how to get rid of the fish smell before and after fishing: Complete Guide

Fisherman with autumn lake pike
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Fishing is considered an enjoyable hobby to many; the smell of water, the triumph of catching a fish and taking that fish home and having fresh fish for dinner. However, no one talks about the downside – dealing with the smell of the fish.

The smell of fish can be very overwhelming and if left to linger, it can be very nasty. This should not deter you from taking up fishing as a hobby (if you want) or cooking fish, so we are offering you a well-detailed solution on how to get rid of the fish smell on your hands, clothes, kitchen, car, and even boat.

Getting rid of the fish smell on hands

Hand hygiene guide set. Steps of arm washing process, wrists with soap, foam, tap with flowing water, drying with towel. For hospital WC or medical infographics, health care, infection concept

There are different ways to get rid of the fish smell on the hands, and the bright side with all of the methods mentioned in this category is that you can easily get the ingredients from your kitchen. You can try out some of these hacks:

Using baking soda and toothpaste

This method is very easy as all you need to do is mix the baking soda and toothpaste with a little bit of water, scrub on your hands, wait for a few minutes and rinse off. Make sure you rub in the paste really well for it to soak up the entire fish odor before you rinse it off. If you were handling stronger smelling fish then it is advisable to let it sit for a few minutes before you wash it off. After rinsing, the fish smell should have left your hands.

Using lemons

Apart from being good for cooking, lemons can also help to remove fishy smells from your hands. With Lemons, all you need to do is soak two halves in water and rinse your hands after handling the fish. The lemon wedges and lemon juice can also be used to enhance the flavor of the fish when cooking and remove the unappealing odors so there is no waste.

Using vinegar

There are many ways to deal with that fishy smell on your hands. One of them is using white vinegar, which can be used in a number of different ways before and after you get icky-smelly fingers from handling the seafood:

For starters, try washing your hands or any other part of the body (we don’t want this bad odor seeping into our pores) with some distilled white vinegar; If there’s no need for an immediate scrubbing session just yet, adding it directly as cooking ingredients will help remove most smells and tastes thanks to its acidic qualities!

Getting rid of the fish smell on clothing items

A fish smell can be very overpowering and can linger a lot especially when it has come in contact with clothing items. If this is the case for you, to get rid of the fish smell on your clothes, all you need to do is to:

  1. Take the piece of clothing and soak it in warm water for a while. This helps to get rid of a huge percentage of the smell.
  2. Follow that up with a full wash cycle with preferably scented washing powder to reduce the smell.
  3. Then sundry the clothes. Hanging things out in the fresh air naturally deodorizes garments, so combined with all the other steps, you would be able to get rid of the fish smell.

Getting rid of the fishy smell when cooking fish

Uncooked seafood fish with slices of lemon

It’s understandable that a lot of people are turned off by the idea of cooking fish because it can be really difficult to get rid of all the smell. Once you’ve cooked your dinner, for instance, there will always be an odor left on any surface or utensil used in the preparation, and hours after finishing up everything still lingers like no one would believe even if they try their best scrubbing down with soap! It is especially frustrating when someone catches a whiff while walking into work/home from fishing as soon as they enter.

Luckily, there are a few tricks to help get rid of the fish smell. You can apply these tips before, during, and after cooking to eliminate the stink effectively.

Before cooking

Cooking fish can potentially stink up your kitchen so when preparing fish in your kitchen, the first thing to do is make sure that your kitchen space is well ventilated. You can start by opening doors, windows and making sure that there is plenty of ventilation.

Also, you can hang a wet towel in the kitchen while you are cooking the fish. The towel absorbs the smell and leaves the kitchen almost odor-free after you are done cooking. Once that is done, here are some tips for prepping your fish:

Soak Fish in milk

If you are not allergic to dairy, try soaking the fish in milk for 30 minutes before cooking it and this will help with the smell. However, if you do not like having milk in your fish, you can try washing it with vinegar before cooking. Coating the fish with eggs and mustard before breading it will also reduce the smell.

Use Baking Soda

Just like with vinegar and milk, baking soda can help keep the nasty smells away. You can achieve this by wrapping your fish pieces in the powder to retain moisture. Also, you can keep an open box of baking soda inside your cooler, freezer, or refrigerator where you store the fish and it will absorb the smell.

During cooking

When cooking, you can use other methods apart from frying (frying is one of the worst techniques as it causes an odor problem in the kitchen). A better way to prepare fish in your kitchen that reduces the chances of the fish smelling in your kitchen is to poach it. You can cook it in water and season the broth with a little lemon to neutralize the odor.

Use Smell absorbing foods

Odor Absorbing food

Cooking fish can be a really smelly experience and this smell can linger all over the house for hours or even days in some cases. One way of solving this problem is to add some mint leaves to the cooking pan for absorbing the smelly odor.

The mint leaves prevent the fish odor from taking over the house. One unconventional method is putting a slice or two of apples in the oil in which you are using to fry the fish. This helps take the fishy smell away.

If you want to get rid of the fish smell in a pot, you can also put baking soda in a pot and leave it overnight.

Cook Fish in a Foil or Paper

Some cooking methods result in a more pungent fish smell than others. You can eliminate the stink by altering the way you prepare your meals. For example, compared to frying, cooking your fish in foil or paper has fewer odor problems.

How to get rid of fishy smell in a car

One of the worst smells a person can experience is rotting fish. In fact, it’s so bad that if you caught or bought one and let it spill in your car at some point, its foul odor will linger for weeks unless you take care of it as soon as possible with these methods:

  • Clean with Soapy Water
    Cleaning your car out with soapy water is the first way to go when spills happen. You can use dish soap and water to scrub it, and even use a brush to make the process easier. You can also use a wet-dry vacuum if you have one and clean it till you are satisfied.
  • Use a Water and Vinegar Mixture
    You can mix one cup of vinegar and two quarts of water and scrub the floor of the car or the spill area with the mixture. Vinegar is a very potent cleaning agent and it is also a natural odor absorbing cleaner so it would get rid of the smell.
  • Cleaning with Baking Soda
    You can sprinkle baking soda around the spill area but first, clean the spill. The baking soda just helps to eliminate the foul odor of the fish.
  • Air Out Your Car
    Airing out your car is probably going to be a good idea as the smell of the fish would take longer to reduce if the car is not aired.

How to get rid of the fishy smell on a boat

Couple fishing illustration of young man and woman in boat with rods on lake

If you want to learn how to get rid of the fishy smell on your boat after every fishing trip, some tips that can come in handy for you are:

  • Ventilating the boat: Opening the doors, hatches, and compartments to let fresh air circulate throughout the boat. Ventilation goes a long way in getting rid of the smell. 
  • Using activated charcoal: You can fill a large bowl with activated charcoal or make your deodorizers. Activated charcoal-like baking soda is an odor neutralizer. To get it in every corner of your boat, you can tie pieces of the charcoal in breathable materials and keep it around your boat, especially in the area where the smell is more prominent.
  • Using vinegar: You can pour white vinegar into a bowl and let it sit out for a while. It would help to neutralize the smell and the best part of it is that it is non-toxic.
  • Using baking soda: Using baking soda is a tried and effective way to get rid of smells in the kitchen. You can just sprinkle the carpet of the boat with baking soda and leave it on overnight.

Key insights & Takeaways

Fish is a common culprit of strong smells in the house. It’s not uncommon to find people who want fish but are turned off by odors that linger after cooking it or eating it. We’ve covered many ways on how to get rid of fish smell and make your next meal more enjoyable for family members and guests alike!

The next time you go fishing, use these tips and tricks and the catch of the day’s smell won’t be stuck with you.

roasted fish garnished with lemon slices served with vegetables


Ally Mash
Ally Mash
Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.

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