Saturday, March 31, 2012

that stinks

One thing I've noticed about living in the midwest versus Southern California is that I very often have the problem of lingering food smells in my apartment from cooking. In CA, my family would have the doors and windows open most of the year and the natural circulation of air would take cooking smells out of the house without a problem. I've discovered that because of more extreme weather in IL (snowy winters and humid summers) I am less able to utilize this technique. But what am I supposed to do when I can't stand the smell of food in the apartment?! I've used a four step process to help alleviate this nagging problem when cooking with the window or doors open is not an option. It's not perfect but it helps.

Step 1: Before cooking, close all doors to bedrooms or bathrooms when cooking. This is a preventative measure and will hopefully keep cooking/food smells out of these rooms.

Step 2: During cooking, use any venting fans (like above the stove) available in the cooking area. If you live in an apartment like me try propping your apartment door open to help draw smell out of your living space and in to the hallway (this plus opening a window or sliding door to the outside is best but we're assuming you can't).

Step 3: After eating and washing dishes, clean any surfaces used in cooking (stovetops, counters, and even the floor around your stove) with a vinegar/water solution. I use equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. This is not only good to disinfect your surfaces but cleaning after each time you use the stove is good for general cleanliness in the kitchen. The use of vinegar will help dissipate the smell of food.

If at this point the smell of food is still lingering I have two options for Step 4.

Step 4, option A: Light a candle or use a spray that is specifically made to deodorize air. I've used "Good Air: Just Plain Fresh" candles from Yankee Candle and they work pretty well. I've also found that the smell of brewed coffee is also a good way to deodorize air.

Step 4, option B: This option will work better during the winter months rather than the hot, humid months. Turn off any heaters that maybe on and open all your doors and windows at this point and hide in your bedroom with the door closed where it's warm and hopefully not smelly (because of Step 1) and hang out there for a good hour or so until the air circulates the smell out of your apartment or home. If you have a portable fan, turn it on and use it. We're trying to push the smelly air out and bring fresh air in. If you're comfortable enough it's best to keep your front door open as well but do this with caution if you live in an apartment (since you will be tucked away in a closed room with your front door open). After an hour, put a sweater on and go close all the opened windows and doors. Hopefully at this point the bulk of the smell will be gone and you'll be able to bring these rooms back up to a livable temperature.  

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