How to get rid of neighbor's cooking odors?
June 17, 2017 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Our neighbors cook/fry fish pretty regularly and it often seeps through our shared wall. It's quite strong and I'm not a big fan of fish smell in general, but this smell particularly seems to hang in our house.

It's summer now, so with open windows, the problem has increased a thousand fold. I don't think it's reasonable to ask them to change their diet or modify their own habits (they do open their kitchen window to air out their own apartment), so I'm wondering whether there's anything I can do in our own home that will help neutralize the odor? We have closed the windows closest to their apartment, but you can smell the fish all the way down the street. (It's also summer and we don't have aircon so our rooms get unbearably hot if the windows are closed).

Caveat is that I'm allergic to many perfumes and air fresheners and they give me asthma and/or migraines. Moving is not an option. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!
posted by stillmoving to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Febreeze. Sadly they no longer sell the unscented version (not since the 90s, I'm still sad about it) but it is an accidental scientific wonder that actually eliminates odors. The reason they discontinued the unscented is that folks become nose blind to their 8 cats or their constant fish frying so replacing the scent of 'nothing' with literally the scent of nothing wasn't making the bottles move. (I don't consume much media with advertising, so maybe they've brought it back and I haven't heard. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you)

Get a bottle of febreeze. Have someone who is not you/not allergic to scents spray whatever soft goods are near that wall, and maybe maaaaaaybe the wall.

And maybe research getting that wonder chemical in an unscented formula.
posted by bilabial at 6:21 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

I've had really good luck with a little Hamilton Beach plug in air purifier for eliminating odor. I don't leave it plugged in all the time or I'd have to replace the filter too often but an hour or so at smelly times really helps.
posted by cessair at 6:29 AM on June 17

Boiling a splash of white, distilled vinegar in some water is my favorite atmospheric deodorizer. Yes it makes things smell like vinegar while it's boiling, but after that it all fades away.

The only problem I see is that you don't have access to the actual odor creating space, so this might not work that great, but it should help.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:31 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]

I have trouble with cigarette smoke from neighbors coming in open windows, so I strategically place fans in the windows on the appropriate side *blowing out* when they're out on their porch smoking. I think with cooking odors, you may want to combine this with an odor neutralizing method, too, or maybe have some strongly aromatic plants near your windows, like lemon verbena, mint, geraniums, etc.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:42 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]

Febreeze. Sadly they no longer sell the unscented version (not since the 90s, I'm still sad about it)

I know I bought an uncented store brand version a few years ago so that may still be available. I think it was from Ralphs, which is also Kroger.

There's also an uncented air freshener that we used to get at the car wash for smoke, which we mostly used for pot smoke, and it worked well for that.

Also seconding vinegar.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:46 AM on June 17

I can still buy unscented febreeze.

Thirding boiling vinegar and the fans blowing out.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:20 AM on June 17

Ozium. It's like industrial-strength Febreze, there is an unscented version, and you can get in on Amazon. There's a gel that you can just leave in the room, and a spray you can do whenever you feel like it. Careful, it'll eliminate the odor of everything in the room, including food, so consider putting those things away in the fridge or in a different room.
posted by danceswithlight at 8:14 AM on June 17 [5 favorites]

Ozium, that's the car wash thing I was talking about!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:36 AM on June 17

What sort of apartment are you in?

In newer buildings this issue is usually solved by the building's ventilation fans maintaining positive pressure in each apartment by constantly drawing air up and out a rooftop vent. A lot of cheapo building management tend to turn off this fan thinking that it does nothing in the summer when moisture buildup is less of an issue because of windows being open.

You might have a vent in your kitchen that connects to a roof vent which your neighbour's kitchen vent also connects to. Without a fan drawing air up smells will cross the vents. You might be able to reduce the smell by blocking the vent (though you will lose out on the ability to vent your own kitchen).
posted by srboisvert at 11:20 AM on June 17

Do you have adjacent bathrooms by Any chance? When I moved here my neighbor and I had a problem with my cigarette smoke. We finally figured out that it was coming through the fan in the bathroom. Simply keeping the door closed and putting something like this down stopped it completely,
posted by Room 641-A at 2:34 PM on June 17

Thank you for the replies! I am looking forward to trying the vinegar solution when the next fish fry occurs.
posted by stillmoving at 1:25 PM on June 19

« Older Rose Zombie   |   Best books about American Expats? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments