6 Ways To Get Rid Of Garlic Hands


Since you’re still relatively new to cooking we’ll keep this simple. Chicken fingers are good. Garlic fingers are bad.

Why? Unlike chicken fingers, which have a delicious flavor that lingers on the palette, garlic fingers have an unpleasant aroma that lingers on the skin. The by-product of peeling and dicing fresh garlic, this pseudo-condition is tough to eliminate but not impossible. So let’s get into it.

Understanding Garlic

Garlic is used in EVERYTHING from Thai and Italian cuisine to Indian, American, and more. It’s versatile and packed with flavor. But it has one fatal flaw. The aroma that brings out the best in food will leave a lingering smell on your fingers (and breath) if you’re not careful. Because the smell is caused by the sulfur in the aromatic oil, the more fragrant the clove, the stronger the stink.

Since we’ve established that the rich flavor it adds makes it worth the effort to peel and chop, we figured we’d share these hassle-free ways to eliminate the garlic stench on your hands, fingers, and nails. After all, we don’t want your new-found passion for cooking to ruin your social life.

6 Hassle-Free Ways to Stop Garlic Fingers


Touted by many as the most effective way to eliminate the garlic odor on hands, stainless steel is also the most interesting method we’ll cover. All you need to test it out is a stainless steel pan or spoon and some time. The basic premise is that the sulfur molecules in the garlic will transfer to the stainless steel by briskly rubbing it over your hands. It takes a bit of time but really does the trick.

If this sounds too much like high school chemistry, don’t worry. You don’t need to write any formulas. Just rub it over your hands and fingers and trust the magic.


Don’t have stainless steel? Don’t worry! Common table salt will eliminate the smell and makes a great exfoliator. Simply moisten your hands with a bit of cool water, add salt, and rub your hands together until your hands and fingers are covered with a thin layer of salt. Rub your hands back and forth to ensure all spots are covered then rinse them with more cool water and the smell will disappear.


Lemon’s claim to fame is that it works faster than stainless steel and is less abrasive than salt. As a bonus lemons add an awesome citrus scent that is fresh and fun.


Baking soda is a great option for folks with sensitive skin. Just mix one part salt with 2 parts baking soda, add water, and mix until a nice paste forms. Spread the paste over your hands, taking care to rub it under your fingernails and your garlic fingers will disappear.


Tomato juice is a staple in every pantry. This multi-functional juice is delicious in Bloody Mary’s, works wonders on skunk spray, and eliminates garlic fingers with ease. To eliminate the aroma, simply pour the tomato juice into a bowl and soak your fingers. Rinse your hands under cool water with a bit of soap and the offending smell should dissipate.


Just like salt, coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant and work by attracting the sulfur molecules. Mix grounds with a bit of warm water then rub vigorously for a minute or more to maximize the cleaning.

Pro Tips

If you want to avoid garlic fingers (and hands) altogether, consider one trying the following:

  • Rub your hands with a bit of olive oil before handling the cloves
  • Wash your hands with soap and cool water as soon as you finish
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling garlic

Have your own garlic clean-up tips to share? Post them here!