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Cooking Smells

I made Julia Child's Soupe à l'oignon (French onion) soup yesterday and it turned out amazing. However --- still --- the odor of onions are infiltrating my house. Any tried & true tricks on how to eliminate the odor?

A similar thing happened recently when I pan fried some salmon in a cast iron skillet on the stove (again, great recipe, but not worth the odor). It seemed to take days for that smell to dissipate


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  1. Beside the usual stuff (opening windows/doors, etc.), I usually also break out the Febreeze when I cook something smelly. Cooking odors can get trapped in drapes, upholstery, etc. and at least in my experience, the Febreeze helps a lot. Also, be sure to change out your dishtowels in the kitchen. Good luck!

    1. I agree with Susy Q on the Febreeze. We use Febreeze Fabric Refresher as well as Febreeze Air. Combination works great for eliminating cooking odors.

      1. Tehama- I am on a korean food kick as of late and have found that one of the most effective means to rid my house of the smell is placing several small open containers of white vinegar around the house. Works like a charm!

        4 Replies
        1. re: YumTum

          That doesn't sound so aesthetically pleasing...maybe you can use a reed diffuser to make it look better. :)

          1. re: justagthing

            I agree. Though I don't actually put the vinegar bottles out,... I pour the vinegar into pretty containers

            1. re: YumTum

              oh, thanks for the clarification...i was just picturing you putting out cups and bowl of vinegar, lol.

          2. re: YumTum

            I tried this method after reading about it on CH (i think in another thread), and it works so well! Since then I have been placing a small ceramic bowl with vinegar in it close to my stove. Now even when I fry fish, the smell only lasts for like 10 mins. Then the smell is all gone and I can only smell vinegar! It works so well!

            If I am not cooking I simply cover the bowl.

          3. Burning candles -- scented, unscented, beeswax, hand dipped, as long as they have a flame -- always works for me.

            1. Smelly is in the eye...er...the nose...of the beholder. We cook a lot of cabbage this time of year. Darling daughter will come down the stairs proclaiming that the "house smells like Central Europe" but this is certainly not a bad thing. (DD loves cabbage.) Much poking-and tasting- in the pot ensues.

              Food smells as food smells. If you like food, enjoy its aromas. If you don't, simmer citrus rinds for a perfume for the house. Or use an incense to mask the scent.

              Loving food aromas,

              1. While I love the smell of a roast chicken or a curry while I'm cooking it, I can't stand when it lingers. We live in a small apartment, and I shut the bedroom door while cooking to avoid stinking up everything. Still, I can smell the Spicy Punjabi Red Kidney Bean Stew I cooked last night on the sweater I'm wearing at work right now!

                So far, the only thing I've found that helps is opening windows for cross-ventilation whle cooking. I might try the vinegar trick myself, but I'm skeptical. And to me, incense or other air "fresheners" only compound the problem (onions, garlic, rose, sandalwood--yum). I might also have to break down and try Febreeze, though I tend to be allergic to most smelly cleaning-type products!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kagey

                  There are some products that are air neutralizers. I believe one is called Oust??? They make products with scent as well as unscented.

                2. Hi everyone! Thanks so much. After 3+ days of the onion smell lingering, I finally got a clue and burned about 80 candles at once (a bit of an exaggeration). That finally quaffed the smell. (Air neutralizers worked only for brief periods of time; and it seems as though all my windows have been painted shut. Nice!)

                  I'll definitely try the vinegar trick the next time; thanks so much for the suggestion!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Tehama

                    My cook top is on an island, and Ive found that playing "Liberace" by keeping candles burning while I'm cooking not only knocks out any odors that escape the vent, but it also seems to cut down on any grease globules that cross breezes may help escape the vent too. Could be my imagination on the grease, but it does help kill odors before they get a strangle hold on the house. If I forget, better late than never.

                  2. Burn some popcorn - aint' nothin covering that up.

                    But seriously, the vinegar trick works well and while you have the vinegar out, clean the coffee pot and get some steamy hot vinegar going - that will really help, too.

                    Clean your stove - the oils sometimes stick to everything when frying up things. I learned on Alton Brown's show that the "particles" float UP and then Down. So, wipe your hood down too.

                    1. I find that making sure the heat or air conditioning is running helps a LOT. Without the HVAC running, the smell just seems to linger and linger in our house.

                      1. I also love the smell of food cooking and also lingering at times in the house...however onions i find to be an occasional bad one....next day the smell of wonderfully cooked onions on a piece of clothing, can if the onions are particularly strong, smell like sweat on clothes. This, i don't always enjoy. My porch is off my kitchen and this can find it's way onto my coats. Anyone who's ever sat or stood next to someone in a church or subway or what not and smelled this, knows what i mean.

                        My parents have an air exchanger and this tends to help a bit with smellies. I keep candles burning next to the stove. It helps a bit, and thankfully it's only when the onions i've purchased have been particularly strong, that it gets out there.

                        As an aside, i'm a big fan of the febreeze type products. Works good on pet areas and tv rooms etc. I've also used it on clothes.

                        1. Fill a small saucepan with some water and add some lemon/orange slices, and some cloves and cinnamon sticks if your have them. The fragrance is amazing and covers up other odors. Let it simmer and you'll never smell those onions again.

                          1. I did zuni chickens the other night and could smell them the next day as soon as I walked up the stairs! Same goes for spicy chicken tacos from a few days before that! I have a tendency to purchase the large jars from Yankee Kitchen Candle "House Warmers" in the food smells and light as soon as the cooking process is almost over. I love the buttercream, gingerbread maple and in the spring one called herbs and blooms. I also make sure to empty the trash, run the disposal with some citrus rind in it and get the dishwasher up and going quick fast and in a hurry!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chelleyd01

                              I loved the burned popcorn suggestion -- oh so true! I found this thread at a good time. Mr. Cheflambo is away for the week, and I was planning to cook a few of the dishes that he doesnt like. He never complains about the smell, but since I am alone and no one is around I will be attempting caramelized onions in the next few days, and I know the house will reek. Its too cold (still) to open the windows, so I'll be giving ALL these methods a test, especially the candles, since Mr. C. is NOT fond of those, either.

                            2. I mentioned this on another board about fish sauce. I made iron pot chicken from a recipe in lat Wednesday's NY Times. Fantastic recipe, delicious results, easy, but the Fish saus that I used (Rollands) created a stench (not too strong a word) in the house that sent my son looking for where the dog and cat had accidents. The taste of the dish was fantastic, but lordy the odor was rough. I was told that another brand of fish sauce might have made a difference, and I will make it again, in the spring when I can open all the windows.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jnk


                                that chicken sounds like one I would like to try. Any chance you could post that on?

                              2. The best thing I have ever used is the Lampe Berger. It cuts through smells like nothing else. I can light it in the living room and within 20 minutes all smells are gone except for the scent of the fragrance I am using. It is a bit expensive to get started, but they have economy containers that are small, but do the trick.


                                5 Replies
                                1. re: danhole

                                  Thanks for the URL. I've checked out their website, and people should understand that there is nothing magic about this device. You can get the exact same air cleaning and odor removal from a simple candle. But unless you use scented candles, they will "only" clean the air.

                                  I have asthma, so I'm very conservative when it comes to putting things in the air that may trigger a breathing problem. Aerosol sprays certainly maximize that hazard. And they also contribute heavily to "indoor air polution." So I don't use them.

                                  The most "residue free" device you can use for destroying air-borne odors in your home is a beeswax candle. It burns clean, releases fewer carbons than most other candles, and doesn't have a strong scent.

                                  I don't know whether I just randomly picked the most expensive page at the lambeberger site or not, but over a thousand bucks for something that can be done equally well for a dollar just seems to me like the company is... ummmm... how to put it tactfully? A little exploitive.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    You must have found the most expensive page, Caroline. My Lampe Berger was $40.00, and I also have asthma, so aerosols are not welcome. This thing cleans the air very well and does it in a much shorter time than a burning candle, and covers a larger area than you would imagine. And it is totally residue free. Another advantage is that it will not catch you house on fire if you forget it, as my neighbor did going out to eat. A very expensive meal.

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      Expensive meal indeed! I did go back over the website, ignoring the $7,000.00 model, and the lowest price I could find was $70.00. I suspect you invested at an opportune time! And yes, I did inadvertenly go to the expensive collection. They list it at the top!

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        You have to catch them at a Hallmark or other specialty store to find the low end ones, or go to ebay.

                                        1. re: danhole

                                          What! And give up my Liberace candelabra on the island right next to my cooktop? '-)