The Lemon Trick To Clean Your Hands After Eating Seafood

Anyone who's a fan of seafood knows there is a downside that comes with feasting on your favorite fish, shellfish, shrimp, or crab: the smell. As Florida-based restaurant USS Nemo notes, the strong smell of fish is a major reason why many people avoid eating seafood altogether despite its many health benefits, such as being high in protein, vitamins, and minerals (via Healthline).

According to Tastessence, the unpleasant "fishy" smell we associate with seafood is caused by chemicals called amines in the meat, which are related to ammonia. These alkaline chemicals are "volatile" and vaporize quickly, which causes them to give off odors as soon as they are exposed to the air. 

While there is not much that can be done about the smell of fresh fish or other seafood when you are preparing it, it is possible to stop it from lingering in your kitchen and on your hands when you are done cooking or eating it. And it's all done by the liquid from a simple fruit you likely have around the kitchen — lemon juice.

Apply lemon juice to your hands to neutralize the smell of seafood

Rubbing lemon directly on your hands or squeezing the juice onto them and rubbing it into your skin will neutralize the leftover fish amines on your skin and stop the stench. As explained by Tastessence, lemon juice is high in citric acid, which reacts with alkaline amines. When combined, the chemicals experience a reaction that results in the formation of salts. These salts are more stable than the original chemicals and therefore do not react in the air, eliminating the sea smell.

Decide Outside shares that lemon juice is essential for cleaning up if you are cooking seafood (or if you will be partaking in a seafood boil with your hands). Though it also notes that it is a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after the lemon bath to eliminate any lingering odor — a tip that may keep excess lemon juice from ending up in your eyes or other sensitive areas. 

This advice doesn't just apply to your hands, either. LifeHacker recommends wiping down your wooden cutting board or kitchen sponge with a little bit of lemon juice after preparing your seafood to get rid of any absorbed odors. It's an easy-peasy (lemon-squeezy!) way to keep you and your space smelling fresh without giving up your sometimes smelly delicacies.