How to Get Rid of Fried Food Smell in Your Hair

By Kathryn Walsh

Sometimes, a girl's just gotta have extra-greasy fries. It's a bummer when the last one's gone, but the bigger bummer comes when you catch a whiff of that greasy smell lingering in your locks. Cutting out homemade latkes and diner runs is no way to live, and jumping into the shower isn't always a viable option. The key to getting rid of that "eau de deep-fryer" scent is to use products that work to actually minimize odors rather than just cover them up.

Pretty Messy Hair
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How to Get Rid of Fried Food Smell in Your Hair

Do the Dryer Sheet Rub

They leave clothes smelling clean and fresh, and dryer sheets can do the same for hair. They neutralize even strong odors instead of just masking them. That makes dryer sheets a better alternative to perfumes, room fresheners and other scented sprays. Spritzing those products on smelly hair may cover the fried smell at first, but eventually it will return – and mingle with the spray's scent in a nauseating way.

Dryer sheets may leave a noticeable odor on the hair (depending on whether the sheets on hand are scented or unscented), but should also remove at least some of the grease smell. Rub a sheet all over the surface of the hair, then lift up the top section of hair and rub another sheet on the now-exposed hair. Also make sure to get the underside of your hair and maybe even the nape of the neck.

If you have sensitive skin or allergies, or just prefer to avoid the artificial odors and chemicals in traditional dryer sheets, try using homemade versions. Mix white vinegar with essential oils in a spray bottle. Moisten clean cloths with the mixture and rub the cloths through the hair.

Spray-On Dry Shampoo

If dryer sheets don't get the job done, reach for a bottle of dry shampoo. Like dryer sheets, it helps neutralize odors while also soaking up any oil on the scalp. As a bonus, using dry shampoo to banish odors means hair won't need shampooing for at least another day or two. Instructions vary by brand, but typically using dry shampoo is as simple as spraying it on the roots and massaging it into the hair.

Dry shampoo has something else in common with dryer sheets: it's pretty easy to duplicate at home. Make a super simple, natural version by mixing a few drops of essential oils into a few tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Use a clean makeup brush to "paint" the powder onto the hair and rub it in with your fingers. A homemade version may leave a little more residue behind than store-bought dry shampoo.

Preventing the Greasy Hair Smell

Next time fried food beckons, prevent some of that smell from taking hold. Shield most of the hair from coming into contact with the odor by scraping hair into a tight bun. Wrapping a scarf around the hair, or pulling on a hat, will also provide some protection. Of course, then the scarf or hat will need to be washed. But for anyone who doesn't wash her hair often, that's probably preferable to having to step under the shower head.