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Does Touching Stainless Steel Get Rid of Garlic Smells?

Woman chopping garlic on a wooden cutting board.
Nungning20/Shutterstock

If there’s one thing we hate about chopping garlic, it’s the odor that lingers on your fingers. The pungent scent is sure to keep vampires and everyone else far, far away. But what if something as simple as stroking your sink could get rid of that intense garlic stench?

Garlic—Love the Taste, Hate the Smell

We’ve all been there. We mince garlic for our marinara or salad dressing, and the scent sticks to our fingers like glue. Hours later, the scent’s still there to remind us of our cooking endeavors—long after the food has been made and served. We know soap and water won’t cut it, and none of the other garlic-odor busting myths seem to suffice.

Because, trust us, we’ve heard all the rumors: Use vinegar, use lemon juice, try rubbing your hands with salt. All are understandable ideas for getting rid of odors, but none of them actually work with garlic. What does work might surprise you.

How Stainless Steel Stops Garlic Smells

Simply rubbing your fingers against the blade of your knife, or the faucet of your sink while, or directly after, rinsing with water for about ten seconds, will neutralize garlic smells completely. And there’s a scientific reason to back it up.

See, when garlic is cut, it releases sulfuric compounds that turn into sulfuric acid when mixed with water. The sulfuric acid is what we smell on our hands hours later. But, sulfuric compounds also bind with stainless steel. So, if you allow the acid on your hands the chance to bind with the metals in your knife, or on your faucet, you end up garlic-scent-free.

The best part? This works with fish and onion smells, too, as they’re also sulfur-based. And, if you prefer it, many companies make a stainless steel “soap” bar that has the same effect. It’s literally just a block of stainless steel, but for those who prefer not to play with knives, it might be worth looking into.

So next time you catch a whiff of garlic scent, don’t reach for hand soap. Just grab your faucet or rub the edge of your knife instead, and say goodbye to garlic stench.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »

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