I've been peeling and chopping garlic, and now my hands stink of it. I can wash my hands with soap, but no matter how hard I scrub the smell persists, sometimes for up to a day or two.

How do I get rid of the garlic smell from my hands?

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    I believe this is the first upvote-worthy question I've ever seen on this site. This is a rare, fine example of a question about a real problem with a description of why a solution didn't work and a need for a non-obvious alternative. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 9:40

12 Answers 12


Baking Soda washes and soaks. If you wash you hands in baking soda mixed with a strong smelling soap this should eliminate the smell. Try mixing the baking soda with dish soap or other odor cancelling soaps.

  • Beside that I would say strong smelling soap, like Peppermint, Spearmint or similar.

From this site:

They say use coffee and stainless steel, but the better answer to me was:

Salt & Lemon: Rubbing hands together with a little lemon and salt can do the trick, but be careful not to irritate sensitive skin in the winter time. Maybe not the best if you've got already dry hands or any sort of preexisting cut — ouch!

Additional Info


Place a stainless steel pan or other kitchen implement under running water and then use that to rub the affected area.

Good housekeeping

You can avoid the problem by wearing thin, disposable gloves when you handle garlic, onion, fish or other pungent foods. Here are three sure ways to get rid of that nasty smell: Pour a little salt or baking soda on hands and rub them together. Rinse with water. Squeeze toothpaste or pour a small amount of mouthwash on one palm, then rub hands together. Rinse with water. Rub hands across a stainless steel utensil under running tap water.

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    Lemon juice does seem to be a catch-all for removing all sorts of smells. Would be nice to know why, though. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 11:07
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    lemons and oranges have pretty high concentrations of citric acid, and lemon juice also has a strong pleasant odor.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 15:53
  • Lemon juice contains citric acid, as mentioned, which reacts with compounds that cause bad smells, like amines that cause a fishy smell, to form salts which aren't airborne, hence removing the fishy scent (mcgill.ca/oss/article/…)
    – Sam
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 14:05

I noticed a kitchen supplies site that had a small egg shaped object made of stainless steel for the purpose of removing garlic smell. Apparently you rubbed the stainless in your hands. Since we found that steel wool pads made of stainless steel last better than Brillo types, we use that in the kitchen so we started touching our stainless steel wool to our hands after cutting garlic. It seems to work. If your sink is stainless steel that may be an easy way to try it out. This link explains why stainless works

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    I actually found a stainless steel version shaped like a bar of soap. It worked wonderfully! Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 21:39

A tiny dash of cologne spread around will get rid of the garlic odor, otherwise put a bit of vinegar on a paper towel and rub it on your hands.


Using mouth wash (Alcohol type) can help too. Just use it like soap and rub all over the affected areas thoroughly before rinsing it away.


Add to all of the other answers: Use COLD water, not Hot.

If the water is hot, the pores on your hands will enlarge, and the scent will pass into them, making it harder to remove.


Rubbing hands on stainless steel is claimed to work, but actual proof is thin on the ground. I suspect you need something mildly alkaline to react with allicin and its breakdown compounds. Something slightly and gently abrasive might be useful too, to remove dead skin cells to which the compounds have bonded.

This may sound a bit wacky, but I'd suggest rubbing toothpaste into the affected parts of the hands, then rinsing well. It meets both of those requirements, and if all else fails at least the minty freshness will mask the lingering garlic odour!


Prevention is better than cure:

Rub your hands with sunflower or olive oil before chopping the garlic. Afterwards wash with hot water and soap.



Don't scrub your hands, just put them under flowing water. It doesn't take all the smell, but is much better than scrubbing them.

  • This should probably have been a comment, but you don't yet have the reputation to comment, so... Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 1:20

Lather up with a bit of soap then run both hands along the faucet. This will remove the smell of garlic and onions.

  • While this is a good idea, the question does state that soap and water doesn't work.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 8:34

Blimey, what a performance all these solutions are. All you need is one of these - stainless steel soaps


I've had one for years, works a treat, but you can use any stainless steel implement that can easily be manipulated, a spoon or ladle or whatever, under running water, with ordinary soap, though it works just as well without ordinary soap. The deleted response by User 6976 will also work, provided you have a stainless steel sink, but its easier with a stainless steel bar. Works for fish smells too.


my answer to getting rid of garlic smell on hands is to get lemon and salt and mix them together and rub it into your hands and you'll notice that the garlic smell has gone.


Now then. This answer also has side benefits. Get all your partner's family round for a big roast dinner, then afterwards do all the washing up. Tends to get rid of the garlic smell but also (beside swimming is the best way to get any dirt or from under your nails. Added bonus : mucho brownie points.

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