10 Instant Cures for Any Kitchen Odor

In the kitchen, strong cooking smells come with the territory. Some odors are pleasant, while others leave you throwing open windows, turning on fans, or rushing out of the house. If you need to freshen the air fast, try one of these tips for eliminating those foul, stinky, and generally unpleasant aromas that (unfortunately) accompany food prep.

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Feed Lemons to Your Garbage Disposal


Save lemon rinds or other citrus fruit peels in the fridge for a quick sink refresh. Pull out a few pieces twice a month, and run them through the garbage disposal to sweeten a funky sink. The cleansing power of citric acid will break up the gunk and grease causing the unpleasant odor, and create a light and lemony scent.

Related: 12 Ways to Clean House with Citrus

Keep Your Sponges Dry


A wet sponge can get seriously stinky. Prevent the growth of smelly bacteria by squeezing out sponges after every use and then storing them on a surface that receives good airflow. Lengthen the life of a dirty sponge by popping it in the dishwasher to get rid of that yucky sponge funk.

Related: Over a Dozen Things You Didn’t Know You Could Clean in the Dishwasher

Spritz Homemade Air Freshener

Instructables via Paige Russell

If the scent of last night’s spaghetti marinara is still lingering in the air, try a spritz of homemade air freshener for a just-cleaned smell. Fill an eight-ounce spray bottle with three-quarters cup of water, two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol or vodka, and 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender, peppermint, orange, or clove. Keep your homemade air freshener under the sink so you can spritz it around whenever you need to sweeten your kitchen.

Related: 14 Home Essentials You Never Need to Buy Again

Clean the Garbage Can and Recycling Bin


Wipe the inside of the garbage can and recycling bin every time you take out the trash, using an odor-eliminating spray like Lysol or your own homemade version. Keeping the cans clean will help knock out bad odors before they make the whole kitchen stink. 

Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore

Cancel Out Cooking Smells


If you’ve recently fried fish or cooked something else particularly pungent, add this trick to your post-dinner cleanup routine: Put a saucepan on the stove and fill it with a cup of water and about three tablespoons of vinegar. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for several minutes, allowing the steam from the uncovered pot to permeate the kitchen. The vinegary mist should help neutralize the nasty smells.

Related: 21 Timesaving Tricks That May Change the Way You Clean

Start a Stove Simmer

Instructables via Paige Russell

Here’s yet another way to use your stovetop to freshen your kitchen—whip up a homemade liquid potpourri. Create your own by combining water, mint, an orange rind, and sliced lemons. Leave the mixture simmering on the stove, adding more water as the mixture cooks. You’ll not only cure odor problems in the kitchen, you’ll make the whole house smell amazing.

Related: 13 Lazy Cleaning Tricks for a Spotless Home

Put Baking Soda in the Fridge


A fridge can harbor lots of unpleasant smells, even if you’re diligent about cleaning spills and removing leftover food before it goes bad. Neutralize noxious odors by keeping a bowl of baking soda in the back corner. And while you’re in there, clean cracks and crevices in refrigerator shelves, crispers, or side doors to mop up crumbs or drips that could be causing a stink.

Related: 8 Cleaning Mistakes Everyone Makes

Don't Forget Your Exhaust Fan


If you have an exhaust fan, don’t forget to use it whenever you cook to keep your home smelling fresh and clean. The fan in a range hood pulls smelly air out of the kitchen and prevents cooking odors from permeating the space. In fact, it’s a good idea to switch the fan on every time you use the oven or cooktop. If you don’t have an exhaust fan in your kitchen, consider installing one to give yourself an ally in your fight against kitchen odors.

Related: 18 Tiny Kitchens We Love

Scour the Drain


The kitchen sink is exposed to all manner of gunk and as a result can develop its own particular funk. Scour your drain by pouring in a cup of salt followed by a cup of baking soda. Then, pour a kettle full of boiling water into the drain to activate the salt-and-soda mixture. After letting the drain sit for a couple of minutes, run the cold water for one minute to freshen it up and wash away the residue.

Related: 10 Unexpected Uses for Table Salt

Bake Some Lemons


If your oven has developed a baked-in stench, the best course of action is to clean it. Let’s face it, though, scouring the oven is a job that many of us would like to postpone as long as possible. Here’s a tip to hold you over until you can fit this cleaning job into your schedule: Put some lemon and orange rinds on a sheet pan, and bake them to release fresh-smelling oils that will temporarily mask bad scents.

Related: 9 Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Appliances

BONUS TIP: Bake Some Cookies!


There’s almost nothing freshly baked chocolate chip cookies can’t fix! If you don’t have time to deal with your kitchen funk, or if you can’t find the source of the problem, bake a batch of cookies (or some other delectable goody). The sweet treat will cover up the bad smell (for a while, at least), and your mood will definitely improve!

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