Curry powder adds a delightful kick to Middle Eastern dishes, but its potent odor lasts long after the meal and is quite unpleasant. The best way to eliminate a curry smell from your house is to avoid it altogether. If you're in the mood for a spicy dish, satisfy your craving at a local restaurant so you won't have to live with the smell. If it's too late for that, you'll need to clean your kitchen with vinegar, baking soda and other odor-neutralizing cleansers. You'll also need to make your own air freshener. Be aware, however, that curry is an oil-based substance and its odor clings to everything, so you may have to remove the odor from every room and not just the kitchen.
If you've cooked with curry, your hands likely reek of the stuff. This means you will carry the smell with you everywhere you go, making it impossible to know if it's you or your house you're smelling. Remove the curry odor from your hands by rubbing lemon juice, vinegar or coffee grounds on them. If you wiped your hands on your apron (or your pants) while cooking, throw your clothes into the washing machine. Don't put them in the hamper, as this may spread the odor to other clothing.
Air It Out
Open the windows in your kitchen before cooking with curry and turn on your stove hood vent if you have one. Leave the window open while you're cleaning up the curry smell, as well. It's important to get fresh air moving through your home when combating curry. If it's cold outside, put on a sweater and crack a few windows. You'll be glad you did.
Wipe down kitchen surfaces and cooking utensils with an odor-neutralizing solution after cooking with curry. Fill a bucket with equal parts water and vinegar. Use this mixture on your kitchen table, counters, stove range hood, cupboard doors and any other surface in your kitchen. Curry residue covers literally everything, so leave no surface unwashed. Rinse your cleaning rag frequently as you work. When you're done wiping down your kitchen and dining space, make a fresh batch of odor neutralizer and mop the floor with it.
Manage the Microwave
If you made your curry dish in the microwave or heated the leftovers therein, you're microwave might need a refresh. To give it one, combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water in a bowl. Microwave the solution on high for 2 minutes and then rinse the inside of the microwave with a clean, damp cloth.
Clear the Air
Pour 1 quart of water into a cooking pot. Slice a whole lemon into wedges with a paring knife. Place the lemon wedges in the water and bring the solution to a simmer so the deodorizing fragrance can waft through the kitchen and surrounding rooms. Allow the lemon solution to simmer for a few hours, replenishing water as needed. Add cinnamon sticks or cloves to the water if desired.
Fix Your Fabrics
While you were cooking, curry odors were probably wafting out of your kitchen and into your home's living spaces. If your carpet and furniture reek of curry, too, grab the baking soda and your vacuum cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda over your upholstered furniture and carpets and leave it sit overnight to absorb the curry odor. In the morning, vacuum up the baking soda and then dispose of the bag or wash out the canister.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.