The Best Ways to Fix the Stinkiest Smells in Your Kitchen

updated Oct 13, 2022
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Fact: Your kitchen is gonna get smelly. Especially in the summer when it’s hot outside. That stench (stenches?) sneaks up on you, too. You think you’re doing everything right, and then all of a sudden, it hits you. And whatever it is, it is RIPE. Don’t just light a candle and pretend like the odors aren’t there. I mean, definitely try lighting a candle — you just might need to do more. More, as in one of these smart things.

Here are our best tips for fixing the stinkiest smells in your kitchen.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Put spent lemons to use.

If you’re cooking with lemons, don’t throw out that juiced lemon! Cut the halves in half again and run them through the garbage disposal. You can also freeze lemon peels in some vinegar so you have cleaning cubes on hand whenever you notice odors.

Credit: Lauren Volo

2. Get a new sponge.

Your sponge may be to blame for the stink in your kitchen. It really is a magnet for all sorts of bacteria and microorganisms! The solution: Throw it out! Get a new sponge. In fact, get several: You’ll want to throw your sponge out more often than you think. Hint: You should swap in a new one at least every few weeks!

Credit: Diana Liang

3. Clean all the scraps and spills.

Little things can end up smelling in a big way. I’m talking about the stuff in the drain of your sink and dishwasher, the spills in the fridge, the grime at the bottom of your trash can … you see where I’m going with this. Clean up any crumbs, splatters, spills, etc. This will also help prevent pests from coming in!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Replace the baking soda in your refrigerator.

Do you have a box of baking soda in your refrigerator? Do you remember the last time you swapped it out for a new one? You should be replacing it every three months! Baking soda is also more effective at neutralizing odors if it has more surface area, so consider putting a cup of baking soda into a shallow bowl. Or just get a baking soda air filter, specifically designed to keep things smelling fresh.

Credit: Catherine Meschia

5. Get a charcoal filter for your garbage can.

Charcoal is another natural odor-buster, and this kit from simplehuman couldn’t be easier to use. Just stick it to the inside wall or the lid of your trash bin. To recharge, let it sit out in the sun for a few hours every four to six weeks.

Credit: Cat Meschia

6. Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!

If you’re cooking with things that smell and you don’t want that odor to linger, get that air circulating! Use the vent over your stove if you have one, invest in a fan, or, at the very least, open the window.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Throw out the worst offenders immediately.

Certain things are just going to stink — like meat scraps and seafood. Bag any waste after eating and get it outside of the house immediately.

Credit: The Kitchn

8. Check your cheese drawer.

According to Kitchn’s Lifestyle Director, Lisa Freedman, cheese is almost always the stinker. It might be that you just need to do a better job wrapping up your washed-rind cheeses. But if something looks like blue cheese, but didn’t start out that way, throw it out.

Credit: Lauren Volo

9. Get a smart splatter screen.

Lingering bacon grease smells great 15 minutes later. Hours later? Not so much. Don’t worry — I’m not going to tell you to stop making bacon. Just get yourself an odor-absorbing splatter screen, which has activated carbon worked into the mesh. 

10. Call the plumber. (Or the exterminator.)

If you do all the things and your kitchen still stinks, it might be time to call in a pro. Maybe there’s something stuck in the pipes, maybe there’s a kink in your dishwasher drain hose. Your plumber will help you figure it out and fix the problem so you’re not holding your nose every time you try to cook.

Or, as much as I hate to say it, you may need an exterminator. If it smells like something died in your kitchen, something might have died in your kitchen. An exterminator will help you look under and behind appliances or even in the walls if need be.

What are the stinkiest parts of your kitchen and how do you deal with them?