Managing Kitchen Odors

This week's post was inspired by a little mishap with the blender the other day that led to a small explosion. What began with the wonderful aroma of garlic, onion and and fresh herbs turned into a much more funky odor over the next couple of days when it was discovered that some of the bits had actually fallen into the downdraft kitchen vent (you know, the kind that are flush with the stove, not the ones that rise up). 


While we may love spending time in the kitchen, the room rightly has a reputation as being an odoriferous one. While you can create a finely crafted dinner that smells wonderful, the moisture and grease that are byproducts of the cooking process can lead to a mess if not handled properly. This is especially a concern as we move towards the winter, as large holiday meals are cooked and windows closed. Here are a few ways to ensure your kitchen doesn’t accumulate odors over time.

Range Hoods

One of the most important steps you can take is to invest in a proper range hood. As well as adding a decorative touch to the kitchen, range hoods use fans and ductwork to vent moisture and odors to the outside of the home. Avoid recirculating hoods, which merely pass the air through a filter and return it to the room. These models do not work nearly as well as those which vent to the outside. Downdraft options that vent to the outside are also a great choice, as long as they are the newer styles that rise up from the stove and can even act as a backsplash that can be easily cleaned.   

Range Hoods are key to reducing kitchen odors.


While you can buy a hood to match any kitchen style, there are a few rules on selecting the right size. In general, the width of the hood should be between the width of the cooktop to three inches wider on each side. Island cooktops tend to have hoods in the smaller end of the range while wall mounted hoods are wider. The airflow should be at least 40 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per foot of width, although many prefer higher airflow hoods. Units over 400 cfm should be used with care, since they may require planning for supply air due to their high demand.

Range Hoods are typically slightly wider than the cooktop.


Use a Splatter Shield

Oil is very good at carrying odors, and the walls and backsplash near a stove are notorious for acquiring oil splatter. Use a fine mesh shield over frying pans to prevent oil from splattering out of the pan. It is best to immediately clean the area around a stove after you cook, since it is much easier to clean than if you wait.

A splatter shield is a welcome addition to the cookware collection.


Clean the Dishwasher Trap

Modern dishwashers are great devices, which can clean your plates and pans better than a person while using less water. In the course of doing so, however, the trap at the bottom of the machine will collect food debris and begin to smell over time. Clean out the scraps occasionally, and run a “rinse only” load with a bit of vinegar to neutralize the odors if necessary.

Minor maintenance keeps the dishwasher working well.


Like most items of household maintenance, a bit of prevention and everyday care can keep a kitchen free of odor without time-consuming major cleaning. Still, this is a great time of year to give the whole kitchen a once over and make sure it’s in top shape before the holidays arrive. If you have a question about any of the wonderful timber frame kitchens featured in this post’s photos, please contact us here.