woman holding smelly fish

How to Get Rid of the Smell of Fish

According to some nutritionists, a balanced diet should contain two portions of fish a week. This idea sounds grand on paper. You get to eat healthy. And you get access to essential minerals and vitamins in the process.

Yet, there’s usually one thing that holds people back: fish stinks when it’s being cooked! And the ponginess lingers for hours after you’ve finished eating your meal.

So, how do you get rid of the smell of fish so you can eat healthier? Read on to find out how you manage the pungent aroma of fish!


Find the Source of the Fishy Odour

woman holding smelly food from the fridge

When it comes to removing fishy aromas, the first step you must take is to find out where the stench is coming from. The smell could be coming from the following areas:

  • You cooked fish (the most obvious and likeliest source). In this case, you concocted a fish dish for supper, and as a result you have lingering fishy odours in your home.
  • Your utensils/bins/fridge are wreaking of fishiness. This is likely caused by you using various cooking tools and not cleaning them effectively. Or the rubbish bag may contain packaging that’s covered in fishy juice, so it has started to stink. Or the fridge may be smelling because that’s where the fish was kept, and some juice may have leaked onto the shelves.
  • Your hands are covered in a fishy smell. This is the consequence of handling the fish, most likely during the cooking process.
  • If you haven’t been eating or cooking fish, it could be a sign that you’ve got an electrical fault somewhere in your home. This tends to happen when the hard plastics around switches and sockets overheat.

Now you’ve got a better idea of where the fishy fragrance is coming from, you can remove it. Take note of the remedies below.


How to Remove the Smell of Fish After Cooking

There are several options you can try out to remove the fishy aroma from your abode. Check them out below:

Get rid of any seafood remains

throwing leftover food in the bin

The simplest way to remove the smell of fish from your house is to remove any leftover fish from your property. So, either eat whatever is left of your fishy super or bin it.

If you dump the waste food, put it in a caddy liner, tie the top, and take the liner to the big food waste bin.


Clean your cooking tools

handwashing pans

In addition to getting rid of the leftover fish, you also need to clean any surfaces and tools that the fish has come into contact with.

This includes:

  • General cooking utensils – spatula, tongs, and spoons.
  • Tea towels and oven mitts that may be stained/stinky.
  • Plates, pans, cutlery, and grills.
  • Containers used to store the fish.
  • Worktops, trivets, tiles, and cooker surround.
  • Sponges/pads used to clean the tools (they’ll be humming of fish when you’re done cleaning).

Failing to clean the surfaces and tools listed above will result in you having a lingering fishy aroma in your house.

To clean your equipment and surfaces, just rinse them in cold water, then clean them in warm soapy water.

Don’t worry if you have to clean some tools more than once or if you have to leave them to soak in the sudsy water for a few minutes (to remove toughened dirt).


Open the windows/door to allow fresh air into the room(s)

Open window with breeze

A cheap and easy solution is to open the doors and windows in your house so that you can let fresh air into the property. In the process, the poorer odours will be drawn outside!

Tip: You should cook with the windows and doors open so the smells can waft outside as you prepare the meal.


Light a scented candle(s)

lighting a scented candle

Another simple solution is to light some aromatically pleasing candles and put a few of them around your house. The pleasant smell given off by the burning candle will mask the fish odour!

Ginger and cinnamon scents work well at reducing fish-related stenches.


Boil some white vinegar or lemon/lime peels

boiling lemons

During or after you’ve cooked your fishy supper, pop some water on the hob to boil for several minutes and either stick some vinegar into it or add lemon or lime peels to it.

The water will start to simmer and the acidity in the vinegar/peels will neutralise the displeasing odours for you.


Simmer ginger or cinnamon sticks on the cooker

simmer ground ginger and cinnamon sticks

If you’re after a more pleasing smell, boil some ground ginger or cinnamon sticks in a pan of boiling water on the hob.

These two tend to give off quite bold scents at the best of times, so they’re ideal for covering up fishy stenches.


Dot some charcoal/bicarbonate of soda/ground coffee around the place

charcoal, bicarbonate of soda and ground coffee

Just fill some shallow dishes with either bicarbonate of soda, charcoal, or ground coffee and spread them around your room(s) (the dishes can be dotted around pre and post cooking!).

These ingredients are great at absorbing odours, so they’ll take out the stench of fish for you. Plus, coffee has a bold fragrance that’ll hit your nostrils as soon as you walk into the room!

Tip: You can even put these dishes in the fridge to absorb fish-related smells.


Freshen up your fabrics with some air freshener

home air freshener

Don’t forget to squirt some air freshener around your house to take out the pesky smell of fish.

You could also create your own spray from water and essential oils if you’d prefer.

Just spray a fine mist around your home, and the lingering fish smell will be replaced with something more pleasing!


If all else fails, cook or bake something that smells nice

woman holding baked cookies

As a backup option, you could always cook something extra stinky – but this time the good kind of smelly – to cover up the fish smell. Think cookies, cakes, and bread!

Tip: To get rid of the smell of fish, use a combination of the above.


How to Reduce the Smell of Fish When Cooking

There’s no getting away from the fact that fish smells when it’s being cooked. However, there are several ways you can manage the fishy aroma.

Take note of the following tips:

  • When cooking, try to keep the fishy aroma contained in one area of the house. So, if you’re in the kitchen, close the door to the hallway, living room, and bedrooms.
  • Keep the windows and back door open as you cook to leave the fishy odour out.
  • Cook with scented candles on in the background.
  • Rinse the fish in cold water before you cook it. (This will help to remove any bacteria and blood, as well as take out lingering smells from the body of the dead fish).
  • Cook a type of fish that doesn’t smell too bad (fresh fish, for example) and ditch the aromatic kippers.
  • Keep the fish in its original packaging until you need to use it (don’t pull it out and leave it on the counter).
  • Rubbing an acidic ingredient like vinegar, lemon, or lime into the fish’s skin before cooking it can neutralise some of the foul odour (it also adds flavour).
  • Spread shallow dishes filled with bicarb or charcoal around your kitchen to absorb the unpleasant smell as you cook the fish.
  • Soak the fish in milk for twenty minutes, then rinse and cook it (this absorbs some of the smell).
  • Freeze the fish if you don’t eat it immediately.
  • Wrap your fish in foil and then cook it (this helps to keep the smell contained).
  • Consider your cooking technique – frying will make the room very smelly, whereas oven cooking (using foil), putting a lid over the pan, or even BBQing the fish outside is far better.
  • Poach fish in boiling water to reduce aromas.
  • Mop up any spills as you go. By doing this, you won’t have pools of fishy juice sitting around, causing lingering seafood-related scents!
  • Wash out the packaging your fish came in, bin it, then take out the rubbish bag.

Tip: You could use several of these tips at once to manage the fishy aroma in your home as you cook.


How to Remove the Smell of Fish from Cooking Utensils 

To clean smelly cooking utensils, follow the steps below:

  1. Hold and rinse each tool under the cold water tap.
  2. Clean each tool with warm, soapy water.
  3. Optional: Repeat the steps above.


How to Remove the Smell of Fish from a Fridge

woman cleaning smelly fridge

To remove the smell of fish from a fridge, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the fish and its packaging from the fridge (be careful if it’s leaking).
  2. Wipe up any leaks with soapy water.
  3. Take out the drawers and shelves and clean them with soapy water.
  4. Clean the back and sides of the fridge with soapy water to ensure you haven’t missed any fishy juice that may have tipped out of the packaging!
  5. Dry all of the surfaces and assess the aroma.
  6. Add some bicarb/ground coffee to the fridge to absorb the lingering aromas.


How to Remove the Smell of Fish from Your Hands

If you’ve handled a lot of fish or picked up a very smelly type of seafood, you’ll need to clean your hands properly before you touch the surfaces in your house.

To clean your hands, rinse them under the cold water tap for a few minutes, then use warm soapy water to clean them.

Rub between your fingers and massage both sides of your hands (palms).

Rinse your hands and dry them with a clean towel that hasn’t come into contact with any type of fish (or other dirt, for that matter!).

As additional steps, you could sanitise your hands with a scented hand sanitiser or rub toothpaste into your hands, then rinse the product off to make sure there is no lingering aroma on them.


What Can Make a House Smell of Fish If You Haven’t Cooked Fish?

fixing electrical wirings

If you know for a fact that you’ve not cooked any fish or had any type of fish in your house, it’s likely that the fishy odour you have is a result of an electrical fault in your property.

In this case, you should try and locate the fault (you should be able to narrow down the problem area quite quickly), cut the power supply to the area, and call an electrician immediately.

A qualified professional will be able to tell you exactly what’s wrong and will resolve the issue for you.