Garlic makes for a wonderful addition to just about any meal. It provides that extra depth of flavor that can take a good meal over the top and make it excellent. It only makes sense to want to add it to as many meals as you can.
But there are those that refrain from eating garlic for one reason: the smell. Garlic is quite potent in its aroma and it can stick with you for hours after your meal. Not only that, the smell is strong enough that others can tell what you’ve eaten with the greatest of ease.
So, what are you to do if you love the flavor but don’t want everyone to know what you’ve eaten? There are a few remedies that can allow you to enjoy your next meal in peace without having to worry about that garlic smell.
A Little Bit About Garlic
Before we get into reducing the smell, it is important to know that garlic not only tastes good, it actually has health benefits that are worth noting. Garlic can provide a natural boost to your immune system, provide essential minerals and vitamins, protect your heart, soothe inflammation, and has even been shown to have cancer-fighting properties.
Don’t shy away from garlic even if the smell is quite strong. There are so many benefits that make eating it worthwhile that you would be missing out otherwise.
Where Does the Smell Come From?
If you have eaten garlic a time or two, you may be wondering where that strong fragrance comes from. The smell of garlic comes from the antifungal and antibiotic compound, allicin. Allicin also happens to be the main source of the various health benefits that consuming garlic can provide.
When the clove is chopped or crushed, it releases the allicin within. It can be especially potent when garlic is eaten raw (yes, people eat raw garlic). Since our bodies have a difficult time breaking down that allicin without a little bit of help, the smell can begin to escape not only in our breath, but through our pores, too.
This helps to explain why using mouthwash or even brushing your teeth doesn’t seem to help after eating a particularly garlicky meal. So, how do we get rid of it without eliminating it from our diets altogether?
1 – Limiting or Eliminating That Garlic Smell
The first thing that you can do to either limit or eliminate that strong garlic smell is to make sure that you mix the raw garlic in with some kind of fat. You can mix it in with something such as olive oil, guacamole, or use it to cook meat that is higher in fat content.
The fat helps to mitigate the smell of the garlic while still providing all of the same great garlic taste that we know and love. Of course, it is possible to use too much garlic, which could overpower the meal and still leave you with a little bit of that lingering garlic smell. Keep that in mind.
2 – Use Natural Breath Fresheners
One of the reasons that brushing your teeth or using a mouthwash may not work to get rid of that garlic smell is because there is more in there than just breath fresheners. There are other chemicals in there meant to not only clean your teeth but strengthen them as well. This can mitigate the natural fresheners that are mixed into your mouthwash or toothpaste.
Try gnawing on a truly natural breath freshener. This would include things that seem obvious (like mint) and things that aren’t quite so obvious, such as a raw coffee bean or parsley. Again, the reason this would work over mouth cleaning products is because the natural properties in these items has not been mitigated by other ingredients.
If you enjoy garlic (and a lot of it), it is a good idea to keep mint, parsley, or coffee beans available in your home. You never know when they could come in handy for getting your breath fresh before an important meeting or get together.
3 – Eat an Apple
It’s probably a good idea to eat apples anyway – an apple a day will keep the doctor away, after all – but apples can also help to neutralize the smell of garlic. There are two reasons that the apple will work effectively against the garlic.
The first is that there is an enzyme, which specifically controls the color of the apple, that combats the garlic. Second, fruit actually has a natural deodorant about it. This combats the sulphides that create bad breath in the wake of eating garlic.
Apples are best used in combination with a meal involving garlic. Try to add some apple slices to a side salad that may contain a more garlicky dressing. It will help keep the garlic under control, keeping it from ever getting to a breaking point to begin with.
Best of all, apples are a very common household item. When you’ve eaten a garlic-heavy meal, grab a few quick bites of an apple and you will be ready to go for your important get together.
4 – Drink Some Milk
Much like apples, milk is an extremely common household item that naturally combats the pungent smell of garlic. It does this through natural compounds in the milk itself. Best of all, you get valuable vitamins in milk that promote strong bone health.
The milk can substantially reduce those aforementioned sulphide levels found in garlic. Those sulphides are what give the garlic that pungent smell and substantial flavor. The fat in milk can also act as a deodorizer when combating the garlic, too.
The best way to use milk to combat the garlic is to sip on the milk as you are eating your meal. If you know that you are having a garlic-heavy meal, change out the wine or water for some milk. It can make for a delicious beverage alternative and mitigate that garlic smell to practically nothing by the time you have finished your meal.
5 – Drink Green or Cinnamon Tea
As we have learned, there are sulphides in the garlic that give it the flavor and smell that we have all come to know. When looking to get rid of that smell during or after a meal, we need something that naturally combats those sulfides.
Green tea is high in antioxidants. This is what makes it such a popular beverage to begin with. But green tea has an antioxidant known as polyphenol. Much like the enzymes of an apple, these polyphenols act to cover up those odor-causing chemicals that you would find in garlic.
Much like milk, it is a good idea to consume your tea at the same time that you are eating the garlic. This way, the tea can reduce the impact of the garlic as you eat it, keeping the smell under control. It can work after you’ve consumed the garlic, but it is better to be safer than sorry.
6 – Drink Lemon Juice or Bite Into a Lemon
If you haven’t been noticing a theme here, let’s continue with the lemon. Lemons and their natural acidity have a number of benefits. In this case, the acid helps to reduce the allicin sulphides that the garlic produces.
Drinking lemon juice or taking a bite of a lemon can be particularly effective when it comes to crushed garlic. The lemon’s natural acidity will work to break down those enzymes before they can even begin producing that foul smell.
7 – If You Get Garlic Smell on Your Hands
Maybe you’ve been preparing a meal that has a lot of garlic in it. As you know, that smell can permeate hands in addition to remaining on your breath for hours on end. But it is quite easy to get rid of that garlic smell from your hand.
A standard soap will not do the trick. You will need what is known as a “steel soap” or you will need to rub them on stainless steel cleaning pads. The steel elements break down the enzymes of the garlic, dispersing them from your hands in short order.
8 – Brush and Floss Thoroughly
Though this isn’t a fool-proof method and can at times require one of the aforementioned methods, brushing and flossing is a good place to start. In addition to the enzymes in the garlic, there is natural bacteria in plaque that can make your breath especially bad.
Plaque lives both on your teeth and underneath your gum line and it has a nasty smell to it if enough of it builds up. Make sure that you brush your teeth and floss immediately after your meal. This will help to remove not only the plaque, but any additional food particles that could hang around and cause those foul smells.
It can depend on how much garlic you have eaten, though. If the meal is particularly heavy in garlic, brushing and flossing alone may not be enough to totally disperse the smell. Worst case, you are doing your gums and teeth a favor, so it isn’t all bad if it doesn’t get rid of the smell.
9 – Use a Tongue Scraper
What many people do not realize is that the most bacteria tends to live on the roof of your mouth and the tongue. People will oftentimes brush their teeth and floss, but completely neglect those other areas of their mouth.
When bacteria build up, it can have a smell of its own. But when it is combined with a stinkier food such as garlic or onions, it can make for a truly potent combination. For that reason, it can be a good idea to implement a tongue scraper on a regular basis.
Even if you do not brush and floss after every meal, it is a good idea to use a tongue scraper. The tongue scraper will remove excess plaque and bacteria from your tongue as well as most of that garlic that you have just consumed. There may still be some enzymes left but they will be greatly reduced and can even be mitigated entirely.
10 – Eat Fresh Fruits or Vegetables
If you are implementing this method as a way to combat the smell of garlic, it is best done while you are consuming the garlic. That being said, you can implement the garlic either into your vegetable or fruit dish or use them as a side to the dish that has the garlic in it.
Fruits and vegetables have natural enzymes in them that act to combat the allicin in garlic. By simply mixing a little natural fruit or vegetable into your meal, you can keep the garlic smell from permeating your mouth and becoming overwhelming in the first place.
11 – Apple Cider Vinegar
This method makes sense given that eating an apple can combat the smell of garlic. Keep in mind that vinegar of any kind is very potent and not pleasant to consume in any raw amount. That is why you should only use a small amount – something like a tablespoon at the most.
Swish the apple cider vinegar around in your mouth for 30 seconds or so as you would with mouthwash. This will give the enzymes in the apples to break down the allicin in the garlic, breaking it down and negating that garlic smell.
12 – Chew Some Gum
Gum comes in many minty flavors and can mask a lot of unpleasant odors. Gum is especially handy on the go, when you have just met up with someone for a meal and are on the way to another gathering. You can even keep gum on you for any time that you leave your home.
Keep in mind that gum may not completely mask those really strong smells, but it can help to at least mask them. Not only that, there are studies that show chewing gum can be beneficial to tooth health. Gum also encourages saliva production; this helps wash away any excess food particles and bacteria that can hang around in your mouth.