A problem as ancient as cooking itself, unwanted odors have been around since the first kitchens, leading to a long history filled with thousands of remedies – some successful, while others, not so much.
Let’s take a look at eight proven methods for combating these odors – not taking anything away from the hundreds of other odor removal ideas, but these are our favorite, and we like the results.
Before we begin, shall we agree that “odors” are airborne? That is pesky smells battling their way into your nostrils. By the time your senses are assaulted by these odors, they are lingering around your kitchen in the form of particles and gases.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s identify the sources and causes of these odors and the mediums where they are formed.
Many Odors Are Caused by Bacteria
Coming as no surprise, the multiplying, waste production and death cycle of bacteria plays a huge role in producing terrible smells. This is true for most odors people refer to, including body odor, breath, spoiled food products, and more.
These bacteria (and sometimes harmful viruses or other organisms) breed and spread across surfaces in your kitchen – namely the sink bowl, trash can, microwave, refrigerator, countertops, stove, trash compactor and garbage disposal – essentially everything involved in running a successful kitchen for your family.
Our solution consists of two very important parts – addressing the odors at the source, and using an air purifier to eliminate or lessen the odors that have taken flight. First, we’ll talk about neutralizing odors by sanitizing your kitchen space.
Find and Remove Grease (Surfaces)
Oil buildup on kitchen surfaces not only attracts disease-spreading insects in the middle of the night but serves as a breeding ground for a host of unfriendly bacteria. A simple wipe-down with a sponge and soap once in a while might not be enough.
Give a thorough look at not only the stove top but also windows, ceilings and exhaust fans where evaporated oil may have migrated to. Various cleaning agents are available to address this problem, as well as natural solutions, depending on your preference. The important thing to note is that the grease must go.
Attend to the Sink (Surfaces)
Leaving your unwashed dishes on the kitchen counter for a period of time will result in a predictable medley of less than pleasant smells. So, it makes sense to wash them. Ironically, the way you wash your dishes, and the care and attention you give to the sink afterward, matters more.
Immediately after cooking, try soaking your dishes in warm-to-hot water with antibacterial dish soap. This will help prevent residual food scraps from attaching to the sink’s surface, or worse, sticking to the pipes on their way down. Once the dishes have been washed, clean the rubber gasket thoroughly, and consider pouring a small amount of baking soda (with warm water) down the drain.
The Usual Suspect – Trash Can (Surfaces)
The first culprit to get blamed for pesky odors in the kitchen is usually the trash can. Replacing the garbage bag inside the can each time it gets full is hardly enough to prevent unwanted smells.
With heat, and sometimes humidity, comes the ability of bacteria and viruses to latch themselves onto surfaces – this includes the can itself. If there’s an odor in your kitchen giving you a run for your money, remove the bag and wipe-off any debris you can detect on the inside of the can with a damp paper towel. Once the big particles are gone, repeat the process with a disinfectant.
Now that your surfaces are clean, here’s how to fix odors that have gone airborne:
Smart Ways to Remove Unwanted Cooking Smells (Air)
- Boil a cup of water for several minutes with a few tablespoons of white vinegar. This works to neutralize many odors in the air that are alkaline, thanks to vinegar’s acidity.
- Sometimes, odors will naturally dissipate faster than you can remove them, and they just need some time. In these situations, boiling or grinding some cloves, simmering lemon and orange peels in a saucepan for several minutes, or even baking with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon can change the ambiance of your kitchen long enough for the odors to go away.
- If you have an exhaust fan, use it. These are helpful not only when you’re cooking, but in any circumstance where air circulation will alleviate unpleasant smells. Get in the habit of running your exhaust fan after sanitizing your kitchen surfaces.
- Place a shallow glass dish or bowl on the counter with a small amount of bleach. This is especially useful for absorbing odors resulting from cooking-up a savory seafood dish.
Purchase an Air Purifier
Air purifiers are effective at capturing up to 99.97% of microscopic particles, which are often the cause of your kitchen’s bad smells. Some air purifiers use carbon-fiber mats, cartridges filled with carbon granules, or even plasma clusters (from positive and negative ions) to obliterate the presence of bacteria, viruses, odors and chemical vapors around your kitchen.
These machines are also incredible at combating cooking smoke in your kitchen. Air purifiers come in many shapes, sizes, configurations, and available options suiting almost any budget, but what they have in common is the ability to tackle airborne contaminants.