How to Remove Cooking Smells from your Home

Cooking with certain spices like garlic, foods like Brussels sprout or fish can leave your home smelling like food for a few hours after your meal. Even worse, if you accidentally burn your food the smell can linger for days. Sometimes you really need that smell to be out of your house before it even got there. Why the rush? Maybe you have guests coming over or you are just plain tired of the burnt popcorn smell.

Cooking releases two different types of indoor air pollution into your home, gaseous and particulate matter. Gaseous is what it sounds like – gases given off by the cooking process. These can come from the food itself or from the cooking stove. Most likely, if you are using a gas stove it burns very cleanly and does not put off any byproducts from incomplete combustion. This is more common from using grills or smokers outside.

However, the smells released by cooking your food fall into the gaseous indoor air pollutant category. It does sound extreme to label cooking smells as an indoor air pollutant, but these smells do have a negative impact on indoor air quality. If you want to read more about these specifically, we go into more detail in our article comparing humidifiers and air purifiers.

Not all air purifiers will be able to deal with smells with smells equally. Air purifiers that have active carbon filters are best suited to deal with smells and other gaseous pollutants. Additionally, some air purifiers use titanium dioxide catalysts to break down both odor causing chemicals and volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs.

In the next section we compare two air purifiers that use advanced technology to remove odors from the air. We compare the GermGuardian CDAP4500 and the Puricom Hextio Compact Air Purifier.

GermGuardian vs Puricom

First we start off with the similarities between these two air purifiers. Both air purifiers include:

  • Ultraviolet lamps to sanitize bacteria, viruses and mold in the air
  • Carbon filters to remove odors
  • Titanium dioxide catalysts to break down odor causing and sometimes harmful chemicals

These are great features to have especially if you plan to use your air purifier to removing cooking smells from your home.

Puricom Hextio Features

One big advantage of the Hextio is the replacement filters are generally less expensive. One reason for this is that the purifier does not have a HEPA filter. The absence of a HEPA filter does not matter if you only want to use the air purifier for reducing odors.

Another area where the Hextio really shines is the way air flows through the appliance. The first stop is the ultra violet and titanium dioxide catalysts. Then air travels through the carbon filter. Air flowing through the CDAP4500BCA follows the opposite pattern.

The way the Hextio routes air is important because the titanium catalyst will break down some volatile organic compounds. Once they are broken down the carbon filter can remove them from the air.

When VOCs are broken down, the chemicals they are broken down into still need to be filtered out of the air. The Hextio is one of the few air purifiers on the market today with this feature. This attention to detail in engineering is what earns our recommendation for this product.

Click this link to check out the Hextio on Puricom’s website. While you are there be sure to check out the prices on replacement filters as well.

GermGuardian CDAP4500BCA Features

The CDAP4500BCA has several advantages over the Hextio. The main ones are a HEPA filter and Wi-Fi capabilities. While these are both great features to have, you may not need them if you are only looking for an air purifier to remove odors.

Adding the HEPA filter increases the number of indoor air pollutants that this purifier can remove from the air. It also increases the price so we recommend checking to see if they are on sale when you order new ones.

Use this link to check out the GermGuardian  CDAP4500BCA on Amazon. We recommend comparing the replacement filter cost to the Hextio filters while you are comparing prices.

Here we outline a few more effective ways to deal with odors that come from preparing food in your home. There are two broad categories that common techniques fall into; masking the smell in some way and removing the smell entirely. We will go into both and highlight some advantages or disadvantages for each. If you have any of your own techniques feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Passive Removal

One of the simplest ways of getting rid of cooking smells is to simply open the window. If you’re a good cook, the aroma of your meal may inspire your neighbors to home cook their next meal. If you’re a bad cook… hopefully there is a strong wind that day. Advantages here include the low cost – literally free! The only real disadvantage here is that this method is entirely weather dependent. If it is too hot or too cold, raining or snowing outside you will need to think twice about opening the window to get a burnt smell out of your kitchen.

Fans, Fans, Fans

There are several different methods that use fans to get cooking smells out of your home. We put window fans and range hoods with exterior exhausts in this group. Depending on the layout of your home the exhaust fan in the bathroom may be effective as well.

The important thing to note here is that the fan moves air out of your house. Tower fans or something similar will simply move the cooking smell around your home and do little to reduce the smell.

Range Hoods and Window Fans

Range hoods with exterior exhausts and bathroom exhaust fans will be able to operate regardless of the weather outside. This gives them an advantage over most window fans and the simple open window technique. If your home does not currently have an exterior exhaust you will want to consult a qualified contractor to see if installing one is a practical solution.

We did an extensive review of window fans in this article. All the window fans mentioned are tested by their manufacturer and certified to be used while it is raining outside. That feature is unique and not present in most window fans on the market today.

Pictures of ways to deal with smellsMasking the Smell

There’s two options here. You could use things like candles or air fresheners to cover up the smells left over from your last meal. If you happen to be cutting onions, lighting a candle is NOT helpful to cut back on your tears according to Lifehacker. Their article does admit that candles are a great way to cover up the smell of the onions.

The advantage here is that candles are much less expensive than buying an air purifier or window fan. Plus you can pick your own smell with a candle.

Disadvantages include the slightly increased risk for fire while burning a candle. There’s also the fact that smells may linger for a few days. Burning a candle for several days is not a great solution to getting odors from cooking out of your home.

Filtering out the Smells

In this section we talk about three different ways you can filter the air in your home to remove cooking odors.

The biggest filter in your home is often the filter that is part of the furnace. As your furnace moves air around your home it passes through a filter to help clean the air. This filter can help remove smells over time but won’t do much in the short term.

Better air filtering appliances include a filter in your range hood, pictured on the left, and standalone air filters. Here we make the distinction between range hoods that have an exterior and interior exhaust. In this section we talk about range hoods that take in air above your stove and draw it through a filter before propelling the air out the top. The smell causing chemicals, molecules and suspended liquids mostly remain trapped in the filter.

Standalone air purifiers usually have much better filters than those found in range hoods. Things to consider here are whether or not the filter is a HEPA filter and if you can place the air purifier in your kitchen without getting in the way while you cook.

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