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Stinky Food Downstairs: What can i do?

A couple recently moved into an apartment downstairs from me and the foul cooking smells that now seep through my door are driving me insane. They're fillipino and cooking, what i assume to be, fish and vinegar in large quantities. I'm not sensitive to food smells but something about this stink combination and it's ability to move through doors and walls has got me on edge. Anyone have an idea of how i can a)decrease the smell in my apartment b)tactfully de-funkify the hallway or c) cover up the funk without suffucating my allergic to scent boyfriend. ?

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  1. Much of the odorous filipino food is fried. Buy them an electric enclosed deep frier unit.

    1. Sounds like you need an air cleaner or three. Multiple speeds are good--you can run the unit on low 24/7 and it won't make a distracting racket, or crank it up when the neighbors are cooking. Cleanable filters eliminate the need to go find replacements. And an ionizer is handy for taking particulate matter (eg atomized cooking oil) out of the air.

      1 Reply
      1. re: alanbarnes

        I'd make a formal complaint to management. But that's just me, and it probably wouldn't solve the problem. Hope the air cleaners help. Your neighbors should pay for them, but again, that's just me .....

      2. Yeah, I'd go the air cleaner/filter route too. I don't know what complaining to management can do. They can't tell people to stop cooking a certain type of food.
        If it gets severe and can't be remedied and your stuff starts smelling badly, I'd contact a lawyer about breaking your lease (need be.)

        1. Many leases have clauses stipulating that cooking smells may be limited by management. I once had a kimchi loving neighbor who was moved to a unit with a separate entrance. I too like kimchi, but would never cook with it until I had my own house with an industrial strength hood. Check with your landlord. In the meantime, burn lots of unscented candles. If the smell gets too awful, smear a bit of Vicks Vaporub under your nose.

          2 Replies
          1. re: phofiend

            I lived above some Malaysian people and we had the same thing. Everything they cooked seem to use some kind of really intense, gaggy fish paste, we used to call it the dead dragon smell. When it started coming in our vents we actually had to leave or we would be physically ill. I tried to turn it around in my mind, thinking maybe the smell of American bacon cooking gagged them out, you never know. So I was trying not to be intolerant but there was nothing we could do to mask it. Candles, opening the windows, shutting all our vents, nothing. We ended up having to move out.

            1. re: phofiend

              I think you're right about a lot of leases having stipulations about cooking odors. If the air filters aren't doing anything, you may have no choice but to exercise that option.

            2. Be very grateful they are not cooking curried foods as the Indian cullture cooks. I sell real estate and that curry smell is the worse to get out of houses even long after the people have moved out.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MeffaBabe

                How awful. I had the same issue, only in an office cubicle. I had to leave when a cubicle mate was eating his heated up food.

                sixelagogo, as unbelievable as it sounds, I imagine your only recourse is moving.

                1. re: MeffaBabe

                  This is true. I once moved into just such a house and the smell hung around for weeks. I kind of liked it though, no so problem.

                2. i think the worst thing is that i feel like such a hipocrite, as in one hand i embrace and extoll the idea of keeping cultural foods within families, while on the other hand, I can't deal with the (smelly ) consequences.....As for indian food, i could smell it day and night and never get sick of it (though my next door neighbor (though not the vinegar fish family is always fe-breezing the hallway when i make it)...i guess what comesaroundgoesaround in this crazy food world..

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sixelagogo

                    I understand your plight. When I moved into my apartment is stunk of Indian curry. Me and my mother in law had to scrub layers of grease from the cabinets and entire kitchen. The smell stayed until my husband painted the apt. I love Indian food but I don't want to smell it constantly in my house. I am very aware of stinky food smells, when I fry fish or chicken or cook bacon I always have to air out my apt by opening lots of windows. I also like to bake orange or lemon rinds for a little while. That clears out the smell.

                    I'm with Sam, buy them a deep fryer as a housewarming gift. Then show them how to use it.

                    1. re: sixelagogo

                      I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to confront the issue. We are all allowed to be uncomfortable in these delicate situations. As a member of a Korean household, and as a constant perpetrator of odd cooking smells, I feel bad about the situation, and understand the frustration you are feeling. They say fences make good neighbours, but space makes good neighbours too. There is something to be said about the luxury of living in North America in a suburb with a lot of space between families. My parents make stinky Korean food all the time, and it is so much easier for everyone if there is a lot of space and ventilation!

                      A very good air filter is key. We have a downstairs neighbour who smokes, and our air filter is very powerful and can help a lot. My mother has this liquid called Niloder that also helps, it nullifies a lot of smells. An unscented candle might help mop up a few scents, if you don't mind the smell of wax. I also eat a lot of fresh citrus, I find the smell of a good orange can pleasantly cover up other fishy smells. Good luck!

                      1. re: sixelagogo

                        My fiancé was at the store and came over and said he wished I was Indian because they smell so good.

                      2. in addition to the other suggestions, you can keep citrus peels simmering in some water on the stove to cut the odor. there is a better-than-febreeze de-stinkifying spray product that is available in auto-parts stores. i can't remember the name of it but it is all-natural, non-tox, and cabbies nationwide use it to rid their cars of every kind of foul odor.

                        1. We used to have Indian neighbors when we lived in an apartment. I don't mind the smell of curry, however they had a habit of cooking at 2 am and their kitchen backed up to our bedroom. My suggestion would be to complain to the management and to buy a portable air filter. You could also ask them to make sure they use their kitchen fan when cooking. Good luck.

                          1. what about leaving a friendly, anonymous note on their door? something like "you may not be aware your cooking smells are strong...here are some things we do to get rid of smells in our kitchen..."

                            1. I'm sorry I don't have any advice to offer - just sympathy. I once lived in an apartment complex in LA where the hallway constantly smelled like burned cauliflower - it was nauseating. I finally had to move because whatever the heck my next door neighbors were doing was driving their cockroaches to ditch ship too - right into my apartment.

                              A few years later my new husband and I moved into an apartment here in NJ. Everything was fine until a very large family moved in downstairs from us (they had about 12 people living in a two bedroom apt...) The smells from their cooking would drift right up the stairs into our apartment. It was horrible and it ALWAYS stank. We didn't bother trying to fix the problem because they were already breaking laws with the overcrowding (and obviously mgmt didn't care about that either.) We kinda figured we'd be wasting our breath. But my husband really wigged out about it and found us a house to rent in record time.

                              1. I have discovered that a product sold to "Remove Cat Stains and Odors" does a great job of neutralizing the smells that come from our downstairs (Neighbor) cooking odors. I spray it into the air intake and around the room. It neutralizes it without it smelling like flowers, lemons, etc.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: billhuegel

                                  funny that this post was re-animated...I'm moving from my smells like fish apartment to a house abutting an Indian family. While I LOVE Indian food, I'm not crazy about the aroma leakage....thanks for the tip, Bill; I'll be trying your tip out....Any thoughts on best brands?

                                  1. re: sixelagogo

                                    I have lived in my apartment for 30 years and never had a problem with cooking smells from downstairs tenants until an Indian couple moved in a couple of months ago. The smells from their kitchen are HORRIBLE. They cook 3 or 4 times a day and the smells come pouring into my apartment through the heater vents(which can't be blocked or covered)and the kitchen floor. EVERYTHING in my kitchen now REEKS of curry and all the other spices, even when they aren't cooking. I used to love Indian Food, but now the thought of it just makes me gag. I have a high quality air filter with Ions on, I burn scented candles, boil orange peels on the stove, use aerosol air freshers and NOTHING helps.
                                    I have complained to the Prop Manager but they tell me there is nothing they can do.
                                    I don't want to go down and tell them to stop cooking, but I am at my wits end. I can't afford to move and don't feel I should have to, but those smells have become a HUGE stress factor.
                                    So good luck with your new house. You posted in June and may not be following up on this anymore, but now it is December and I am curious to know how you feel about the Indian Food smell in your new house.

                                2. Move. You'll never get your neighbors to change and the odds of the landlord doing anything to actually stop the smell is nil. What can he/she do? Go to your neighbors and tell them they are not allowed to cook their traditional foods? Good luck after one of them complains about 'discrimination' to the rental authority. So move somewhere where you don't have to smell/hear what your neighbors are getting up to.