How to get rid of cooking smells in your home or apartment

couple holding cooked turkey

Unless you live in a house with a kitchen that has a restaurant-quality ventilation system built-in, you have inevitably run into the problem of your home smelling like food. When you cook, all of the delicious smells fill up your house and make everyone hungry and curious about what is for dinner. However, once the meal is over, those smells tend to linger in your home and are not nearly as desirable as they were before the meal. So how do you get rid of those cooking smells? Many of the items traditionally used to freshen up your home, such as air fresheners, can blend with the existing food smells and make an even worse combination rather than eliminate the undesired odors. If you have been trying to get rid of cooking odors without any success, check out the ideas below.

Get Ahead of the Game

One of the best ways to prevent lingering food smells in your home or apartment is to stop them before they start. Sure, the smell of cooking food is pleasant, but if you can eliminate some or all of it before or while you’re cooking, you’ll have less to contend with once the meal is finished. One great way to do this is to use a charcoal filter splatter screen. A splatter screen is only useful during specific cooking preparations such as pan-frying, and the screen itself will prevent splatters from getting on your stove and backsplash. The reduced splatters of food alone will help cut down on stubborn smells, but the charcoal filter will also absorb cooking scents as you cook.

If you are making a particularly pungent dish, you can combat the smells with steam. In particular, a vinegar and water steam will absorb odors in the air while you’re cooking. Merely adding a half cup of vinegar to a cup of water and simmering it on the stove while cooking will cut down on lingering odors. If you have a stove vent, using it in addition to the vinegar steam method will produce even better results. If you don’t want to deal with vinegar, you can boil a pot of water filled with other ingredients that leave a more palatable fragrance behind. Throw lemon peels, cloves, cinnamon sticks, or other aromatics into a pot of boiling water on the stove and simmer it.

If boiling additional pots seems like added work or you just don’t have the extra room on the stove, you can try a plug-in air purifier. There are small countertop models that are perfect for kitchens and are relatively quiet. These small devices deodorize your kitchen and remove bacteria, viruses, mold, and pet dander from the air. Air purifiers also help deodorize rooms that already stink. Another method for absorbing smells in the air is to use baking soda. People have been putting boxes of baking soda in their refrigerators for so long that there are now boxes available that are specially made for the fridge. Baking soda does a particularly good job with smells from acidic foods such as tomatoes, fish, and other veggies. In fact, most unpleasant smells are acidic, and the pH of the baking soda helps neutralize the acid in those types of foods, which reduces odors. Putting some baking soda in a bowl on the counter where you are cooking will do the trick.

Get Rid of Existing Smells

Now that you have some ideas for preventing new cooking odors, you may need to get rid of some existing odors in your home. We mentioned baking soda above as a preventative measure, but it is also great at absorbing existing odors. If you open a box of baking soda and place it in the area that the smells are coming from, the baking soda will absorb the lingering odors. Coffee grounds can be used in the same way – put used coffee grounds in shallow bowls and place them around your house. The coffee grounds will absorb and eliminate smells.

Sometimes the odors in your kitchen and home come from specific items that you use while cooking. Your kitchen trash bin can be the culprit for many lingering smells in your home. Be sure to wash out your trash bin often and after you dry it, sprinkle some baking soda inside of the can to prevent odors from staying in the can. Your kitchen sink drain can be the keeper of many unpleasant smells as well. Whether you have a garbage disposal or not, the drain can collect food bits that will rot and give off pungent odors. After you use lemons for cooking, save the rinds and toss them down the disposal. (If you don’t have a disposal, squeezing lemon juice down the drain and letting it sit for a bit before rinsing with hot water will have the same effect.) The oils in the lemon rinds and the acidity of the lemon juice will cut through the grease build up and give off a fresh lemon smell.

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