Why Does My House Smell Like Onions? Causes, and How to Get Rid of the Smell

Why Does My House Smell Like Onions? Causes, and How to Get Rid of the Smell

You love onions. They make your food taste great. But there’s one problem, the smell of onions seems to be lingering in your house no matter what you do. You’ve tried everything from candles to air fresheners, but nothing seems to work.

The onion smell could be coming from your stove, refrigerator, or garbage disposal. If you don’t get rid of the source of the smell, it will continue to come back no matter what you do.

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to get rid of them. We’ll also give you some tips on how to prevent the onion smell from coming back in the future.

Why does your house smell like onions?

1. Home Pandemic and Office

A home or office pandemic can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms that can be difficult to manage. These symptoms can include: bad odors such as those of strong pickles or onions increased VOCs from furniture and building materials, increased dust and allergens, mold growth, and dampness. Additionally, you may also experience coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

2. Food and Cooking Odors

Cooking with onions is one of the most common food-related smells that can cause a house to smell like onions. Onions, along with other aromatics such as garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives, all have a strong odor that can linger in a home if the kitchen is not properly ventilated.

To prevent this, open the kitchen windows while cooking to allow for better ventilation and airflow. Additionally, grilling outdoors is a good way to prevent the smell from sticking around.

3. Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are two types of fungi that can cause a musty or dusty smell in a house. Mold is often found in humid or moisture-prone environments, such as basements, laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. These environments provide the ideal conditions for mold and mildew to grow, as they are dark, damp, and warm. Specifically, mold that smells like onions is often found in humid areas, such as the shower.

This type of mold is typically caused by the species Moraxella osloensis, which thrives in warm and moist conditions. In order to prevent this type of mold and mildew, it is important to check for leaky fixtures and broken or cracked pipes and to improve ventilation in affected rooms.

4. Household Cleaners

One of the most common household odors that can be caused by a cleaning product is the smell of onions. This smell is usually caused by a strong-smelling cleaning product that contains ingredients such as onion or garlic extract. Common examples of household cleaners that may cause this smell include:

  1. All-Purpose Cleaners: All-purpose cleaners are used for general cleaning and usually contain a number of ingredients, including vinegar, lemon juice, and essential oils. Some of these cleaners may contain onion or garlic extract, even though it is not listed on the label.
  2. Disinfectants: Disinfectants are used to kill germs and bacteria on surfaces and can also contain onion or garlic extract. Common examples of disinfectants that may cause an odor of onions include bleach, Lysol, and other chemical cleaners.
  3. Toilet Cleaners: Toilet cleaners are used to clean and deodorize the toilet bowl and are often scented with floral or citrus fragrances. However, some may contain onion or garlic extract, which can cause an unpleasant smell.
  4. Floor Cleaners: Floor cleaners are used to clean and polish hardwood, ceramic, and laminate floors and are usually scented with lemon or pine. However, some of these cleaners can contain onion or garlic extract, which can cause an odor of onions.

5. Pet Odors

Common causes of onion-scented pet odors in homes can include walking on the carpet with shoes, socks, or barefoot, sweat and body odors from sleeping in the bed, and third-hand smoke. Other odors could be a sign of hazardous conditions, such as a gas leak, sewer issues, or a growing mold problem.

Fishy smells may indicate an electrical problem, such as frayed wires or faulty outlets, while wet dog smells could indicate the presence of rodents, raccoons, or squirrels. If you experience a smoke smell, this could be a sign of a fire hazard or a former smoker.

6. Gas and Natural Gas Leaks

Gas and natural gas leaks are caused when there is a break in a gas pipe or appliance, allowing gas to escape from where it is supposed to be confined. This gas can be colorless, odorless, and undetectable without the addition of a foul-smelling odorant, usually a “rotten egg” smell.

Natural gas leaks can cause a house to smell like onions due to the sulfur content in the makeup. In some cases, the smell of onions can be coming from a pipe instead of a gas leak. If a gas leak is suspected, it is important to evacuate the premises immediately and call the gas company.

Carbon monoxide can be emitted during gas leaks and have no smell, making it even harder to identify. Carbon monoxide can be very dangerous to humans and animals and can be emitted from fumes in fireplaces, gas stoves, water heaters, car engines, generators, and furnaces when the natural gas doesn’t burn completely.

7. Home Appliances

Common appliances that cause a smell of onions in a house include the dishwasher and the refrigerator. In the dishwasher, if you forget to run it after loading, the smell of onions may spread throughout the house.

In the refrigerator, if you forget to store sliced onions in a container, the smell may also spread throughout the house. Additionally, if the refrigerator is not regularly cleaned, it can cause the smell of onions to linger. It is always wise to periodically clean the refrigerator in order to prevent the smell of onions.

8. Skunk Spray

Skunks are nocturnal animals and they spray as a defense mechanism. When skunks spray, the odor can linger for days, or even weeks, depending on the environment. The odor particles in skunk spray are made up of sulfur compounds, which are very volatile and can be difficult to remove.

The smell can linger in enclosed areas such as crawlspaces, basements, and attics. Additionally, the humidity in the air can make the smell last longer. To get rid of the smell of skunk spray, airing out the house, using vinegar to neutralize odors, and calling in a professional pest control service may be necessary.

9. Septic Systems

A septic system is an on-site waste treatment system typically found in rural areas. It consists of a drain field, a tank, and a pump. The tank collects and stores wastewater, which is then treated by bacteria before entering a drain field, where it is absorbed and purified by the earth. Unfortunately, a septic system can cause a strong, unpleasant odor in a home.

This is because the septic tank needs to be regularly emptied, which can cause a build-up of odors. Additionally, if the tank is not installed correctly or the drain field is not working properly, the waste will not be treated properly and can cause a strong odor.

10. Personal Hygiene Products

Personal hygiene products such as soaps, shampoos, and deodorants can cause a house to smell like onions. This is because these products contain sweat, which is mostly water, and when it interacts with the bacteria on the skin it creates a group of sulfur-containing chemicals called thioalcohols.

These thioalcohols have scents comparable to sulfur, onions, or meat, and are so pungent that our noses can detect them at extremely low concentrations. Additionally, a clogged drain can also cause a house to smell like onions, since it will catch the soap, grime, and grease that gets washed off and are left to linger over time.

What are the causes of a house/room that smells like onions?

1. Cooking with Onions

Cooking with onions can cause a house to smell like onions due to their strong odor. To prevent this, here are the steps to follow when cooking with onions:

  1. Close the doors to the kitchen. Resist the urge to lure your roommates out of their rooms with the delicious scent of dinner and trap cooking odors in the kitchen, preventing them from wafting out to the rest of the house.
  2. Open the windows in the kitchen. The better ventilation and airflow you have in the kitchen, the less the food smells will permeate later on.
  3. Utilize outdoor grilling. Who doesn’t love BBQ season? Dust off your grill and fire it up, letting your whole neighborhood in on your secret ingredient (hint: its onions). Instead of stinking up the kitchen, you’ll perfume the block.
  4. Activate the extractor fan above the stove. This will help pull smells out of the kitchen and send them outside and airborne.
  5. Wash dishes quickly. Washing dishes quickly with Dawn Dish Soap can help prevent smells from lingering, especially on your cutting boards.
  6. Use a separate cutting board for alliums. Keeping a separate cutting board specifically for onions and alliums (e.g., garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives) will help prevent onion tastes from seeping into foods they have no business mixing with, such as fruit or desserts.
  7. Use vinegar to neutralize odors. Vinegar is an ultimate odor neutralizer and can be put in a bowl near the stove to help put the kibosh on those strong onion odors.
  8. Use baking soda to absorb odors. Baking soda is also very absorbent and can be used to absorb odors straight out of the air. Place a bowl of baking soda in the kitchen overnight.
  9. Use a Febreze Small Spaces beneath the kitchen sink. This will stay one step ahead of kitchen smells.

By following these steps, you can help to prevent your house from smelling like onions while still being able to enjoy a delicious meal.

2. Presence of Onions in the Home

The presence of onions in a home can be caused by several factors, such as cooking with onions, the presence of rotten vegetables, mold, old carpets, refrigerators, and sulfur from cooking gas. These all can cause a strong and pungent odor to linger, leaving the home smelling like onions.

3. Garbage that Contains Onions

When garbage that contains onions is put in a house, it can cause the whole house to stink up due to the strong odor of the onions. This is especially true in an enclosed space, such as a kitchen, as the smell can easily spread and become more noticeable.

In addition, the sulfur content of the onions can also linger on any surface, making it difficult to get rid of the odor. To make matters worse, the smell can even spread to other areas of the house, such as the living room, if the garbage is improperly disposed of.

4. Home Appliances that Have an Onion Smell

What appliances have an onion smell in the home?

  1. Dishwasher: If you forget to run the dishwasher after loading, the smell may linger in the kitchen.
  2. Cooking: Onions can smell up the whole house, especially if you cook with your windows and doors closed, without an outlet for the aroma to escape.
  3. Refrigerators: Spoiled food, such as vegetables left for too long, can create a strong onion smell if not checked regularly.
  4. Air Conditioners: Even if you’re using air conditioners, the onion aroma can still linger if you handle onions near the unit.
  5. Carpets: Old carpets can accumulate stains, dust, and sweat, thus creating a pungent onion odor. New carpets can release chemicals, resulting in a similar smell.
  6. Laundry Room: Cooking onions in the kitchen can cause the onion smell to spread to the adjacent laundry room. Washing cooking clothes can also leave an onion smell in the room.

5. Trash That Contains Onions

Trash that contains onions can range from leftover food scraps, such as onion skins or slices, to spoiled produce, such as rotten vegetables or moldy fruit. These items can cause an unpleasant onion smell in your home if they are not properly disposed of.

This odor is caused by the natural gases given off by the onions, which can linger for days or even weeks. It is important to properly dispose of onion-based trash to avoid a lingering onion smell. This can be done by putting the trash in a sealed bag and disposing of it in an outdoor trash can, or by removing the onion-based trash from your home altogether.

6. Mushrooms and Garlic

Cooking mushrooms and garlic can fill a house with a delicious aroma, but this same smell can eventually become overwhelming. The primary cause of this strong odor is sulfur, which is a naturally occurring element found in both mushrooms and garlic. When sulfur is heated, it releases an aromatic scent that can linger for hours.

Additionally, the potent smell can be further intensified in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to remove this odor from the house, such as cutting an onion in half and leaving it in a musty shoe closet or in the basement overnight, or turning off the gas supply and opening all the doors.

7. Certain Chemicals and Household Cleaners

Smells like onions in your home may be caused by a range of chemicals and household cleaners. Formaldehyde, which is classified as a dangerous carcinogen, is widely used in the manufacturing of adhesives, resins, preservatives, disinfectants, and fixatives.

It can be found in many manufactured homes and in carpeting, upholstery, paneling, and pressed wood furniture. Paints containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may also emit odors that smell like onions. VOCs are present in many paints, including oil-based paints, and can cause throat irritation, sneezing, coughing, headaches, and dizziness.

Finally, cleaning products that contain ammonia, a pungent gas, may also be to blame. Ammonia is commonly used in household cleaners, window cleaners, and laundry detergents and has a strong, onion-like odor. To reduce any of these odors, open windows, and doors and run fans or a dehumidifier. Sprinkling baking soda on carpets and upholstery may also help with odor removal.

8. Spores of Mold

Mold spores are microscopic particles that are found naturally in the air and are a major cause of indoor allergies and asthma. They are made up of fungal cells and are released into the air by mold or mildew. They are spread through the air and can land on moist surfaces, where they can grow.

Mold spores thrive in damp and warm environments, often found in bathrooms, basements, and other places where there is moisture. When they spread, they release a musty or earthy odor. Inhaling mold spores can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, and can lead to allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

9. Animal Waste

The smell of animal waste in a house can be caused by the presence of rodents, such as rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, and other wild animals. These animals can carry rabies, transmit worms and diseases to humans or pets through their infected feces, and emit a wet dog-like smell if present in the home.

Additionally, if food is allowed to rot and decompose inside the home, it can also create an unpleasant onion-smelling odor.

10. Gas Stoves, Water Heaters, and Refrigerators

The smell of onions in a home can be caused by several different gas appliances. Gas stoves, water heaters, and refrigerators can all produce the smell of onions if they are not properly burning the gas. In some cases, a gas leak can also emit an onion smell.

This is due to the sulfur content of the gas which, when mixed with air, can create a smell similar to onions. Other possible causes include faulty wiring, overheating electrical components, and mold buildup. If a house has a strange onion smell, it’s important to determine the source and take the necessary steps to address the problem.

How to get rid of the onion smell in the house

Remove any onion-like items from your home

Removing onion-like items from your home can be a great way to get rid of the onion smell in the house. By removing items such as onions, garlic, and other aromatic vegetables from the kitchen and other areas of the home, you can reduce the amount of odor in the air.

Air out your home

Airing out your home can help get rid of the onion smell in the house by allowing fresh air to circulate and replacing the odorous molecules with clean air. This can be done by opening windows and doors, turning on fans, and running air filters. Doing this will also help remove dust, mold, and other pollutants that could be contributing to the smell. Additionally, airing out your home often helps to prevent future onion smells from developing, as the air is regularly being renewed.

Try cleaning with baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar can be used to get rid of the onion smell in the house by following these steps:

  1. Place a bowl of vinegar next to the stove to neutralize the strong odors.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda on the fridge, trash can, cutting boards, and countertops.
  3. Boil cinnamon sticks for a comforting aroma in the house.
  4. Vacuum the mattress to remove any lingering odors.
  5. Use distilled white vinegar to further eliminate the smell.
  6. Sprinkle cornstarch on the bedding and mattress and let it sit for a few hours.
  7. Place a waterproof mattress encasement to keep the odors from entering.
  8. Air out the mattress for a few hours.
  9. Finally, boil a lemon to get rid of the smell completely.

Set up an air purifier in your home

Setting up an air purifier can help get rid of the onion smell in the house by trapping dander, dust, and smell from passing through the central HVAC unit. Air purifiers are designed to filter out particles in the air, so they can prevent the onion smell from lingering in the house once the AC turns on.

It’s important to regularly change the air filters in the air purifier as they can become clogged and reduce the air purifier’s efficiency. Using air fresheners or DIY aromatherapy sprays can also help eliminate the onion smell from the house.

Always ventilate your house

It is important to ventilate your house when trying to remove the onion smell. Proper ventilation will help to remove the lingering odor quickly and safely. Gas usually smells like rotten eggs due to the sulfur content in its makeup, and if you notice a fishy or wet dog smell, it is a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

Additionally, an old home with small leaks can produce a pungent odor, and opening windows and doors will help to expel this smell quickly. Installing a gas detector in an old home is also a great safety precaution. All of these provide an indication of why it is important to ventilate your house when trying to remove the onion smell.

Vacuum & Deep Clean

Vacuuming and deep cleaning can be effective methods to get rid of the onion smell in the house. Vacuuming the entire floor can help remove all the dust that has built up over time, which can help reduce the smell of onions.

Deep cleaning of the area can also help remove any lingering odors, as well as help to get rid of any mold or other smelly things that may be in the home.

Use Air Freshener

How can you use an air freshener to get rid of the onion smell in your house? [Step-by-step instructions]

  1. Vacuum the entire house: Vacuuming the entire house will get rid of the dust and dirt that can contribute to odors.
  2. Clean the area: Deep cleaning of the area will give you excellent relief and remove all the stink and onion smell from the house.
  3. Use air fresheners: Use air fresheners to give you an instant solution to lingering odors.


How do you get rid Rotten Onion Smell that Fills the Apartment?

To get rid of the rotten onion smell that fills the apartment, one should begin by using baking soda. Baking soda has a natural neutralizing property and can easily handle that pesky onion smell. Put a box of baking soda into your fridge to help keep the entire fridge neutral. Sprinkle some baking soda into the trash can, as well.

For an added fresh smell, put a bowl of baking soda and lemon rinds into the fridge. Clean surfaces like cutting boards, fridge drawers, and countertops with baking soda. Boil some cinnamon sticks to create a comforting aroma in the house.

Additionally, cut an onion in half and leave it in a musty closet or basement overnight to absorb musty smells. Lastly, use an air freshener and spray it twice a week to remove the onion smell.

What gas smells like onions?

Acrylonitrile vapor is heavier than air, and it has a strong odor that can be difficult to detect. At high levels, this chemical can cause serious health problems. Gas leaks can cause a smell similar to onions due to the presence of sulfur compounds in the formula.

If you suspect a gas leak in your home, turn off the gas supply and open all the doors to see whether the smell diminishes. However, it is important to note that not all gas leaks smell like sulfur or onions; some may smell like rotten eggs and others may not smell like anything at all. If you’re unsure, it’s best to get a gas detector to accurately detect the presence of carbon monoxide.

Does carbon monoxide smell like onions?

No, carbon monoxide does not smell like onions. This is because carbon monoxide gas is odorless and cannot be smelled. To avoid health risks due to carbon monoxide leaks, you should use a monoxide detector. On the other hand, gas does have a telltale odor because manufacturers add sulfuric compounds to the formula.

This is why a gas leak may smell like rotten eggs or other pungent odors, but rarely like onions. If you smell onions in your house, it could be due to a gas leak, so you should check your gas pipelines and try to smell them.

Can a gas leak smell like onions?

Yes, a gas leak can smell like onions. This is because gas leaks often contain sulfur, which is what produces the strong smell of onions. Additionally, if there are old gasoline pipes leaking, they may also produce a stinky, pungent smell which may be mistaken for the smell of onions.

It is important to check your gas pipelines and pipes if you are smelling an odor reminiscent of onions. If left unchecked, a gas leak can lead to dangerous accidents, so it is important to take the necessary precautions.

Additionally, mold can also have a similar smell to onions, particularly in areas with high humidity. If you notice a smell of onions in the house, it is best to turn off the gas supply and open all the doors to see if the smell dissipates.

Does mold smell like onions?

Yes, mold can smell like onions in certain instances. The typical smell given off by mold is a musty and earthy scent, but in some cases, it can also take on the aroma of rotting vegetables and plants, including onions. The onion odor from mold is found more often in humid areas, such as the shower or bathroom, where water will stick to the walls and ceilings when there isn’t strong enough ventilation.

Sulfur is what gives onions their strong smell, as it’s found in many things like cooking gas and can be easily detected when there is a leak. If you smell an onion aroma in your home, it could be due to mold growth, so it’s important to take the time to look around for any visible mold or discoloration.

Can I get rid of the smell of onions and garlic in the house?

Yes, it is possible to get rid of the smell of onions and garlic in the house as there are several ways to do it. These include using air fresheners, cinnamon sticks, baking soda, essential oils, vinegar, vanilla, candles, coffee grounds, and even onions.



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