The medicinal properties of antioxidant-rich garlic may not convince those who do not like its smell to eat it—or to be around those who do. Whole garlic need not be avoided, however. Until someone cuts or crushes a peeled clove, it remains odorless. Breaking open the clove releases an enzyme that chemically alters garlic’s molecules to make them smell. The scent can attach itself easily to any surface. When eaten, garlic’s smell can persist, not just on your breath, but through your pores as well.

Things You'll Need

Place hands or gloves that have come into contact with garlic under running water while holding a stainless steel object. Kitchen stores sell stainless steel bars shaped like soap with which you can do the same thing. If the smell persists, rub your hands with lemon juice and salt, or dip them in a bowl of coffee grounds. Before you try the former, make sure that you have no cuts on your hands.

Scrub the cutting board and any utensil you used that is not stainless steel with baking soda and water. Empty the kitchen trash after dinner.

Neutralize garlic breath after the meal by eating fresh parsley leaves or fennel seeds. Drink lemon juice or eat a distinctly lemon-flavored dessert like sherbet.


  • Keep personal contact with garlic when peeling or crushing it to a minimum. Use utensils to move chopped or crushed garlic. Wearing kitchen gloves while handling garlic will keep the smell off of your fingers. Doing so will make neutralizing its smell easier and quicker.

  • Fennel seeds’ garlic-fighting ability is trusted by the many Indian restaurants that have bowls of them by the front door for patrons to sample on their way out.

  • Each person has a distinct scent, like a fingerprint, that individually interacts with garlic. Some people can continue to emit garlic smell through their pores well after dinner. Showering with lemon-scented body soap will help.