Home cooking is the best … except when the smell of your curry dinner lingers for days (or weeks?) after you’ve finished the meal.
The truth is, cooking at home can result in a potpourri of stubborn odors in your kitchen. After a while, the rich aroma of roasting lamb can curdle into the stale stench of fatty mutton.
So how can you 86 all these lingering cooking smells? For starters, turn on the range hood fan right off the bat, to ventilate your kitchen while you cook. And we highly advise against lighting scented candles, which will just add another heavy layer of odor. Instead, try one of the following methods, which have been proven to banish stinky cooking smells quickly.
1. Slow boil a simmer pot
The head chef of HelloFresh, Claudia Sidoti, combats icky odors after she cooks with a simmer pot of several aromatic blends based around citrus, which cuts through unpleasant smells.
She combines the ingredients—either 1) orange, cinnamon sticks, and cloves; 2) lemon, rosemary, and vanilla beans; or 3) orange, cranberries, and pine twigs—with three cups of water in a pot. She brings it all to a boil and then lowers the pot to a simmer.
The fresh and slightly sweet scent will cut through other smells and linger pleasantly in the room. But be careful! “Once the water evaporates, the citrus can easily burn,” says Sidoti.
2. Break out the essential oils
A great way to neutralize offensive smells is by introducing purifying essential oils in your kitchen. Use a spray bottle filled with water and about eight to 10 drops of either lemon, eucalyptus, or lavender essential oils. Then lightly mist the mixture into the air.
“Or if you want to create a DIY diffuser with what you have on hand in the kitchen, you can soak some cotton swabs in vanilla and place them around your countertop for a quick, pleasant scent,” says Dr. John Gilmer, PhD and food/cooking/nutrition expert at ActiveIron.com.
3. Neutralize with vinegar
If a cooking smell really persists, you need to step up your game and clean your kitchen cooking surfaces and countertops with vinegar, a remarkably effective cleaner and deodorizer. “Vinegar is an acid, and acid degrades the other lingering odors,” says Abe Navas, general manager of Emily’s Maids, a house-cleaning service in Dallas.
Let the vinegar soak into surfaces for 15 minutes, and then clean again with soapy water. Rinse with lots of clean water.
4. Clean up quickly before and after dinner
After you’re done cooking, cleaning up immediately is a great way to chase away odor, according to Kealia Reynolds, an editor at HouseMethod.com. “Cleaning up right away prevents smells from aging and becoming more pungent on your kitchen surfaces,” she says.
Place all strong-smelling meat and vegetable castoffs, such as onion peels, fish skin, and garlic, into a plastic bag inside a closable trash can. Take the trash outside rather than leave it in the kitchen overnight.
Rinse all cutting boards the moment you’re done with them. If you’ve cut garlic, onions, or other strong-smelling foods on a cutting board, the scent can seep into the surface and last for days if not cleaned properly—and quickly. Stick plastic cutting boards in the dishwasher for a deep clean, and use half of a lemon sprinkled with salt to clean wooden cutting boards.
And after the meal has been served, rinse and wash all the dishes as soon as possible.
5. Absorb strong odors overnight
If you are too exhausted after cooking a huge meal to do a massive kitchen cleanup, let items from your pantry work for you as you snooze.
“Leave a small bowl of white vinegar, coffee grounds, or baking soda out overnight on the counter,” says Gilmer. Each of these items are great at absorbing smells.
Another nighttime tip? Be sure to close your bedroom and closet doors before you turn in. “These rooms are full of odor-absorbing fabrics that will cause smells to permeate your home,” Gilmer adds.
6. Deep-clean the drain
Many of those displeasing kitchen smells may be coming from your sink, where odors can get trapped. “We recommend freshening your kitchen drain monthly,” says Jenn Nicken, founder of The Chef & The Dish, a global marketplace with chefs around the world via Skype. “Simply put about half a cup of baking soda into your kitchen drain, then pour one cup of vinegar into the drain. Let sit for 15 minutes, then run hot tap water for 60 seconds.”
7. Manage the microwave
The microwave is guilty of trapping odors, in the form of splattered sauce and hardened food scraps. Be sure to wipe down the inside of your microwave a couple of times a week.
“And if you have lingering smells in your microwave, use a few drops of lemon essential oil and wipe down the interior of the appliance,” Reynolds says.
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