3 Ways to Get Garlic Smell Off Your Hands

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: LeeBrimelow)

‘Tis the season for smelly kitchen hands, right? It always seems that this time of year I find myself chopping away at clove after clove of garlic, or slaving at the cutting board as I attempt to slice onions “as thin as possible.” The result, aside from teary eyes on the onion end, is that it seems like my hands always smell like garlic, onions, or something even funkier from about November onwards. Don’t get me wrong: I love being in the kitchen, but I do not love the hand-smell.

Strangely, I had not regarded the garlic smell on my hands after cooking as obnoxious until a few years ago when a friend was assisting in the kitchen but declined to chop the garlic. “I don’t want to chop the garlic. My hands will smell,” she said to me. I blinked back, with the realization that perhaps people actually don’t love that smell on their hands after all, and merrily chopped it myself. After her comment though, I’ve noticed it more and more over the years. Here are a few solutions:

Stainless Steel: Many swear by the old stainless steel trick: After you’ve finished mincing, rub your fingers over something made of stainless steel, like a sink, faucet, or spoon, under cold water. Personally, I’ve never had much success getting in the nooks and crannies of my hands with this one, but it’s worth a shot.

Coffee: Alternatively, you could make your hands smell like something more pleasant, i.e. like coffee. Either rub a few whole coffee beans in your hand, or if you have already ground coffee, give yourself a little spa treatment and exfoliate with those under water. Maybe the coffee smell is more enjoyable, or maybe it fades faster, but this method seems to work.

Salt & Lemon: Rubbing hands together with a little lemon and salt can do the trick, but be careful not to irritate sensitive skin in the winter time. Maybe not the best if you’ve got already dry hands or any sort of preexisting cut — ouch!

And if all those fail, remember you can go hands-off and just mince garlic with a fork!

Now that I’ve found some solutions, maybe it’s time to try that 44-Clove Garlic Soup recipe that I’ve been eyeing?

How do you get the garlic smell of your hands? Do you have a secret remedy, or do you just embrace the scent?