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My Frying Pan Smells Like Fish

Alice Moon
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Fish odors are pungent and lingering. Once the meal is over, fish smells are also unwelcome. To avoid problem odors, clean your pan promptly after cooking an odor-causing food item such as fish.

Lemon improves the flavor of fish and helps clean away fish odor.

If your frying pan still has an unpleasant aroma after a regular cleaning, try one of these treatments, followed by a regular wash and rinse.

Before-and-After Care

Begin by cleaning away any visible food matter left in the pan by soaking and scrubbing. If fish spoiled inside the pan, disinfect the pan after you finish cleaning. Use 2 tbsp. of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water to create a disinfecting solution.

Baking Soda

Spread dry baking soda across the cooking surface of the pan and leave it to sit overnight. Baking soda eliminates some odors on contact. The prolonged exposure will allow the baking soda time to absorb stubborn odors like fish. Clean your pan with a mixture of 1 to 2 tsp. baking soda and 1 qt. water. Baking soda is safe for cleaning pots and pans, including stainless steel.


To clean stainless steel, use a nonbleach cleanser. To make your own deodorizing cleanser, combine 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 tbsp. liquid detergent, then add white distilled vinegar until you create a thick paste. You can combine vinegar with salt or ketchup to polish copper, and use a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup hot water to remove stains from aluminum.

Lemon Juice

To deodorize an aluminum or stainless steel pan, boil a mixture of 2 tbsp. of lemon juice or cream of tartar and 1 qt. of water inside the pan for five to 10 minutes, or wipe the interior of the pan with 1/2 cup of lemon juice diluted in 1 cup of water and warmed in the microwave.

Other Methods

Place activated charcoal atop a layer of aluminum foil, place it inside your pan, and heat the pair in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Fish odors succumb to coffee grounds and to liquid dish soap with salt added, according to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Allow the coffee grounds to sit in the bottom of the pan, then use grounds to lightly scrub the pan.

Other Materials

You can safely soak an enameled cast iron pan in a bleach solution or wash it in baking soda and water. If a cast iron pan’s seasoning is affected by fish, you can wash the pan in hot, soapy water to strip off layers of seasoning, and completely reseason your pan.


Do not store leftovers in cookware inside the refrigerator. Instead, transfer any fish you do not finish with your meal to a food storage container with a lid. This will help prevent the transfer of odors to your pan and to other food items in your refrigerator.