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21 Ways To Get Rid Of Cooking Odor

Last updated July 1, 2022

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Author
Author avatar Tom Taylor-Biggs

Tom is our resident researcher. Whether it’s finding out the best way to defrost a dehumidifier or discovering the flashpoints of various essential oils, Tom is our informational archeologist digging up the best facts. When he’s not elbow-deep in scientific journals, you’ll find Tom in underground music bars or at home making moody rock music.

There’s nothing finer than a home-cooked meal. But all of your hard work can easily be ruined if all those cooking smells linger around afterward. Yes, a delicious meal can result in a pong that lives on throughout your household for days, if not dealt with correctly. 

So, we’ve put together a multitude of tips and tricks to help you get rid of those unwanted odors. 

Before You Cook: How to Minimize Odors and Smells From Traveling Outside Your Kitchen

More often than not, what you do before you start cooking can affect the aroma you create. So why not give yourself a head start.

1. Close doors 

When ingredients are thrown into a boiling pan over a pool of olive oil, scents will burst into life, quickly filling the room with flavorsome steam in the process. That steam, like any cooking odor, really wants to escape the kitchen and take over the rest of your house. 

So this one is simple — closing your kitchen, dining, and living room doors will trap the odors in.

PRO TIP: Place a towel down at the bottom of the kitchen door to fully block in the smells and stop them spreading to the rest of your home.

2. Sprinkle baking soda into your trash can  

Occasionally, we get lucky and the bin is full of remnants, ingredients, and leftovers so we can take out the trash right away. But not always. If the meal you’ve just cooked has a particularly potent smell then, then your trash will stink. 

Sprinkling baking soda into the trash before cooking will absorb odors and minimize the smell from spreading. Baking soda is composed of a sodium cation and a bicarbonate anion. With most kitchen odors being acidic, it’s perfect for eradicating these types of smells.

PRO TIP: If you’re a cat owner and don’t have baking soda to hand, kitty litter will also do the odorizing trick.

3. Boil vinegar and water on the stove

Simply add half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of water to a saucepan and slowly boil it before you begin cooking. The mixture of both will create a steam that absorbs scents and prevents them from spreading around your kitchen. The acetic acid in white vinegar has been proven to absorb odors very effectively.

PRO TIP: Other things you can simmer and leave to boil whilst you cook include:

🍊 Orange skins
🍋 Lemon peels
☕ Cinnamon sticks
🌺 Potpourri

4. Ventilate the kitchen

Most kitchens these days have an extractor fan — we suggest you use it while you’re cooking up a stinky storm. Also, if your kitchen door is closed and the rest of your home is relatively shut off, open some windows and back doors. Doing this will improve your kitchen scent by allowing the outdoor air in and once the cooking starts, it will feel much fresher.

PRO TIP:  Leave that ventilator fan on for at least an hour after cooking. 

5. Put lemons in your garbage disposal 

Throwing lemon bits and peels into your garbage disposal (that blade mechanism located inside your sink) will release the lemony aroma around your kitchen, killing odors and breaking up blockage through the power of citric acid. 

Lemons and limes contain citric acid which can act as both an odor eliminator and a cleanser. It can also dissolve small pieces of food and grease from your drains.

PRO TIP: Pro tip –  Soda crystals are another great product to break up food and disperse odor in the kitchen:

🤏 Sprinkle a handful of crystals down your garbage disposal
⏲️ Leave for 10 minutes
💧 Wash away with hot water

While You Cook: How to Keep Odors at Bay When Cooking 5 Smelly Foods

Many types of foods and dishes give off different smells that can be approached differently when it comes to dispersing them from your kitchen. Other than waiting for the smell to simply disappear, these tips will help tackle them before they have the chance to spread around your home. 

From the smell of burnt toast to a heavily spiced-up curry, we’ve got you covered.

1. Fish 

Seafood, more often than not, is considered to be one of the worst odors when cooking. Although lighting a chef’s candle and opening windows while cooking will help the stench a little, you can also try these tried and tested hacks: 

🐟 Hack # 1: Leave a bowl of white vinegar out overnight — Vinegar’s acetic acid content has the ability to absorb unwanted odors.

🐟 Hack # 2: Simmer lemon peels or ground ginger — The steam produced releases the odor of the lemons into the air, acting as a natural air freshener. 

2. Curry 

Opening spice jars, chopping herbs, crushing garlic, and spilling ingredients over your countertops. Yes, cooking a curry is often an action-packed process with an assortment of herbs and spices — all of which are great at leaving lingering odors around your home for days on end. 

Try this, it’s what we like to call: The Potato Hack: 

🥔 Step 1: Rinse some potatoes and chop them in half

🥔 Step 2: Place them in dish on your counter-top 

🥔 Step 3: Sprinkle them with table salt and leave them there as you cook 

Unlike other common vegetables, potatoes contain multiple microscopic starch granules which can soak up all types of cooking flavors, water, and even odors. 

PRO TIP: This tip is also super effective after cooking — place potatoes into the pan you have just cooked curry in and leave it for a few hours, the smell will be absorbed into the potatoes.

3. Bacon 

One great tip for dispersing the smell of bacon grease is to make your own aromatherapy spray. 

Spraying your countertops and stove after cooking with a homemade spray will reduce the unwanted food smells from multiplying. 

It’s super simple to make a spray: 

🥓 Step 1: Fill three-quarters of a spray bottle with water 

🥓 Step 2: Add 2-3 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol

🥓 Step 3: Add 10-15 drops of essential oils

Pro tip – These essential oil flavors will work well as they are all-natural aromas with pungent scents. 


  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Orange

4. Italian Cuisine 

Fresh garlic, onions, peppers, and tomatoes will all burst with flavorsome aromas as soon as the cooking begins. 

🍝 Cut a lemon in half, get some fresh rosemary, and simply add it to boiling water and allow the steam to fill your indoor kitchen space. Rosemary, similar to eucalyptus, has a beautiful pinewood-type scent that when boiled alongside lemons releases a nice aroma.

5. Burnt toast?

The stink of burnt toast can linger around the house for some time. A great way to tackle this particular odor is simply to leave an open cup or bowl of coffee grounds out on your countertop for a couple of hours.

🍞 Aromatic compounds can be broken down by acidic java, making coffee grounds a handy odor eliminator.

Bonus Tip: Clean as you go

This one works for any dish. Cleaning as you go will diminish the odor of lingering smells, so here are five cleaning hacks to put into action next time you hit the kitchen. 

🧼 Hack # 1: Use towels – Paper towels are great for soaking up spills and avoiding mess around the kitchen, but re-useable towels are better for the environment and just as effective. I use bamboo ones and they work great! 

🧼 Hack # 2: For preparation use a garbage bowl – Grab yourself a large bowl in the kitchen and save multiple trips to the garbage can by having a mini version right by your side. 

🧼 Hack # 3: Clean up spills and mess instantly – If you crack an egg and it goes all over the stove or spill some Italian sauce all down your cooker, try and tackle it right away. Don’t give stains a chance, wipe them up instantly. 

🧼 Hack # 4: Use a splatter screen – Some food when cooking can splitter all over the place, using a splatter screen will help prevent that. Place it over your cooking pots and see what a difference it will make. 

🧼 Hack # 5: Soak your utensils in hot water – Soaking your utensils after use will only benefit the process. More often than not you need to reuse your utensils, so plan ahead and let them soak. 

After You Cook: 6 Ways to Get Rid of Cooking Odors

By far the most important part of fully getting rid of cooking odors depends on what you do after you cook. Taking out the trash for sure will get rid of the stench of leftovers but is that enough? 

More often than not, when we’re cooking we become a little immune to the smell of food due to constant exposure. Here are some great tips on how to get rid of food odor after you cook. Oh, and these tips also apply to other mysterious odors that may be lingering around your home. 

1. Turn on an air purifier 

Air purifiers are a fantastic way to eliminate odor! But not all models are designed to tackle this issue. From being a bit of a geek in the air purification world, you learn which units do what and for odor elimination, you want a product that features an activated charcoal carbon filter. 
Carbon filters will trap cooking odors and after time help disperse the smell altogether. The odor will attach itself to loose pieces of bonded carbon and be broken up through filtration.

PRO TIP: Not all air purifiers equipped with carbon filters will get the job done. To help eradicate the smell of cooking odor via an air purifier you will need to do a bit of research into what unit works and will function best in your home, taking into consideration the size of your kitchen space. 

🤓 This is our list of the best air purifiers for cooking odors, but if you don’t have time check out out the top 3 below. If budget is a prime concern then be sure to take a look at our Levoit Core 300 review as this unit performs but costs less than $100.
Model
Best Budget Option
Best for Large Kitchens
Style
IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier - Medical Grade HyperHEPA filter for home large room up to 1125 sq ft - for Viruses, Bacteria, Allergens, Asthma Triggers, Smoke, Mold, Pets, Dust, Odor, Swiss Made
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Bedroom H13 True HEPA Filter for Large Room, Sleep, Quiet Cleaner for Dust, Allergies, Pets, Smoke, White Noise, Smart WiFi, Auto Mode, 300S
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, Smart WiFi and PM2.5 Monitor H13 True HEPA Filter Removes Up to 99.97% of Particles, Pet Allergies, Smoke, Dust, Auto Mode, Alexa Control, White
Pros
It helps to remove strong odors like chemicals and smells from the air
It provides 360 degrees of airflow via its circular design
Auto mode is great for use in a kitchen
Cons
It has a larger build which can make it difficult to position in smaller rooms
Filters are not cheap at $50 but generics are available for less than $30
It’s quite large so might be overkill for small kitchens
CADR
330 CFM (560 m³/hr)
141 CFM(240 m³/h)
260 CFM / 442 m³/h
Filter Technology
Pre-max filter,V5-Cell Filter, HyperHEPA filter
H13 True HEPA filter
13 True HEPA filter
Recommended Room Size
450 sq ft to 1125 sq ft
up to 219 ft²
up to 403 ft²
Weight
16 kg / 35 lbs
2.7 kg / 5.95 lbs
6.4 kg / 14.12 lbs
Price
$899.00
$149.99
$186.99
Best Overall
Style
IQAir HealthPro Plus Air Purifier - Medical Grade HyperHEPA filter for home large room up to 1125 sq ft - for Viruses, Bacteria, Allergens, Asthma Triggers, Smoke, Mold, Pets, Dust, Odor, Swiss Made
Pros
It helps to remove strong odors like chemicals and smells from the air
Cons
It has a larger build which can make it difficult to position in smaller rooms
CADR
330 CFM (560 m³/hr)
Filter Technology
Pre-max filter,V5-Cell Filter, HyperHEPA filter
Recommended Room Size
450 sq ft to 1125 sq ft
Weight
16 kg / 35 lbs
Price
$899.00
More Details
Best Budget Option
Style
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Bedroom H13 True HEPA Filter for Large Room, Sleep, Quiet Cleaner for Dust, Allergies, Pets, Smoke, White Noise, Smart WiFi, Auto Mode, 300S
Pros
It provides 360 degrees of airflow via its circular design
Cons
Filters are not cheap at $50 but generics are available for less than $30
CADR
141 CFM(240 m³/h)
Filter Technology
H13 True HEPA filter
Recommended Room Size
up to 219 ft²
Weight
2.7 kg / 5.95 lbs
Price
$149.99
More Details
Best for Large Kitchens
Style
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, Smart WiFi and PM2.5 Monitor H13 True HEPA Filter Removes Up to 99.97% of Particles, Pet Allergies, Smoke, Dust, Auto Mode, Alexa Control, White
Pros
Auto mode is great for use in a kitchen
Cons
It’s quite large so might be overkill for small kitchens
CADR
260 CFM / 442 m³/h
Filter Technology
13 True HEPA filter
Recommended Room Size
up to 403 ft²
Weight
6.4 kg / 14.12 lbs
Price
$186.99
More Details

2. Clean your oven, cooking surfaces and countertops with antibacterial spray 

Wipe down your kitchen surfaces. We all know that after a meal the kitchen can be a bit messy. Spray your surfaces and stove with antibacterial spray and give it a thorough clean to prevent any odors from sticking around longer than you’d like them to. 

You can also use homemade sprays infused with odor-elimination ingredients such as lemons or lavender.

PRO TIP: If there’s an odor lingering inside your cooker from a previous meal, place some lemons on a baking tray and bake for an hour to help keep your oven smelling fresh.

3. Wash your pots and pans properly

Sometimes either during or after a meal your pots and pans can burn. The combination of these two smells will create a whole new scent that is not nice to have around your home. 

So be sure to soak your pots and pans thoroughly with hot water and use specific household products that remove grease effectively. Dishwasher detergent is designed to remove stains and burn marks from particular cooking materials, so this will help tremendously to loosen these staining problems.

PRO TIP: Soda crystals are another great way to remove stains from kitchen materials — the alkaline neutralizes all things greasy combined with hot water.

4. Use aromatherapy and scented candles 

Oil diffusers and scented candles work super effectively (as long as you’ve cleaned up too). Similar to air purifiers, they play a great role in keeping odor at bay, however cleaning your kitchen by removing grease or leftover food is very important. When the candle burns out, you don’t want old food odor kicking back in.

PRO TIP: Look for products that contain extracts of geranium or basil to ignite a powerful and floral aroma to replace the cooking odors.

5. Open kitchen windows and doors 

Allowing the fresh air in will only increase the chances of helping with the smell. Give your room some outdoor fresh air after you’ve cleaned, taken out the trash, and removed other unwanted odors. 

PRO TIP: If you own an air purifier, don’t open the windows and doors while it’s running. Either use an air purifier before you introduce fresh air, or after to maximize both tips effectively.

6. Bake yourself a dessert

This is a great excuse to treat yourself to something sweet after a nice dinner. After a long and exotic spicy meal, introducing the smell of a freshly baked pie or a tray of double chocolate brownies will no doubt cancel out previous odors and replace them with something divine. 

🍰 The smell of baked bread or cocoa powder oven cooking releases a malty or caramelized aroma as opposed to an allicin odor foursome savory meals. 

Common Questions About Cooking Smells

🤔 How can I prevent my clothes from smelling like the food I’m cooking?

Using heat or cold treatments often helps with dispersing odor when it’s lingering on fabric. Washing your clothes with fabric softener and setting them outside to blow dry will have great results. However, pretreating fabrics with baking soda is also a great way to fully protect your clothes from cooking odors. Place your clothes in the sink or a bucket with hot water and add baking soda. 

🤔 How can I get rid of the bad smell in my dishes and drinking glasses?

If you’re experiencing a bad smell on your dishes and glasses try running hot water and filling your sink until the glasses and dishes are relatively submerged and add 2\3 cups of white vinegar. After 30 minutes remove the items and scrub with a clean sponge, then dry with a clean dish towel for the best results. 

🤔 Why is my dishwasher so stinky?

In most cases, dishwasher odors are usually caused by some form of buildup or blockage, so a bit of maintenance may be required. Check the filter for any sign of blockage and clean if necessary. The spray arm is usually detachable so check to see if everything is running smoothly and clean if needs be. Clean around the edges of the seals to see if there is any build-up of any kind, and run a rinse wash with vinegar or baking soda.

Final thoughts 

For many people, cooking during the Covid lockdown became a fun and experimental pastime. The odor that lingers after we cook however is a problem we would all like to eradicate, so don’t get put off by the thought of your home smelling after a nice meal. These steps above will help diminish any unwanted smells, keeping your home smelling fresh and full of life. 

Last update on 2022-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API