Banish Onion Smell From Your Hands And Home With These Tips

Sorry onions, it’s not you, it’s me.

Ah, aromatics. They bring out that rich, deep and seductive flavor in even the most boring of meals. There’s a reason (or many!) that garlic and onions are the cornerstone of so many wonderful dishes. But that potent and powerful goodness comes at a cost. Their scent will haunt you forever, from your cutting boards and countertops to your hair and fingertips.

Worth it?!

We say absolutely, yes. After all, most good things come at a price. And if you have to go around with stinky onion fingers for a day or two after cooking last night’s glorious dinner, then so be it. But there’s got to be a better solution than just submitting to smelling like French onion soup or onion rings all week. And we’re certain soap and water won’t do the trick. We’ve all tried that.

Ugh, and your kitchen just reeks of onion breath. It smelled good at first, but now it’s starting to become grating. You tried lighting a candle, but now your kitchen just smells like sandalwood (and onion). It’s not cute.

We’ve got some ideas on how to exorcise those onion demons from your home and also from your hands. Don’t worry, your home and hands will be smelling fresh again just in time for your guests to arrive. (And they’d best enjoy that onion dip!)

How to get rid of onion and other strong smells in the kitchen

  • Do you have doors to your kitchen? (This might be the only time you’ll be glad to not have an open floor plan.) Shut them! Resist the urge to lure your roommates out of their rooms with the delicious scent of dinner and trap cooking odors in your kitchen, preventing them from wafting out to the rest of the house. Don’t worry, they’ll know how good the meal is once they taste it. Skip the olfactory sneak preview.
  • Open your kitchen windows while cooking to prevent smells from sticking around and becoming absorbed into the room. It may not seem like it, but everything from your hair to the walls are quietly soaking up scents. The better ventilation and airflow you’ve got in your kitchen, the less the food smells will permeate later on.
  • Cook outdoors, if possible. Who doesn’t love BBQ season? Dust off your grill and fire it up, letting your whole neighborhood in on your secret ingredient (hint: it’s onions). Instead of stinking up the kitchen, you’ll perfume the block.
  • Use the extractor fan above the stove to pull smells out of the kitchen and send them outside and airborne.
  • Don’t wait! Wash dishes quickly with Dawn Dish Soap to help prevent smells from lingering, especially on your cutting boards. And especially if you’re using a wooden cutting board, which is more porous and tends to absorb smells.
  • Pro Tip: We recommend keeping a separate cutting board specifically for onions and alliums (e.g., garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks and chives), and don’t use any other cutting boards for those items. This will help prevent onion tastes from seeping into foods they have no business mixing with, such as fruit or desserts.
  • Vinegar is the ultimate odor neutralizer. Try putting a bowl of it out next to the stove to put the kibosh on those strong onion odors. (It’s like a game of rock paper scissors: vinegar trumps onion every time.) Yes, it’ll smell like vinegar for a bit, but vinegar’s scent tends to fade more quickly than the scent of aromatics.
  • Baking soda is the other ultimate odor neutralizer. It’s also super absorbent, even sucking odors straight out of the air. Leave out a bowl of baking soda in your kitchen overnight.
  • Stash a Febreze Small Spaces beneath your kitchen sink, and stay one step ahead of kitchen smells. Febreze Small Spaces prevent big stinks from lingering in tiny spaces in the form of a sneaky, compact device with a push button to activate its refreshing scent. We’ll take Fresh-Spiced Apple or Honey Berry Hula over Lingering Onion any day.

How to get onion smell off your hands

  • Forget the soap. Just stop. It isn’t working, you’re just drying out your hands. Then you’ll have dry, flaky onion hands. It almost sounds like a tasty menu item—but it’s not.
  • Try the spoon method. Rub your stinky hands with a stainless steel spoon or fork under cold, running water for about 10 seconds, and watch that smell disappear. The sulfur from the onions (which gives them their distinctive smell) will bind to the metal and leave your hands odor-free. This sounds ridiculous, but we promise it works. This technique will work with any stainless steel—but we don’t recommend using knives.

How to make your kitchen smell good

  • Bake something delicious. Then eat it!
  • Simmer some DIY potpourri on the stove. We suggest cinnamon sticks or cloves, or both.
  • Brew coffee. Then drink it!
  • Use Febreze AIR to eliminate lingering odors and give your kitchen a burst of freshness.
  • Burn incense or scented candles.
  • Grind up citrus peels in your garbage disposal.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda into your odorous trash can to soak up that garbage smell.
  • We could go on and on with smell-good suggestions, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Miscellaneous onion news

We know this sounds like an Onion headline, but you can actually use onions to absorb burnt or musty smells from your home. As counterintuitive as this seems, try cutting an onion in half and leaving it in a musty shoe closet or your stinky basement overnight. By the time the onion smell fades, the other smells will have vanished, too. Behold, the great smell swap!

It’s a universal truth that the mouthwatering scent of simmering onions beckons us all to the kitchen. We enjoy them in all forms: fried and dunked in condiments, atop burgers and sandwiches, blended into soups, pickled and creamed. Cooked and raw. Onions make the world go ’round.

But as much as they are delicious, their charm quickly wears off as they transform our homes, breath and body odor into stinky specters of themselves. Hey, it’s just the price of admission.

And now you don’t have to live with that burden. Be free to enjoy onions to the fullest with the knowledge that you can flip that kill switch when you’re ready to be done with them.

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