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Get Rid of Cooking Smells

December 31 2010

Does your house have housitosis? Your home may have “bad breath” from all your delicious cooking. If cooking smells linger long after the meal is served, it’s time to take action.

The best remedy is to prevent the odors in the first place.  This is easily done through proper ventilation and air filtration.  Your cooktop or stovetop should be ventilated with an overhead or downdraft ventilation system that is matched to the needs of the burners. But it’s only useful if you turn it on your vented hood while you cook, even if you don’t like the extra noise. 

Grease or smoke and water create a tough film that won’t go away without scrubbing.

Ventilation is key to the dilution of odors, limiting the concentration of carbon dioxide (very important for gas burners), particles suspended in the air, and fumes from compounds around the home, like paint. Respiratory problems can be triggered by nitrogen oxides produced by a gas oven or cooktop when not well ventilated. 

Let a professional guide you as to the size and power of the vent that you need. Ventilation systems should match an appliance in size, but they can also can go larger, such as vented hoods suspended over an island. You don’t want to underdo it – for example, microwaves are placed over cooktops with a ventilator built into the unit, but that’s inadequate ventilation for most gas cooktops.

Your housekeeping may also be causing your house to smell like last night’s meal. Clean while you cook, so you don’t have a build-up of dirty pots and pans. Hard to clean pots and pans should be soaked immediately after use. Store leftovers immediately, instead of allowing them to sit on the countertop.

Some cooking smells like fish or fried foods are invasive. Make sure you remove the cooked oil and trash from the house as soon as you can.

Buy fresh sponges and wash dishcloths frequently. Used dishcloths get mildew odor and retain food odors.  Wash potholders frequently. Don’t let dust and odors accumulate on curtains or hand towels. 

Appliances can add to smells. Make sure your cooktops are clean and not building up dried food stains.

Disposals can collect food debris that smells foul over time.  Freshen your disposal with ice and lemon wedges. Clean out your refrigerator weekly – leftovers can get ripe very quickly even when refrigerated. 

Periodically wipe down your cabinet doors and drawers with a fresh smelling cleaner.  Change or wash air filters monthly or as directions dictate. Use washable area rugs or gel rugs that can be wiped down. 

Finally, what foods seem to linger most? Foods like fish, broccoli, and spicy dishes may require a little preparation. Keep the house cooler (warm air makes odors linger), open windows in the kitchen, use your overhead fans and the cooking ventilation. 

Fortunately, housitosis isn’t permanent. If you find odors lingering, you can also go for quick fixes like  baked cookies, or pots simmerings with potpourri. Anything citrus-scented also tends to cut the smells of grease and smoke. Just make sure the cure isn’t worse than the problem, so take it easy with candles and room sprays.