13 Effective Ways To Get Fish Smell Off Your Hands Anytime

Fish taste is one thing. The smell of the water and the blood of the raw fish all over your hands is another thing. Most times, it is unpleasant and could discourage you from eating your meal.

The smell of some types of fish is gone in no time and some others won’t just go. It is worse if you are expecting guests. You do not want to welcome guests into your home and leave them wondering how they got fish on their hands before eating.

In this article, I’ll be showing you a list of ways you can avoid this embarrassment. The different methods listed below use inexpensive items and will not take your time either. So, let’s get to work.

Before you go through the list of working methods, understand why fish has a pungent smell and why it lingers even after washing your hands.

Why does fish smell linger?

Fish smell comes from trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), a chemical compound found in fish muscles. This compound helps to maintain fluid and salt balance to enable the fish to live underwater.

TMAO is present in higher concentrations in marine fish than freshwater fish, which is why the former has a stronger fish smell. When all fish die, TMAO is converted to trimethylamine (TMA), which is more pungent.

So, at different times, you may struggle with fish smell due to TMAO or TMA off your hands.

How to get fish smell off your hands

1. Toothpaste

toothpaste to get fish smell off your hands - millenora

Toothpaste will help get the fish smell off your hands in a pinch. If you can locate a tube of toothpaste and soap, you are on your way to solving this problem.

Start by wetting your hands. Rub toothpaste all over your hands and leave it for some minutes to absorb the fish smell. Wash it off with a mild soap and warm water. Moisturize your hands with hand cream or any moisturizer you can find.

2. Salt

salt to get fish smell off your hands - millenora

A spoonful of salt can do wonders in seconds. This method is easy to use at home or when visiting with family or friends. Wet your hands with water and lightly scrub your hands with salt like you would detergent.

You can leave the salt on for a few seconds or a minute so that it completely absorbs the fish smell. Rinse off the salt and repeat if necessary. Wash your hands with warm water and soap and moisturize because salt could dry out your skin.

3. Baby wipes

baby wipes to get fish smell off your hands - millenora

Freshwater fish have a less pungent smell than saltwater or marine fish. If you are dealing with the smell of freshwater fish, baby wipes may solve the problem. But you may have to use a lot of wipes to completely get rid of the smell.

You can make it more effective by washing your hands with soap and water first. Afterward, use the fragrance from the wipes to replace or mask the fish smell.

4. Baking soda

baking soda - millenora

Beyond cooking, baking soda is known for its stain and odor-removal properties. If you have some on hand, you can also do yourself good and eliminate the fishy smell.

Make baking soda paste with water. It should not be too pasty or watery. Afterward, rub it all over your hands and scrub.

Rinse off the paste and smell your hands to see how much progress you’ve made. If you are satisfied, wash your hands with soap and warm water.

5. Peppermint oil

peppermint oil - millenora

Peppermint oil is one of the many essential oils. These oils are known for many things, which includes their powerful fragrance.

You should wash your hands with dish soap and water before you oil it. 3 to 5 drops of oil will help get the fish smell off your hands.

Leave the oil on for a few hours before you wash it off. Other essential oils you can use are lavender oil, jasmine oil, eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, grapefruit oil, clove oil, lemon oil, and sandalwood oil.

6. Olive oil

Olive oil - millenora

Olive oil contains compounds that break down trimethylamine and remove fish smell from your hands.

If you have washed your hands before, massage olive oil into your skin and leave it on for a few hours. You may rinse it off with warm water if you wish to.

7. Vinegar and lemon juice

vinegar and lemon - millenora

Vinegar is a reputable cleaning agent and lemon juice will suppress any foul odors with its citrusy fragrance. Lemon juice alone can help get the fish smell off your hands, but your hands may smell like a citrusy fish dish, and you don’t want that.

Make your cleaning effective by mixing one cup of vinegar with ¼ cup of lemon juice. Pour the liquids into a bowl and add a little detergent.

Leave the mixture to sit for 30 minutes before you scrub your hands in it. Rinse off with warm water and moisturize generously.

8. Stainless steel

stainless steel bar soap - millenora

How does stainless steel work to get fish smell off your hands? The steel attracts the sulfur compounds responsible for the fish smell all over your hands.

It takes off the smell and leaves your hand smelling fresh. It sounds funny but it’s true, you should try it.

You can try it with a faucet. It is a two-way street. The same chemical compounds that eliminate the fishy smell are the same compounds that protect stainless steel from rust.

Rather than rubbing your hands on your faucet and giving it a fishy smell, buy a stainless-steel bar soap for this purpose.

9. Commercial cleaning agents

GOJO hand cleaner - millenora

Cleaners like GOJO are made for heavy-duty cleaning but you can use this cleaner if you have it at home.

GOJO is an orange-scented cleaner that replaces the fish smell with its orange smell. However, it is a tough cleaner that may dry out your skin if you use too much of it too frequently.

Whenever you use GOJO on your hands, ensure that you moisturize your hands generously to restore moisture.

10. Coffee grounds

coffee grounds to get fish smell off your hands - millenora

Fish smell can leave you nauseated but the smell of coffee is refreshing. Why not make the exchange? If you have some coffee grounds on hand, dissolve one tablespoon in lukewarm water and soak your hands in the mixture.

Leave your hands in the water for 2-3 minutes before you take them out to check the progress. Once you can no longer pick fish smell, rinse your hands or not to enjoy the coffee fragrance.

11. Ketchup

ketchup - millenora

Ketchup does not completely get the fish smell off your hands. It masks the pungent smell with the smell of tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and spices. Even after using ketchup, you must use a cleaning solution to complete the elimination process.

But it suffices for the meantime. At least until you can get something more permanent.

12. Cilantro

cilantro - millenora

The fragrant, citrusy flavor of cilantro can also help to get rid of the off-putting fish smell. Take some leaves in your hand and rub them all over your palms. In a few seconds, you won’t be able to pick fish smell again.

13. Saltine crackers

saltine crackers - millenora

Those saltine crackers in your bag or kitchen cupboards have more use than you ever thought. Crumble the crackers and make a mixture with soap and water.

Apply the paste onto your hands and scrub. The mixture takes on the fish smell and restores your natural fresh scent to your hands. Rinse off the paste and smell your hands. Repeat if you can still pick the fish smell.


Can hand sanitizer remove the fish smell from your hands?

Yes, it can. Hand sanitizer contains rubbing alcohol and other compounds that remove fish smell and bacteria from your hands.

How can you remove the fish smell from under your nails?

To remove the fish smell from under your nails, soap your hands well and rub the nails on one hand against the palm of the other. You can also scrub under your nails with a brush for better results.

Is warm or cold water more effective for removing fish smell from your hands?

Warm water is more effective at removing smells and stains from the skin. If you are removing the fish smell with soap, vinegar, baking soda, or any other agent, remember to always rinse off with warm water.


The solutions include more food items, right? Well, the trick to get rid of the fish smell on your hands is to mask the smell with or substitute it with a pleasant smell. These food items have strong aromas that can effectively do this.

So, the next time you are handling fish at home or your garden party, keep some of these items by your side to avoid the discomfort fish odor may cause you.

Here’s another fish hack you should know – how to gut a fish and get it ready for cooking.

Thanks for reading.