Rub Your Hands On Stainless Steel To Banish Garlic Smells

Garlic. Love it or hate it, you sure know it when you smell it. For those of us who are garlic lovers, cooking with it is indispensable. From Chinese food to Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Mexican, and more ... what would these cuisines be without its wonderfully pungent flavor? But there is one aspect of cooking with garlic we're not quite as enamored of, and that's the smell it leaves behind on our hands. Sometimes, it seems like no matter how many times you wash your hands with soap and water, the lingering aroma of garlic remains on your fingers.

You might be surprised to learn that there's already something in your kitchen that will banish the odor, so you don't have to spend your next few days smelling like a plate of shrimp scampi. Stainless steel removes the garlic smell from your hands, and it's as simple as rubbing your skin on it to banish the scent.

The most readily available tool for this that many people will have on hand is a stainless steel sink. After washing your hands to remove any lingering surface particles or garlic oil, just rub your fingers on your clean sink, and like magic, your hands will come away odorless. Well, mostly. Depending on your skin as well as how long the garlic has been in contact with it, some faint scent may remain, but for most people, it will be significantly reduced if not entirely eliminated.

How stainless steel removes garlic odor from your hands

This garlic-banishing hack is not actually magic; we've got science to thank for it. To understand how stainless steel gets rid of garlic smells, we need to look at what causes the odor. The chemical allicin gives garlic its fragrance and is also responsible for its powerful flavor. The compound converts to a type of sulfur when exposed — and this same reaction causes your eyes to tear up when chopping onions. Once you cut into garlic, its sulfur-infused oil transfers its scent to your porous skin.

The reason stainless steel works to banish the funkiness from your hands is due to the chromium it contains. This same element that prevents rust on your knives is believed to bind with the sulfuric garlic residue on your skin, essentially removing it from you and transferring it to the metal, which in turn won't get stinky because of the presence of the chromium.

The same process is responsible for making your hands smell like onions or fish after you handle them, as well as intense spices like turmeric, clove, and cumin. This stainless steel trick is effective for dealing with these and other heavily odiferous foods too. The next time you detect a potent whiff of any of these on your hands after cooking with them, give this stainless steel method a try — you might find it beats the frustration of repeatedly scrubbing your hands only to find that the smell remains.

More kitchen tools for eliminating garlic odor

A stainless steel kitchen sink is just one object you can use — anything stainless steel will do. A steel knife or spoon will work, as will a stainless ladle. All you need to do is rub your hands on the item's sides or carefully along the flat of the blade. You may feel a little silly, but if that garlic smell is bothersome, you might be delighted to find that it works. Although there's no concrete scientific proof to back this up, it's a tried and true solution for many who have been using it for years.

In fact, you can buy stainless steel soap bars designed specifically for the purpose of wiping out odors. These aren't really made of soap, only metal, but are shaped to fit comfortably in your hands and meant to be used under running water just as you would a bar of soap. These provide a large surface area that can be turned around in your hands and are a bit less awkward than rubbing them around on your sink, as well as safer than using, say, knives.

Of course, you can try to avoid exposing your hands to the smell of garlic altogether. Alton Brown wears surgical gloves when chopping chilis for salsa, which is equally effective against odors. Or, even though it's considered to be an overrated kitchen tool by Ina Garten, you can use a garlic press to keep your hands 100% garlic-free.