How to Quickly Get Rid of Fish Smell in the House
There are some things you just don’t heat up in the break room microwave at work, and fish is one of them. Fish and other ocean creatures can be notoriously smelly, thanks largely to a chemical called trimethylamine (TMA). To maintain the right balance of fluids and salts in ocean water, marine life rely on trimethylamine oxide and similar amine chemicals.
Unfortunately, TMA happens to hit humans right in one of our sensitive olfactory receptors in the lining of our nose. We tend to find this smell unpleasant, probably because it’s often emitted by rotting organic material. When a fish dies, even when freshly caught, enzymes in bacteria and the fish’s own cells break things down and release the TMA chemical.
When you’ve cooked fish in your home, you’ll often find that the whole place smells like a fish market for some time afterward. While the smell of cooking fish can be pleasant, the stale fishy aroma that lingers in the air when you’re done can be nauseating. Here are some things that you can do to minimize fishy smells after preparing and cooking marine fish.
Best Fish Smell Remover
Rub-a-Way Odor Absorber
A chunk of stainless steel shaped like a bar of soap might seem like a really weird product, but it actually does work. The TMA chemical responsible for the smell of fish, as well as many other common household odors, contain sulfur within their molecules.
The sulfur binds with stainless steel to form compounds, helping to remove it from your hands. The Rub-a-Way Odor Absorber is dishwasher safe, hypoallergenic, and environmentally friendly. Use it with water like a bar of soap, and it will help pull the compounds responsible for fish smell off of your hands. It also works for other strong odors, like garlic.
Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bag
Activated charcoal – charcoal that’s been treated chemically to increase its oxygen content – is great at pulling unpleasant odors out of the air. It’s quite porous, with plenty of surface area for binding to odor-causing chemicals.
The Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bag from California Home Goods uses charcoal made from renewable, environmentally friendly bamboo. Each bag contains two hundred grams of activated charcoal, with a holes in the bags for hanging them around your home. Along with removing unpleasant smells, the charcoal bags also help pull moisture from the air, reducing humidity and preventing mildew growth.
How to Minimize Fish Smell After Cooking
If you’re cooking fish indoors, especially ocean fish, here are some things you can do to help minimize the odor.
- Put a fan by a window near the cooking area. This helps push odor-containing air outside.
- Open another window. This lets fresh air in.
- Clean your appliances and cookware directly after cooking. Fish oil on pots, pans, and stove tops starts to smell pretty quickly.
- Close doors to other rooms in your home, like bedrooms and closets.
Leave out a bowl of vinegar, coffee grounds, baking soda, or activated charcoal in the kitchen overnight. These will help dissipate lingering odors in the air.
How does lemon juice remove the odor of fish?
Trimethylamine, the main chemical responsible for the fishy smell (before and after cooking) is basic with a pH greater than 7. Because of this, acids like lemon juice, vinegar, and tomato juice help neutralize it and reduce its odor.
Cooking fish with lemon juice or vinegar can help create a less smelly cooking process, leaving fewer strong odors behind after you’re done.
How can I make my fish smell less fishy?
If your fish smells too fishy, it could be a sign that it isn’t fresh, as more TMA is released as a dead fish decomposes. That’s something where you should trust your instinct. If it doesn’t smell right, don’t eat it. However, even fresh fish can make your house smell fishy. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the smell.
Soak the fish in milk for twenty minutes before you cook it. Casein, a protein in milk, can bind to the trimethylamine that makes fish smell fishy. When it’s done soaking, gently pat it dry, then cook it as you normally would.
Squeeze lemon juice over the fish before you cook it. Lemon juice goes well with fish, and the acid helps neutralize TMA. You can also use vinegar for this.
Go for freshwater fish, rather than marine fish sourced from the sea. Because TMA helps fish regulate their water balance in saltwater environments, marine fish tend to have more of it, and tend to have a “fishier” smell as a result.
How do you get fish smell out of the refrigerator?
A box of baking soda, or bag of activated charcoal, can help remove unpleasant odors from your fridge. However, if it reeks of fish, the best thing to do is probably to clean it out thoroughly.
Remove everything and unplug it. Then, remove and clean the drawers and racks from the inside. You can clean the interior with a solution of water and regular dish detergent. You can also use bleach solutions to clean and disinfect it. After cleaning it, gently towel dry it, then let it air out for a while with the doors open. When you’re done, put the drawers and racks back in, turn it back on, and then put its contents back inside when it starts to cool back down.
It’s important that you get rid of the fish smell from the fridge as soon as possible. Leaving it will introduce a host of other problems. For example, it may attract unwanted rodents like mice to your kitchen area.