How to get Rid of Food Smell after Cooking (8 Tips that Work)

Some people are sensitive to certain odors, such as food odors. How to get rid of food smell after cooking is a concern more common than we think. No one likes to walk in a house that smells like yesterday’s roast beef or Chinese takeaway.

You would detest the food smell even more if you haven’t been the one cooking. Here is why how to get rid of food smell in apartment is a big concern and some of the easy ways how this can be done:

Food Odors can be More than Irritating

It doesn’t have to be something unpleasant as burnt food or rotten food odors, even the smell of curries, eggs, bacon, etc, happen to be strong for certain people’s olfactory senses. Strong food odors can even trigger migraines and sinus issues in some people. In extreme cases, food odors can aggravate   conditions like MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome) and can bring about severe headache and nausea.

 That’s why knowing how to get rid of food smell after cooking is important.

More to Read: Does Your Home Stink? Try Odor Eliminator Candles

The Food the Odors of Which Linger

  • Indian curries.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Bacon.
  • Sausage.
  • Egg.
  • Sauerkraut.
  • Gherkins.
  • Popcorn.
  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
  • Fried food like fried chicken.
  • Cooking grease or cooking oil.
  • Red meat.
  • Fish.  
  • Any burnt food, even burnt toast.

Some other sources of bad odor in the kitchen or house are not limited to cooking. The following things also contribute to unpleasant odors:

  • Overripe fruit.
  • Rotten vegetable, meat, fruit.  
  • Garbage can that needs to be emptied or washed.
  • A pile of dirty dishes in the sink left overnight.
  • A fridge with stale or rotten food inside.

Food Odors can Stick Around

Moreover, certain food odors have the tendency to stick around long after cooking is done. Food is a cultural thing. Indian curries can be really strong due to the presence of onions and ginger garlic roots and red chilies and turmeric in the base. Sharp provolone and salami also create noticeable odor. It’s not about curries, vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish and brussel sprouts tend to emit pungent smell during cooking due to the sulfur and potassium in them. Mostly, living units are not made to withstand the cooking of food items like curries. How to get rid of curry smell can be tricky but important.

Unwelcome food related odors would make their presence felt even if your living space happens to be small or not well-ventilated. Cracking open a window is not an option if it’s too cold outside. Likewise, you might be sharing a dorm room and your roommate might be having food inside. It’s not always possible to change your living situation but knowing how to get rid of food smell in apartment, dorm or basement is important.

How to get Rid of Food Smell in House

Here are some of the ways of how you can get rid of cooking odors from your living space for good:  

Ventilate the House

The obvious thing to do when wanting to get rid of food smell in the house is to ensure ventilation of air in the kitchen and the house. Open the window for a few minutes, even 10 seconds after every ten minutes, when you are cooking even if it’s cold outside and even if you are poaching and egg and not cooking a big meal.

Furthermore, investing in an exhaust fan is a huge favor you can do to yourself and your living space.  This is important if your windows are small and narrow, or there isn’t any altogether.  

Moreover, cooking near a window and a cheap box fan inside the kitchen window will effectively help you blow the food smells from your kitchen outside, without letting them a chance to seep into the rest of your living area. Likewise, the airflow created would keep your apartment from getting hot and humid. Alternatively, if you are feeling too cold and afraid to open a window, move out of the room or kitchen when opening the window. Also, don’t open the window all the way, just open it a little. Similarly, you can sit near a small portable heater to keep yourselves warm while airing the room.

If you don’t have an exhaust fan or a box fan, you can put a portable fan near an open window to get the food smell and other unwelcome house odors outside.

Avoid Cooking Strong Smelling Foods

If you are sharing your space with someone or if you have a landlord or a neighbor who minds strong odors, knowing how to get rid of food odor is important. While you maybe well within your right to cook and eat whatever you want, no one likes to live in house with strong, burnt or stale food smell. In fact, it is better to avoid cooking food with strong or pungent smell, or make it a once in a while practice.

Remember, frying food tends to create lingering food odors because the cooking oil or fat leads to volatilization of oil and the smell of the food fried in it. The oil vapors would spread the smell of the food throughout your apartment.

Furthermore, as opposed to frying food, steaming or stewing food creates far less food odor, unless you are boiling cabbage or other cruciferous vegetables.

And when you do cook smelly food, don’t forget to ventilate the space or burn candles afterwards, so the food odor dissipates quickly. Baking food is also a good option, as the food smell tends to settle itself down in the oven mostly, keeping the spreading of the odor to the minimum.

Cook Outside, if Possible

While I understand that this isn’t an option for everyone, your balcony (if you have one) is a great place to cook and eat. You can use an extension cord and cook on a hotplate, while keeping the adjacent window and door closed, and none of the cooking odor would seep back into the apartment. Cooking on a roof top in an apartment complex can be enjoyable too, if you have access and it’s allowed. Certain apartment complexes have BBQ grill facilities near the recreational areas, which can be used for all grilling and BBQing.

Create a Potpourri Simmer

You can create an amazing concoction by boiling apple, lemon and orange peels, cinnamon and cloves in a pot of water on your stove. This would not only neutralize the smell from cooking but make your whole house smell deliciously amazing and somewhat festive in a natural and nontoxic way. You can also smudge your living space by burning sage and Palosanto. However, be careful, as this may set off your smoke alarm.

Try Essential Oils

Alternatively, you can add a few tablespoonful of white vinegar or fabric softener to boiling water and keep it on stove for a few minutes. You can also try adding a few drops of vanilla essence or peppermint, orange, lemon or rosemary essential oils to boiling water to cover the food smell.

Make Coffee

Coffee has a strong aroma and can cover food smells effectively. Try turning on your coffeemaker once you have finished cooking. Boiling discarded coffee beans in water for 20 minutes can help in getting rid of most of the cooking smells. Alternatively, you can also put coffee beans in a bowl around the kitchen counter to neutralize some of the food odors.

Invest in Home Fragrance Solutions

Home fragrance solutions are designed to control and combat food odors, pet odors and smoke odors. Sprays like Febreze or wall plugin air fresheners, essential oil diffusers work well. Do note that air purifiers don’t work very well in getting rid of food odors, as they tend to do the opposite that is circulate the food smell all around the house instead of getting rid of it. Plus, the filters need frequent replacement, thus making things costly.  Another effective solution to get rid of food smells is to invest in a Lempe Berger Lamp and Home Fragrance set. You need to light them only for a few minutes and they would clear away most odors and smells.  

Disclaimer: Do keep in mind that these artificial home fragrance solutions can be aggravate sinus and migraine issues and can be deadly for a person MCAS.

Even salt lamps, activated charcoal in bags, charcoal coated scented sticks, Arabic Oud and Bakhoor can work wonders in getting rid of food and other kinds of odors.

Burn Scented Candles and Wax Melts

Burning wax melts and scented candles is also a very effective way to get rid of odors, as the negatively charged ions from the candles get attached to the positively charged ions of food smell and neutralize them. Any kind of candle would work well for getting rid of food smells but 3 Wicks scented candles from Bath and Body Works work wonders. Mahogany and Teakwood is a personal favorite. Alternatively, more cost-effective food eliminating options are Odor Exterminator candles or Glade candles, which contain special enzymes to get rid of all kinds of odors and not just food.   

Disclaimer: Scented candles can aggravate migraines and sinus issues when burnt in a closed space. Likewise, don’t leave your candles unattended to prevent fire hazards. Wax warmers tend to be safer than scented candles, as instead of an open flame, there is a small bulb warming and melting the wax.

Read Up: Hippie Love Smoke Odor Exterminator Jar Candle Review

How to not Smell like Food after Cooking

Particular odors have the tendency to seep into your clothing, hair and linen. Just like you don’t want your house to smell of food, you don’t want to smell yourself of food. As soon as you are done cooking, change your clothes, and shower if possible. Likewise, keep your clothes, bed linen and bags inside your closet or cupboard, otherwise, the cooking smell would seep into it eventually.
Use linen sprays to make your room smell nice and odor free. Downy Linen Spray is cheap and very effective to refreshen your linen.

To Sum Up

While cooking and eating are essential activities, strong, lingering cooking smells can be really unpleasant. How to get rid of food smell after cooking is a common concern for people who live in a small space like an apartment studio, a basement or a shared accommodation like a dorm. You can do a lot of things to control food odors, such as cooking in an open space, going for food that doesn’t smell that much, ventilating the space, using home fragrance solutions like air fresheners, oil diffusers, lamps, essential oils, scented candles, wax melts, essential oil burners, etc., are some of the ways how you can get rid of food smell in apartment and tiny spaces. What you need to remember is that sometimes one solution may not work and you have to combine a few of these methods to get the desired results.

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