How can I get That Garlic Smell off my Fingers After I Chop Garlic?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Head of garlic.
Head of garlic.

There are many suggestions for getting rid of that garlic smell. Some people suggest soaking the hands in lemon juice or vinegar for about five minutes and then washing with warm water and soap. In all cases, if you’ve gotten garlic under your fingernails, you’ll have to use a good nailbrush, or the tines of a fork too or you won’t get the garlic smell off your fingers.

Rubbing hands with table salt may help get garlic smell off of fingers.
Rubbing hands with table salt may help get garlic smell off of fingers.

Another suggested method for getting rid of that garlic smell is to rub your hands with table salt, and then again, washing thoroughly with soap and water. This too may work, but salt, and lemon for that matter, will not be a good idea if you have small cuts on your hands. The old expression “rubbing salt into your wounds" applies.

Some people prefer to avoid the issue completely by using gloves when they prepare garlic. This can work well if you’re using rubber or latex gloves. Don’t get the ones with powder on them, as you may get a little latex in your food. Also avoid this method for keeping the garlic smell off your fingers if you are preparing food for anyone with latex allergies.

Latex gloves can be worn when working with odor-causing foods.
Latex gloves can be worn when working with odor-causing foods.

Probably the most common suggestion for getting the garlic smell off your fingers is to rub your hands against stainless steel after chopping garlic. While there are metal bars that you can purchase for this express purpose, a stainless steel knife, spoon, or sink will do! It's said that the molecules in stainless steel bond with the molecules of garlic left on your hands, effectively removing the garlic smell off your fingers.

Soaking the fingers in lemon juice or vinegar may help rid the hands of the scent of garlic.
Soaking the fingers in lemon juice or vinegar may help rid the hands of the scent of garlic.

Many suggests the stainless steel method works equally well with onions, and some suggest that if you hold a stainless steel spoon in your mouth while chopping onions, your eyes won’t get weepy. Of course the spoon may obscure your vision, and you might get a cut from a knife if you can’t see what you’re chopping.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon261514

I like that smell so much! It's almost a fetish. I never wash my hands after having chopped garlic.

A combination of lemon and dishwashing soap should be enough to get rid of most of the odor.

anon221997

a little lemon juice and warm water works perfectly.

anon126477

The stainless steel really works and it's so bizarre!

anon112069

I just tried the baking soda trick and it works!

anon109476

The steel worked a bit but not completely. I did try malt vinegar and warm water next and that worked straight away.

IceCarver

When I first read this article, I simply could not believe that stainless steel would help with the garlic smell. Sure enough, I made some spaghetti and used a nice knife of mine to rub my fingers.

@anon44380: I think I will try some fresh mint leaves next.

anon44380

Lemon juice has always worked. Another thought is fresh mint. If you have fresh mint, or basil, available, crushing a leaf or two between your fingers can be helpful.

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    • Head of garlic.
      Head of garlic.
    • Rubbing hands with table salt may help get garlic smell off of fingers.
      Rubbing hands with table salt may help get garlic smell off of fingers.
    • Latex gloves can be worn when working with odor-causing foods.
      Latex gloves can be worn when working with odor-causing foods.
    • Soaking the fingers in lemon juice or vinegar may help rid the hands of the scent of garlic.
      Soaking the fingers in lemon juice or vinegar may help rid the hands of the scent of garlic.
    • Washing hands with soap is one step to removing garlic smell from fingers.
      Washing hands with soap is one step to removing garlic smell from fingers.