4 Places to check for bad smells in the kitchen

garbage bags in front of a graffitoed wall

Bad smells in the kitchen can sometimes make everyday activities like cooking and cleaning feel like traversing the Bog of Eternal Stench. Do you have terrible odors hiding in your kitchen even though you’ve (supposedly) cleaned it?

Here are the places where bad smells come from

1. The garbage

Remember the “It ain’t got no gas in it” scene in Sling Blade?

If you’ve scrubbed every surface, but the smell is still there, maybe you forgot to check the most obvious place. The garbage. Your leftovers four days ago. Onion and garlic skins. Rotting vegetables. All that stuff’s been sitting in wet coffee grounds and table scraps, liquefying into a miasma of garbage juice.

Mmmmmmmm.

After you take out the garbage, check the bottom of the trash can. If there’s a congealed layer of weeks-old garbage juice, prepare yourself.

Here is a resourceful person who has figured out the best way to clean trash cans.

Throw something absorbent in the bottom of the new liner:

  • baking soda
  • dryer sheets
  • citrus peels
  • cat litter

When you throw food away, scrape it into a coffee can or plastic bag you can tie off and keep it contained.

2. The garbage disposal

Think about all the stuff you grind up in your garbage disposal and how gross it is now. And then it gets covered in layers of grease and rotting food particles.

Blecchhh.

The easiest way to clean a garbage disposal is to run some lemon slices through it every couple of weeks. Citric acid cuts grease, kills germs, and emits fantastic aromas. Lemons and limes are most potent, but grapefruit and orange work beautifully, too.

3. The dish sponge

It’s not enough to toss the dish sponges in the dishwasher or microwave every once in a while, and it’s all good. But it isn’t, and it’s time to stop deluding ourselves.

Pretend you’re a dish sponge for a second. Here’s your average day:

People constantly grab you with their dirty hands and scrub your head against globs of greasy meat, mushy pasta, burnt eggs, and cheese.

Then they leave you on the bottom of the sink, soaking wet and matted with food. Of course you stink.

Most mold thrives in moisture and ambient temperatures (77-86 degrees F). If you want to slow it down, deprive it of water.

Squeeze excess water out of the dish sponge and lean it on its end to dry. And because killing sponge germs is like playing whack-a-mole, saturate it with isopropyl alcohol or microwave it for 45 – 60 seconds. At least once a week.

No matter how you try, you can’t stop the population in a sponge continually breeding. There are cleaner alternatives to a sponge gaining traction and might be worth checking out.

4. The refrigerator

We don’t always clean up spills in the fridge right away. Especially in the vegetable crisper where asparagus has expired and leaked a bit of rotten juice in the bottom of the drawer. Cartons of bad food languish unnoticed in the back of the fridge behind delivery containers from last night.

Go through your fridge and make sure you toss all the out-of-date stuff. You may not think there’s anything wrong with week-old pizza, but you’d be surprised how fast some foods expire and grow dangerous levels of bacteria.

Human eyes cannot see bacteria until there’s way too much of it.

If there are any spills, clean them with a homemade cleaner for an effective job without harmful chemicals.

Call it a day. Have a drink. You just vanquished billions of invisible enemies.

Have a favorite way to get rid of bad smells you’d like to share? Feel free to enlighten us via the comments. Or tell us what kind of drink you had after you cleaned your kitchen.

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