My Kitchen Smells Bad: 6 Ways to Get Rid of Odors Naturally

My Kitchen Smells Bad: 6 Ways to Get Rid of Odors Naturally

7 minute read

Got offensive odors in your kitchen? You're not the only one! There's nothing worse than having a beautiful kitchen, everything spic n' span and in its place, but there's a lingering odor that seems clings to your nose hairs. It's like an unwanted houseguest, plodding around with dirty feet and smelly breath, picking its nose, and sitting naked on your furniture. And you can't get it to leave.

Whether it's the scent of fried fish or rotting organic matter in the garbage disposal or an unpleasant earthy smell wafting up to meet you every time you open the cupboard, it's got to go. 

Unfortunately, bad smells seem to cling to surfaces and linger a lot longer than the pleasant, aromatic ones. The worst part is that we don't always know where they're coming from. 

Recently, during a lovely dinner party we were hosting, a horribly obnoxious smell arose in the air and hijacked our conversation. The odor was a cross between rotting eggs, stinky socks, and cooked cabbage. I noticed my guests scrunching up their noses and looking around the room, too polite to say anything. I too wondered where that noxious odor was coming from. So, embarrassed, I excused myself from the table and went to investigate.

I scanned the kitchen countertop and noticed I'd left the reject remnants of my vegetable medley in the strainer: broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. BIG mistake. That's because as broccoli cooks, sulfur compounds accumulate and release themselves to the air causing that eggy smell typical of fermenting organic food. This is the case with any cruciferous vegetables, so cauliflower and brussel sprouts have the same effect -- triple whammy!

Here's a tip on how to keep fresh broccoli from smelling bad:

Keep a small bowl of white vinegar close to the broccoli as it cooks. This helps to deodorize the smell from the air.

That example is pretty obvious, but some kitchen odors hide out in sneaky places, and it can take a while before we figure out the source of them. 

Some of the most common bad kitchen smells include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables

  • Mold, mildew, must & moisture

  • Garbage disposal 

  • Accumulated rotten food under/behind appliances

  • The kitchen sponge

We developed the following quick n' easy bad smell reference guide to help you not just eliminate those gross smells from your kitchen but prevent them from occurring in the first place.

A word on odor elimination: 

There are plenty of chemical kitchen cleaners, such as bleach, that will do the trick of killing bad smells, but they're harmful to the environment. Aromatic scents from candles and air fresheners may help mask smells, but they won't eliminate them. 

The following methods will remove odors naturally without too much trouble or environmental impact.

How To Get Rid Of Bad Kitchen Smells Naturally

Bamboo Charcoal Bags

These are the planet's saving grace. Bamboo charcoal is one of the most effective ways to eliminate bad kitchen odors, and it's completely natural. It doesn't mask smells like other odor eliminators do. It absorbs offensive smells and moisture, keeping your kitchen fresh and dry. 

These bags are ideal for eliminating the smell of mold and mildew, but bear in mind that they do not eliminate the source. If you have mold in your kitchen, we recommend professional removal to avoid releasing spores into the air and preventing serious health consequences.

Tip: Make sure you choose 100% activated bamboo charcoal. It has tiny pores that help trap odors and allow for a free flow of air. And the bags tucks discreetly into small spaces. 

Feed Your Garbage Disposal Lemons

This is an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy way to keep that nasty rotting food odor to a minimum. Each time you use a lemon in your cooking, shave off the rinds and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. A couple times a month, throw a few of the rinds down the disposal and grind away to create a lemony-fresh scent in your kitchen and fight those bad odors. 

Microwave Your Kitchen Sponge

Or ditch that nasty cesspool altogether and opt for reusable cloths. Kitchen sponges may take as long as 52,000 years to decompose, so they aren't even close to eco-conscious. Not only that but they harbor tons of harmful microorganisms that over time begin to stink -- and you're cleaning your dishes and wiping your counters with it. That's a bit like smearing a dirty diaper -- no, we won't finish that sentence! But you get the picture.

Clean The Garbage Can And Recycling Bin

We're applying a little blame n' shame here because we're just the same! When was the last time you washed out those bins? We had to mark this task on our calendar because it's one of those gross chores we not only forget to do, we procrastinate on it big time for obvious reasons. 

Schedule it for the same time you feed your garbage disposal lemons or take inventory on your fridge. Another ideal time is when you're doing the seasonal switchover and prepping your patio for fall. Take the bins outside and scrub them down with warm soapy water. Then spritz a bit of homemade air freshener (up next) in them and allow it to dry.

Homemade Air Freshener

This homemade version is far more effective and environmentally friendly than the store-bought stuff. Get a large spray bottle and fill it with the following ingredients: ¾ cup of water, 2 tablespoons of vodka (the cheap kind, or rubbing alcohol), and 10-20 drops of a fresh-scented essential oil such as orange or peppermint. Mix and spritz around your kitchen to give the air a revitalizing lift, especially after cooking or dealing with the garbage.

Hot Kitchen Potpourri

hot kitchen Potpourri

We LOVE this one! We get this going anytime we have guests coming for dinner, we've done a big clean, or we've been cooking up a storm. You can use the following recipe and adapt it to create a seasonal fragrance. Not only does it clean the air of bad odors, it creates a fresh and inviting scent in your kitchen that fills the whole house. 

To make it: Combine fresh water, mint leaves, orange rinds and sliced lemons in a large saucepan. Simmer it on the stove and add more water as it evaporates. Some alternative ingredients include cloves, cinnamon sticks, and fresh lime. Get 5 more amazing hot potpourri recipes here.

Know The Source Of The Smell…

No matter how good an air freshener, cleaner, or odor absorber is, if you haven't identified and eliminated the source of the smell in your kitchen, it's not going anywhere. You can keep the smell at bay with these natural methods, but if you keep fish skin in your trash bin for five days, no amount of lemon is going to stand up to that.

This is especially important in the case of mold. If you suspect mold in your kitchen or anywhere else in your home, contact a professional removal service. If you're still not sure what it is and how to solve it, check out our free guide on knowing and solving kitchen odors. 

In the meantime, get that potpourri simmering on the stove and enjoy the fresh and lingering scent of lemons and limes.

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From our kitchen to yours, may your home smell fresh n' fruity!

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