You might have just cooked an Italian feast, or your mom came over to make lots of homemade family recipes for your family. Or maybe you just experimented with garlic in a new recipe and perhaps used way too much.
Whatever the case, now you are seeking information on how to get rid of that garlic smell. Well, you’ve come to the right place!
This article will explain thoroughly how you can rid yourself of those garlic smells after the fact. It will also provide you with lots of information about how you can be proactive ahead of time to help prevent those smells from being so pervasive.
Where Is That Smell?
Have you ever wondered about this? You smell garlic but just aren’t sure where it is coming from. You wash the dishes and still smell it. Where is that garlic smell that you keep smelling coming from?
You may not think about this, but sometimes the smell you think is “out there” in your house is also still on your hands, in your clothes, or even on your breath.
So, it’s time to address all of those issues and perhaps a few places you have not thought about before.
Try the following steps to get that garlic smell out of your house. Some of these may apply to your situation more than others, but you are sure to find a solution in these 10 steps:
1 – Open Your Windows
Opened windows help air move out of your house. This approach is always the best place to start for any smell that you want to remove.
It is not just about getting the stinky air out of your home but replacing it with fresh air inside your home. Notice, the advice is to open windows (plural = more than one).
The goal is to have the air in your home circulate by having a cross-current of air from the outside. This circulation will move smells out of your home quickly and move fresh air in.
Some days will be windy and that will help you accomplish this quickly. Sometimes you need to take other actions to help with the airflow.
2 – Turn on Your Fans
If the goal is to help circulate air, as noted in Step 1, then turning on the fans in your home will help accomplish this quicker.
Start with turning on your ceiling fans. If you have multiple ceiling fans, you might even change the direction of one of them so that the airflow direction changes in those rooms as well.
Typically, fans are made to be reversible so that they can push warm air down from your ceiling in winter (because hot air rises). In summer, fans are reversed so that they primarily cool and circulate air.
If you want to help this situation quickly, then pull out your window fans and circular fans as well. Position them to help with airflow and circulation. If you only have one window fan, place it in the window closest to your kitchen.
Place a circular fan on a counter in your kitchen to aid in circulation as well. You can put extra circular fans at strategic locations near open windows.
For maximum flow, turn your HVAC unit from Automatic to Fan (where the air is always running), so that the air is circulating even if the heat or air conditioning is not on. Also, turn on the bathroom fan, although that will have the least impact on the rest of your home.
You get it from all these options — keep that air circulating!
3 – Take Care of Your Dishes Right Away
Wash them, either by placing them inside the dishwasher or hand washing, drying, and putting them away. Make sure you put food in the garbage disposal or secure it in the trash can.
Don’t dare leave it for your dog to eat and help perpetuate the garlic smell! The goal is no lingering food around to keep perpetuating the scent.
4 – Clean Surfaces
For a thorough job, clean every surface that you would have garlic, sauce, or other food contacts within your kitchen: the stovetop, inside the oven, your microwave, your counters, and yes, even your kitchen sink.
You can use cleaners with a fresh smell to help mask the odor garlic has left behind.
5 – Set out Baking Soda
Baking soda has been prescribed for years to be placed inside your refrigerator to do this very thing — remove odors that might cause your entire refrigerator to smell or impact the taste of other foods. There is nothing worse than your sandwich and your banana and your chips all tasting and smelling like a banana.
The same principle works to pull odors out of the air in your home. Go ahead and open the box of baking soda and pour it in a dish. You might try a bowl in each room to test the effectiveness of how quickly it works.
Many swear to use coffee grounds or a bowl of white vinegar to help absorb smells as well.
6 – Mask the Smell
No one is suggesting cleaning with a gallon of chlorine bleach to mask the smell, although it was noted above that cleaners can help do this. For a more natural approach, try simmering cinnamon, citrus peels, or cloves on your stove for a pleasant smell that helps mask the smell of garlic.
7 – Add Lemon to Your Disposal
Many odors linger longer than you like to admit in your garbage disposals. It is suggested to first run ice cubes in your disposal to help clear out any bits of food that are left.
Running the disposal to chop up lemon pieces will help clean your disposal and make it smell better too.
8 – Take out the Trash
You might have thought we had covered every possible thing to this point, but don’t forget the garbage. A lingering smell of food can easily escape the trash can when it is opened so many times throughout the day.
Like many other places in your home, that garlic smell can linger in your trash can too. Try sprinkling baking soda or kitty litter inside the trash can to help absorb any lingering odors.
9 – Don’t Forget Your Refrigerator
If you have leftovers of your favorite garlic dish, you aren’t always secure to keep those smells inside the fridge. Add a box of baking soda, and it will help absorb those smells or change out the one you have been using to make sure it is the freshest it can be.
While you are checking your fridge, it is a good idea to clean it out and check to make sure the temperature is set to 40 degrees or below. This temperature will keep the food fresh and ensure it does not spoil.
10 – Special Troubleshooting
You may find that although you do some of these things, you still have items in your kitchen that smell like garlic. Likely candidates include wooden cooking spoons, cutting boards, and iron skillets.
Most people find it useful to rinse these items first in very hot water. Then take liquid dish soap and apply it directly to the board. Take your favorite scrubber (stainless steel is best) and rub the soap in and the smells out. Rinse your board with very hot water as well.
Some people equally suggest using baking soda for this step instead of liquid soap, rubbing it into the pan with a lemon half. Rinse the board with hot water.
In both of these instances, dry the board thoroughly and let it dry before you judge for the smell’s presence again.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is not just a good idea to ward off viruses and diseases, but it works with getting the smell of garlic off your hands as well. However, there are a few tricks to try along with plain soap to make this work to rid yourself of the garlic smell.
Try the one that you have the supplies for first.
- Combine soap and stainless steel. Put the soap on your hands and then rub it in with a stainless steel spoon or stainless steel scouring pad. There is also a product called steel soap. The steel reacts with the sulfur and neutralizes the garlic smell.
- Use lemon juice. You can use real lemon juice or soak peelings in hot water to make a similarly potent concoction. If you make your own, cool the water first. Rub it all over your hands for the most effective result. You may substitute other citrus fruit juices for a similar effect.
- Use white vinegar. Most people don’t choose this option because the smell of vinegar can be just as bothersome as garlic. However, it is an effective cleaning treatment.
The most effective treatment of any of these approaches will be to rub the solution all over your hands, even in between your fingers.
Wash Your Clothes
The clothes you cooked in are likely filled with the smell of garlic as well. Some of that may be from the air, but you probably have gotten small bits of garlic or other food particles in your clothes.
Your regular wash routine should be enough to take care of the smell but also try the following:
- Add white vinegar to your wash. Vinegar will not harm your clothes and it provides an effective treatment for smells.
- Add a fabric softener. You might not use softeners every time, but this will provide an extra level of clean and fresh smell.
Clean Your Breath
Surely you’ve noticed before, but you can brush your teeth immediately after eating garlic, leeks, or onions and still not be rid of the smell for very long. In fact, the odor can linger on your breath for more than 24 hours (and some claim longer than that).
Try the following:
- Drink lemonade. Yes, much like washing your wooden cutting board with baking soda and lemon, you can drink lemonade to help counteract the odor.
- Enjoy green tea or cinnamon tea. Much like lemonade, these teas have properties that can counteract the smell of garlic and provide some health benefits as well.
- Chew on parsley (or mint leaves if you prefer). This spice will help naturally control the odor that lingers from garlic on your breath.
- Use stainless steel. Many swear by this use of stainless steel too. Take a stainless steel spoon and rub it throughout your mouth to help counteract and neutralize the garlic.
You have already missed the opportunity to cut down on the smell of garlic this time, but consider the following actions you can take next time to cut down on the garlic smell as you cook.
- Ventilate from the start of cooking. Indeed, consider all the options that were mentioned in the first section of this article: open windows and turn on fans. However, don’t forget the vent that is built into many stoves can help as well. Many people also advise switching to a charcoal filter for the most effective filter around your oven for battling garlic smells.
- Set out the odor absorbers. Be proactive in setting out baking soda (or coffee grounds or white vinegar) as you cook to begin absorbing these smells.
- Close doors to the attached rooms. This approach includes bedrooms, closets, bathrooms — any place that has a door that can be closed. While it won’t keep all odors out, it will keep the smell from spreading as it would with an open door.
- Wash as you go. Everyone knows to have breaks in cooking. Take advantage of those downtimes to go ahead and wash and clean up as you go rather than having those pans and dishes linger for too long.
- Wear an apron. A cooking apron can keep you from spilling and absorbing garlic odors on your clothes. Wash it right away to help control the smell of garlic later.
So keep enjoying your cooking — even with garlic — but take proactive measures beforehand and clean thoroughly afterward to make sure you control that lingering smell of garlic.
I have two Associate’s degrees, one in Medical Assisting and the other in Computer Technician, and I am roughly five classes from a bachelor’s degree. Though I never ended up working in the medical field, I have five and a half years of experience in IT. I recently became a stay-at-home mom to my two young boys, and I’m so excited to start this adventure with them! In my spare time, I love to bake and read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.