This isn’t a job for your trusty scented candle.

By Briana Riddock
November 01, 2017
Geo-grafika/Getty Images

Smoking up your kitchen when searing meat or (accidentally) burning food can leave a lingering burnt and bizarre smell, that will oftentimes waft throughout the rest of your home, even after the smoke has mostly cleared. Opening the windows and doors, and turning on your ceiling fans are the first intuitive action steps to take. However, the circulation of fresh air from the outside isn’t a quick fix, and the stench can remain for quite a while. Instead of attempting to cover the smell (with sprays or scented candles), here are a few DIY tricks to help eliminate the smoky smell for good.

The first thing you want to do is throw away the culprit: The burnt food. If you did accidentally overcook something to a crisp, take the blackened item outside, eliminating the source of the smell. Soak the pan in which the food was burnt in soapy water and clean up any leftover residue on your counters and stove top. Now, address the odors in the air: 

Lemon Water

Bring a medium pot of water to boil and add in a few sliced lemons to boil in the water. Reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. The zesty scent will slowly drown out the smoky smell.  

Vinegar Water 

Add equal parts water and white distilled vinegar to a medium pot to boil, and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. The stringent vinegar neutralizes the air to remove the remaining odors.    

Onion Water

Cut 2 medium onions in half and place them in a large bowl filled with about 4 cups of room temperature water; set the bowl out on your kitchen countertop. (This might be a good time to leave the house for a bit.) Onions are very pungent, and they happen to be secret cleaning agents. Many people even use onions to help remove grime from grill racks. If the smell is too strong for your nose (and eyes) opt for the lemon solution.  

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Clove Water

Let spices fill the air easily by boiling about 3 tablespoon of whole clove in 4 cups of water. Simmer for 40 minutes, refilling the water to stretch the scent for a longer period of time as necessary. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few cinnamon sticks as well.  

Baking Soda 

Place small bowls of baking soda around your home and allow the powder to absorb the smoke smell. In this application, the baking soda works the same way an open box does does in your refrigerator. It will take a few hours to notice a change in the air, so I’d recommend using the baking soda in collaboration with one of the boiling water + aromatic methods.