought a bottle of Palmolive Antibacterial and after a week the problem is GONE! Even previously stinky sponges, once cleaned, no longer get stinky.

Getting P&G's attention may require a controlled, repeatable scientific experiment. This could be a good topic for a Science Fair entry. Tell your kids.

Finally, tell Colgate-Palmolive. This could be the basis of an advertising campaign for them. Now that would really get P&G's attention.

by: Anonymous

Yes, the original blue dawn dish liquid makes my wash cloths smell horrid and the smell even gets on my hands! I need to find a different dish washing liquid!

Remove Smelly odor from sponges
by: Anonymous

"Dawn" dish washing liquid definitely makes sponges and cloths smell, over night. The microbial aspect should be looked into. I put my smelly sponge in a cup with used coffee grinds and fill it with water. In a matter of 20 minutes the smell is gone. Again, if Dawn somehow promotes bacterial growth in a sponge lightly rinsed, it would be counter/health-productive. Then again, VERY intense rinsing is a waste of water.

Yes you are correct
by: Anonymous

Dawn dishwashing liquid causes sponges and rags to smell skanky even from 3 feet away !!! I have been a loyal fan but no more.

Why it makes rags smell like mold
by: Anonymous

I have the answer for you all. You see bacteria and mold compete same within the human body. so when you kill all the bacteria that normally lives on your rags with that type of soak it allows mold which is in all our environments to grow and thats why it smells moldy. I just use regular dish soap. I would not use antibacterial cause consuming mold isn't any good for you either. Regular soap is probably better cause the rag doesn't small like much when I use regular soap. Hope I answered the questions for all these people. I could be wrong but I'm pretty strong on this one.

I use sponge alternatives that don't smell
by: Bert

When I used a regular sponge cloth back in the day, I just throw it away when it begins to smell. But I do TRY to keep it smell free by washing it after use and then air dry it using a sponge holder caddy. I found that draining it of water helps keep the smell at bay for a little while.

Seventh Generation dish soap solved the probelm
by: Anonymous

I had horrible stinky sour sponges and dishrags as well. I had this problem with not just with Dawn but other brands like Ajax as well. Since I switched to Seventh Generation I have never had a smelly sponge or rag ever again, even if the sponge is old or is wet. It made me think its not so much bacteria as it is the chemicals in the soap? Or maybe the chemicals in the soap cause bacteria? I do not know but I promise you switch to Seventh Generation its a permanent solution.

Something stinky with Dawn
by: Anonymous

I can wash my dish rag in the morning. Hang it on the clothesline to dry. Use it to wash the lunch and supper dishes with Dawn, and it stinks by the end of the day.

by: Gary L.S.

I've been using Scotch Brite sponges for decades and NEVER had a Scotch Brite sponge smell like mildew, until recently trying Dawn liquid dish detergent. The sponge/s stunk like mildew after two-days and I could not get the smell out. It took me awhile to understand what was happening. I never had this happen with any other liquid dish detergent.

A few years ago, I worked at a location that had a lunch/break room. They used Dawn and the kitchen sink always smelled like mildew and now I know why.

Interestingly enough, if you smell an open bottle of Dawn - it has a faint smell of mildew.

Gary L.S. in Seattle, Wa. 9-5-2019

Stinky fish cloth or Dawn?
by: Norma

I too have this issue. I used Dawn and bang. First and every time I do dishes and dry the cloth afterward, it is left with this very strong sour smell. Bad enough that just handling the cloth afterward leaves your hands with the same smell. I am going back to Sunlight as this was not an issue when using it. I may try it without the antibacterial compounds in it to see if that helps.

Don’t know if this info helps but, just saying.

Yes it does!
by: Anonymous

Dawn is the culprit. We couldn't figure it out for awhile. We tried all different sponges and switched them often but even a brand new Dobie started to smell mildewy in a few days. I liked that Dawn was so concentrated and therefore lasted. Some of the cheaper brands aren't that soapy and I would use it up quicker. I also liked the green apple scent of Dawn. Finally, I switched to Palmolive in the citrus scent because I hate the original scent and our mildew problem was over.

Smelly Dish Rags
by: Anonymous

I couldn't figure out why my dish tags started smelling bad right after it had been washed. Then discovered this smelly topic.

I've used Dawn for years and prefer it to all others.

I bought Dawn Ultra Advance Power recently and about that time noticed the smell. I'll have to use the rest of this bottle but might have to try something else. Hope this problem is corrected.

It’s the Dawn
by: Anonymous

It seems it is the Dawn dish soap that is leaving the smell behind. I was changing dish cloths at least every other day thinking that the guys just weren’t rinsing them out well. I love Dawn as I use it for windows and many other things around the house and it does do well on grease. I hope the makers can change whatever it is that is causing the foul smell left behind. I think they’re loosing many customers. Meanwhile I change my dish cloth as soon as I detect any Odor, figure it can’t hurt. If not corrected soon then I will also be trying some other brands.

Nasty stuff
by: Linda

My mother uses Dawn and her sponges have always smelled NASTY and MOLDY. I can smell them from across the room. I thought it was just a problem that she didn't change them enough etc. but I recently bought Dawn for when she is visiting me (we live in different states) because she didn't like the "natural" brand I had, said it didn't cut the grease as well. Next thing you know, my sponge is reeking. YUK. She doesn't notice it, must be used to it. So I googled this today for the heck of it and there are tons of people saying the same thing.

No more bad smells!
by: Terri

I changed to Young Living Thieves dishwashing soap and I Love how much fresher everything stays. No more stinks around here!

Light bulb just came on!
by: Anonymous

Totally disappointed. I love blue dawn. Use it for a ton of different things. I have had stinky sponges for
awhile but never suspected the soap. I did read that if you rinse your sponges in cold water they won't breed yuck as fast. Started doing this and while it has helped slow the stink it does happen. I get sponges from Grove, 2-two packs a month and do go through one sponge a week even with the cold water rinse and zap in micro weekly. Too much $ down the drain. No pun intended. Switching to Mrs.Myers.

Here I thought the smell was my sink!
by: Anonymous

I used to use store brand lemon sent dish soap. About a year ago I started to use Dawn because I read about dawn and the many things it can clean around the home.

I started to notice a rotting smell by my kitchen sink, so I thought it was coming from the kitchen sink drain.

So I would do the drain cleaning (baking sofa, vinegar & hot water) and change out all my kitchen towels, clothes and sponge.

Within the next couple of days I would start to notice the smell again, thinking there must be something really bad growing in the drain. I could definitely smell it coming from the drain, but not from the cloth. I had never had a problem with my drain stinking before, so I tried a few other suggestions but still did not keep the smell away.

And now that I’ve seen these posts about dawn and smelly dish clothes I have made the connection.

I’m thinking it not only makes your sponges, clothes and fingers smelly it can also effect the drain!

Just saying.

The Dawn doesn't smell my sponge!
by: FLGdNbr

Read this article & had to say I got Dawn because it really helps the grease in the pans & dishes. I also have a spray bottle of Clorox Bleach & keep that with my kitchen sink - I use it whenever I think I should spray it & rinsing the sponge and rinsing the plastic leftover meals container & lids - keeps any tomato sauce & other greasy foods that won't get clean in the dishwasher. I have use a lot of those dish detergents but we always go back to Dawn!

natural dish cleaner? Mrs Murphy? Organic?
by: Anonymous

Is it better to use Mrs Murphy or other organic, biodegradable super healthy dish detergent? I do and they still smell. What do you think?

Is Dawn in cahoots with the sponge industry?
by: Nicole

I used Dawn years ago and when I mentioned my moldy sponges to my mom she said to use Ajax. Dawn makes your sponges moldy! So it’s been going on for a while. Whenever I go to someone's house and their sponge smells awful I ask if they use Dawn and lo and behold they do! You’re supposed to change your sponge every 11-days anyways, but every 3 or 4 days can get expensive! And I read a scientific study that microwaving your sponge actually makes the bacteria WORSE! Save the Dawn for the oil spills and get it outta your kitchen now!

Is it the Dawn, or is it the water?
by: Paul J.

I'm a 75 year old geezer who lives alone. As such, I don't have a lot of dishes to clean, especially since I don't ever really 'cook' meals. Most people put a short squirt of dish soap into a sink full of water, do their dishes and then empty the sink. I, on the other hand, put a short squirt of Dawn into a BOWL full of water. It makes for a more concentrated solution of Dawn, and REALLY cleans well! Now, the Dawn that has been in its original container for many weeks, possibly months, NEVER comes out of the bottle smelling badly. It's only after it's turned into a Dawn/water solution and left sitting for a day or two that the smell occurs. Could it be a chemical reaction with chlorinated water that's causing the smell? (I've never tried mixing up a solution of Dawn and 'distilled' water to test my hypothesis.)

Smelly Vileda dish sponge
by: Laura

I have noticed the last 6 months of using this type of brush with dawn soap inserted into the handle a very potent musty odor. I bought new sponges...even a new handle but no improvement. This problem never used to happen with Dawn soap.

It Dawned on me long ago
by: Tom

The Dawn smell is not a new issue. I experienced the problem more than 15 years ago. My son and his wife thought I was a bit wacky but, to humor me, changed soaps. The problem is just like everyone has described. I've only run into a handful of people who experience the same problem. I can't stand it. Maybe it's that genetic strain that allows some people to smell asparagus while others cannot.

switching to orange Dawn
by: Glen

Yes, my wife changed to Dawn a month or so ago, and right away I started complaining about the gross smell it left on the sponge as it dried out. Wife thought it was an old sponge, changed the sponge and it started smelling gross within a day, again, as it dried out. The liquid Dawn we use is blue, and fairly concentrated.

Will try the orange Dawn instead, if it has a citrus additive, that may do away with the vile odor.

I like this website, good work and thanks!

Have this problem only with Dawn
by: Anonymous

March 2020. Yes, I have exactly the same problem. Whenever I use Dawn dish detergent, within a day or two the sponge ALWAYS begins to smell musty. It's quite a strong smell, and it lingers on my hands for a long time after handling the sponge.

I had this problem both in Chicago and Baltimore (we moved), so I doubt it has to do with local variations in bacteria populations.

In both locations, I NEVER had this problem with used any of the so-called "green" detergent brands available at grocery stores. (The product is clear, and it's more or less the same price as Dawn.)

For those reasons, in both locations, we switched to the latter product. After a year with no stink, we switched once back to Dawn, and the stink immediately returned. There is something going on with the Dawn dish detergent.

My solution
by: Anonymous

I do use Dawn and my sponges get stinky too! I put them in the dishwasher silverware basket with a load of dishes. Wash as usual with dishwasher pod. If not every night, every other night, and the smell is gone. Good luck!

True. Dawn causes a stink
by: Anonymous

Yes. This is true. Confirmed with new sponges and towels and washed used sponges and towels. I've stopped using Dawn and use 7th generation. If Dawn cleans better, not worth the stink. Can't stand the smell.

I use Dawn Ultra Liquid
by: Jerrie B.

Yoorah for the posters who said they save the bottle and do half and half of soap and water. Read carefully the labels on the soap you use, Chemicals take up most of the ingredient label and water is the LAST thing on the list.

My husband uses way too much soap on the sponge and then does not rinse the sponge thoroughly when he is done and: leaves it in the sink in claiming he might want to use it again during the day. I find two things: (1) When you use too much soap, it takes a very long time to rinse it out of the sponge. So, the result is that a half rinsed sponge gets put up too dry. (2) Leaving it in the sink to use again could be "Tomorrow afternoon". The result is the same, a sponge with an unpleasant odor. The chemicals alone if not rinsed out well could cause an odor. Any sponge should be rinsed thoroughly with hot water till no soap residue remains. Otherwise, you can buy the disposable dish clothes by the roll. Use them and when they develop an odor, put them in their own little "mesh" laundry bag and throw them in the wash. Mountains of suds in your dishwater means you have too much soap and should add more water to thin it out. Hard to clean pots and pans need a soak with a little detergent and they should clean up nicely. If not, it will take a non scratch scrubber to clean them. Foaming soap is a gimmick that gives you diluted regular soap with a lot of air bubbles in it. It will not clean faster or better, but it will definitely cost more. If you are fascinated by foaming soap, just do the half water half soap.

While I am commenting here, I just smelled a sponge that had been left to dry by my hubby but had developed a smell. I had rinsed it thoroughly under hot running water til there was no more residue of dish soap (if there is still dish soap in the sponge after you wash it, you can also be guaranteed there is liquified food residue the sponge too), and at the sponge now smells very clean.

Thanks for listening. JB

smelly dish clothes
by: Anonymous

So this has happened to my dish rags many times. I thought maybe they needed washing more than one time and this did seem to help somewhat. But I never thought Dawn would cause it. I am going to try another soap and see if it continues.

Dawn always has stunk
by: Ginny

Dawn itself stinks and always has: since it came out and up to and including today. It's not dirty water. It stinks like no dirty dish or mold I've ever encountered. Ajax detergent cleans and de-greases well and rinses to a non - stinky clean. Leftover, used detergent water doesn't stink, either. Why should I pay a lot for detergent that stinks?

makes me gag
by: Anonymous

Blue Dawn Dish Soap. . . It is fine when used, but if it sits and the dishrag is left bunched up - the odor is enough to make me gag! Not sure WHY, but the odor is strong and it can leave the dishrag slimy. I don't know of any other dish soap that does this. My future MIL will ONLY use blue dawn... Something has to give!

Stinky dish cloths
by: Dan

I came to this site because my wife insists whenever we use Dawn dish soap the dish rags smell bad very quickly. I did not know this and bought a big bottle of Dawn, the odor was soon back.

My sponges don't smell bad
by: Becky

I use Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid but I haven't had any problems with it causing a bad smell on my sponges.

I rinse, rinse, rinse sponges after use, squeeze out all the water I can, and put them on the dish draining rack so that they can air dry all the way around. I recommend never leaving sponges on a flat surface to dry.

Could that be the reason?
by: Laura

I have used Dawn for years and my sponges don't have a bad smell (I just checked!). My Dawn bottles don't say "antibacterial" on them. Could that be the reason?

I've been blaming the kids, oops!
by: Michelle

I’ve been accusing my kids of not rinsing the sponge on the rare occasion they clean a dish, but I did a test run on a new sponge and it got smelly pretty fast. I also have a bottle of a bleach cleaning solution that I keep handy and I usually spray it on my sponges after rinsing and that didn’t even help!

switched, and now no smell
by: Cynthia

I had been using Dawn since 1977 and the last few years I’ve noticed a stinky musty odor in my sponges. I think they changed the formula of the blue Dawn. I switched to lemon Ajax about 6 months ago and my sponge does not smell.

my 2 cents
by: Heather M

I would never dream of using a dish soap that wasn't Dawn and I also refuse to use sponges! Not a germaphobe by any means, but using a sponge for dishes grosses me out! I use dish cloths, usually changing out daily, occasionally using for 2 days, I ALWAYS hang them to dry thoroughly in between uses and don't have an issue! As far as washing them, I use Odoban in my towel wash load and don't have any problems with stinky towels or washcloths! Just my 2 cents...

Dawn is the culprit
by: Frustrated

Date: May 2020
I’ve used Dawn - blue in the past - a long time ago but stopped because it caused my sponges and anything it touches to stink. It’s hard to describe the stench but trust me it’s not something you want to smell at all times. I stopped using Dawn for a few years then tried again thinking the issue may have been resolved as I know I wasn’t the only one who complained to P&G about it. Well, the stench is back so I gave the detergent to a coworker and I will never buy it again.

I think my mother who lives in Hawaii uses Dawn and I recall her sponges, sink and cloths don’t smell. So I’m thinking that maybe it’s the water we use. 10 or so years ago I was living in the desert and using Dawn and don’t recall having stinking cloth and sponges. Since I live here again maybe I should try to see if I won’t have any problem again. Although I’m afraid to try and waste $. I’ll post later should I decide to try Dawn again.

Stinks? yes. It even caused fights
by: Anonymous

My wife seems to be immune to the odor. Several times arriving home after work to a great meal on the table only to find the table had been cleaned with a rotten Dawn dish rag.

One morning I caught the odor of a once used dish rag left drying in the sink. I must have made a comment because my daughter came storming out of her room and called me a **** and to **** off!.
WOW! didn't see that one coming.

I told my wife that morning to switch to an unscented dish soap. I won't buy Dawn products anymore.

Slimy dishcloth
by: Gladys

Always get a slimy dishcloth since using blue Dawn Ultra dish soap -- absolutely hate this new formula! Will never buy it again, which is sad because I used to really like Dawn dish soap.

Sponge had an odor after one use!
by: Penny

I was using a different detergent for a while and had no problem with a smelly sponge. Recently my dishwasher broke and I bought Dawn to help with grease removal on my dishes. I noticed that my BRAND NEW sponge got an odor after ONE USE! It’s hard to explain the smell, but it sticks to my hands and it’s hard to get rid of it! Not sure what it is, but I hope Dawn will fix this! Nothing removes grease and oil like it does! I may have to switch to something else in the meantime.

My wife blamed me for the bad smell of sponge
by: Shane

My wife always blames me for the bad smell from kitchen sponge. She always accuse me not clean it well enough - "That’s why it smells". I have tried my best to clean it every time after using the sponge to wash dishes, I do! As a matter fact I try very hard. I am glad to encounter this conversation. I am switching to some other brand today and give it a try. I will not tell her until I have a proof that it is DAWN that causes the smell.

Stinky sponges and cloths
by: Walt

Years ago we used other dish soaps and we never had problems with the stink on our sponges. I have been telling my wife that she has to clean the sponge with soap after cleaning with it but it would still stink!!!! NOW bacteria makes things stink, it would be on my hands and anything we touched. NOW bacteria can make you sick even breathing it in, when I would smell it to see if it went away this cannot be healthy, then think about it. WHO KNOW ? If this can make you sick very disappointed that the company probably now about it and is not saying a thing THIS IS IT FOR, US NO MORE DAWN.

by: garyZ

I suspect - with no real evidence - that it's the specific type (weight) of PEG (polyethlene glycol) they use in the product, combined with a genetic thing where some folks smell and are repelled by it, while others (who think we're nuts) simply cannot smell the awful smell we do.

No way to know unless someone does some research, and that's unlikely unless someone pays for it. I sort of doubt P&G will, or if they do, and the results are not something they would like, we'll still never hear about it. But perhaps they will eventually do something, if they lose customers who become vocal about the issue.

I've contacted them a couple of times over the years about this, and always received standard boilerplate Customer Relations responses from low-level people who obviously didn't understand or didn't care. They even sent me coupons for Dawn! LOL. Not real clear on the concept, eh?

Dawn stinks
by: Faith

I spray my dish rag and sponges with a kitchen bleach based spray after each use- this has stopped the "musty"smell dawn leaves.

Stinky sponge fix - run it through the dishwasher
by: Maddi

Running my sponge through the dishwasher along with the dishes takes that stinky smell out immediately! I put it in the covered compartment for small things so it won’t float out of place.

Dawn vs Costco
by: Monty

Yes I experience the smell. Switched to the blue Costco version of dawn, smell went away. Switched back to dawn, smell is back. Now can’t find the Costco version anymore. There’s the green antibacterial Costco soap. Haven’t tried that yet.

Dawn makes my sponges smell like cockroaches
by: Heidi

I love the grease-cutting properties of Dawn and always keep a bottle to remove tough stains on clothes. It works beautifully! BUT I do not use it to clean dishes. Even after one use, my sponges smell like cockroaches and so do my hands. It is a disgusting smell and it is hard to remove from my hands. The smell is not caused by bacteria. I suspect the problem is a petroleum byproduct in the formulation. I’ve switched to Mrs. Meyers and no more stinky sponges. My suggestion: use a plant-based dish soap.

smelly sponges and dish cloths
by: Linda

I have, for a long long time, known that Dawn causes this musty rotten smell on my sponges and dish cloths after one use. I stopped buying it but with the pandemic it was all that was available at the store this last time. I wish they would figure out what causes it.

Found a solution for Dawn's chemical smell
by: Rod

I have found out that when I add baking soda to Dawn ultra dish soap, it eliminates 90% of the chemical odor that you get (almost immediately) on your sponge when you use Dawn Ultra dish soap.

Dawn making sponges smell bad.
by: John

Quite possibly the reason for dish sponges to get smelly when using Dawn dish soap is that one of the ingredients is ammonia which when it degrades causes an unpleasant odor.

Smelly Dawn and Enzymes
by: Anonymous

I noticed a few years ago that Dawn removed enzymes from their formula. When they did that, their product became just another dish soap. Funny thing, they kept the same higher price. Decent kitchen sponges cost about a dollar and overnight they stink up my kitchen so much, I have to throw them out. Hell with that, it’s Palmolive Antibacterial all the way. I pity all those oil spill seabirds that are cleaned with Dawn. They are shiny clean but have to fly around smelling like an old gym sock!

A few tips for the moldy smell
by: Steve

This is a very long discussion thread. First of all, majority noticed a moldy smell on dish sponge. The smell transfers to dish cloth and finger. I use Ivory dish detergent because it doesn’t have any scent (odor covering chemical whatever it is). I have the same problem, maybe less frequently like monthly or once in a few weeks. This is what I found:

1) If I rinse the dish sponge every time after use, squeeze it and let it dry, it doesn’t smell for a long time;
2) The problem is when there is unused soap in the sponge and if we try to save it for the next wash. The wet sponge with detergent will smell in a couple of days;
3) Bleach will remove the smell but also destroy the sponge due to its acidity of the bleach. The sponge would shrink down and harden;
4) Boil the sponge in water would remove the smell. It removes the smell from dish cloth, too.

In conclusion, the odor is likely from bacteria decay products. Bacteria can grow in a wet sponge with nutrients from food.

It's not bacteria. It's not ammonia.
by: garyZ

The stinky smell - which everyone cannot smell - is not a result of bacteria or ammonia. It is an _instant_ thing when the soap reacts with the sponge or dish cloth/rag. It is a chemical thing.

Moreover, even if you find elaborate ways to wring the sponge, add baking soda, use bleach, or take other extra effort to use Dawn,... why? As the consumer you should not be forced to take extreme measures, go to the extra trouble just to use a product that requires all that of you.

There are plenty of competing products out there that work as well and that do NOT make you go through all of that just to avoid a weird and odious chemical reaction.

Dawn's parent corporation has known about this for YEARS and done nothing about it apart from giving canned customer support non-responses and sending out coupons... for Dawn(!) to anyone who complains.

The company doesn't care about consumers, and you should reward them appropriately and in kind.

I avoid Dawn like the plague now.

stinky sponges
by: Anonymous

I didn't expect to find anything but my friends bought me Dawn soap at the beginning of the pandemic - a brand I had never used before. I washed, bleached, and changed out sponges but the smell is back!

Smelly sponge? - Dawn indeed!
by: VT

Reading those comments from everyone was an eye opener for sure! By now I've realized that my dish sponges going smelly in less than a week, even without heavy use and with all general precautions: wringing completely dry, hot water cleanse... Simple line "must be blue Dawn, try Palmolive for a day" turned it all around. Having never considered it before I've looked at what I use (what do you know - blue Dawn it was!) and realizing that stashed away there's a bottle of Palmolive. I've immediately rinsed sponge with it only once and ... the next day the 4-days-old-and-already-stinky was perfectly fresh! UNBELIEVABLE! And - THANKS!

Dawn indeed reeks of mold
by: Jenny

I feel SO vindicated to read all of this. I have been telling my boyfriend for 3 years that his Dawn dish soap makes his sponges smell moldy. He thinks I just have an overblown sense of smell. It just happened at my house, too, with Dawn. Even after boiling the sponges and rinsing them, my HANDS retain a faint odor of mold. YUCK. Throwing the Dawn out and switching back to Seventh Generation. It's more expensive, but it's environmentally safe and doesn't reek.

Stinky Sponge
by: Ken in Virginia

I had no idea it might have been the soap. Tried washing my sponges out and microwaving them to no avail.

Now I'm on the right track and will chuck the remaining bottle of Blue Dawn.

Dawn has always caused this problem.
by: Anonymous

I typically use Palmolive and will occasionally try Dawn because it is touted as "so good". However, EVERY time I get a bottle of Dawn, regardless if it’s the blue Dawn or another one, my dish cloth starts smelling within 1 day. This never happens with Palmolive. I know your article states that this is a new problem. However, as a kid growing up 20-30 years ago, our dishcloths always smelled and my mom always used Dawn. I thought this is just what inevitably happens to dishcloths until I started using other brands myself and discovered that smelly dishcloths are NOT inevitable.

Depends on water
by: Anonymous

When we moved from town water to well water about 15 years ago I noticed a change in my dishwasher. I put it down to no chlorine and other additives... still use Dawn.

Metallic smell
by: Judy

My dish cloths and sponge give off a very strong metallic smell after using Dawn dish soap. I’ve tried bleaching them which helps for a very short time, then we’re back to the metallic smell again. I have even washed the cloths in Dawn and they will smell ok for a short time before tire nasty metallic smell returns. My solution is to switch to another dish soap brand!

Cure for smell.
by: Diane

I have used all Dawn products. The cure is to rinse the cloth well, then spritz it with Mr. Clean Clean Freak. Keeps them from smelling and also provides extra cleaning the next time you use it.

Thought just me!
by: Marcia

I am so relieved with COVID and trying to stay super clean that @#$& sponge stink driving me crazy. I have tried the microwave vinegar and it still smells. Regarding dish soap I use Dawn and have for years. Currently using the Dawn that has been out for awhile and yes I now realize my sponges didn’t smell before. Wow.

Switched to Method
by: Anonymous

I switched to Method dish soap and things never stink. Dawn is horrible.

smell drives me crazy
by: Anonymous

I love dawn detergent, but the smell drives me crazy. At one time I threw out several dish cloths thinking that was the problem. I think I will have to change detergents since it really bothers me. Hope this can be corrected.

Smelly dishcloths
by: Anonymous

My dishcloths get a mildew smell in a day or 2. We have a private well I use Dawn for dishes. I use a tsp. of bleach in a gallon of water to soak them in but the smell returns. What could be causing this?

leaves a motor oil smell on even brand new washcloths
by: Anonymous

I have had the smell of motor oil on my new and even freshly launder washcloths. I have used vinegar in my wash machine to rid the smell on my washcloths and the smell was gone until I used the Dawn dish soap. I switched dish soap, re-washed the dishcloth with vinegar and when using the non Dawn dish soap, the smell was gone. This has been happening with my rags and Dawn dish soap for over 6 years. I keep trying Dawn hoping they have changed the formula and I love the cleaning ability of Dawn, but sadly I can't stand the smell it leaves on my dishcloth and hands. I will be using a different brand of dish soap.

tired of throwing sponges away after 2 days
by: Anonymous

I never had this problem until I switched to Dawn. I'm tired of throwing sponges away after 2 days so I guess I'll just switch to a different product. I really did like Dawn dish. Hopefully they will resolve this issue so I can return to use it.

Leaves odor
by: Anonymous

It's the Dawn. We went as far as having our water tested. And we have a house water filter! All negative. Back to Dawn and it stinks. Gross. Would love to know why. Works well for cleaning but cannot tolerate the smell.

Dawn blue leaves taste and smell.
by: Anonymous

Dawn blue leaves a taste on acrylic drinking glasses, plus makes sponges stink.

It was Dawn all along!
by: Amara

I always loved Dawn apple scent dish soap. It was so sudsy so it would last. I wondered why my new sponge would start smelling mildewy so quickly. I tried different sponges, made sure they dried, rinsed them and finally switched to Palmolive and the problem went away! I use Palmolive Essential Clean (the orange one). I absolutely hate the original scent because it makes my dishes taste like the soap. Very perfumey! Anyway, I don't know what took me so long to figure that out about Dawn. It's possible that they changed something in the ingredients over the years because it didn't always make my sponges smell.

Stinky dishcloths
by: Anonymous

I, too, have experienced stinky dish cloths with the blue Dawn!

I was thinking it was the pipes or the disposal but I have cleaned and cleaned but still had the smell. Last night I smelled the dish cloth and sure enough, it was smelly!

So glad I read this post to confirm my suspicions! Thank you Taylor! Guess I’ll be changing dish soap until this is corrected!!

Blue Dawn caused kitchen sink drain to smell
by: Anonymous

It caused our kitchen sink drain to smell. We switched to Ajax (works just as well if not better on grease and is a whole lot cheaper) and the smell is gone.

so disappointing
by: VH

I've used the original scent Dawn a few months ago and got a stinky dish cloth. So I changed to Sunlight dish detergent with no stinky cloth. Thought I'd give Dawn another chance but tried the lemon scented one and ended up with a stinky dish cloth again. This dish cloth was brand new so no chance bacteria was the cause. So disappointing because it never used to happen with Dawn before. Hope this isn't a "new and improved formula"!!

only happens after couple of days
by: Anne Marie

I don't usually have the smell but I also change my dishrag every day and I use the dollar store brand of rag. But if my rag sits for a couple of days, I notice the smell. I have switch dish soap but still use dawn for making my oven cleaner and removing grease from clothes.

leaves a smell in my glasses and makes the water smell swampy
by: Cindy Lou

Dawn leaves a smell in my glasses and makes the water smell swampy. I only use one cloth per day and bleach them periodically and it still has a bad smell at the end of the day. I'm trying a different detergent. We mostly wash by hand but make sure they are rinsed well. My dish drying cloths end up smelling the same. I switched to a stronger unscented laundry detergent but nothing has changed. Too bad because Dawn 3xs DETERGENT cleans great but can't tolerate that smell.

Lavender Dawn
by: Judy B

I normally buy the blue Dawn original scent but I thought I would try the lavender scent for a change. As soon as I started using it I noticed a bad mildew like smell and thought (as a lot of people on this forum did) that it was my dish cloth so immediately changed to a clean one. To my dismay the bad smell occurred again on my dish cloth and also on my hands. I just couldn’t figure it out but when I stumbled on this site the light came on "it’s the dish soap!!). Guess I will go back to my old standby "Sunlight".

Finally an answer!!!
by: Anonymous

For decades I have used sponges until they start falling apart! Recently, sponges have been smelling bad after just a week or two. This has been driving me crazy for MONTHS! I’ve switched brands of sponges to no avail. Been scratching my head and finally, thanks to Google found this site. I realized that I normally buy Palmolive. I’m ditching the Dawn and reclaiming my sponges! Thank you for this!!

Sink stink
by: Debra

I have been fighting a losing battle recently with sink stink. We installed a new non-metal kitchen sink and have noticed my sink surface always stinks and dishcloths immediately smell after one use. I’ve tried bleaching my sink and it helped but as soon as I did dishes once, it was back!!! The only thing I’ve changed is I tried Dawn dish soap instead of my usual Palmolive. I’m going to switch back immediately and see if there’s an improvement. 💡

by: Mathew

We have been using Dawn for a little while and we like it. However, we did start noticing a bad smell in our dish cloths almost immediately. At first we thought that we were not washing our cloths enough so we did and did everything we could to kill the bacteria. IT JUST COMES BACK. Recently my wife ordered dish soap (dawn) from the store and they had none and replaced it with another brand. This one was an organic brand (not sure of the name). We noticed after a few weeks that the smells were gone. We recently ran out of that dish soap and moved back over to dawn and within a few days of using it the cloths started smelling again. I know we will now switch from Dawn to some other brand. Someone mentioned Palmolive seems to be good and not cause this problem. I am just really tired of the smell and FINALLY I can say it's NOT ME. I am NOT CRAZY.

by: Lynn

So, we only use a small bottle of Dawn (original blue one) for items with heavy grease cleanup. Otherwise, we use another brand for all our dishes. If I don't use the dawn, my sponge is fine. Use the Dawn just once, and the smell starts within hours. It gets on your hands and it doesn't wash off well. I hate that it works so well on grease because it means dealing with this smell. Need to find something else that cuts the grease as well as Dawn. We used to use Ajax dish detergent and oddly, it does the same thing. To get rid of the smell, I put my sponge in the microwave for 1 min and rinse well in cold water. No more smell. It's almost immediate but it does make the microwave smell for a short time. Disgusting.

Something changed!
by: Dani

My family has always used Dawn, so that's what I bought when I moved out into my own house. A few years ago I noticed that my dish rags were souring after only two days. I usually changed them out weekly, but I couldn't do that anymore. I thought it was the rags themselves. I tried vinegar and baking soda, sunning, lemon juice, anything the internet said I could try to strip my rags. One day, a really good coupon made me buy Palmolive and suddenly my dish rags started lasting the whole week like they used to. Dawn is just good for giant bubble mix in my house now. Only Palmolive goes on my dishes.

Dawn is the problem
by: Jess

If you use a natural dish soap liquid like 7th Generation or Mrs. Meyers, there is no problem with that stink. Ever! I try to tell everyone I know. That smell is awful.

Smelly hands
by: Anonymous

I wouldn’t complain if after a couple months or maybe a few months a sponge started to stink. But I can’t seem to get more than two or three weeks before I walk away from washing my dishes and I’ve got stinky hands and everything. I like Dawn because of its grease cutting power but I’m going to switch to something else because the smell is that bad and comes quick. Sponges are almost $1 piece now. Normal blue scouring sponges. Would a UV storage case help? Jeez

What is the problem because I like Dawn otherwise
by: Kathy

My kids think I don't change my dish cloth very often which I do but it starts to smell a day or two after I start using it. I have tested other detergents but this doesn't happen. What is the problem because I like Dawn otherwise.

Smelly sponges
by: Anonymous

I also have experienced my sponges starting to smell like a sour musty smell now that I have switched to Dawn liquid dish soap. I really hope Dawn can fix this, I love the product.

Same problem here!
by: Anonymous

Same problem here! I have been using Costco's Kirkland brand dish soap for years, never had a smelly washcloth, even after a couple of days. Costco stopped selling it, so I switched to Dawn. Now after even just a few hours, my washcloths have a very musty smell, it is disgusting.

silicone dish sponge
by: Rose8theB

I did find a solution to this. I started using a silicone dish sponge and it doesn't absorb the smell. Works great.

rags smell like metal
by: Anonymous

I have tried Dawn dish soap in two different houses. Two different kinds of Dawn dish soap. Immediately my dish rags smell like metal and smell terrible. It is not a bacteria thing, it is the soap because these rags are clean and immediately after I start using them and they sit in the kitchen for a half a day they smell like terrible metal. It is Dawn dish soap.

by: Anonymous

I have learned that if I rinse my dish cloths thoroughly after using Dawn they don't stink even after several days use.

leaves stinky dishcloths and sponges!
by: Janet Rabuck

Dawn while being fantastic on cleaning the dishes, pot, pans and silverware, leaves a really musty stinky stale smell on the dishcloths, and sponges you use in the dishwater. I switched back to Palmolive to avoid this odor. Tough on grease and great shine on the dishes but nasty odor. Thank Dawn but from now on No thanks.

Platinum with "odor elimination" does not work as advertised
by: Anonymous

I have noticed the stinky sponge issue for years using all brands of dish soap. Dawn may be the worst one. Then I switched to Costco's Kirkland brand and the sponge never smelled bad again no matter how old it was. Then that soap disappeared from Costco a few months ago and I'm back to smelly sponges. The culprit this time is "Dawn Platinum" with "odor elimination". Well it still stinks. It does not eliminate odors.

Polyethylene glycol
by: garyZ

After years of this, I believe it is the particular weight of PEG that Dawn incorporates that is the cause of the problem, though I'm not sure. I have noticed that not everyone can smell the awful smell - must be a genetic thing too, but it causes some folks to think we are nuts to complain about the awful smell! Interesting. PG has known about the problem for years, if not more than a decade at this point. They do nothing because they haven't lost enough customers yet and it hasn't been well publicized. I called and complained twice... They responded by sending me coupons for Dawn. Um, not quite clear on the concept. I carry my own little bottle of Palmolive when I travel and stay in an Airbnb, just in case all they have supplied is Dawn (common). Sigh.

Cure for the Dawn stinky dish cloth
by: Anonymous

Nothing cuts greasy gunk on dishes better than Dawn dish soap, but it makes the dish cloth stink. I believe it’s due to the enzymes in the formula. After washing your dishes, put a little anti bacterial hand soap on the dish cloth and work it into the cloth some. You can either leave it in the dish cloth or rinse it out. Problem solved. The anti bac kills whatever is making the dish cloth stink.

had to change brands
by: Kathie

I used to love Dawn. But just couldn’t put up with the smell anymore. I have since switched to Palmolive. Smell gone. There is definitely something in the formula that reacts badly to dampness on sponges and fabric unlike the grease that disappears, the smell just doesn’t. And believe me, I tried everything. Every kind of cleaning possible for the sponges etc. Nothing worked, except changing brands.

Nasty smelly dishcloths and sponges
by: Anonymous

I too have been experiencing this same thing. I did not know it was the Dawn dish detergent. But, that's what I have been using for years. We have been using the spray Dawn. I just tell my husband to use the dish brushes. This smell has been transferred to my hand towels as well. I just washed them today with a vinegar rinse in the washer. The sponges at the place where I clean are smelly too. I have been using Dawn there too. I use bleach to get the smell out.

All types of Dawn…
by: Anonymous

I’ve tried a number of different types of Dawn and the result is the same -- the dishcloth smells sour after doing the dishes. Even with a clean cloth at the start of each dishwashing activity. As others have said, that smell transfers to your hands and it’s difficult to get rid of. The product is great for cutting grease and you use less, but that smell is enough to make me use other dishwashing products.

its not just the dish soap
by: Anonymous

Having this problem also with the Cascade "with Dawn" dish washing pods as well. Dishes come out smelling like wet dog.

the smell is NOT worth it!
by: Anonymous

I was house-sitting at my daughter's while they were gone. She had just a few dishes and I thought I would do them before she got home so it would be one less thing while having to unpack, etc. I could hardly get near the kitchen sink, her sponges stunk so bad!! I got a metal bowl so it wouldn't ruin a plastic bowl, poured a bunch of bleach in and put them in to soak. I used a new sponge to do the dishes and later rinsed the other sponges and dried them standing up so they would dry thoroughly. When my daughter got home, I asked her what made her sponges stink so bad. She told me it was Dawn dish soap, that she had experimented and that was it!! Why she still uses it I don't know. I don't use it and NEVER have that problem! A place where I clean also has that problem and they use Dawn. I have to bleach the sponges every time I clean! Someone used a sponge to wipe down the microwave and I had to wash it all down with disinfectant wipes just so I could be near the microwave at all!! I agree Dawn does a good job with grease, but the smell is NOT worth it!!!!!

I don't know what they did to Dawn but they've ruined it
by: Roxanna Dempsay

I've used Dawn for several years because it was great. Even used it on grease/oil stains on clothing and it did a good job. But it's gotten to the point I can't use it anymore for dishes. I do dishes and the next time I go to the sink, my dishcloth is gross, seriously stinky-mildew smelling even after I rinse it well with cold water or hot water after finishing the dishes. I was originally told that was my problem - not properly rinsing out my dishcloth. Some said rinse in hot water to kill bacteria, others said cold water to kill the bacteria, but really, one use and the dishcloth has to be washed because of this horrid smell? Even when family members left the cloth to dry on a rack, it started to stink. We even tried adding a splash of bleach to the dishwater without success. I've thrown several away thinking it was something permanent in the cloth. Then someone gave me a bottle of Mrs. Meyer's dish soap and VOILA! Suddenly no more stinky dishcloths even after several uses. I don't know what they did to Dawn but they've ruined it and I don't want it in my house. It still does a good job on dishes but if you leave a cloth anywhere to dry and one drop of water gets on that dry but used cloth, you can smell it. I'll let my guys use it on cars and for other things outside...

smell is terrible
by: Anonymous

When I walk past the kitchen sink the smell is terrible. I will change to something else, horrible stink.

Dawn's not the only one
by: Cat

I've had the smelly sponge issue with Dawn in the past so I stopped using it. I usually use Method, which does not cause stinky sponges, but ran out. I stopped to get more but the store didn't have it so I picked up Gain dish detergent. I instantly had smelly sponges again. I'm pretty sure now that it's made by the same company.

"rain scent" makes cloth smell like moth balls
by: Barb

I think the new "rain scent" makes any type of cloth I use smell like moth balls. I tried a new sponge, new cloth, even paper towels and get the same odor. I thought it was just me! It's a new bottle of Dawn Ultra Platinum in refreshing rain scent. The soap alone smells good.

What is the obsession with Dawn?
by: Anonymous

Every time I'm at someone's house who uses Dawn I'm struck by the disgusting smell of mildew on their sponge and dishes. When I touch the sponge I have to scrub my hands with a different soap to get the smell off. I've never had this problem with other dish soaps (Method, Palmolive, etc). Instead of going to great lengths to fight that awful smell, why not just buy a different product? I really don't get it.

Dawn Platinum Advanced dish detergent
by: Anonymous

After one use of this product my sponges and dish cloths smell awful, no matter how thoroughly I rinse them. I won't buy it again.

Stinky Dish Cloth
by: Michelle

I use Dawn and just replaced all my dish towels because I couldn't get the funky smell to go away, even used vinegar in my washing machine and they still smelled terrible. Now new dish cloths and same thing! Googled how to get rid of smell, so now I'm boiling water with dish soap and vinegar to see if this helps. Maybe I will switch to a different dish soap, but have always used Dawn.

Does everyone smell it?
by: Anonymous

Dawn, specifically the blue kind - not sure about the other versions - smells awful immediately. It makes the sponge, rag, dishes and hands stink.

I wonder if everyone smells this. I had a hypothesis that if it's not everyone (why wouldn't they change the formula already if it was everyone?) What if it's just those people that think cilantro tastes like soap? I'm not sure how to test this, however.

smell intolerable
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for decades, but in the last few years it makes my sponge stink like it is old and growing mold. I switched to Ajax and this problem went away. Just ran out 2 days ago so used the Dawn on hand and the sponge stunk terribly the next morning!! Mold doesn't grow that fast! I'm sad because Dawn cleans so much better but this is intolerable.

it's the soap, not the sponge
by: Amadeo M. Leira

Years ago, I thought it was the sponge brand that caused an odd and horrible smell; coincidentally, I had stopped using Dawn Dish Soap at the same time I changed to a different sponge brand.

This year, I returned to using Dawn Dish Soap (it was on sale) with a different & BRAND NEW sponge and that horrible smell returned, IMMEDIATELY!!!

It’s a horrible smell that seems to occur after the sponge was last used the previous day.

My hands stink! My drying towels stink! What I washed stinks, if they are the first to be washed with the sponge - since last night.

It’s 100% caused by the Dawn Dish Soap and NOT by leaving a sponge unused for 24 hours or more!!!

The soap and sponge smells fine/acceptable after using it for at least 5 minutes, but WATCH OUT tomorrow!!!

I can’t wait to finish what’s left of my Dawn Dish Soap; I will never, ever buy or use it again!!!

I hope you can get this message to the makers of Dawn.

By the way… If you leave the sponge in a clean bowl of water, it doesn’t smell as bad the next day.

now only use for special purposes
by: Lynn

I’ve been using Dawn Ultra for general kitchen cleaning (wiping cupboards, etc.) and I find that it makes my sponge and dishcloth smell sour or musty. It had no effect on my surfaces. I quit using it for general cleaning and am using Palmolive Antibacterial. I keep the Dawn around for special purposes.

happens with cellulose, not foam sponges
by: Pdub

The issue occurs when using Dawn Ultra and cellulose sponges. It results in a chemical smell that reminds me of a waterproofing coating my dad used to put on our canvas tents. I discovered this many years ago, so it's not new, and not just Dawn, but other 'ultra' dishsoaps. Doesn't happen with foam sponges. Clearly a chemical reaction, and truly awful, as your hands smell of it if touch the sponge. It's not bacterial related.

12 hours later and my dishrag and sponge were smelly
by: Cathy

My experience with Dawn dish soap is the same as so many others'. I stopped using it about three years ago and have not had a smelly dishrag or sponge since. Last night I ran out of the Ajax lemon I have been using and found a bottle of blue Dawn in my basement, so I used it. Both my dishrag and my sponge smelled this morning, after about 12 hours! I don't know what's in that stuff, but it will not darken my door again.

been like this for the past 7 years
by: Rebecca

Definitely it is the cause of the awful smell on my sponges, hands, and kitchen cloths. I noticed this for the first time at least seven years ago, and decided to never buy Dawn again. My husband went to the store the other day and got Dawn without knowing of this issue and there’s the smell again. We have the Ultra this time but it may have happened with different versions in the past, I just don’t remember which. I hate to throw things to waste, but I’m getting a different detergent bottle as soon as we go to the store again.

how do I remove the odor?
by: Anonymous

I cleaned my windows with the combo of vinegar and Dawn and now have a really bad odor in the rooms. So bad that it makes my eyes water, etc. How do I get this odor off the windows?

musty smell
by: Jon

Kitchen Dad here. We were using Ajax orange scent dish soap for the longest time, and then bought a bulk bottle of Dawn dish soap from Costco. Almost immediately I noticed our sponge and dish rags smelled musty and like old overly used towels after just one day of use. I knew it couldn't haven been because the rags/sponge needed to be refreshed because they were both new! I'm glad I'm not crazy and others are experiencing a similar situation. Like I said, they smell like rags that have been not been hung to dry properly and have dried in a ball in the corner of the room, old and musty. I'm very seriously switching back to Ajax....but what will I do with this half gallon of Dawn?!?!?

considering switch to plant based dish soap
by: Jess

Lol. Yes Dawn used to be good!! It used to Never Smell! What happened?? Did they get cheap?? All I know is that '7th Generation' or any dish soap that is plant based never smells. It works almost as good as Dawn. But my Dad begs to differ. He says is just as good as Dawn. Anyway, I haven't been able to find any good research on bacteria growth and mold using plant based dish soap. But, I'm gonna keep digging to find out, because if it ends up being safer I'm never gonna go back to just chemical based dish soap.

my sponges don't smell since I steam them in microwave
by: Connie

Dawn Ultra is my detergent of choice because it gets rid of grease.

Re: smelling— I have a microwave egg cooker, and I clean it (loosen cooked-on egg) by filling with water + a few drops of Dawn, and then heat it in the microwave. After I do this the water smells - maybe like something contaminated with bacteria (but can't really describe.)

As for sponges and dishcloths, I use Dawn with them but smells don't happen, probably because they get rinsed. I keep them from mildewing by putting them in a wet, folded pile in the microwave and running for 1-1.5 minutes (which causes them to steam; i.e. I'm boiling them.)

One thing I wish about Dawn is that they'd mention on the label not to use with bleach. I guess we're all supposed to automatically know this (?)

stopped using Dawn and problem stopped
by: Janice Boldt

I have been using Dawn Ultra for about 2 yrs. now. I have experienced the horrible smell coming from my dish rags. I would bleach them and wash them in vinegar and soon the smell would be back. I would throw them away and use new, and then the same problem only after a few uses. A friend of mine came for dinner one night and I happened to mention it to her. She said her daughter had the same problem and discovered it to be her Dawn dish soap. I have stopped using the Dawn and the problem has disappeared. It was a wet, musty, moldy smell, kind of hard to describe but very pungent. My hands would smell after using the cloth and was hard to get rid of it.

What the hell is wrong with Dawn?
by: Joseph

I used to use Dawn dishwashing detergent all the time, then several years ago I had a problem with Dawn causing my dishrags and sponges to have a very musty smell. These were new dish rags used only one time. I switched to a different dishwashing liquid and it never happened again. Recently, I tried the Dawn spray dishwashing liquid and it did not cause this. However, I could never find refills for the spray container, so I tried to used regular Dawn "platinum" and just dilute it for the sprayer. First time I used the regular Dawn in the sprayer, the smell was back. Love the sprayer. Hate Dawn and will never use it again. Just bought a whole new bottle that I will throw away and buy a different brand. What the hell is wrong with Dawn?

funky smell on rag
by: Anonymous

Every time I use this soap it leaves the worst funky smell on the rag. Also bought first time Gain Ultra Honey Berry Hula scent, same results with rag. I 95% of the time use Ajax, and never experience smell, doesn't matter what scent.

It’s the darned DAWN!!
by: Lyssah L

It’s the darned DAWN!! I agree with every word on these reviews about the stinky experience!! I too thought the stench was because we weren’t letting the dishrag "air out" while it dried. I washed it often, hot watered it, even scrubbed it with lemon peels!! Still, after a day or two the stench was BACK!! Also, I have a mild case of hand eczema which FLARES UP badly if I happen to not use gloves when I just wash a few dishes (but not with the other soaps... hmmm?). So, after reading this article, YES, it's the Dawn causing the horrible stench that does also transfer to your hands and kitchen surfaces!! Yuck!! Sooo glad I decided to see if there was a way to keep my dishrags from stinking!! Dumping the DAWN dishwashing liquid!! :( :( Buyers BEWARE!!! Hope Dawn sits up and takes NOTICE!! Something’s wrong with that dishwashing detergent! Never buying it again.

Check the earlier comments in this discussion
by: garyZ

I suggest folks coming here to comment go back and read some of the comments that have been posted over the years (yes, years!) now. Here are a few things to note:

- It's all types of Dawn, not just one or two, not just antibacterial or non-antibacterial.

- It seems to be a reaction with certain types of sponges and rags, but not all. You can tell this is a reaction because if you just wash your hands with pure Dawn, no sponge or rag, you don't get the rank, musty smell.

- It seems not everyone can smell it. It's like how some people can't stand cilantro and it tastes like soap to them, but not to others, or like some test strips they had us taste in school, where some kids tasted bitter and others couldn't taste anything. My girlfriend thought I was nuts when I started complaining; she couldn't smell it at all.

- Personally, I think - but have no research - the problem is due to the PEG additive. (Interestingly, the same stuff, though a different molecular weight variety, used in encapsulating the mRNA covid vaccine.)

- Finally, YES, P&G have been notified innumerable times. No they have not done anything and probably don't care. They are still doing enough business and must feel the chemical makeup of their products are - for some reason - not worth changing.

I complained and they sent me a coupon... for Dawn!


causes dishcloth to stink in the summer
by: Anonymous

I love Dawn in the fall and winter months, but during the summer I stop using Dawn. My dishcloth stinks so bad, even goes into my hands. Why?? Does anyone know why??

Great soap, nasty smell
by: ARB

My sister-in-law uses Dawn and her dish cloths always had a smell even though she launders them after a days use and they still stink! I thought it was caused by their very hard water. I used to use Dawn and never had a problem. I purchased a Costco size Palmolive but preferred Dawn’s cleaning power solution so went back to Dawn. PHEW!!! No amount of rinsing solves the problem and I have to use hand soap to get the stench off of my hands. I have Dawn Ultra Platinum Advanced Power. P&G needs to fix their product!

Dawn Smells?
by: Anonymous

I have used Dawn for decades! And in the last couple of years my Swedish dishcloths have started to smell, even after laundering. Now I hear others are having the same problem! I start with a clean dishcloth every morning, and sometimes it stinks by lunchtime!

What gives?

Dawn stinky dish rag and greasy residue
by: Anonymous

I have always used Ivory dish soap and was always pleased with it. Recently it has become difficult to find so I was forced to buy another product. I selected Dawn due to all the marketing about grease cutting. I am extremely disappointed. Not only because of the smelly dish rag but also the awful greasy feel of the rag that is almost impossible to get rid of.

mystery solved
by: Anonymous

I also started googling why my sponges are smelling so bad. Every few days I was using a new sponge, never did I think it would be Dawn. For years I used Ajax and never had this issue, maybe it’s time to go back.

Solution to the funk: Use with KIND brand scrubber sponge
by: Anonymous

I’ve also experienced my standard blue scrubber sponge starting to smell funky with Dawn Ultra even shortly after opening a new sponge. We happened to try the Casabella KIND Plant Based Scrubber Sponge (referral link), and guess what? It doesn’t smell even after several months. Even long after the scrubber fell off the sponge, it still doesn’t smell funky, despite our being in the middle of summer. What a relief to have stumbled on this combination since I like using Dawn. Hope this helps.

Can't believe this is still going on
by: Anonymous

I've been blaming everything other than Dawn for all these years. I've thoroughly dried and not left in sink, changed sponges frequently. All the tricks read on all these have been tried. Dishtowel that is used for drying hands even would get this smell within a day. I'd blame my husband and son for drying dirty wet hands. I've sprayed my sponge with Clorox spray cleaner and rinsed out that way. The worst is when you wake up in the morning, go to coffee maker to make a pot and that nasty smell is in the air by the sink. After googling stinky sponges, I've run into so many Dawn posts about it. So for hahas, I switched to Palmolive. It's been a week so far and no smells.

Well water
by: Trish

My dishcloths smell because we are on a well. When I lived in town where there is chlorinated water my dishcloths never smelled.

Dawn Apple Scented
by: Crystal

I LOVE Dawn. I live in Alaska and we have used it in the cleanup of oil spills. Notably, Exxon-Valdez. I work in restaurants and use it as a pre-treatment for my oily clothes. As a manager, I have to run into the kitchen in my nice shirts, oil spills happen. Dawn completely removes the oil every time.

I usually only use the original formula. Once in a while I forget and purchase a scented formula. Usually Apple Dawn. Within a day or two everything that touches the soap smells like mold: my mop, sponge, rags, my hands. It is completely disgusting. This only happens with the scented Dawn.

Nothing truly gets rid of the mold smell except for bleaching the offending item and/or boiling it. I have tried microwaving the sponge, wash, microwave again -- nope. I gave up after 3 rounds of trying to get rid of the smell. Vinegar does not work for me either.

I don't understand why a company would not fix the problem or stop selling the scents.

not everyone can smell it, but I can
by: Tom

Dawn products leave a terrible smell in my sponges, dish cloths and hands. If I launder the dish cloths with anything else, the smell contaminates the rest of the laundry. The smell doesn't come out of my hands until I've washed them a few times. NOTE 1: This happens only when the soap has been sitting in the sponge, etc., for a few hours or more. NOTE II: Not everyone can smell stink. In a room of 8 people only two could.

add baking soda to the soap to eliminate the bad smell
by: Rod

I have found out that the awful smell that you get on your sponge (almost immediately) after you use Dawn Ultra dish soap, can be almost eliminated by adding baking soda to the liquid soap.

I reach out to Dawn and informed them of the chemical odor, they blamed it on the sponge, although I explained to them that it starts to smell almost immediately after you use Dawn on the sponge.

Dawn customer service people are either not interested in improving their product or are already aware of the problem and trying to play dumb.

smells like burnt motor oil
by: Doug

I bought this from Costco (Dawn Ultra Platinum Advanced Power Dishwashing Liquid, 3 x 709 mL). I thought my sponge has started smelling, so I threw it out and broke the seal on a brand new sponge and used Dawn on it. The next morning there was a foul smell so I am sure that it is the Dawn dish soap that causes this issue.

It smells like burnt motor oil!

I am going to return it to Costco and get a different brand.

Two added ingredients in Ultra
by: Anonymous

To me, Dawn Ultra soon has a sponge smell that reminds me of tetracycline. When I bought (original) Dawn non-concentrated over the internet, the smell went away. According to the labels, the only two ingredients that are different (Ultra has and original has not) are denatured alcohol and PEI-14 PEG-24/PPG-16 copolymer. Since an alcohol smell was not my issue, I would take a close look at the other unique ingredient.

Smelly dishrags
by: Mary Ann T

I started having a problem with a smelly dishrag. I soaked them in bleach, washed them daily, rinsed with vinegar, etc. They would smell coming out of the washer! I even tried washing them in the dishwasher. Finally, I switched from Dawn to another detergent and the problem was gone from day one.

Musty odor
by: Maria

There is always a musty odor coming from the area around my kitchen sink. I am always replacing my sponges, but they still have a nasty smell. I have replaced dish racks, silicone, and am constantly cleaning the sink drain. After the process of elimination, I noticed the smell is most noticeable when I am washing dishes. I kept thinking it can’t be the Dawn, but it was! I like the way it cleans dishes, but I will not use it any more.

Dawn Platinum 4x faster not good for sponges
by: Vicki Ratzlaff

After reading the posts about stinky dishrags and sponges, I also have the same problem AND use Dawn. I never used to have this problem and am wondering if I should just switch back to original Dawn without all the other adjectives like platinum, powerwash, etc.

This is NOT my experience
by: Ess

NO I have never experienced this problem. I rotate sponges, letting them dry out completely between uses.

Switched to Ivory
by: Val

I just recently discovered that Dawn is making my sponges stink like a dirty dish rag and the smell transfers to my hands. I changed to a new sponge and after only 2 weeks, the new sponge started to have the same smell. I've been using Dawn for many years and so disappointed this started to happen. I've switched to Ivory and a new sponge and now for 2 weeks do not have the smell.

Ivory is not as good as Dawn but at the end, it does clean my dishes. I have to use more soap and sometimes have to wash my pots/pans twice to get the grease out.

It's the Dawn
by: Bernice

I have used Dawn dish soap for quite some time as it often went on sale. One day I grabbed a blue dish soap that I thought was Dawn but it was something else and I noticed that the smell on the sponge disappeared. I thought maybe it was the colour as Orange and green had the nasty smell. I tried the blue Dawn but it had the same smell so I think I'm going to go back to Palmolive which is the one that didn't smell.

Not everyone smells it
by: garyZ

Just for the new folks, this "stink" isn't perceived by everyone. Many people (like me) who are totally disgusted by the smell, and notice it transferring to even our hands have found that spouses or some friends can't perceive it at all!

I think it's a genetic thing, like some people can perceive cilantro having a soapy smell/taste while others do not. In high school they demonstrated something like that in biology class lesson on genetics when they gave us a slip of treated paper to taste, and about half the class tasted nothing, while the other half found it tasted bitter.

(I think it's the variety - molecular weight - of polyethylene glycol (PEG) they use in Dawn that's causing the problem.)

makes new sponges stink the first time
by: Tammy

Brand new sponges stink the first time I use them with any Dawn dish soap. I have used the antibacterial, lavender, and the original. They all cause stinky sponges. Microwave doesn’t help the smell at all.

I use 100% natural cellulose sponges and don't have a problem with smelly sponges
by: Sue

I've never had any problem with smelly sponges and definitely don't use dish "rags" to wash anything. Dawn is not the problem, and I've used it for decades. I always use 100% natural cellulose sponges with a scrubbing side to wash dishes, pans, stove, sink, everything. These sponges can be purchased at Dollar Tree, a 2-pak for $1.00. Maybe everyone's problem is using the wrong type of sponge: i.e. the micropore smooth plastic sponges some of which are covered in a mesh net to create a scrubbing action. I even use Dawn to spot clean my stained clothing (chocolate, tomato sauce, etc.) with no problems. It is the best liquid all-purpose soap on the market!!!!!

causes dish cloths to smell
by: Jill

I like Dawn because it seems to do the best job on cutting grease. A few years ago I learned of the harsh or harmful chemicals in Dawn and went to a healthier choice and a by product was my dish cloths didn’t smell. Then Covid 19 hit and I figured I better use a more powerful dish soup to kill germs, and low and behold the smell is back. I threw away dish cloths every week. I use them for a couple days and they begin smelling.

antibacterial version of Dawn
by: Mike Haskin

I can take a brand new dish rag and use it once, maybe twice, and can’t stand the smell of it. Dawn is the only dish soap that does this. Why?

smells like cockroach
by: Rebecca McIlvain

I am writing in reference to the smelly sponge syndrome. I have been trying to convince my mother of this smell existing solely with Dawn Dish soap but she has a severed olfactory nerve which limits her sensitivity to odor.

I have found that the smell which occurs smells like cockroach Having lived in some pretty old Florida homes, I know this smell well.

I think that the odor occurs when Dawn Dish soap meets any type of oil. This is my experience.

Any thoughts?

sewage smell
by: Lola

I have been using original Dawn dish soap for a long time. Recently in the past two months I have noticed a sewage smell after hand washing the dishes and the water sets for about 30 minutes. I have used clean wash clothes, replaced with clean sponge and still the same sewage smell. Went through process of eliminations (cleaned the dishwasher, disposal, the sink, etc.) and comes down to the Dawn dish soap! Is there a recall on this product? Now that I think about it, I sometimes use the Dawn to pretreat clothes in the washing machine, was having same sewage smell. Did the disinfect cleaning on washing machine to get rid of the sewage smell, haven’t used the pretreatment of Dawn on clothes for awhile, smell is gone in the washing machine.

non-concentrated version
by: Cathy

Smell cockroach scent on rags and sponge.

non concentrated simply clean
by: Salie

Drying cloth and sponge smells odd. First I thought there might be some stinky cockroach in the sink, but there was none for days I keep checking, then I touched the drying cloth on the sink which we also wash with dishwash detergent and the smell even cling to the touch! Eyew! I'm getting rid of product with phosphate but I don't think I can use this Dawn further.

By the way I dilute this with water.

I wonder if using it directly on sponge will change anything?

will still use for washing car and dog, but nothing else
by: Terri Cowan

I've used Dawn for washing my car and dog, but when I use it with a sponge on dishes the next day this horrible mildew odor appears. It doesn't matter if it's a sponge or wash cloth, both brand new. I will discontinue my use of Dawn for dish washing and switch back to Palmolive or Ajax.

Platinum has this problem
by: Mary Meneses

Makes my sponges and cloths smell within an hour after using. Smells sour and musty.

Antibacterial Apple Blossom also causes a smell on the sponge
by: Perry

I’ve used this product for many years. Dawn is the best I’ve ever found at cutting grease. I also don’t have to keep using more and more as I go along like other brands. I only use the antibacterial because in my mind it kills germs, although I don’t know for sure if it makes a difference. The problem with the sponge smelling musty and mildewy a little while after use does make me crazy. I keep the sponge standing in a small ceramic bowl with high sides so the air can circulate. The smell is a little less harsh that way, but it usually still smells. I haven’t found a true solution, but what I usually do is lightly mist around the sponge with Lysol Spray. It does seem to kill the nasty smell and since I rinse the sponge before starting to use it, it takes care of washing the Lysol away. I hope something is done to stop the smell from occurring in the first place.

antibacterial green apple scent causes rag to smell
by: Anonymous

I change my dish towels and wash cloth every other day. I have been using Palmolive antibacterial (orange) and have NEVER had a problem. My local bulk store switched to the Dawn antibacterial so I bought it. Immediately my rags started smelling! Like I hadn't rung it out and let it sit in the bottom of the sink for weeks!! Eww gross. I changed nothing else; same rags, same laundry soap/softener combination, same changing frequency. This is a real thing, Dawn antibacterial is stinky. I even had my aunt comment on it. I was so embarraassed. The good news is the smell washed out on a regular cycle with no added cleaners or odor remover. But the point of a wash cloth is to not have to get a clean one every time you wash a dish.

Never had this problem with lemon Ajax
by: Lindsey Bondlow

I have used Lemon Ajax for 7 years and no matter how long I've let my rag go (sometimes freakishly long) or if I have fully wrung it out I have NEVER had an issue with the smell of mildew. My mom and three sisters use Dawn and I have always criticized them for smelly dishrags. Then I switched to Dawn a week ago. Within a week my rag smelled. So I thought, well it had been three weeks so perhaps that was it (although grossly I've gone longer because it never stinks!). I changed my rag and now 4 days in, it stinks again. I abhor the smell of mildew so I am tossing the Dawn and going back to Ajax.

Platinum makes sponges smell like mildew
by: Anonymous

I switched from Ajax to Dawn Platinum about 6 weeks ago. Ever since then my dish sponges have reeked with mildew smell. I followed suggestions to wash sponge after each use, to soak in vinegar, to dry out in the sun; but the smell never completely clears. So I'll go back to Ajax or Palmolive. Am thinking I'll use the leftover Dawn as a weed killer on my patio.

causes chemical or stinky smell
by: Linda

All Dawn dish soaps have caused a chemical or stinky smell on my dish cloths. One of my sisters also reported the same thing to me but another sister who bleaches her dish cloths says she doesn’t have that problem and she has used Dawn. I stopped using the product because of this.

I hate it with a passion
by: Anonymous

I hate using Dawn soap of any kind of scent. Every single time I use it it leaves my sponge smelling so nasty, even if it’s a brand new one. I make sure no water is left behind on the sponge but that doesn’t help.

antibacterial orange scent dishwashing liquid
by: Carol

My dish cloths began to stink within hours of washing dishes when I used this soap. After three days of these foul smelling cloths at my sink and drying in my house I've decided this soap has got to go. I chose this soap to replace my usual Ajax when I couldn't find the right size of Ajax bottle at the store I was at. My dish cloths are used one day then hung to dry before being tossed in the hamper before laundering. Seldom to never have I had trouble before this with stinky dish cloths.

Ultra escapes - Mediterranean Lavender Scent
by: Anonymous

Our sponges started smelling awful immediately after we switched from Kirkland dishwashing liquid (Costco) to Dawn Ultra escapes Mediterranean Lavender Scent. First we suspected the sponges but after a few tests I can confirm the nasty smell is due to the Dawn dishwashing liquid.

green apple scent
by: Amara

I really love the smell of Dawn Ultra green apple scent dish soap and like that it's really soapy. I have used it for years. We don't have a dishwasher and wash all of our dishes by hand. (I live in NYC). Our new sponges and scrubbers start smelling like mildew within a few days of use. I have tried many different sponges, kept them dry, put them in the sun, bleached them but they were still mildewy. I just switched to Palmolive Essential Clean apple pear scent last week and our sponges don't smell mildewy. I will use it with a Dobie sponge which I like using and see what happens. I don't love the smell of the Palmolive, but mildewy sponge is much worse. I really think it's the Dawn. Maybe that it's so concentrated. The antibacterial aspect of it does not work.

Viva la Palmolive!
by: Justin

This issue has been going on for many years. I'm a 45 y/o bachelor and have noticed my sponges and dish rags have always put off a nasty sour smell each and every time I use Dawn. It only takes maybe 3 days. For many years I would toss the sponge and buy a new one. Then a friend told me to microwave the sponge and the problem would be resolved. Well, resolved for only a few days. Then I got rid of my microwave so it didn't help now.

I did an experiment and bought other brands and never had the problem. Since then, I've been a loyal Palmolive dish soap user (about 15 years now) and my sponges have never, NOT EVEN ONCE, gone sour. Viva la Palmolive!

smell caused by all petroleum based soaps, not plant based ones
by: Ruth

From my experience trying different dish soaps we have had this problem with many, not just Dawn. They are petroleum based soaps. The plant based soaps don't cause this problem. Unfortunately they don't work as well either. I am wondering if there is anything that can be added to the non plant based soaps that can stop this horrible moldy/fuel like smell???

It's the Dawn
by: Anonymous

I stopped buying Dawn because of smell on sponge after using it just a few times. I bought Ajax ultra and no smelly sponge.

Smelly Dawn
by: Faith

I have used the power spay, regular dawn, blue platinum, the pink (rose scented- gentle hands) and so far every one I have used still causes my dish rags to smell musty.

I do a bleach wash on my rags daily to ensure they don’t smell.

The musty smell will transfer to the countertops and your hands.

I’d switch but this cuts the grime the best.

I also have smelly sponge and hands after using Dawn
by: Anonymous

I also have a smelly sponge, hands and dishes after using only Dawn.

I changed sponges and tested by using another dish washing liquid like Palmolive or anything else, and the smell is not there.

The after smell usually smells like cockroaches.

The actual liquid does not have the smell. It is after using on any sponge or cloth or even washing my hands.

Boy do I agree.
by: Rick, Shuswap, BC

Just ran out of Palmolive dish soap yesterday and switched to Dawn. Stinky sponge right away this morning. My wife and I have argued that the cause was Dawn two years ago. I switched to Palmolive and never had a problem.

I found you article and I shoved it in her face, your article, not the stinky sponge. But I tried lol. "I’m not smelling that sponge. Keep it away from me ". I guess I win.

Back to Palmolive.

Thanks for proving I’m not just smelling things.

Dawn dish soap is disappointing
by: Jaime Mahood

Growing up my family used nothing but Dawn dish soap because it WAS the best. I of course continued using Dawn when I had my own family. I started noticing a horrific stench over by the kitchen sink, the dish strainer and then my hands after dish washing. It was the Dawn Dish Soap causing the stench because when I switched dish soap to Palmolive or Gain, the stench was gone! Just like that! I'm not sure what ingredient they're using but they need to recalculate their formula!

not had this issue with any other brand except Dawn
by: Jennifer

I have also experienced my dish sponge smelling (while it is drying on the sink) after washing the dishes with Dawn. It's a mildew smell. Only Dawn does this. It could be a combination of ingredients that makes it smell or what.

Other than the smell, it cleans well and I don't have to use as much soap to get the job done (like the other non-smelly liquid soaps). Have not had this issue with ANY other brand liquid dish washing liquid.

not a great smell
by: Anonymous

We love Dawn dishwashing but it makes our sponges and rugs smelling like cockroach.

It’s the “ultra” that’s doing it
by: Bob

Any dish detergent that is an "ultra" has caused my sponges to stink to high heaven. I switched to Palmolive "original formula" and that did the trick. No more stinky sponges.

I’ve also used Ivory (not an "ultra" detergent) and that seems to work, too, but it’s too soon to tell.

I’m not sure why ultra soaps do this. Maybe it’s because it’s so highly concentrated?

Dawn dish soap is the villain!
by: Anonymous

I am a huge internet skeptic. I do not believe everything I read. Have to try it myself. Yes, big YES. Dawn dish soap is the villain! But I love it for so many purposes. So now I use Palmolive for my hand washed dishes and Dawn for every thing else. Have not had a smelly sponge since this change.

Smelly dish cloths
by: Anonymous

Just glad to hear I am not the only one. Even my daughter says the same thing. Dish cloths really smell after using Dawn. It is like the bacteria isn't killed. Can't use bleach with it so guess I will be going back to Palmolive and a little more elbow grease.

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