How Vinegar Can Help Eliminate Fish Odors In Your Kitchen

Few things are more delicious (and nutritious) than a flakey filet of roasted salmon, pan-fried tilapia, or buttery, baked cod. But while a fish-focused dinner can initially fill the house with stunning aromas, unfortunately, they tend to linger. Cue: vinegar. The acidic solution might be the answer if you want to stop fishy odors in their tracks.

Starting with fresh fish is always important. Pay your local fishmonger a visit and shop for the catch of the day to prevent intense odors. Because fish contains a chemical called trimethylamine oxide, Allrecipes reports that it can start to give off an aroma of ammonia the longer it's exposed to air. This chemical remains quite prominent during the cooking process, which means that you'll likely be left with seaside smells unless you decide to ferment, pickle, or make a ceviche.

There are all sorts of myths when it comes to reducing fishy odors, but Prevention explains that rubbing filets with lemon or soaking them in milk won't actually do a whole lot. Vinegar, on the other hand, helps you to work smarter rather than harder.

Acidity neutralizes alkaline substances

It's best to work quickly to contain the situation. Start by washing any utensils or cookware that were used when cooking the fish — cracking a window can also prove useful if the aromas are just a bit too intense. However, if your kitchen continues to smell fishy long after you've dined, it's time to turn to vinegar.

While you could simply fill a spray bottle with vinegar and start spritzing, that'll likely leave your kitchen smelling like salad dressing. So instead, Southern Living recommends boiling several spoonfuls of white vinegar with a cup of water in a saucepan to help combat odors. Likewise, leaving a bowl of vinegar on your counter overnight like a potpourri is another option, notes Home Made Simple.

Although all sorts of vinegar exist — balsamic, rice, malt, apple cider, and wine — plain old white distilled will do the trick. Since it might contain up to 8% acetic acid, The Spruce explains that it can effectively and efficiently neutralize alkaline odors rather than masking them as a typical air freshener might. Not to mention that using vinegar is both cheaper and more eco-friendly than chemical-laden air fresheners.