Smelly Kitchen? Here Are 5 Sneaky Places Odors Often Lurk

Your kitchen may not be as clean as you think.

woman wearing cleaning gloves at the sink holding nose in one hand and garbage disposal block in other hand
Photo: Getty Images

When you spend hours in your kitchen preparing meals for those you love, you don't want unpleasant smells competing with your culinary masterpieces. Even if you clean your kitchen after each meal, however, food residue, scraps, and more can stick around for a while, lurking in places you wouldn't think to look. Never fear: we're here to help you solve the problem and eliminate those stubborn, stinky smells for good.

1. The Oven

The main culprit for bad smells coming from your oven is some form of fat. Fat deposits create grease that can spread throughout the oven, and some grease build-ups aren't even visible. Not surprisingly, lack of proper cleaning keeps these smells around. While it can be tempting to use the self-cleaning mode on your oven, that can actually be a fire hazard for stuck-on grease.

To really get your oven clean, you need to use cleaners with the ability to break down the stubborn grease. We recommend baking soda followed by vinegar. Follow this step-by-step oven cleaning guide to get a sparkling clean oven and say goodbye to those icky smells for good.

2. Garbage Disposals and Sink Drains

Another surprising place where smells may lurk? The kitchen sink. Disposals and drains may seem like an unlikely place for food residue, but even with that constant flush of hot water and dish soap, food materials can cling to parts of your sink. While store-bought sink cleaners do work wonders, you can also use a few household items to get your sink squeaky clean and smelling great with these 7 Seven Ways to End Kitchen Sink Stink.

3. The Dishwasher

You may think you're the only one who has unloaded a clean dishwasher to find that your dishes come out smelling like slop, but you're not alone. This can happen thanks to food buildup in your dishwasher.

Not all foods break down during the wash cycle, so to completely break up leftover food particles and grease residue, use vinegar. Placing a glass measuring cup filled with two cups of vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher once a month will help you avoid buildup and bad smells from leftover food.

4. Nooks and Crannies

We all know those little gaps in our kitchen where the broom doesn't quite fit or where a paper towel doesn't reach. Think of the space between your fridge and counter or your stovetop and counter. These spots are perfect breeding grounds for food remnants to rot and foul smells to fester.

Even if these spots appear clean, they still need regular cleaning because fat deposits and other smelly traces of food can stay hidden. To clean these gaps between your counters and appliances, you can use a butter knife, yardstick, or broom handle, wrapping your tool of choice in a paper towel sprayed lightly with kitchen cleaner. Or, purchase kitchen counter gap covers to help prevent the problem before it even begins.

5. Wherever You Just Cooked

Most importantly, clean immediately after cooking. While it may be tempting to let the dishes sit while you catch up on your favorite show or even save the dirty work for the next morning, this will inevitably cause bad smells to stick around your kitchen and carry through your entire home. Follow these five steps to clean your kitchen right after you cook and keep those pesky smells from traveling throughout the rest of your clean house.


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