One of the biggest complaints I hear about regarding prepping fresh ingredients like garlic and onions is how odours from them linger on their hands afterwards.
This can not only be annoying, but also could interfere in social interactions with others.
Throughout my career as a chef, by working with other professionals and simply chatting with people about food, I have come across several solutions that will help rid you of this pesky problem. Some are better than others, but they all work to some degree.
• Coffee grounds – if you drink coffee, then you have them leftover daily. Yes, used coffee grounds. Keep a supply of them by your sink and use them as a scrub, with or without soap, to help eliminate odours from your hands.
• Stainless steel – this has been a longstanding tradition with many home cooks. It is claimed that if you simply rub your hands on stainless steel,odours from your hands will be eliminated. Gourmet kitchen stores even sell little chunks of stainless steel, shaped as small bars of soap, for this exact purpose.
• Baking soda – make a paste of baking soda and water to scrub your hands with. Baking soda has been known for years as an odor removing aid, so why not on your hands too?
• Lemon juice and salt – here’s another example of a scrub combination for your hands. This one, however, will leave your hands lemony fresh, whereas the baking soda idea will leave no pleasant scent at all.
A word of caution: if you have any small cuts on your fingers or hands, you will surely know where they are after washing with lemon juice and salt. Vinegar and salt can also be used. Your hands, however, may get very dry from the high acid content of the lemon juice or vinegar.
• Tomato juice or paste – probably one of the costliest solutions here, but this is not only for skunk spray – it works on food smells, too.
• Toothpaste or mouthwash – yes, these are not just for your washroom. A thorough scrub with toothpaste, or a wash with mouthwash, will leave your hands smelling minty fresh. Just remember to rinse with cold water afterwards. You will find this easier than brushing your teeth because no flossing is necessary.
• Latex gloves – very popular with professional kitchens and other food-safe environments. These will guarantee that odours don’t get transferred onto your hands. However, there is a cost involved of always having these on hand, and an impact on our environment/landfills if they are disposed of into the garbage pail.
• Floral or fragrant soaps – not the most effective as they will usually just mask the odours and not eliminate them, but I do know people that only do this as their solution.
• Cold water – Wash your hands with cold water, with or without soap. Warm or hot water, even if using soap, will cause the pores in your skin to open up.
Cold water will keep the pores closed, and more of the odours will simply wash away.
Chef Dez is a chef, writer and host. Visit him at chefdez.com.