How To: 10 Simple Kitchen Hacks That Can Remove & Prevent Lingering Food Smells on Your Hands

10 Simple Kitchen Hacks That Can Remove & Prevent Lingering Food Smells on Your Hands

Food can smell great before, during, and after cooking. A pot of stew simmering away on the stove will tantalize you all afternoon, and there's nothing better than the smell of fresh-baked cookies lingering in the house for hours.

One place you don't want to smell food? On your hands. Chopping garlic, seafood, or any other strong-smelling food can leave you with the scent on your hands for hours, sometimes days afterwards. Personally, I love the smell of garlic, but I still don't want to smell like garlic.

Luckily, there are quite a few household items that can prevent or solve this problem, and you probably already have most of them lying around.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice can help neutralize odors from pungent foods. This works especially well with fish because citric acid turns the amines that cause that fishy odor into ammonium salts that aren't as offending to your nose.

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Try rinsing your hands in a mixture of lemon juice and water after washing, or just rub half a lemon over your fingers and cutting surface.

Stainless Steel

Got a stainless steel pan or faucet? Rub your hands on it or wash a few pieces of stainless silverware to get rid of nasty smells. Or, you can buy a bar of stainless steel "soap" made specifically for this purpose.

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According to Wikipedia, "scientific evidence of its efficacy appears lacking," but a lot of home cooks swear by it, and it can't hurt to try!

Coffee Grounds

This is one of my personal favorite, but it could just be because I love coffee. Just rub coffee beans or grounds on your hands until the smell is gone, then wash them with soap and water.

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If you're not a fan of the smell of coffee, though, you should pass on this trick. You may get rid of the garlic smell, but sometimes washing isn't enough to take care of coffee, so you'd just be trading one smell you hate for another.

Baking Soda

What can't you do with baking soda? Not only does it make a great universal cleaner, it's also an excellent odor neutralizer. Add about a teaspoon to some hand soap and scrub as usual.

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You can remove scratches from CDs and clean your headlights with toothpaste, and it turns out you can also use it to remove odors from your hands. Just wash your hands with the stuff, then once more with soap (unless you like that minty smell).

Cold Water

If you don't have or don't want to use any of these items, make sure you wash your hands in cold water. Heat will open the pores and allow the oils from whatever's on your hands to seep in and stay there longer.


Chewing on a sprig of parsley can help get rid of garlic breath, and it can work for your skin, too.

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The chlorophyll in it and other fresh herbs absorbs odors. Just rub it between your hands, then wash.


As long as you don't have any cuts on your hands, rubbing table salt between them before washing is another method. For best results, rub with salt twice, then scrub with soap and water.

Latex Gloves

Of course, a good way to banish odors from your hands is to avoid them entirely. You can easily prevent the problem by wearing latex gloves whenever you're chopping something smelly.

Olive Oil

Don't have any gloves? Rubbing your hands with a few drops of olive oil or cooking spray before handling garlic can help prevent the smell from sticking to your hands as badly. Be careful not to use too much, though—oily hands can make for a slippery knife.

What Do You Use?

Know of any other tips or tricks that aren't on the list? Share them in the comments below!

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1 Comment

did not know that until now thanks

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