How to Un-Garlic Your Hands: Heloise vs. Martha

Friday, 30 Jan 2009


First I was going to do a post about how well the Martha Stewart Collection Scent Neutralizing “Rub Away” Bar works.  Then I wondered if I was a sucker for buying it. (It costs $9.99 but I got about a buck off at Macy’s after Christmas sale.)

I’ve always had trouble getting the smell of garlic off of my hands after I cook.  And I use garlic all the time.  Soap and water just doesn’t do it.  Some people recommend lemon, but that stings like heck if you have any small cuts on your hands and it dries out your skin.  I was happy when I found the Martha Stewart smell-killing bar.  It works really well.  It’s also supposed to take care of fish and onion odors.

Before plugging the bar on my blog, though, I wanted to do a little research to find out if I had missed any obvious home remedies.  A quick google search of “getting garlic off your hands” turned up some tips from Heloise: Removing Garlic Odor from Hands.  She recommends using baking soda, salt, toothpaste, mouthwash, or rubbing your hands on a stainless steel utensil under running water.  Also, there was a large discussion thread about this at Thrifty Fun with the consensus being that stainless steel utensils worked as well as the bar you could purchase.  So I decided to do a test.


I cut a garlic clove in half and rubbed it on my hand.  Yes, I intentionally rubbed garlic on my hand.  Maybe this is a dumb experiment.


Here’s how each of the supposedly garlic-removing substances fared in my test:

Stainless steel spoon:  left a hint of garlic scent — no better than soap and water, or maybe a little worse.

Salt:  also left a hint of garlic smell.

Mouthwash:  seemed to mask the garlic odor but not remove it, resulting in a weird musty/metallic scent.

Toothpaste:  same as mouthwash — masked but didn’t remove odor.  Also resulted in funky after-scent.

Baking soda:  This worked.  It seemed to totally remove the garlic.

So, my conclusion is that both the bar and baking soda do a fine job of getting rid of the garlic smell.  I prefer the bar because it’s easy to use — it just sits by the sink with my soap.  I cook with garlic so frequently that I’d rather just use the bar than continually dump baking soda on my hands.  However, the bar cannot fix one key problem:  garlic under your nails.  That’s the worst.  Baking soda would be a great solution for that.

And now, my hands are officially raw from all that garlic-rubbing and scrubbing. Time for some hand cream.

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