How to get rid of cooking smells

When you’re cooking up a storm with your favorite kitchenware, even the most delightful foods can leave a lingering smell. And when you’re working with ingredients like onion or fish, the overpowering aromas can be enough to put you right off your dinner - or your breakfast the next morning! Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the impact of those irksome odors.

What causes cooking smells in your kitchen?

Some dodgy kitchen smells are easily sorted by throwing the culprit out — a full bin bag or out of date milk carton in the fridge, for example. Storing leftovers in containers that allow for good air circulation, like the Zyliss Twist n' Seal food storage can help, too. 

Smells caused by cooking tend to be a bit more stubborn. The aroma of your hearty roast last night might have been fantastic while you were hungrily preparing it, but now that smell of cabbage and gravy just won’t go away. 

While the ingredients themselves may have an odor, it’s the heating process that makes them particularly pungent as gas particles permeate the room. Take cooking broccoli, for example — boiling it with the lid on will create some gas in the form of steam, but most of the water remains liquid. Steaming it, on the other hand, evaporates more of the water, turning it into a gas that floats into the air and can cling to the surroundings. 

Ventilate your kitchen open window that is ventilating the kitchen

One simple way to reduce the impact of cooking smells is to make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. 

If your stove has an extractor fan, try to put it on as soon as you start cooking. Extractor fans filter out steam, smoke, and odors. However, the filters can become blocked by a build-up of grease and bacteria, which can worsen unpleasant smells. So it’s a good idea to wash the filters regularly — most can be easily detached from the stove hood.

Opening a window is another effective way to let steam and cooking smells dissipate. A good breeze will usher out odor particles and help fresh air circulate. 

Chef’s candles

Most scented candles produce a lovely fragrance. However, when it comes to cooking smells, most candles tend to mask bad odors rather than get rid of them. Odour-eliminating candles, also known as chef’s candles, are specifically designed to remove nasty kitchen stinks and release a pleasant aroma in their place. 

One of the biggest brands of chef’s candles uses a unique ‘odorfoyl technology’ to break down the molecular structure of unwanted odors and neutralize them.

Popular essential oils used in chef’s candles are basil, geranium, and patchouli. They leave your kitchen with a fresh, uplifting fragrance.

Boil a lemon

lemons on a white background

Is there anything the humble lemon can’t do? From removing countertop stains to descaling kettles, lemons can be used in a variety of household cleaning tasks. They can also help tackle those troublesome kitchen smells. 

Cut a lemon in half, add it to a pan of boiling water, and let it simmer for about ten minutes. The citrusy steam will neutralize any unpleasant odors, leaving a zingy aroma in its wake. 

The lemon method is particularly good for going after garlic, pepper, and onion smells. So no need to worry about those fajitas hanging about any more!

Salted potatoes 

Potatoes are another ingredient that can help reduce meal prep smells. They act like sponges, absorbing unpleasant odors, especially from specific surfaces. 

Sometimes, lunch boxes and pans seem to hold onto food smells no matter how much you wash them, particularly if they’ve contained curries or other dishes with strong seasonings.

Potatoes are ideal for neutralizing container smells. Chop a couple of potatoes in half and sprinkle them generously with salt. Pop the potatoes in the pan or tub, leave them in there for a few hours, then wash the container thoroughly.

You can use the same method on chopping boards and wooden utensils. To avoid your spatulas and turners absorbing odors, why not try silicone tools? They’re dishwasher-safe, making it easy to keep them clean and stink-free. 

Coffee grounds

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of fresh coffee in the morning. But did you know the brilliant bean can also get rid of foul odors? 

Leaving a bowl of ground coffee out on the side overnight will dissipate any remaining dinner smells. So by breakfast, you’ll have a neutral kitchen all ready to be filled with the fragrance of another fresh cup of java!

Because coffee is acidic, it’s particularly good at breaking down odor compounds in burnt food. As a bonus, scrubbing your hands with coffee grounds can help banish smells absorbed into your fingertips when peeling garlic or chopping onions.

White vinegar

Similar to the lemon method, boiling up a bit of white vinegar can help neutralize cooking smells. Add three tablespoons of vinegar to a saucepan with a cup of water and bring to the boil, leaving the pan uncovered. Once it’s heated up, the steam will make its way out into your kitchen. 

It might not give the same citrusy scent that lemon does, but the vinegar mist will help combat lingering food smells.

Bicarb of soda

bicarbonate of soda in a pot

Bicarbonate of soda is the king of natural cleaning products. And when it comes to stubborn kitchen smells, baking soda never fails to work its magic. 

All you have to do is leave a small bowl of it on your kitchen counter. It absorbs pesky pongs and leaves behind no smell of its own, making it an excellent option if you’re sensitive to scents and perfumes.

As well as tackling cooking smells, bicarb of soda can be sprinkled in the bottom of your refuse bin or placed in a bowl in the fridge to absorb any bad odors. 

A big part of managing cooking smells is to make sure your kitchen items are easy to clean. Much of the Zyliss cookware range is dishwasher safe, and when it comes to intricate utensils, like garlic presses, ours can be disassembled so there are no hidden cloves stuck in the crevices.


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