How to Get Rid of 7 Kitchen Odors

A woman smelling a jar of coffee beans.
What You'll Need
Fresh lemons or limes
Baking soda
Lemon juice
Assorted spices
Assorted oil extracts
Glass jars
Plastic containers
Cotton balls

Every now and then, mysterious odors waft through the interior of your home. Whether they're emanating from the kitchen, bathroom, pet area, closet, laundry room, or any other area of the home, finding the source of the odor is the first order of business. As one of the hubs in a home, a lot goes on in the kitchen that can lead to lingering odors. Here are seven sources of odors you've probably experienced in your kitchen, and how to get rid of them.

1. Refrigerator

A major source of a smelly kitchen may be the refrigerator. To avoid smelly problems, check for items that may have passed their expiration date, forgotten containers of leftovers, and veggies that are going bad. Use white vinegar to wipe down refrigerator walls and place a box of baking soda with several holes in the top on a shelf to absorb odors. Replace as needed.

2. Food

As delicious and healthy as some food products are, some can leave a distinctive odor that permeates the air. To help clean the air while cooking and afterwards, place a small bowl near the stove and fill with regular household vinegar, which absorbs the odors.

3. Oven

A gloved hand cleaning an oven with a sponge.

Spilled and burnt food in ovens can result in a burned smoke aroma. To remove the smell once the oven has cooled, sprinkle the affected area with salt. Allow it to sit and then wipe it away.

4. Drains

Buildup in your sink can lead to smelly drains. An easy fix is a mixture of ½ cup of water and ½ cup of household bleach poured down the drain. Let the solution sit for at least one hour, and then vigorously run cold water down the drain to flush out smelly residue.

5. Microwave

A green cleaning cloth wiping out a microwave.

Microwaves are notorious havens for odors from food drips and splatters stuck to the interior. To remove the stuck-on smelly residue, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. The steam will loosen the residue, making it easier to remove. Microwave the solution for two to three minutes on high. Carefully remove the hot bowl and then wipe down the interior surface of the microwave.

6. Burnt Odors

Another smelly odor comes from burnt food inside the microwave, such as popcorn. This is easily removed by combining 1 ½ cups water with half of a lemon chopped into pieces, and 4 to 5 whole cloves. Place the mixture in a microwave-safe bowl and bring it to a boil. Allow the mixture to cool, and then remove the bowl and wipe out the interior of the microwave. Leave the microwave door open after cleaning to allow any remaining odors to clear out.

7. Wood Surfaces

A cutting board with lemons on it.

Wood surfaces, such as chopping blocks, retain odors. Clean them with a thorough scrubbing using a combination of baking soda or salt with lemon juice.

Homemade Air Fresheners

While over-the-counter odor-neutralizing products do a good job of covering odors, it’s easy to make your own. Once smelly areas have been detected, use these simple tips to get rid of offensive odors and keep your living space smelling fresh. Here are a few ways to do it with items you probably already have around the house!

  • Spices – Combine one cup of water with your favorite spice and microwave for two or three minutes for a quick freshening of the air.
  • Extracts – For a longer lasting freshener, place a cotton ball soaked in your favorite extract—orange, peppermint, lemon, or clove oil—inside a small glass jar. Puncture the lid with several holes to allow the fragrance to exit the jar. Secure the lid. Replace as needed.
  • Coffee – Freshen closets with unused ground coffee. Place several tablespoons into a pair or two of clean socks. Hang the socks in every closet to eliminate old musty odors.
  • Charcoal – Mold and mildew odors coming from closets, basements, or laundry areas can be eliminated by placing a container filled with activated charcoal in each location.