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Fish, curry, bacon, garlic — it turns out some of the best-tasting foods can make your kitchen smell less than fresh.
It's one thing while you're cooking, but when the smell lingers for hours or even days, it can be off-putting. The good news? You don't have to stop making those pungent foods — you just have to adjust your cleaning routine. There are easy ways to tackle those odors, often with items you probably already have around the house.
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Here a few cleaning experts and a personal chef share some tips.
1. Vinegar does the trick
Vinegar is the jack-of-all-trades for natural cleaning, and in this case, it can help get rid of any stench.
"If the fishy smell clings to the pan and utensils that you have cooked the fish with, wash them with water and vinegar,” says Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of The Cleaning Authority, a house-cleaning service.
You can use a mix of vinegar and lemon juice to wipe down surfaces that came in contact with the food you prepared, like most countertops (be sure to spot test first) or stovetops.
Vinegar also neutralizes airborne odors in the air. Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop, suggests putting a pot or saucepan on the stove and filling it with a cup of water and three tablespoons of vinegar. Bring the water to a boil for several minutes, allowing the steam to spread through the kitchen. As it permeates the room, it'll knock out that funky smell.
2. Create an aromatic
Even though it's a neutralizer, vinegar can have a strong smell itself, so if you prefer something a little more aromatic, you've got a few choices.
You can bring a pleasing cinnamon smell to your kitchen by putting a pot containing three cups of vinegar, one cup of water, and a handful of cinnamon sticks on to simmer for a few hours. The vinegar will break up the strong-smelling scents, while the cinnamon will give off its own delightful aroma.
If you use the same pot you used for cooking a strong-scented meal, the tactic will freshen the air and “address any lingering oils and smell on the pot itself,” says Bowen.
Chicago-based personal chef and caterer Mila Furman notes you can also swap out the vinegar for water and other aromatics.
She advises simmering three cups of water, one whole sliced lemon and one cinnamon stick for 30 minutes. “In a pinch you can use some powdered cinnamon and even oranges or limes,” Furman says.
Fresh mint leaves work well, too, if you have them on hand.