How to Get Rid of Fish Smell in Your House
Removing Fish and Other Food Odors From Your Home
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 I Recommend
Here are a few methods I've personally used and have found some success with.
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.
Methods I've Heard About But Have Not Tried
Below are some odor-removing tricks that I've heard 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 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.