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How to Get a Fish Smell Out of the House: 5 Pro Tips, Plus Cooking Tricks to Prevent the Odor

Learn what the odor means when you haven't cooked seafood — and why it could be dangerous!

From baked salmon to homemade fish and chips, you love enjoying seafood at home. The only problem? Cooking up fish in your own kitchen can result in strong and unpleasant odors that seem to linger for hours! Thankfully, you don’t have to forgo it in your menu to avoid the odor. We got cleaning experts to share their best tips for how to get fish smell out of the house, plus ways to help prevent the odor in the first place! Below, you’ll also find what to do when you notice a smell without having cooked any fish and why it’s a potential hazard.

How to get fish smell out of the house

When you’re battling the fishy odors from a meal, there may be a number of sources around your house responsible for it. Try any of these tricks from cleaning pros to eliminate the smell!

Open the windows

A woman opening windows to get rid of fish smell
Westend61/Getty

The first step to getting the smell out of your house: Open up as many windows (and doors) as possible. This will allow for more airflow and keep the odor from becoming “trapped” in a confined indoor space.

Not noticing much of a difference after a couple of hours? The cleaning pros say it’s time to try another approach.

Related: How to Get Streak-Free Windows + Why Cleaning Them on a Cloudy Day Guarantees the Best Results

Reach for lemon juice

Lemon juice for getting fish smell out of the house
rez-art/Getty

If you spilled liquid on your counter or stovetop while prepping your fish to cook, that can certainly cause an unpleasant smell to stick around! Luckily, common household ingredients can help with that.

Out of all cleaning agents, anything acidic is usually a great choice to remove the odor of fish,” says Enereyda Morales, a professional cleaner for Dallas Maids. She suggests wiping the area with lemon juice or white vinegar. (Note: Avoid using on natural stone surfaces, however, as it might cause stains.)

Must-read: Did You Know That Lemons Can Make Your Shower Door Sparkle? Find Out How, Plus 9 More Genius Uses For The Fruit!

Opt for vinegar

Throwing out your kitchen trash can ensure any leftovers or discarded bits don’t result in lingering odors. But if you still smell it, your drain may have “trapped” odors.

“You can remove it by boiling ½ gallons of water and pour it down the drain,” says Morales. “Then pour 1 – 2 cups of white vinegar, then wait 5 minutes and pour another gallon of boiling hot water.” The acetic acid in vinegar helps break down odor-causing bacteria.

Related: Plumbers Weigh In: The Best Way To Remove Smells From a Kitchen Drain

Steam away fish odor

You may be surprised to know that some of the most pungent fish smells can stick around even in fabric items near your kitchen. “If you have a fabric/clothing steamer, make sure you run it through curtains nearby or any chairs,” suggests Morales. This stem clean will freshen the fabrics that have absorbed the odor. Just be sure to follow the instructions for the steamer to ensure proper use.

No steam cleaner? No problem! “If your upholstery has lingering odors, sprinkle baking soda over the fabric and let it sit for several hours or overnight,” explains Prerna Jain, founder of Ministry of Cleaning in Australia. “Then, vacuum it thoroughly to remove the baking soda along with the absorbed odors.” Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, but won’t leave behind any residue on the fabric.

Related: 16 Brilliant Uses for Baking Soda That Will Save You Time and Money

Freshen up the air

Orange peels and cinnamon sticks to help cover up fish odors
Johner Images/Getty

Candles, spray fresheners and more can all help impart a fresh scent. If you prefer a natural alternative, create your own! “You can simmer or boil cinnamon sticks and an orange peel on low for an hour,” shares Morales. “You can also try 6 cups of water and 2 cups of vinegar in a pot and let them boil. Again, this should be on low for an hour because you want it to be nice and slow to progressively remove odor.” (Click through for more brilliant ways to use orange peels).

See a variation of this homemade air freshener in the video below:

@sunflowerdreamz_94

All you need is 3 simple ingredients: Water, cinnamon sticks & orange peels. Boil on high for about 20mins, reduce heat & enjoy the aroma ✨

♬ Free Mind – Tems

Related: 7 Genius Homemade Air Fresheners Using Items You Already Have On Hand

How to prevent fish odors

To keep your house from ever smelling like fish, check out some of these simple strategies to minimize the odor before it becomes a problem.

Fish cooked in foil packets to reduce odors
Svetlana Monyakova/Getty

The simple fixes:

  • “Always start with fresh fish, it tastes better and has a nicer, cleaner smell,” says Ta’Zhana Butler, a cleaner for BetterCleans.
  • Once your fish is cooked, throw away packaging and any leftovers bits right away and take the trash outside.
  •  When cooking on the stovetop, use a lid to trap the steam and smell inside the pan. “And turn on your exhaust fan and range hood,” adds Robinson. You can also consider cooking the fish outside if it’s warm out and you have your own grill.
  • If you plan on baking your fish in the oven, consider cooking it with herbs and veggies in foil packets or parchment paper. This will add a nice, pleasant aroma.
  • “For easy cleanup, buy disposable aluminum trays or foil so you can just toss them out when you’re done,” suggests Butler. And keep any leftovers in airtight containers!

Related: No More Dry, Overcooked Fish: This 15-Second Step Ensures Moist, Flaky + Tender Fillets

When the smell of fish is a cause for concern

If your house smells like fish and you haven’t cooked any, you may have a home wiring issue. It might sound odd, but a fishy smell can be an early indicator of a serious electrical problem that could potentially lead to a fire.

Real estate agent and Tiktok user @camitscashed explains this in the video below:

@camitscashed

House have a fishy smell? 🎣👃🏻 check your outlets! If the plastic is getting hot or melting it is known to smell like fish. 😳 this can be an indication of a electrical problem! ⚡️ #TheBlissTeam #Realestate #Tips #SephoraConcealers

♬ original sound – Cameron Liss

When a circuit develops a fault and overheats, the plastics and heat-resistant chemicals used in sockets, circuit breakers or wiring insulation can emit a fishy or urine-like smell. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning can all carry this odor throughout the house. It may grow stronger or fainter with changing temperatures and circuit usage, sometimes making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from.

What to do if your home smells fishy

When you notice this smell and you haven’t cooked fish, you should inspect your home immediately and check switches and plugs for any signs of heat or burning. If you’re able to identify the source of the smell, turn off the appliance right away. If you can’t, call in a certified electrician to carry out an inspection as soon as possible.This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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