Eliminate Unpleasant Kitchen Odors with These Simple Tricks

The aroma of a home-cooked meal baking in the oven can fill a kitchen with mouthwatering scents. But not all kitchen odors are so inviting. From stinky sink drains to moldy microwaves, unpleasant smells can quickly make the kitchen an unenjoyable place.

If your kitchen has fallen victim to foul odors, don’t despair. You don’t have to live in a smelly cooking space or resort to artificial air fresheners to mask odors. There are many clever, natural ways to effectively eliminate bad kitchen smells and create a fresh-smelling oasis.

In this article, you’ll learn insider tips and tricks for absorbing and banishing all types of unpleasant kitchen odors. From clever baking soda tricks to air-purifying simmer pots, you’ll discover how to use items you already have on hand to conquer kitchen smells.

With these practical, natural solutions, you can stop kitchen odors at the source and fill the space with inviting aromas instead. Let’s explore simple ways to keep your kitchen smelling as fresh as your home-cooked meals.

Use Baking Soda to Absorb Odors

One of the most powerful odor absorbers is also one of the simplest – baking soda. The sodium bicarbonate in baking soda neutralizes foul-smelling acidic odors. It also absorbs odors rather than masking them.

Baking soda can be used in several ways to conquer kitchen smells:

  • Open box in the fridge – Keep an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb food odors. Replace every 30 days.
  • Fridge odor absorber – Put baking soda in a bowl and place it on a fridge shelf to absorb odors.
  • Microwave cleaner – Mix 3 tbsp baking soda with 1 cup water. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, then wipe clean.
  • Sink scrub – Sprinkle baking soda down the drain and use a scrub brush to remove odors from the sink.
  • Trash can deodorizer – Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda at the bottom of the trash can to keep odors at bay.

Activate Charcoal for Powerful Odor Removal

Activated charcoal is known for being an incredibly effective odor absorber. It works through adsorption, which traps odors in its porous surface rather than absorbing them.

Use activated charcoal in the kitchen in a few different ways:

  • Fridge charcoal box – Place an activated charcoal box or pouch in the fridge to remove food odors.
  • Air purifying charcoal bag – Hang a charcoal odor absorber in the kitchen to purify the air.
  • Charcoal garbage disposal cleaner – Grind charcoal briquettes and ice in the disposal to remove odors.

Studies show that activated charcoal can reduce rotten garbage odors by up to 95% (1). It’s one of the best natural odor fighters.

Clean with Vinegar
Clean with Vinegar

Clean with Vinegar to Eliminate Odors at the Source

Rather than just masking smells, vinegar cuts through grease and grime to eliminate odors at their source. Because it’s acidic, it also counteracts foul odors and disinfects.

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These applications use the cleaning and deodorizing power of vinegar:

  • Garbage disposal cleaner – Pour 1 cup vinegar down the disposal and let sit 30 minutes before running water.
  • Microwave cleaner – Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 5 minutes then wipe away grime.
  • Cutting board disinfectant – Wipe with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to kill odors and germs.
  • Smelly sink scrub – Pour vinegar down the drain and let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.
  • Sponge anti-microbial soak – Eliminate odors from the sink sponge by soaking it in vinegar for 10 minutes.

Absorb Food Odors with Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds have a pleasant, slightly sweet aroma that can overpower stubborn food odors in the fridge and garbage.

Repurpose your morning coffee to banish smells:

  • Fridge box – Place used coffee grounds in an open container in the fridge.
  • Freezer pack – Put coffee grounds in a small muslin bag and place in the freezer.
  • Garbage disposal refresher – Send spent grounds down the disposal to grind up and deodorize.
  • Trash can freshener – Place some used grounds in a small uncovered container at the bottom of trash cans.

The roasted coffee will absorb and override unpleasant food odors without adding a perfumey smell.

Simmer Aromatic Ingredients for Fresh Scent

A quick stovetop simmer of fragrant ingredients can overpower tough cooking smells like fish, onion or cabbage. Some odor-neutralizing foods to try:

  • Apple cider vinegar – Fill a saucepan with 1 cup vinegar and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The acetic acid binds to amines that cause smelly compounds.
  • Vanilla extract – Gently heat 2-3 tbsp vanilla in a pan of water for a sweet scent.
  • Citrus peels – Toss leftover lemon, orange, or lime peels into a pan with water. Simmer for a bright, fresh smell.
  • Herbs and spices – Simmer a combination of cinnamon sticks, cloves, rosemary and lemon slices.
  • Rosewater – Heat pure rosewater for a sweet floral scent that conquers cooking odors.

Set Out an Open Container of White Vinegar

You probably have a bottle of white vinegar sitting in your pantry. This mild acid cuts through tough odors in the air.

To use it:

  • Small bowls around the kitchen – Place shallow bowls filled with vinegar around the kitchen.
  • Bowl near the garbage – Set a bowl near the trash to prevent odors from escaping.
  • Dish soap mixture – Mix 2 cups vinegar with 2 tsp dish soap for extra grease-cutting power.

The vinegar smell dissipates as the liquid absorbs other odors. Replace weekly for maximum freshness.

Absorb Odors Overnight with a Bowl of Salt

Salt is a natural desiccant, which means it absorbs moisture and odors from the surrounding environment. Taking advantage of this property can banish stubborn kitchen odors.

Here’s how:

  • Bowl on the counter – Leave a bowl of table salt on the counter overnight to absorb kitchen odors in the air.
  • Disposal deodorizer – Pour 1/2 cup salt down the garbage disposal and let sit for 12 hours before running water.
  • Cutting board scrub – Use salt to scour and deodorize smelly cutting boards. Rinse and sanitize after.
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The salt absorbs odors and moisture overnight. Discard the salt in the morning.

Simmer a Potpourri Mix On the Stove

Creating a homemade potpourri simmer pot on the stove overwhelms bad kitchen smells with inviting aromas.

Try this recipe:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Simmer the ingredients in a saucepan for 1-2 hours. Refresh periodically to fill the kitchen with a fresh scent.

Air Out the Kitchen

One of the simplest ways to remove lingering odors is through ventilation and fresh air. Here are a few tips:

  • Open windows – Let in fresh outdoor air, which will gradually air out the kitchen.
  • Use exhaust fans – Turn on the stove hood vent or overhead exhaust fan while cooking to remove odors.
  • Deploy a fan – Set up a fan pointing outwards in a window to pull in fresh air from outside.
  • Burn incense or candles – Light a stick of incense or scented candle to help boost fresh scents.

Bringing in fresh air dilutes and eventually eliminates unpleasant kitchen odors.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get rid of smelly kitchen garbage odors?

Place baking soda or used coffee grounds in the bottom of garbage cans to absorb odors. Taking out the trash frequently also helps prevent food odors.

Why does my kitchen sink drain smell bad?

Sinks can smell from built-up food residue and grime. Pour baking soda or vinegar down the drain, let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

How do I eliminate stubborn refrigerator odors?

Activated charcoal is excellent at removing odors from fridges. Place a charcoal box or pouch inside and replace every 3-6 months.

What’s the fastest way to remove the smell of burnt food?

Boil lemon slices mixed with vinegar and water to overpower and absorb the smell of burnt food. Turn on ventilation fans as well.

How can I make my kitchen smell fresh every day?

Start a daily habit of simmering aromatic ingredients like citrus peels, vanilla, or vinegar. Keep an open box of baking soda inside the fridge too.


Bad kitchen odors can make cooking, eating, and entertaining much less enjoyable. However, with the right tricks, you can effectively absorb and eliminate unpleasant kitchen smells.

Using natural ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, coffee grounds, activated charcoal, and fragrant food items, you can attack foul odors at the source. Air flow is also key to ushering out unappealing smells.

Implementing these odor absorbing and mask tips will keep your kitchen smelling fresh and clean, no matter what adventurous cooking happens inside it. With a little effort, your kitchen can go from stinky to sweet-smelling in no time.

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