How to Get Rid of Fish Smell in Your Kitchen

There’s nothing like the smell of fish when it’s steaming, frying or baking. Better yet, the delicious smell that fills the air when dinner is on the table. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

But what about the next morning when the pots and plates have been washed and the counters have been wiped down? What is that stench lingering for days on end!? Could that be the smell of… Stinky fish?

Why, yes. Yes, it is.

If you’ve cooked fish before, then you probably already know that no matter how hard you clean and scrub, that fish smell seems to never go away. Also, there’s nothing worse than trying to mask the smell with a scented candle or air freshener. It just smells like fish mixed with cheap perfume. Nauseating, if you ask me.

Much to your surprise, it’s actually pretty easy to get rid of the smell of fish. If you know how, of course. Getting rid of that awful smell starts the day you bring that fish home with you. Here are some of the best tips and tricks for keeping your home smelling like a home, not a fish market.

Find the Right Catch

First and foremost, you want to make sure that you buy the freshest fish. If you are cooking your own catch, the sooner you put it in the oven, the better. Find a fishmonger you can count on and make sure that he is knowledgeable about fish. Poke the flesh of the fish and make sure that it is firm (Don’t worry, it won’t bite). The firmer it is, the fresher.

Another thing, raw fish shouldn’t smell fishy. Ironic, but it’s the truth. Instead, it should smell like icy clean water. Otherwise, it should smell a little bit briny. Sort of like cucumbers, if you ask me. If the smell of stinky fish jumps out at you, it’s probably not the freshest fish, and it’s probably been poorly handled. Most fish that have been properly cleaned should not have such a strong smell.

Choose a Less Smelly Type of Fish

Fish really only smells after you cook it. However, there are certain fish that have stronger cooking smells than others. Oily fish like different types of salmon, mackerel and sardines are typically more foul-smelling than lean fish or “white meat fish” like flounder and snapper.

The smell typically has to do with the amount of amines in a fish. That is why we usually squeeze lemon onto our fish, to combat the fishy-smelling amines. If your favorite fish can’t escape its funky nature, then there are ways to reduce the odor.

Soak It

Before cooking your fish, soak it in a bowl with fresh milk for at least 20 minutes. The enzymes can help eliminate the odor of the fish significantly. You can also soak the fish in diluted vinegar. To do so, add four cups of water mixed with a few tablespoons of vinegar into a bowl, then place the fish in there.

Change Up Your Cooking Method, Chef!

While I will admit that frying, sautéing and pan-roasting fish are some of the tastiest ways to cook fish, it does produce more odors. In general, it is because those cooking techniques release more fat particles into the air. If you are trying to cook fish without making the entire house reek with smell, then you may want to consider other cooking methods.

Baking a fish that is sealed in parchment paper is usually the best way to keep the smells under wraps. It also helps keep in all of those yummy flavors. Similarly, poaching a fish allows the smells to remain buried under water, where they belong! For those looking to take on the intimidating endeavor of grilling, this is the prime solution to getting that fish smell out of your house.

Close the Doors and Open up the Windows

If you live in a small apartment, like me, then it’s likely that the smell of fish will travel to the living room, to the bedroom, to the bathroom… It will basically take over your entire apartment, and maybe sneak into your neighbor’s place, too. All in all, you definitely don’t want to go to bed with the smell of fish lingering in your room.

To avoid this, make sure to close all of the doors in your house while cooking. Then, open up every window at your place and set up a fan pointing out the window. Say goodbye to the fishy odors as they escape your house. If you have a vent over your stove, then use that, too! It’s there for a reason, guys.

Let the Smells Simmer

Another great tip is to simmer a pot of lemon, vinegar, cinnamon or spices to help counteract any foul odors. If you cannot stand the smell of salmon as it cooks, then pour a cup of bleach and keep it in your kitchen as you cook. Just make sure to keep it as far from your food as possible! You aren’t trying to poison anybody, after all.

Cleaning up the Aftermath

After you have finished cooking and enjoyed your delicious meal, you should clean up as quickly as possible in order to reduce the fishy smell in your home. It is always better to do this before the smell worsens. Also, promptly put away any leftovers you may have by tightly wrapping and refrigerating them properly.

Wash all greasy cooking pans, plates and platters immediately after using them. If the smell is really bad, try giving your sink a good scrub, too. Wipe down kitchen surfaces with vinegar or lemon juice and leave it on the counter overnight. You can also clean your kitchen surfaces with a paste of baking soda or some simple salt and water.

Wash Your Hands

It’s not just the kitchen that gets smelly after you cook fish. It’s your hands, too! Most experienced fishermen will tell you to wipe your hands on your pants and get on with your day. But do you really want to walk around smelling like a bucket of fish? Yeah, I don’t think so.

There are a few ways to get the smell of fish out of your fingers. Most commonly, you can use toothpaste, lemon, vinegar and vanilla extract. To get the smell off of you, simply wash your hands with one of these remedies. Then, wash your hands again with just soap and water.