You washed your hands several times throughout the course of the evening and again before going to bed. You curled up in bed, hands tucked under your nose nice and cozy, and you were blasted with the strong smell of stale garlic lingering on your hands. You tried to go to sleep, thinking the smell would go away or that you would stop noticing it. But that didn’t happen. You got up, washed your hands one more time, with extra soap, to no avail. Your hands still smelled awful. You may have even vowed either to buy disposable gloves or to never to cook with fresh garlic again.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up cooking with fresh garlic, and you don’t need to use special gloves to keep the smell off your hands! This trick is so simple, you will have to try it to believe it!
All that is required is a stainless steel surface and water. That’s it. And any stainless steel surface works. Simply rub your hand/fingers along the stainless steel surface under running water for only a few seconds immediately after exposure to the garlic, and the smell will be gone!
What do I mean by stainless steel surface? Any surface made from stainless steel, including the side of a stainless steel blade (carefully, of course!), stainless steel flatware, a stainless steel garlic press, a stainless steel bowl, a stainless steel sink or faucet, or any other stainless steel utensil.
I like to use my stainless steel garlic press. As soon as I finish pressing the garlic, I rinse the press under running water and rub my fingers along the press as I remove any trapped garlic. I clean both the garlic press and my fingers at the same time.
You might ask: How does this work? While I did not find any scientific studies that determined the actual mechanism, it is believed that sulfur from sulfur-containing compounds in the garlic that are responsible for the smell and eye-burning sensation binds to the metal on the stainless steel surface, removing the sulfur from your hands.
Ever since discovering this trick, I have always applied this procedure immediately after touching fresh garlic, and it has always worked for me. However, others have reported that it hasn't always worked for them.
I think the effectiveness of this procedure may depend on the extent and duration of garlic exposure as well as how much time has lapsed before rubbing hands/fingers along a stainless steel surface under water. In other words, the key may be in doing this procedure immediately after touching fresh garlic, or often if working with lots of garlic.
And this is not an old wives-tale. It’s a procedure that’s been “taken to the bank”. Special stainless steel “soap bars” that are the size and shape of regular soap bars can be purchased and range in price from as little as $2-3 to as much as $20-30 USD.
So now you can enjoy cooking with fresh garlic and get a good night’s sleep!