Remove Onion Smell From Hands

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Onion, shallot, and garlic odor is pervasive and irritating long after the delicious meal is over. It clings to the fingers and nail region with ferocity. If the smell is following you around, try the following solutions to cast it away. It's not completely understood how they work, but many people swear by them so when your fingers reek of onion, garlic, or shallot, it's worth a shot; here are more than ten substances or materials that might cast the smell away.


  1. Take a tablespoon or more of everyday table salt in the palm of your hands. Mix with cold water into a paste, then rub all over your hands. Rinse off and dry. Not only will the salt get rid of the odor, but it'll also exfoliate your hands, making them much softer!
    • If you don't have salt, or if it doesn't work, try baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), sugar or coffee grinds. Sugar has the advantage of not hurting any open cuts that might be on your hands.
  2. Dip your hands in tomato juice for at least five minutes. Then, rinse your hands with liquid detergent in cold water. If it works for skunk smell, it'll probably work for onion odors. Just make sure the tomato juice or paste isn't expired.
  3. Rub your hands against stainless steel metal (a kitchen sink works well) under cold running water for about a minute; rubbing with a large metal spoon works, too. It's suspected that the sulfur molecules that create the distinctive onion smell react with the metal(s) in the stainless steel and become neutralized.
  4. Squeeze some lemon juice into a bowl. Dip your hands in for 3 minutes, then rinse off. Your hands will smell like fresh lemons instead of onions! If you don't have lemon juice or it doesn't work, try vinegar or mouthwash.
  5. Rub your hands in peanut butter. They'll feel a little greasy afterward (and moisturized!) but the smell will be gone, and you can wash off the remaining peanut butter odor. If you don't have peanut butter or if it doesn't work, try toothpaste!
  6. Peel a large orange, cut into it, or break the outer skin. Rub the orange flesh onto your hands for two minutes. Wash under the tap (faucet) and repeat as necessary; you will have remaining a lovely citrus smell. See Remove Citrus Smell from Your Hands.


  • You may be able to eliminate, or at least reduce, the problem and avoid watery eyes, by cutting the onion in a large bowl or sink full of cold water.
  • Make sure to use cold water when you wash your hands; warm water opens up the pores in your hands and traps in the onion smell.
  • To prevent the onion coming in contact with your skin wear a pair of non-latex protective gloves. Rinse any powder off of the gloves before cutting the onion. Rinse gloves well after wards, peel them off and throw them away.
  • It is also possible to purchase vegetable shaped or oval shaped stainless steel "soaps" that can sit permanently at your kitchen sink.
  • All of these solutions work equally well with garlic odors.
  • Raw potato is also good at removing garlic and onion smells.
  • Try a little mustard rubbed on to the hands after peeling the onion; the odor will disappear quickly.
  • Cleanup is made easier and much of the onion residue can be avoided by rubbing your hands with vegetable oil before handling the onions. After the onions are done, soap and water cleanup is all that is needed. However, you should not do this with a hand you are using to hold a knife.


  • Once you have soap, tomato juice, or salt on your hands, do not touch your eyes. Irritation may occur. If it does, continually rinse your eyes with cold water.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt
  • Tomato juice
  • Stainless steel "soap"
  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Cloth, nail scrubber or running water
  • Peanut butter

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