5 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Smell Nicer

Breathe easy with these simple fixes for a fresher, more fragrant kitchen.

Shallow focus of a part used washing up bottle seen in a sink area within a modern kitchen.
Photo: Nickbeer / Getty Images

You associate the kitchen with plenty of delicious smells, from Grandma's famous spaghetti and meatballs to your freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. From time to time, however, you may notice some icky odors in your kitchen, and notice them lingering. Even if you're not facing a foul smell right now, these cleaning and deodorizing hacks will make your kitchen a much more pleasant place.

Common Causes of Kitchen Smells

First, it's worth knowing which odors you can take care of with some cleaning and which could point to an issue that needs addressing. Some common culprits include cooking sulfur-rich foods like broccoli and hard-boiled eggs, spoiled food, a garbage bin that hasn't been emptied, and dirty kitchen equipment.

If your sink smells, it's likely the garbage disposal, where food can get stuck and even block the drain pipes. "Greasy food hardens on the sides of the drainage pipes and gradually mold forms, which cause a rotten smell in the kitchen," says Gian Moore, interior designer, home improvement expert, interior designer, and partner at Mellowpine.

"You can avoid food junk from building up in the drain pipes by pouring down the drain a solution of hot water and liquid detergent or vinegar and baking powder solution, every two weeks to avoid blocking the drain and having to call a professional," Moore says.

Though uncommon, a rotten egg smell can come from a natural gas leak. If you suspect a gas leak, leave the house, keep the door and windows open for ventilation, and call your gas company immediately, Moore says.

How to Improve Your Kitchen's Smell

1. Clean After Cooking

Clean up as soon as you can after cooking and eating. Prioritize greasy pans and countertops before the oil starts to stick, which can lead to a foul odor, Moore says. You also want to deal with dishes rather than letting them sit. We know, it's tempting to turn on Netflix, but let's be honest — you probably won't feel like cleaning later, either!

2. Don't Skip the Sink

As we mentioned, gunk in garbage disposals can breed nasty smells. Prevention helps: resist pouring oils and fats down the drain and shoving the disposal with foods that don't grind up easily. These include meats, eggshells, tough vegetable skins, and stringy veggies like celery and onions.

Wiping down the kitchen sink with dish soap cuts down on grime for a cleaner, more hygienic space to wash dishes and produce, while rinsing it with warm water cleans the garbage disposal, too.

To double down on the garbage disposal, try one part baking soda and two parts white vinegar. Just pour baking soda down the sink, then pour the vinegar right after. Let it sit out for fifteen minutes before rinsing the sink with hot (but not boiling) water.

3. Get Fresh Air

In getting rid of kitchen smells, airflow is also key. Moore recommends switching on your kitchen chimney, vent, or ventilator fan while you cook and opening the windows after to get odors out faster.

Certain plants do an excellent job of absorbing odors, including snake plants, peace lilies, and aloe vera, which all require little effort. In addition to freshening the air, plants add a touch of green to your space and provide a sense of calm by bringing nature inside.

4. Use Odor-Absorbing Pantry Staples

Some of the simplest secrets to a fresher kitchen lie in your pantry. "You can keep a small bowl of vinegar, or baking soda or coffee grounds in your kitchen, as these ingredients can dissipate any kitchen smells," Moore says.

Meanwhile, lemon's uses go beyond flavoring food. As an odor neutralizer, lemon juice can help you clean up smells when you rub it on a surface or, as Moore recommends, on your hands before you work with foul-odored foods.

For a fragrance that won't overpower, you can simmer your favorite spices (like clove and cinnamon) and fresh citrus peels in water. This will fill your kitchen with a wonderful aroma, whether warming and grounding or zesty and refreshing.

5. Take Out the Trash

One of the easiest fixes? Don't let trash pile up in the bin. To prevent bad smells, take out the trash at least every few days or sooner depending on what's inside, as some foods can have worse odors than others.

For a less obvious solution, wipe down the bin with soapy water (keep it hot!) to clean the bin itself, especially if any food didn't quite make it into the bag. You can also help ease odors here by spraying the empty trash bin with freshening spray or leaving a lemon peel in the trash bag.


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