Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

How To Eliminate Fish Smells In Your Home

how to remove fish smells from home custom graphic

An important aspect of house cleanliness that often evades our cleaning skills is peculiar household odours or, quite literally, fishy smells! After cooking and enjoying a tasty seafood meal for dinner, the smell of fish the next day can be quite pervasive and elusive. In fact, you start to feel like the smell has seeped into your upholstery and furniture as you walk through your home. 

While a good tip is to immediately wash any item in your kitchen that was used to cook or hold the fish, sometimes, the smell seems to permeate into the walls. Fortunately, our cleaning guides at MaidForYou have listed a few varying methods to get rid of fishy smells in the house using some handy, everyday household items. What’s great about these cleaning solutions is that they don’t only neutralise the smell of fish, but help deodorise the place, too!

Simple DIY Methods to Eliminate Fish Odours

woman wearing yellow jacket holding large fish

Before you run out and buy a can of air freshener or resort to spraying chemicals into your indoor air that merely mask the odour temporarily, consider trying one of these effective methods to rid your home of fish smells altogether.

The Spice Method

Cinnamon, ginger, and cloves are useful agents for odour elimination in the home. When combined, they produce a powerful fragrance that combats fishy smells.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Add 3 - 4 cinnamon sticks, 3 - 4 cloves, and 1 tablespoon of ground ginger to a small pot with some water.

Step 2. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. Leave it uncovered throughout the process so that the scent dissipates through the air. Do not discard the water and spices or cover the pot until the scent fades away.

The Vinegar Method #1

Vinegar, being acidic, helps neutralise the alkalinity of odours thus eliminating the smell of fish. While vinegar has a strong smell itself, this method in particular is recommended for mild fish odours in your kitchen.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step1. Add a generous amount of white vinegar to a bowl of water. Equal parts will suffice, however, the amount of vinegar added will depend on how strong the fishy smell is.

Step 2. Leave the bowl on the kitchen counter top overnight. This will help reduce the smell of fish by next morning. If needed, you can leave it out longer, or replace it with a fresh batch for lingering smells.

The Vinegar Method #2

Obviously, a strong fish odour in your home calls for a stronger solution to eliminate it. For this, vinegar is used in a slightly different way than the method above.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. In a saucepan, add approximately 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 cup of water.

Step 2. Turn the stove to medium or high heat, and allow the mixture to boil for several minutes. This will allow the vapours to travel through the air, thus vanquishing smells.  

Step 3. Leave the solution to cool down, and reheat it if needed.

The Boiled Lemon Method

No one can deny the freshness of lemon; however, when trying to get rid of fish smells in the home, you can enhance the fragrance by adding a few other ingredients to the mix. 

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Cut up a lemon or a lime in half; gather 1-2 bay leaves, and 1 vanilla pod or a few drops of vanilla extract. As an alternative to vanilla, you can use rosemary leaves.

Step 2. Add the ingredients to a small pot of water, and bring it to a boil.

Step 3. Lower the heat, and allow it to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Place the pot in the room where the fish odour is strongest, and leave it overnight.

The Ground Coffee Method

There are two simple ways to use coffee to remove fishy odour from your kitchen and home:

  • Leave a cup of ground coffee in a bowl in the smelliest part of the kitchen.
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of ground coffee to water in an open pot. Allow it to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. The aroma will take care of lingering fish smells in any room of your home.

How to Remove Fish Smell in Microwave

For this, citrus fruits like lime, lemon, oranges and tangerines are highly recommended because they contain citric acid that is a powerful cleaning agent with disinfectant properties. Along with your microwave, they can also be used to remove fishy odours or splatters from various kitchen surfaces and household items.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Keeping the rind of the fruit on, cut a lemon/lime into 4 quarters. 

Step 2. Squeeze the juice into a small microwave-safe bowl with some water, and add in the squeezed bits of the fruit. The goal here is to submerge the lemon or lime bits in just enough water, but not too much that the infusion gets too diluted. 

Step 3. Place the bowl in the centre of the microwave, and set the timer for 2-3 minutes. The lime water should create steam and moisture along the interiors that will help freshen up the microwave. You can add another 2-3 minutes if you are dealing with an overbearing fish smell.

Step 4. After approximately half a minute or so, open the microwave door, and allow the interiors and heating plate to cool down. 

Step 5. Using a damp sponge or kitchen cloth, wipe along the inside of the microwave. This will clear up any odour caused by dried food that might have accumulated inside the microwave. 

How to Remove Fishy Odour in Garbage Disposal

Whether you are trying to get rid of fish odour, or simply want to clean and freshen up your garbage disposal, this method is sure to help.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Cut citrus peels or fruits into small bits. 

Step 2. Turn on your garbage disposal unit. 

Step 3. Place the rinds or citrus bits into the garbage disposal one at a time

Step 4. Once finished, check for lingering smells and repeat the process if needed.

Tips to Reduce Lingering Fish Odours

filleted fish on a chopping board next to lemon and rock salt

  • After cooking, spray your kitchen counter with a mix of water and white vinegar to immediately remove smells.
  • Wash dirty dishes soon after use.
  • Remove the garbage from your house as soon as possible when fish has been disposed.
  • Any leftovers after cleaning a fish can stink up the whole house. Consider freezing the leftovers in a plastic bag or container away from your other food, and throw it in the outside garbage bin the next day.
  • To remove the food smell from pots that have been cooking for hours, first rinse the pan with washing liquid, then add water and a few (preferably green) tea bags and boil. Let the tea sit for approximately 30 minutes, and then wash thoroughly. 
  • You can make your very own essential oil spritzer at home to freshen up the place. Using water as a base, you can add your favourite essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, or rose, and spray the solution around your kitchen. 
  • To get rid of stale fridge smells, keep an open bowl of baking soda in the fridge. This will absorb unwanted smells. 
  • To remove fish odours from upholstery or carpets, liberally sprinkle baking soda over the area, and leave it overnight; use an appropriate attachment to vacuum up the baking soda thereafter.
  • If there is a fishy smell in your house even though you haven’t cooked fish the previous day, it could be due to overheating of an outlet, wire, or circuit breaker. In this case, you should call an electrician for an immediate inspection. 

Don’t let the unpleasantness of fishy smells keep you from cooking or eating your favourite seafood at home! With these simple-to-follow methods, you can get rid of fish odour in your house, and keep it smelling fresh and clean. What’s more, adding your favourite scents like freshly ground coffee or lavender essential oil will help promote a feeling of calmness and serenity in your home!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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