How to Get Food Smells Out of Clothes and Fabric

Updated on November 18, 2019
Layne Holmes profile image

I've cleaned houses and spaces professionally. Here are some of my expert tips.

How to Keep Your Clothes and House Free of Cooking Smells
How to Keep Your Clothes and House Free of Cooking Smells | Source

How to Stop Your House and Clothes From Smelling When Cooking

If you’re like me, you may love good food and may also love for your clothes and your house to smell fresh and clean. But sometimes good cooking with fresh herbs and spices and having your house or clothes smell laundry-fresh and clean at the same time feels like a far-off fantasy. Cooking odors permeate everything!

Luckily, there are ways to prevent the smell of foods from getting into fabrics. As someone who can’t stand the smell of fried food or breakfast in my bedding, couch, clothes, and natural fabrics (wool, cotton, etc.), I'd like to share my expert tips for how to smell-proof your home while still living the life of a home-cook foodie.

How to Deodorize Clothes Without Washing
How to Deodorize Clothes Without Washing | Source

10 Ways to Remove Odor in Clothes Without Washing

Some of these tips are obvious—like running a fan, opening a window when appropriate, throwing away things like fish before it stinks up the kitchen, and purchasing a leather or faux-leather coach that won't soak up odors, but some of these tips might also surprise you.

1. Practice Good Kitchen Hygiene (Turn on the Fan Before You Start)

This step is most crucial even though it may seem like common sense. Don’t turn on the exhaust fan above your stove only after the smell is noticed. By then, it's too late. Start the fan before you even turn on the burner to get cooking.

No range-hood, vent, or exhaust fan over your stove? That actually puts your safety at risk. Gas stoves emit carbon monoxide and other dangerous things into the air that you breathe from the off-gasing that takes place when you cook with Teflon pans and similar (we're talking carcinogens and toxic chemicals). Your landlord should have adequate ventilation set up and a carbon monoxide detector if they are truly housing you in a safe space—so get on them. If you don't have either of these, say something.

2. Shut Doors and Vents, Open Windows, Use Towels

This may already seem like common sense to you, but you will want to shut the doors to your bedroom, living room, and even use towels or carpeting to block the inch gap under the doors that lead to these rooms (gaps under the door allow air to flow). Closing vents that interconnect your rooms, too, can help. Opening windows and doors (without screens) and thereby creating a wind tunnel can really help to create a cross-draft to blow the smells out of the home. Surprisingly, vacuuming carpet helps, too, as it creates air flow between carpet fibers.

Close Doors
Close Doors | Source

3. Work With Air Pressure

If your bedroom is warm and you open a cold window near your kitchen, you could very well be blowing your hot kitchen air into your bedroom where it can get trapped and the smells will accumulate. You need to think about how air at different temperatures moves. Cold air will move towards warm air . . . so opening a window in your bedroom will help push the smell out . . . but opening a window in your kitchen may drive the smell into your bedroom.

Does Air Move From Cold to Hot?

Hot air rises and is thinner (lower pressure) and cold air sinks. Air flows from colder areas to warmer areas—so air moves from cold to hot.

4. Get a Good Air Filter

Consider investing in an air purifier that is manufactured using a HEPA filter (HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air). HEPA filters reduce pet dander, tobacco smoke smells, dust mites, and anything over 0.3 micrometers. Unfortunately, these filters can't get rid of VOCs (volatile organic compounds)—only exhaust fans and open windows/fresh air can do this . . . but HEPA filters can drastically help improve air quality and reduce smells in general. They help reduce symptoms in people with asthma and dust-mite allergies, too.

LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Smokers Allergies and Pets Hair, True HEPA Filter, Quiet in Bedroom, Filtration System Cleaner Eliminators, Odor Smoke Dust Mold, Night Light, White, LV-H132, 1Pack
LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Smokers Allergies and Pets Hair, True HEPA Filter, Quiet in Bedroom, Filtration System Cleaner Eliminators, Odor Smoke Dust Mold, Night Light, White, LV-H132, 1Pack

This is a great HEPA-filter air freshener that I use in my house with my pets. It's quiet and offers the option of a night light—I like the night light just in case I wake up to grab a glass of water. It's small and does a great job.

 

Another Great Air Filter

You might also consider the Winix 5500 True HEPA PlasmaWave—I had one of these for many years and it was also great. It's a bit larger than the product that I currently use as mentioned above. The Winix comes with a remote control which is really helpful when you're ready to turn it off and going to sleep.

Create natural satchels to throw in with your laundry.
Create natural satchels to throw in with your laundry. | Source

5. Combat Odor With Odor

Consider purchasing a scented candle (or several) and let those burn while you cook. You can also boil aromatic water as you cook—think lemon, orange, and mulling spices like cinnamon or nutmeg on the stove top to fill up the house. You can also choose natural fragrance like cedar and eucalyptus essential oils and preemptively put them in a diffuser.

6. Throw Clothes in the Dryer With a Satchel

To quickly refresh/deodorize your clothes and ban odor, toss dryer-safe bedding or clothing in the dryer with a few sheets of fabric softener or natural lavender satchels—the heat will infuse the clothing with a fresh scent.

7. Wear an Apron, Change Clothes, Wash Hair/Shower

Garlic, onion, and curry have sulfuric compounds that can enter your bloodstream and further propagate smells. These ingredients are totally irresistible when it comes to cooking, so if you work with them be sure to practice good kitchen hygiene. Wear an apron, strip your cooking clothes (pop them in the laundry basket—maybe even let them hang outside to deodorize before bringing them in the room), wash your hair or even rinse your body off in the shower, and use good soap on your hands.

Garlic odor can get everywhere and even transfer to objects, leaving behind strong smells. Be careful what you touch! Also, don't take off the clothes you wore cooking and hang them back up in your closet, throw them on your bed, or throw them on your furniture . . . you'll just be transferring the smell.

8. Steam Your Clothes, Hang Them Outside, or Freeze Them

Yep—all three work! Steaming your clothes is a great way to give them a quick refresher and deodorize them, but hanging clothes outside in the sun or in a drafty window can really freshen them up fast. Some people even report success of sticking clothes in the freezer—yes, either in a Ziploc bag or as is, and it will kill off bad odor and bacteria.

Combat smells with pleasant odor like candles and essential oils.
Combat smells with pleasant odor like candles and essential oils. | Source

9. Buy Plastic Bins, Clothes-Covers, and Trunks

Not only will you look organized, but you will smell-proof your clothes. You can buy cute containers and storage bins for things like wool and items you can only dry clean to keep them safe from odors. This will also keep the moth-free. You can also consider buying closet organizers (plastic clothing covers that hang in the closet to moth-proof and odor-proof your belongings).

When it comes to bedding or pillows, consider buying a cute trunk for your living room or for at the foot of your bed. When the heavy cooking happens, toss your blankets and pillows in the trunk and save them from absorbing all odors.

10. Hang Cedar or Lavender Satchels

Hang moth-deterring cedar or DIY cute lavender satchels in your closet. You can use cloth tea bags and some other fun herbs like clove, lavender, and similar . . . simply hang them in the closet from the clothes-hangers. The nice aroma will help infuse your clothing with more appealing scents.

Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh,64 fl oz
Indigo Wild Zum Clean Laundry Soap Frankincense Myrrh,64 fl oz

This is the laundry soap that I use. It's eco-friendly and gentle on the clothes. The Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils are so delightful and banish all odors. This is good for people with sensitive skin. The great smell of this soap lingers on the clothes and leaves me feeling natural and fresh.

 

Tips for Washing Odor Out of Clothes Naturally

If you want to wash the odor out, there are a few natural remedies you can try:

1. White Vinegar

White vinegar is great. When my cat was peeing on a bath rug repeatedly, I was able to toss the carpet into the washing machine with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and it totally neutralized the odor. White vinegar is also gentle on fabric and a great natural cleaner.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another great neutralizer—not only is it excellent for removing odors in the refrigerator, it's also gentle enough for people to use and gentle on fabrics; this is why it's used in many natural laundry detergents. Consider adding 1 tablespoon to your next load.

3. Essential Oils

I went with an all-natural laundry detergent recently and I absolutely love it. It's called Zum. It is gentle on my clothing and the essential oils are beyond any other natural detergent soap I've tried. Try laundry soap with real essential oils or make your own. Essential oils permeate deeply into clothes and leave you feeling natural and delightfully fresh.

Share Your Tips and Tricks

I hope you found all of these tips helpful. Do you have any shortcuts to share? Please leave a comment with your tricks and tips below!

In addition to using all of these techniques, always wash dishes right away and clean up cooking surfaces and splatter-spots. Try to leave the fan on even after you have been cooking to keep the air circulating. Best of luck on keeping your household smelling great!

Stovetop Simmer Air Freshener

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Layne Holmes

    What do you use?

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        3 weeks ago from Bend, Oregon

        Hi Lora,

        Thanks for the read. I definitely make use of baking soda and white vinegar for many things. The vinegar has been great for removing cat pee odor. Thank goodness my kitty is almost 2 years old and her behavior is improving. Yes, I recommend Zum—the essential oil blend far out-performs any other detergent I've used. It's amazing.

      • Lora Hollings profile image

        Lora Hollings 

        3 weeks ago

        Great suggestions, Layne. Baking soda and white vinegar are great things to use for neutralizing odors and I will have to try the all-natural laundry detergent Zum. Thanks for this very good info!

      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        3 weeks ago from Bend, Oregon

        Thanks for the read, Dora. I found the freezing interesting too . . . I haven't tried it myself but it seems to make sense as it prevents bacterial growth and likely neutralizes odor.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Very helpful suggestions. Freezing the clothes is new to me, but why not? Thanks for teaching something new.

      • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

        Layne Holmes 

        3 weeks ago from Bend, Oregon

        Hi Liz—thanks for the read. In our tiny apartment, we certainly get a lot of breakfast aromas in the air when the cooking starts. I've been working on these techniques for quite a while. I hope you find them helpful!

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        You give great tips and ideas here. I have just returned from meeting a friend in a cafe for coffee. Now my clothes smell like an English fried breakfast!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)