The kitchen is an important part of your house where you, family members or friends gather to prepare, cook or enjoy meals together. But sometimes your kitchen looks clean but still have stinky or weird smell and you don’t know where it comes from? Is there a way to get rid of smells in the kitchen in natural way that avoids harmful chemical?
To make your kitchen smell better naturally, you should reduce food waste, clean your kitchen often with chemical-free cleaning products, improve the airflow in your kitchen, have some air puryfiying plants. Alternatively, cover smells with fresh, natural and/or eco-friendly fragrant items.
Removing odor from your kitchen also means keeping your kitchen clean and reducing the spread of bacteria. Keep reading to find out what can cause bad smells in your kitchen and how to solve them.
Why Does Your Kitchen Have a Bad Smell? What Can Cause Bad Smells in Your Kitchen?
The kitchen will look different and have different equipment in every house. In general, a kitchen will have a stove, an oven or ranges, a sink, a refrigerator, worktops and kitchen cabinets. Some households will install an exhaust fan or range hood, a dishwasher and some electric appliances. Besides these things, your kitchen is probably equipped with cooking utensils and of course food.
Any of the things above can cause an unpleasant smell in your kitchen, here are some typical sources and main factors why they smell bad:
#1 Garbage Cans and Disposal
These are 2 conspicuous places you should check first when your kitchen have bad smell.
By throwing food waste in garbage cans, these materials will start decomposing and release funky smell and methane gas which is attracting the flies. These flies can lay eggs on the rotting food and these eggs will become maggots soon. On the others hand, if the liquid from food waste are leaked and collected on the bottom of trash cans, they can cause bad smell after days. The hotter the climate you live in is, the faster this happens.
The garbage disposal is the device attaches to the sink which has blades to grind up food waste into small pieces to be easily washed down the drain. But not all waste can be washed away, it becomes rotting and decomposing food stuck around the cutting blades or drainpipes. And of course, it will develop stinky smell throughout your kitchen.
Pouring boiling water with vinegar down the drain is a good way to melt away most oils and desinfect a lot.
A smelly sink can produce a bad smell from different sources such as the drain screen, P-trap or vent.
Pouring cooking grease or oil and food waste down your kitchen’s drains can cause fat to coagulate inside the drainpipe. From this build-up waste, bacteria can grow and cause the rotten egg smell in your sink.
The P-trap is the U-shaped pipe under your sink. It works like a lock to prevent sewer gas from the outside going inside your house by holding a small amount of water at the bottom of the curve. If you smell something like sewage, it can mean the P-trap is dry and can’t stop sewer smell make their way into your kitchen.
Leaking water from P-trap or drain under your sink is another problem for your kitchen as well. It can cause moldy smell or even mold under your sink. To find a leak under your sink, you can follow these steps:
- Fill water into both sink basins with drain cover, then take the covers out
- Use a flashlight to check the floor under the sink to find the water drops position to guess the leaking pipe position
- Then use dry tissue or paper to put on that part of pipe to check again
If the P-trap is not the reason of sewer smell, you should check the vent. This vent is used to balance the pressure inside the pipe. Because of it, the water in the P-trap can’t be siphoned out so the sewer gas can’t come in. The vent usually is located on the roof of the house, it can’t work well if be covered by trash, leaves or maybe a bird nest.
There are few reasons which can cause smells inside your kitchen cabinets. They can come from the rotten food which is left for a long time, mildew and mold from moisture or cooking grease stuck on the cabinet depending on your kitchen layout.
Keeping any perishables out of the cabinets is a good start. Also make sure to dry and air out cabinets regularly. Steam can get in there quite easily from boiling water under the cabinets for example. If you see the steam is forming drops on the cabinets, make sure to dry those off as quickly as possible.
Clean the inside and outside of kitchen cabinets with a damp cloth regularly. Using water with some vinegar or a drop of dishwashing liquid is great. If you’ve got stubborn mold patches, a steam machine is effective.
Sometimes you will forget food in the fridge which will cause a foul smell. Things like leftover foods, old vegetables, stinky seafood, expired milk, ect are common things that can cause these bad smells. These things cause not only dirty bins or shelves but also bacteria and mold in your fridge.
Get expired foods out of the fridge as soon as possible, clean up any spills as soon as you make them. Deep clean your fridge every few months. Having an open container of coffee grounds or baking soda can absorb a lot of smells as well.
A dishwasher is supposed to clean your dishes. You might assume it cleans itself in the process but that isn’t always the case. You can find some leftover food or residue that is stuck in the drain filter or door gasket. It’s easy to not notice things stuck in those places and will build up in the humid and moist place inside the dishwasher and cause funky smell.
Regularly clean out the drain and the door seals to prevent build up.
#6 Kitchen utensils
Some kitchen tools or utensils can have a smell after cooking. If you can’t wash them correctly, your utensils especially plastic and silicone one can smell really bad. That’s because plastic and silicone can absorb some things from the food or ingredients. These things can be porous to some degree and once something is in there, it’s hard to get out. And of course just like with every other item on this list, once you have organic material decomposing somewhere, it will smell pretty bad. And even if it just smells like the last thing you prepared, you probably don’t want that to rub off on your next meal.
Soaking the utensils or containers in one of the chemical free cleaners you can find below will do the job in most cases.
#7 Gloves, Apron and Kitchen Carpet
Using rubber gloves helps to protect your nails and skin from chemicals but they can let water in through when they break. Then mold and germs grown inside gloves and cause foul smell. And often water comes in from the opening, no matter how hard you try to keep it out. Rubber gloves should be dried properly after every use. Leaving them in the sun with the opening up is effective but will degrade them quicker.
Gloves and apron you wear while cooking absorb smoke, smells and liquid like sauce or oil while cooking. Combined with moisture, your gloves and apron can cause bad smell and become moldy. Oven gloves and aprons can just be washed in a washing machine. Using extra hot water helps get rid of mold and oil residue.
A soft carpet in front of the sink or counter in your kitchen is nice decoration. It is also the place which catches things while you are preparing and cooking food or washing dishes. Forgetting to wash your carpet in the kitchen will cause a bad smell quickly. Carpets are usually not safe to put in the washing machine. Soaking in water with soap and rinsing thoroughly is usually enough. Steam cleaning is another option.
#8 Stove, Microwave and Oven
Except the smells and smoke caused by cooking, there is almost always some droplets coming from the food like a sputtering sauce or cooking grease. These droplets or spills spread out on your appliances. If you leave this for a few days, it is really difficult to remove and can cause bad smells. Don’t forget to look in all the nooks and cranies next to and behind your appliances. Those are places spills can get into but it’s very hard to clean them out.
Clean off any spills from cooking after you’re done. Make sure to get in all the tiny nooks and crannies which tend to accumulate dirt.
#9 Rats, Mice and Cockroaches
I don’t think you would want to invite these creatures into your kitchen but usually you don’t know where they come from. Your cabinets, stove, microwave or oven are their favorite places for hiding and searching for food. The bad smell caused by these creatures from bringing the crumbs and spilled food around your kitchen, from their feces and in the end their dead body.
Food is the main reason they come into your kitchen. Cutting off the food supply is the first and most important step to get rid of them. Then plug any holes they can come in through and spray scents they don’t like to repel them from trying to come in. Set traps for any unwanted guests that are left after that.
These are some common things which can cause or release bad smells in your kitchen and it’s not difficult to find ways to get rid of them. But kitchen is the place you store and make food. You want to avoid as many chemicals as you can. Avoiding chemicals is always good for your health and your family members. Read on to have some useful tips for keeping your kitchen with the least amount of harmful chemicals.
How Can I Make My Kitchen Smell Better Naturally?
Besides cleaning the places which cause stinky smells in your kitchen as mentioned above, the tips below will help you to make your kitchen smell better naturally with non-toxic chemicals ways.
#1 Reduce Food Waste
Reducing food waste mean you don’t need to throw many things to your garbage cans or disposal, less garbage less bad smells in your kitchen. The other benefits are preventing pollution, saving energy, saving money and resources.
Some tips to help you reduce food waste:
- Plan your meals weekly and buy enough food but not too much. No need to fill up your fridge or cabinet of stuffs which you can’t eat before they expire.
- Cook enough for the meal but not more. If there is some food left over after meal, remember to store them in the fridge and finish them in next meal. The problem is leftovers often end up in the fridge and then thrown out after a few days.
- Maximize the available ingredient for cooking. Of course cut out rotting pieces but does it really matter if your banana has dark spots if you’re putting it in a smoothie anyways?
- Store the ingredients in right places and in the right way (room temperature, cool or freezer) to extend their expiration date.
- Donate food if you have no chance to finish them before the expiration date.
- Try composting food waste to reduce methane, a potential greenhouse gas, and have valuable fertilizer for your soil in garden and plants.
Reducing food waste will take some practice in the beginning especially if you have to figure out portion sizes, planning your meals and shopping trips but it’ll be worth it in the end if only for the money you save.
#2 Improve Airflow in Kitchen
Using exhaust fan, open the window and/or turning on a ceiling or floor fan are simple ways to improve airflow in your kitchen.
An exhaust fan can usually be used to remove and filter out the smoke and grease when you cook. It can control the humidity and reduce smells from cooking food in your kitchen. If you have window in your kitchen, open it to let fresh air in. It helps to balance the hot air in your kitchen and let food and other smells out. Turning on a fan will support the natural breeze to push bad odors out of your kitchen. However, you have to be careful where you move that air. Just blowing all the food smells into the living room isn’t that great of a solution.
#3 Absorb Bad Smell
Two common ways to absorb bad smell in your kitchen is using your household essential like coffee grounds, baking soda and having houseplants.
Put used coffee ground or baking soda in a bowl, put it close to the source of odors and leave it overnight. Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of garbage bin to absorb unpleasant smell. Of course clean it up after it has done it’s job. If the coffee grounds/baking soda are dry, a vacuum cleaner is the easiest.
There are plenty types of houseplants which can absorb bad smells in your kitchen. They purify the kitchen air, eliminate significant amount of volatile organic compounds and some types of chemical from the air beside of releasing oxygen.
Some typical houseplants you can have for your kitchen are; Snake Plant, Peace LiLy, Boston Fern, Gerbera Daisy, Red-Edged Dracaena, Aloe, Golden Pothos, Philodendrons and Pot Mum.
#4 Clean Kitchenware with Chemical-free Products
Chemical-free cleaning products are popular and easily bought now or alternatively you can make your own with harmless ingredients like vinegar, lemon, baking soda, etc. Among of them, baking soda is amazing and inexpensive. It can clean most of things and remove most of stinky smells in your kitchen. It might have a chemical name but it’s a product that is consumed every day in baked goods.
This post can’t provide all chemical-free cleaner recipes as there are too many recipes and it will depend on your specific cleaning purposes and what you have in your cabinets. Here are some common DIY homemade cleaner recipes which are easy to make and use:
- 4 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water: mix them together and apply for kitchen counter, inside of the fridge, stainless steel
- Half cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar: apply for garbage disposal by pouring baking soda to the disposal, add the vinegar, then wait for 10 minutes and turn on the water.
- 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar down and a pot of boiling water: apply for the drain by pouring baking soda then vinegar down the drain. Wait for 1 hour then pour boiling water. One tip for you is avoiding pour oil or fat down the drain as it can cause greasy blockage inside the pipes.
- Boiling coffee ground/lemon peels/ cinnamon with water and utensil to remove food smell
- 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of warm water: mix and pour it into a spray bottle, spray on the cabinet then use soft cloth to wipe clean.
But please remember that these cleaner recipes are not the magic thing to keep your kitchen smell good naturally if you don’t clean your kitchenware, tools, utensil, gloves, apron, etc. carefully and often.
#5 Keep your Fridge and Cabinets Tidy and Organized
Reducing food waste helps to have a clean fridge and cabinets. Less food means it’s easier to avoid bad smells. Use the tips below to organize your fridge and cabinet:
- Make a list what you have in fridge and cabinet, stick it on their doors
- First in first out rule. Put the old food close to the door and new food behind them
- Put leftover foods at the eye level and in airtight containers
- Use food date labels
- Categorize and put same items together
- Clean fridge and cabinet usually, throw out things that are expired.
Reduce the humidity in closed places such as cabinet, under the sink to prevent mold and smell. Put baking soda in an open container, leave it at humid place. It will absorb moisture slowly. A small dehumidifier you can move around easily is another good option but some of them will have chemicals in them. However, those chemicals don’t come out of the dehumidifier so it won’t have any contact with surfaces or foods.
Also, remember to dry out things before putting them into your cabinet to avoid increasing moisture.
#7 Fragrant Kitchen with Natural Essential
You can leave something fragrant in your kitchen to make your kitchen smell good. Here are some natural and easy options.
- Cut a lemon into slices, then put them into a pan of water with a handful of cloves. Cook the mix until it release fresh smell. Or you can try with your other favorite spices or aromas
- Soak cotton balls in vanilla essence, then put them in the fridge for pleasant scent
- Some indoor plants can release a nice smell for your house and your kitchen as well. Orchids, Jasmine, Mint, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Gardenia or Lavender are common choices.
- Light up a scented candle
- Bake something nice like bread. It’s hard to beat the smell of a freshly baked bread.
- Add the scent into your vinegar cleaner bottle to reduce vinegar smell and spread a fragrance through your kitchen while cleaning
#8 Keep Rat, Mouse and Cockroaches Away Kitchen by Natural Herbs
To keep these disgusting creatures away from your kitchen, you should stop them getting food first and foremost. Clean the food which is leftover in the sink, dishwasher, oven, stove or oven; clean kitchen and dinner table. Close the garbage bin tightly. Check any cabinets for holes and plug them if you find any. Keep an eye out for bite marks on packaging. If you find packaging that has been chewed on, it’s a clear sign you need to inspect that cabinet a little deeper.
Secondly, you can apply these scent around your kitchen to repel them; Cockroaches don’t like the smell of peppermint oil, cedarwood oil, cypress oil, basil leave, coffee grounds and garlic. Rats or mice don’t like the smell of citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus oils and vinegar.
Of course setting traps is a good way to get rid of any regular customers. But try the other two suggestions first. It will prevent new tenants from comming back after you got rid of the old ones.