Please help with strong food smell

Hi all fellow hosts, I hope you well. I have a group left this morning who left my house with a very strong curry smell.

I had similar situation once and the smell was so strong but just in the kitchen. I aired the house for less than four hours and used a bit of air freshener and by the time my new guests arrived in the afternoon the smell was completely gone. So I did the same today, but it doesn’t work at all.

I now have smell in the kitchen, dinning, the living room next to the dinning and the bedroom next to the living room. I have aired the house for 5 hours and used a lot of dettol air spray that claims to get rid of odours. I still smell strong curry, especially when I go near the curtains. All the curtains are so smelly right now. I have guests arriving tomorrow (thankfully not today). I don’t have time to send the curtains to dry cleaner and I don’t want to pay that fee. Is there a way to get rid of the smell in a quick and cheap way? Thank you so much in advance.
Ps: I googled, they said house needs to be repainted and curtains as well as carpets washed. I don’t believe mine is that bad, they just stayed for four nights. But it really shocked me the smell can go that far into the bedroom.

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You could try a spray like Zero Odor. It works by latching onto the odor molecules and neutralizing them. We use this all over and it works well.

Or you could try an ozone generator/air purifier. Both would be good to have on hand for just about any kind of smell a guest could leave behind.

I had curry cooking guests for 5 weeks!
Had to wash the walls of the kitchen, take the curtains out - hang them on the line and spray them . I have not issues with curry, but the smell was overwhelming.

I forbid the cooking of highly spiced foods such as curry. It’s ruinous to a house.

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It can go very far. I had an old flat mate who cooked curry up to three times a day and it got to the point where I couldn’t stand the smell. When he moved out and I went to visit… his new flat absolutely stank of strong spices. I remember feeling bad for hos landlord as the smell was so strong. The smell tends to stick to everything, I think because of the oils …

You can try bowls of vinegar. I personally find bowls of ground coffee highly effective to absorb smell. I even put a bowl of it under the bed. (Hope my guests never look under there! :eyes:)

Thank you all. I will keep all windows open tonight and try vinegar like @Zandra suggested. Just wondering about the ground coffee, do I use the dry one?

Yes dry ground coffee that hasn’t been used to make a drink. Instant won’t work by the way.

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I have heard that simmering vinegar is very effective, but probably only works in kitchen and maybe dining room, because of distance. Also lighting (unscented) candles is good with some smells.

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I live in an apartment with an open plan living space so have in my house rules that guests need to avoid cooking curry and fish because the strong smells contaminate the living space. So far, I don’t have anyone who has broken my house rule on this.

You could seal the curtains inside a garbage bag with lots of baking soda for as long as you have. Then shake out the curtains and vacuum the remaining powder from them.
(Maybe not a great idea with dark curtains, though.)

I feel for you Freya, I had exactly the same problem…and my home was open plan, even the bedding in other bedrooms stank. And I had guests arriving 5 hours later. Washed the walls/ceiling in the kitchen around the stove with strong disinfectant and liberally disinfected every surface with same. Left all the doors and windows wide open until guest arrived…and apologized profusely for funky smell. And the curry - cookers only stayed one night! Luckily the new guests just laughed about it, but I was angry, and left a stern review of 2 stars for cleanliness for the previous guest. I have a plug in wall diffuser that covers cooking smells a bit.

Washing all the textiles around the house that can be washed usually helps. Plus washing all the surfaces with vinegar or if it’s available in your country, with this thing:
It’s says it’s mprimarily for the limescale, but I use it mostly for cleaning kitchen and all the floors because it neutralizes smells so well, and yet it is not as strong as vinegar proper. It’s great for cleaning the fridge, too.

Thank you all. I didn’t have time to try all the solutions provided by you but I solved the smell problem in the end.

I aired the house for 26 hours and used vinegar but the smell on the curtain didn’t go away, it is better than yesterday but still very noticeable.

Then my husband came up with a good idea and it worked. He told me to use a hand steamer and I decided to add some eucalyptus mint essential oil in there (I think other scent will work). Then I steamed all the curtains, and the curry smell is almost gone. The cord of the steamer is short so I missed some parts, I later smelled and there is big difference between the unsteamed part and the steamed ones. I only had 15 mins to do it so I did super quickly (8 curtains). I believe if I had more time and did the work slowly, I could eliminate the smell completely.

This could be a quick fix if hosts here experience similar issues in the future. The hand steamer cost less than $50 AUD and only 3-4 drops of essential oil required.


Hi Freya, I see that charcoal odour bags on sale in Amazon are getting very good reviews for removing smells.


Thanks Reader, I think the charcoal bags are good at removing smell in the air, not sure if it works with smell attached to curtains.

Washing the curtains, beddings, carpets, wall, etc seem to be the only solution for long term spiced food cooking. But my guests only stayed for four nights so steaming the curtain worked. I will check in a few days’ time to see if the smell is gone completely. Steaming can be a quick, cheap yet effective solution and I hope it helps other hosts in the future :slight_smile: I feel there are so many useful techniques to learn as a host.

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