How to get rid of Kitchen Smells

Because your kitchen shouldn't smell like fish 6 hours after you made it

I'm all about removing the obstacles that prevent people from getting into the kitchen and cooking.  Sometimes it's big obvious things like not having enough time or money or having the skills to cook, but other times it's seemingly small things like cleaning the blender or getting out a cutting board that seem insignificant now, but after a long day at work can become this huge mental obstacle.  

Recently, a student of mine shared one of her obstacles.  She likes to cook and would like to cook more, but lives in an apartment where the kitchen has no outside windows, meaning when she does cook, the smell sticks around for a while.  Particularly foods like fish, broccoli and anything pan-fried are known to linger.  As much as I'd love for you to eat more broccoli, I don't imagine they'll be making a Broccoli-scented Glade Plug-in anytime soon.  For good reasons.  

The hands-down, BEST way to eliminate cooking smells from your kitchen is to open a window, even if it's just for a minute or two.  However, if you are in a situation like my student, that might not be a possibility.  (My apartment has a similar set-up with no outside windows in the kitchen, so I experience this challenge first-hand.)  Or if you are living in fear of a Chicago winter, that 2-second window open before your heating bill shoots up $50 may not be freshening up the room as much as you'd like.

So this week I tested two natural DIY remedies for eliminating cooking smells.  I wanted to use natural ingredients already in my kitchen and skip the candles, sprays and gels.  Here are the remedies, as well as my assessment of their pros and cons:

Remedy 1: Simmer 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

This remedy supposedly works because the acetic acid in vinegar "neutralizes" smells in the air.  The idea is that you are getting rid of the bad odors, not covering them up. 
Pro: inexpensive; easy, not perfumey, works quickly
Con: not surprisingly, smells a bit like vinegar when you are done (although that goes away pretty quickly); no fresh scent after.

Remedy 2: Simmer citrus peels and spices in water.

Instead of neutralizing odors, try concoction if you want a pleasant scent in your kitchen. Use lemon and orange peels and warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and allspice.
Pro: lemons and cinnamon smell much better than vinegar
Con: more expensive way to deodorize; replaces smell, doesn't eliminate; takes longer; can trick boyfriends into thinking that you are baking a dessert and leads to crushing disappointment.

So which one wins?  

I'm going to use both going forward.  I'll use the vinegar when I have a really strong aroma like fish or fried oil that I just want to banish.  I'll use the lemons and cinnamon when I want a fresh, pleasant scent in my kitchen and have more time to let something simmer.

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