Finding a bag of rotten potatoes in your kitchen cabinet is never pleasant. Neither is smelling them. A fresh potato might be great for slicing, dicing, chipping, and eating, but a rotten one is no good to man nor beast. Unfortunately, once the rot sets into one potato, it can quickly spread to the rest of the bag, leaving a soggy, stinky mess to clean up and a foul odor to explain away to guests. And when we say foul, we really do mean foul. If you didn’t think a humble potato could smell of anything more than the seasonings you sprinkle over it, wait till you smell a decaying one. Fortunately, it’s not something you have to put up with. If a noxious odor has alerted you to something suspicious happening in your cabinet, here’s how to deal with it.
Get Rid of the Potatoes
Potatoes are one of the most common vegetables in the world. Regardless of which part of the globe we hail from, we’ll all have wrapped our lips around a chip, a fry, or a big spoonful of fluffy mash more times than we can count. Which is understandable. Potatoes are cheap. they’re readily available, and they’re tasty. The problem is, they’re not quite so hardy as we tend to think. Most of us are guilty of shoving a bag of potatoes away in the kitchen cabinet or pantry and forgetting all about them.
But after a while, potatoes, like all other vegetables, are going to rot. And that’s when the problem starts. Not only do rotten potatoes omit a nauseating smell, but they can also release toxins. As Hunker writes, potatoes, like other nightshades, contain a toxin called solanine. In small amounts, solanine is perfectly harmless. However, when potatoes start to turn soft and mushy or begin to sprout and go green, the levels of solanine can increase, releasing toxic fumes that be poisonous if inhaled.
So, now you have two solid reasons for a thorough clean of your cabinets – one, the bad smell, and two, to get rid of toxins. Gather all the potatoes into a bag, seal it tightly, then toss the bag into an outside trash receptacle. Don’t be tempted to leave it in the trash can indoors – whatever toxins the potatoes are releasing, you’ll want them as far away from you as possible. Once you’ve cleaned your cabinet of potatoes, you can start tackling the lingering smell.
How to Remove that Rotten Potatoes Smell from Your Cabinet
In some cases, disposing of the potatoes is the first and final step in the process of ridding your cabinet of that rotten potato smell. More often than not, however, the odors will have already seeped into the surfaces, meaning you’ll need to take a few extra steps before you’re done. Fortunately, you don’t need to resort to harsh chemicals or expensive cleaning products to remove the odor.
Most of the ingredients you’ll need to clean and deodorize the cabinets will already be lurking in your pantry. Before moving on to any of the following deodorizing methods, give your cabinet a good clean with warm water and soap to get rid of any residue left by the potatoes. Once the cabinet is clean, leave the doors open overnight to dry it out and allow the bulk of the odor and gasses to be released. The following morning, grab your supplies and get to work with one of the following tried and tested methods.
The Vinegar Method
Vinegar is powerful stuff. Not only can it neutralize odors, but it can also kill germs. To get the most out of its germ-busting potential, use a vinegar with at least 5% acetic acid.
- Step 1 – Mix one part vinegar to 2 parts water. Add the solution to a spray bottle and shake well.
- Step 2 – Spray the solution directly over the surface of the cabinet. Allow it to sit overnight.
- Step 3 – Use a clean cloth to wipe away the vinegar solution. If any rotten potato smell remains, repeat the process as many times as necessary to remove any last trace of odor.
The Baking Soda Method
Baking soda is an effective odor neutralizer. To eliminate any obnoxious odors from your cabinet, try this simple method suggested by eHow.
- Step 1 – Fill an open container with baking soda and leave it in the cabinet for a couple of days.
- Step 2 – Remove the container. Sniff. If you can still smell anything funky, refresh the container with a fresh load of baking soda and pop it back into the cabinet for another few days.
The Dryer Sheet Method
If you’ve got a spare package of dryer sheets to hand, put them to good use with this easy deodorizing method.
- Step 1 – Place a dryer sheet on each shelf of the cabinet. Leave them to absorb any unpleasant odors.
- Step 2 – Once the dryer sheets lose their fresh scent, replace them. Continue to add and replace the sheets for as long as the smell persists.
The Coffee Method
As wigglywisdom.com writes, certain rotten potato smells can be so strong, they’re almost impossible to get rid of. If white vinegar and baking soda aren’t working their usual magic, it’s time to try a new tactic. For this method, you’re going to need a saucer and as many coffee granules as your caffeine habit can spare. Note that coffee won’t remove the unpleasant odor, but it will cover it well enough that you don’t have to explain the smell to any guests.
- Step 1 – Fill a selection of small bowls with ground coffee granules. If you’d rather, you can place the coffee grounds on a piece of absorbent material like a paper cloth or rag cloth instead.
- Step 2 – Add one bowl to each shelf in the cabinet and leave to sit.
- Step 3 – Once the coffee smell starts to fade, replace the grounds with a fresh load.
How to Stop the Rot
Once you’ve got rid of the unpleasant odor, it’s time to put steps in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you can, find a storage place for your potatoes somewhere cool, dark, and away from other fruits and vegetables. A basement or a well-insulated shed both make great options. Not only will this help avoid the potatoes rotting, but it’ll also help preserve their precious vitamins and minerals.
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