How-To & Diy

The Best Way to Free Your Hands of Garlic Odors

September 28, 2013

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: There is a time and a place for garlic and its heady aroma -- that place is not on your hands.

How to Remove Garlic Odors from Your Hands, from Food52

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Garlic enhances just about every type of dish we can think of. Less desirable? The raw garlic aroma that lingers on your fingertips no matter how many times you wash them. This week on the Hotline, Kathy wants to know how to get rid of that smell once and for all, and she's already received some clove-r tips:

  • QueenSashy recommends rubbing your hands with vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Multiple members are convinced that rubbing your hands on stainless steel is the best fix -- whether the stainless steel is in the form of a large spoon, the garlic press you were just using, or the bars of “soap” designed especically for this very purpose. (HalfPint notes that this method can help remove fishy aromas too.)
  • Melusine has found scrubbing with salt to be more effective than stainless steel.

What do you think is the best way to remove the smell of garlic from your hands? Add your two cents to the question on the Hotline here or continue the conversation in the comments below! 

Photo by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • blackberry
  • catalinalacruz
  • Arglebargle
  • Deborah31311
  • Emily
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


blackberry October 7, 2013
Wash you hands/knife/chopping board in cold water...must be cold, the colder the better.
catalinalacruz October 6, 2013
Beat me with a wet noodle, but I use a garlic press. No odor on the hands.
Arglebargle September 30, 2013
One more for the stainless steel club! I rub my wet hands on the faucet after chopping onions or garlic and it works!
Deborah31311 September 29, 2013
I've found that rubbing my hand along the kitchen sink tap (faucet) and then washing with soap takes away the odour. Same with onion.
Emily September 29, 2013
Coffee grinds! I leave the grinds from my morning pot of coffee in the maker until later I do my dinner dishes in the evening. If I've chopped garlic, I grab a little handful of the grounds and scrub my hands with them. They don't seem to stain my hands, the coffee smell is gone after a minute or two, and the garlic smell disappears! Occasionally I've used toothpaste, but I never find that it works quite as well.
twinwillow September 28, 2013
I just rub my hands on my stainless steel sink. Works like a charm!
ortolan September 28, 2013
Stainless steel works wonders. I just rub my hands on the interior of the sink with the water running! For some reason, "sink" stainless steel works much better than any steel implement you can find in your arsenal. It completely removes the scent, no need for a bar-soap thingy.
JohnZ September 28, 2013
Some may find it unsavory, but my secret to never having garlicky-smelling hands is to simply not wash my hands before handling the garlic. When you wash your hands you wash away your skin's natural oils. The same oils that prevent other oils and compounds from penetrating your skin. So, just don't wash your hands before you do anything with garlic, and make sure to cook your food at a temperature that would kill any germs. Simple.

And actually, the same goes for handling hot peppers. As many seasoned cooks have (tragically) found out, if you wash your hands before handling hot peppers, there's a good chance your hands will burn for a few hours afterward.
SousChef August 20, 2019
Man, wash your frigging hands when you cook. It's not so much of an issue if you actually cook it till it's all dead, but man if you serve things raw without washing your hands, disgusting. E.coli, and some other bacteria that can be frequently found on the hands, is really dangerous for people with an autoimmune deficiency or disease.
LuLuLa September 28, 2013
Trader Joe's lemon kitchen soap works great, my hands never smell like garlic or onions after washing with it!
Leah September 28, 2013
When nothing else works, rub your hands with toothpaste.
Winness September 28, 2013
I keep a dispenser bottle of lavender hand soap by my kitchen sink. As soon as I'm finished handling garlic, I run the hot water and wash my hands with it. Odor gone.
cucina D. September 28, 2013
As a first generation Italian, I cook with garlic often. My Nonna and Mammina would use a cut up lemon to wash our hands of the garlic Smell, works every time and smells fresh an clean too.
Zensister September 28, 2013
I'm a fan of the stainless steel method. The blunt side of a table knife helps get under the nails where it tends to linger.
vevericka September 28, 2013
I soak my hands in milk or yogurt. Leaves them incredibly soft, too.
Janel September 28, 2013
A salt scrub infused with lavender oil is a great way to remove food smells. and it sloughs off the dead skin cells revealing soft and moisturized hands. Scrub hands dry, not wet. After scrubbing, do not use soap, just rinse hands and pat dry. You can also follow that with a good hand lotion...