If you have ever cooked fish, you know all too well how strong the smell can be. And while it can be a delightful experience for the senses while cooking, it can also leave a lasting and pungent odor on your hands and fingers. Luckily, there are a few ways to eliminate the fish smell from your hands and fingers, so you can enjoy your meal without worrying about the aftermath.
Understanding the Fish Smell
The first step in eliminating the fish smell from your hands is understanding what causes it. When cooking fish, its oils and proteins break down and get released into the air, creating the signature aroma of cooked fish. When you touch the fish, these oils and proteins transfer onto your hands and linger, creating an unpleasant scent. Additionally, fish contain trimethylamine oxide, which creates a strong and distinctive odor when it breaks down into trimethylamine, the root cause of that fishy smell.
Ways to Eliminate the Fish Smell
Soap and Water
The most common and effective way to eliminate the fish smell from your hands is by washing them with soap and water. The soap works to break down the oils and proteins from the fish, while the water helps wash them away. Be sure to use warm water and apply the soap thoroughly, scrubbing your hands and fingers for at least 20 seconds, then rinse them under running water.
Another effective method to eliminate fish odor from your hands is by using lemon juice. Lemon juice is naturally acidic, and its acid can break down the fish odor in the same way that soap and water can. Apply fresh lemon juice onto your hands and fingers and rub them for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water.
Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda is also a household favorite for eliminating unwanted smells, including that of fish. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda and water to make a paste, then rub it onto your hands and fingers, making sure you cover all areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with water.
A somewhat unconventional method for removing fish odor from hands is by using coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are known for their strong and distinct smell, and they can help absorb and neutralize the fish smell on your hands. Rub dry coffee grounds onto your hands and fingers, then rinse with water.
White vinegar is another natural ingredient that has been proven to be quite effective in eliminating fish odor from hands. It contains acetic acid, which can neutralize and eliminate the fish smell. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, then rub it onto your hands and fingers, making sure you cover all areas. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with water.
Preventing Fish Smell on Hands
Of course, the best way to eliminate the fish smell from your hands is by preventing it from happening in the first place. While some methods, like using gloves while handling the fish, are pretty straightforward, others may require a bit of creativity.
If you’re preparing fish and don’t want to deal with the aftermath, you can try rubbing your hands with salt before handling the fish. The salt will act as a barrier between your skin and the fish oils, preventing them from lingering on your hands.
Another preventative measure is to rub your hands with fruit. Fruits like lime, orange, and grapefruit contain natural acid that can break down the fish odor. Cut a piece of the fruit and rub it onto your hands before and after handling the fish, then wash with soap and water.
Bleach and Water Solution
If you’re dealing with particularly strong fish odors and nothing seems to be working, you can try using bleach. Mix one part bleach and ten parts water in a bowl, then soak your hands in it for a few minutes. Keep in mind that bleach is a powerful chemical, so be sure to dilute it properly, and avoid using it if you have open cuts or wounds on your hands.
There are several ways to eliminate the fish smell from your hands and fingers, and there are preventative measures you can take to avoid the smell altogether. Whether you prefer to use natural ingredients like lemon juice and coffee grounds or are open to using a bleach and water solution, the key is to act quickly before the odor lingers.
Can wearing gloves help prevent fish odor on hands?
Yes! Wearing gloves while handling fish can help prevent the oils and proteins from transferring to your hands.
Is there a quicker way to eliminate fish odor from hands?
While some methods may work faster than others, all require some time and effort to eliminate the odor.
Can I use hand sanitizer to eliminate fish odor from my hands?
No. Hand sanitizer will not eliminate the oils and proteins from the fish, and may even make the smell worse.
Is the fish smell harmful?
No, the fish smell is not harmful, but it can certainly be unpleasant and off-putting.
- Kliebert, M. (2018). How to Remove Fish Smell from Your Hands—Without Soap. Retrieved from https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/remove-fish-smell-from-hands/
- How to Get Rid of Fish Smell on Hands After Cooking (2021). Diamond Crystal Salt. Retrieved from https://www.diamondcrystalsalt.com/kitchensalt/kitchen-tips/get-rid-of-fish-smell-on-hands-after-cooking
- How to Remove Fish Smell from Hands (2018). Gulf Seafood Foundation. Retrieved from https://gulfseafoodfoundation.org/how-to-remove-fish-smell-from-hands/