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How to Get Rid of Fish Smell in Your House

I strive to provide helpful information, including smart and fun methods for solving everyday problems.

No need for a clothespin on your nose—get rid of your fish dinner's lingering odors instead.

No need for a clothespin on your nose—get rid of your fish dinner's lingering odors instead.

Removing Fish Smell or Other Stinky Odors

I actually love the smell of fish when it's broiling, frying or baking. However, several hours later, after we've long finished our meal but the smell still lingers in my living room, I'm not so fond of it. The pungent fumes seem to hang in the air in my home and stay there. Luckily, the aroma is easy to get rid of.

There are quite a few tricks to help get rid of the smell. These tricks also work with other smelly foods, such as bacon, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, liver, and garlic.

Tried-and-True Odor Removal Methods

Here are a few methods I've personally used and can recommend.

Open Windows and Doors

If the weather is nice, open all your windows to let the smell escape and fresh air come inside. Even if it is cold, hot, or raining outside, crack your windows, if possible. Even a few small cracks will help air circulate better than if all windows were tightly closed.

The sooner you open the windows the better. Open them before you get started cooking, and leave them open throughout and after cooking for as long as possible.

Depending upon the time of year, I'll open my back door, also. We have screens on all our windows but not on any of our doors, so if it's early spring and bugs have not yet shown up, I'll leave the door open a good long while.

Turn on Fans Before, During, and After Cooking

Turn on ceiling fans or room fans to help air circulate more quickly and thoroughly. Just like opening the windows, the sooner you get the fans going, the more effective they will be.

Get Rid of the Source of the Smell

As soon as your meal is over, tightly wrap and refrigerate leftovers, wash the dishes and take out the trash. Getting the source of the odor cleaned up and out of your home as quickly as possible will reduce the smell in your home.

Wipe down kitchen surfaces with lemon juice or vinegar to reduce even more traces of fish odor.

Light a Candle

Smoker's candles and other highly scented candles do a great job of masking a fishy fragrance. My personal favorites are Tyler Candles, popular here in Texas. One candle puts out plenty of fragrance and lasts a long time. Tyler candles come in many, many varieties; I love "Diva" and "High Maintenance," which have a perfumey smell, rather than a single note or a food flavor smell.

Lemon and peppermint scents work especially well to combat food smells in your home. Go ahead and light your candle before you start cooking, and let it burn well beyond your meal and kitchen clean-up time.

Simmer a Pot of an Odor-Eating Smell Killer

Again, you can use these methods once you're finished cooking, but the sooner you get a pot simmering on the stove, the more effective it will be. If your oven or microwave has absorbed a fishy smell, place a steaming bowl of one of these substances directly inside and let it sit overnight.

  • Lemons or Other Citrus: Cut up several lemons. Place the lemon pieces in a pan of water and allow them to simmer on the stove. If your fish recipe calls for lemons or lemon juice, simply use the discarded lemon rinds for this purpose. If you've eaten an orange or grapefruit that day, throw the peel into the pot along with the lemons, or perhaps even instead of the lemons.
  • Vinegar: Place a small pan of vinegar on the stove. Warm the vinegar and allow it to simmer.
  • Cinnamon and Spices: Simmer a pot of water with a few cinnamon sticks or other great-smelling spices, such as ground cloves or fresh rosemary.
Lemons are a fish-lover's friend.

Lemons are a fish-lover's friend.

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More Odor-Killing Methods

Below are some odor-removing tricks that I've heard about from friends but have not actually tried, so I can't vouch for their effectiveness. They're all easy, cheap or free, and worth a try.

  • Hang a wet towel near the stove or oven while your fish cooks. It is said that the wet towel will absorb much of the fishy smell.
  • Place a slice of apple in the pan will the fish cooks or in the oil as the fish fries. The apple supposedly will absorb the fish smell.
  • Place a cinnamon stick in the frying oil while you fry your fish. I do not know whether or not this adds a cinnamon flavor to the fish, but it is supposed to keep strong odor at bay.
  • Add a spoonful of peanut butter to the pan when cooking fish. The peanut butter will supposedly absorb fish odors. I don't see how this would not affect the flavor of the fish.
  • Soak your fish in milk for at least half an hour before cooking it. This is said to cut down on odor when the fish is cooked without changing the flavor of the fish.
  • Soak your fish in water mixed with 1/4 cup of vinegar or 1/4 cup of lemon juice before cooking. Like the milk trick, this is said to reduce cooking odors. It is said that it does not change the flavor of the fish, but again, I cannot vouch for that fact.

How About You?

How do you get rid of fish odor in your home? Have you tried any of the methods I have not? I'd love to hear what works and what doesn't.

Share your tips and tricks in the comments.

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on October 21, 2016:

Like flower blossoms in April, my friend. Thanks for asking. How about you?

Ali on July 24, 2016:

My cook prepared the fish in kitchen..(all scrubbing stuff) and now it stinks like like i cant say. Can you help please. I have washed all area where it was cleaned but still i have to use that clothpin.

Ms. Brown on July 03, 2016:

Thanks for the tips and funny comments!

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on February 03, 2016:

Hi "dan," yes, I smell absolutely delicious but the whale carcass Poetic Failosophy dumped on my front porch stinks to high heaven!

dan on February 03, 2016:

do you smell good now

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 04, 2015:

Interesting tips. I often use lemon or vinegar.

Diana F. King-Fyre :: DECEASED, 1962-2014, Rest in Peace from Cuzco, Peroo on December 28, 2013:

It has been 3 months since I last besought of you the wisdom of the elders in the banishment of cetacean fragrances from the domicile. Much has transpired, many have perspired, and many have even expired in this span of time, that to the Gods is but a grain of sand in the great hourglass, like that one on the intro of the hit soap opera Days of Our Lives. Grandma has long since returned home from bingo night and I have long since been a slice of charred bread. Countless (34) doilies have perished. But they died bravely, and with honor. Let us remember their sacrifice in the dawn of a new annum.

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on October 04, 2013:

LOL bat115! I never dreamed this article would draw many readers, especially any fun ones. I'm glad I was wrong. Thanks for your two cents and for filling me in about your girlfriend and her odor. LOL

Tim from Los Angeles, CA on October 04, 2013:

Very informative but I find it easier to just buy my girlfriend Summer's Eve.

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on September 26, 2013:

LOL, now that this article has all these silly comments, all of the sudden it has 29 views in the last 24 hours. It never got more than 2 or 3 a day before!

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on September 25, 2013:

A little Glade should do the trick. Who cares. Sheesh.

Diana F. King-Fyre :: DECEASED, 1962-2014, Rest in Peace from Cuzco, Peroo on September 25, 2013:

Geez, some help you are lady. I got a rotting humpback whale carcass in the living room, and the gasses expanding inside it are gonna make it 'splode all over my grandma's doily collection. If I don't get rid of that smell before she comes home from bingo night I'm toast!

SmartAndFun (author) from Texas on September 25, 2013:

PoeticFailosophy, you are a naughty, naughty boy/girl and I love you very much! If only we could all get together and share a few drinks some day. 'Twould be such fun. By the way, haven't I seen that bowtie before? Hmmmmm....

Diana F. King-Fyre :: DECEASED, 1962-2014, Rest in Peace from Cuzco, Peroo on September 25, 2013:

With these methods work to remove the smell of dead humpback whale from the home? I'm asking for a friend.

Diana F. King-Fyre :: DECEASED, 1962-2014, Rest in Peace from Cuzco, Peroo on September 25, 2013:

Will these tips also work to remove dead humpback whale odor from the home? I'm asking for a friend.

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