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Lifestyle, Health, Nutrition & Inspiration from Luvo

What Stinks? How to Remove Food Odors

We’ve all been there: You’re opening a can of tuna for your post-workout protein boost, and you spill the tuna sauce on your favorite lifting shirt and all over the counter. It’s a pungent smell, for sure, bound to linger for a few days, right? No need to sweat it, there are many ways to get rid of food odors from anywhere and anything. And you don’t need to buy a whole lot of fancy cleaners to do it.

Sure, last night’s meal was great, but that doesn’t mean you want to be smelling it for the next week. Here are a few of the most common problem areas for food odors, and how to come clean and refreshed.


The fridge is a prime place for odors. And it makes sense: sometimes we forget things in there, vegetables begin to rot, dairy goes bad, or leftovers sit in a container that doesn’t seal well. Of course, if you notice food odors emanating from the fridge, first you’ll want to get rid of the offending item. Baking soda should be your next step. Many people keep an open box in the fridge to absorb smells, but if you have a particularly bad case, pour some baking soda in an open bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight. Unused ground coffee also works well.


Does your kitchen smell like last night’s pad thai? Food smells tend to linger if you don’t have great air circulation, or if it’s winter and you can’t open the windows. It can help to turn on your bathroom fan or your oven exhaust, if either circulates air to the outdoors. Another way to overcome unpleasant scents is to mask them with another, better one. Try cooking (or even burning) toast—or put citrus peels in boiling water for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit for a while. These more pleasant smells will push out the others and soon fade into the background themselves.

If the source of your smell is a spill, try using white or apple cider vinegar as a natural, nice-smelling spot cleaner. Diluted vinegar also an effective, nontoxic cleaning solution for your bathrooms.


If you’ve been handling a lot of fish or onions or other pungent products, your hands may have a lingering, not-so-nice smell. To solve it, cut a few quarters of lemons, squeeze the juice out and rub it into your hands. Another method that works especially well with garlic and onions is to rub your hands against stainless steel. Take a metal mixing bowl (it has to be stainless steel), run it under cold water, and rub your hands all over it. You can buy stainless steel bars that resemble bars of soap—they’re great if you do a lot of cooking.


And we’re back to the tuna on the shirt issue. It happens all the time. Of course there are a lot of things you can do: hang the clothing outside in the fresh air and sun, or toss it in the washer, or put the item in the dryer with a dryer sheet. If those don’t work and the odor lingers, go back to vinegar. Put a half cup or so in with your offending clothes and laundry detergent and bask in the freshness.

What are your favorite ways to overcome odors? Share your sweet secrets in the comments and on Twitter at @luvoinc.

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