How to Remove Cooking Odors


Anne asked: How can I get the odor of what was cooked out of the house? I have tried opening the windows and burning a candle, but the odor remains overnight.

Odors from last night’s dinner can become nauseating when the smell just won’t leave the house. Fried fish is a common culprit of this problem as are other exotic foods with strong flavors and spices. To remove the lingering odor we need to remove the source of the smell. If it can’t be found, there are ways to neutralize it. Follow these steps to clear the air.

You Will Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Citrus peels
  • Large shallow pan
  • Stove
  • Degreasing dish soap
  • Soft cloths or sponges

Steps to Remove the Lingering Odors:

  1. Begin by cleaning the area well to ensure that all of the grease and food splatters have been cleaned away.
  2. Use a degreasing dish detergent to wipe the area surrounding the stove, especially if the odor is caused from fried foods. If the old grease splatters remain, the smell will stay strong.
  3. Wipe down the cabinets, stove top and floor in front of the stove to remove any residue from the cooking process. Remember the vents above the stove. These collect grease and bits of food that can lead to odors.
  4. Open all the windows and allow the air to circulate freely through the house. If the weather permits, place a fan in the window to either pull fresh air in or push the odor-filled air out.
  5. Fill a shallow pan with one part vinegar and one part water.
  6. Add a few pieces of citrus peel or some lemon juice to the water for a more pleasant scent.
  7. Heat the mixture to simmering and allow it to simmer (nor boil) for a couple of hours. Replenish the water and vinegar as needed.
  8. The vinegar vapors will neutralize the odors that are still present to help remove them from the air.
  9. After several hours, turn the pan off and allow the vinegar and water to set in the open pan for the rest of the day to absorb any remaining odors.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Dirty dishes in the sink and scraps in the trash can will also produce a lingering smell. Ensure both of these areas area cleaned out and sanitized to remove strong odors.
  • Potpourri is a great way to introduce a pleasant smell into the room. Although it won’t remove the odors, it will help to make them more bearable.
  • Fresh coffee grounds are excellent odor absorbers. Place several shallow bowls filled with coffee grounds around the room. Allow them to set for several days until the odor is gone. Dispose of the grounds afterwards.
  • Cleaning up cooking pans and disposing of the leftovers promptly will help to minimize the amount of odor that enters the air.
  • Always use the vent when cooking or frying to pull the odor-filled air directly away from the stove and out of the house. Ensure your vents are clean and functioning properly.


  1. Dee says:

    I fried veggie burgers in canola oil, which I don’t usually use, and now there is an odor UPSTAIRS in two of the bedrooms. I have laundered the bedding, but I still can detect that odor. My husband does not smell anything. Does anyone have suggestions? Would appreciate it so much. Thank you in advance. Dee

  2. Melanie says:

    Rather than simmering the vinegar mixture on the stove, you can use it directly upstairs instead. Simply fill a couple bowls or pans with white vinegar (no need to add water if you’re not simmering it) and set the bowls in one of the bedrooms for several hours. Set a another couple of bowls filled with vinegar in the second bedroom. (Don’t use the same vinegar; use fresh vinegar for each room.)
    If you don’t want to use vinegar, you can use coffee (grounds or beans) or activated charcoal instead in the same way.
    Source: – How to Clean Smoke Damage

  3. Renandolf says:

    You could also place a bowl of white vinegar and let it sit on your counter overnight and you’ll be surprised that by the following morning, or in just a matter of few hours, the smell is gone.

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