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How to keep your van from smelling after cooking?

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A question we get asked a lot, and also a question we see asked on loads of forums on Facebook all the time is this:

How do we keep the van from smelling like food after cooking, and how come it doesn’t smell like food all the time?

We do cook quite a bit after all. Often we cook one-pot stews and meals that sit on the stoves for at least an hour, we also often cook using loads of potent smelling spices.

So what steps can you take to keep your campervan from smelling like an Indian curry shop mixed with a bacon fiesta?


There is a couple of secrets to the process, but I will leave the most important step until the very end.

Here are steps you need to take, and it begins with you airing out your van, even before you start your cooking, this is so important, the fresh air just helps everything move along and not staying in the van.

Now the absolute easiest way to keep your van from smelling like cooking is to simply move your kitchen outside, if you have that option that is.

You can also partly move your kitchen outside, get yourself a small one-burner camping stove, you know, the one that uses the small gas canisters.

The idea is that you then use that outside for your initial frying off, especially meat and spicy things, if you have the option, take it outside, then you can always bring it all together inside the van later.

If you have a cooking fan above your kitchen – USE it, sure it might be draining your batteries a little bit, but it is still a lot better than having a stinky van.

Keep everything open while you cook, doors, windows, ceiling vents, and if you have a ceiling fan, keep it running and circulating air. Every little thing helps.

You can also work on this before even moving into your van, by planning out your kitchen to be in a location, where the cooking fumes can escape easily. Have it by a door, a window, or build it so you can take it all outside.


A lot of people also mention febreeze, the odor remover, personally I don’t like it, mostly because I don’t have a lust for disturbing chemicals in my van, this is a closed-up space, and spraying around febreeze is not something I would recommend, just google it, trust me, and then please don’t use that crap in your van, it’s poison.

Make sure you don’t have towels, jackets and other clothing hanging in the cooking fumes! They will hold on to it, and make you smell like a chefs jacket forever, hang it outside while cooking, or put it away in the cabinet.

The same goes for duvet covers, blankets, pillows and hippy-dippy decorations you have hanging from the ceiling and everywhere, get it away, it will hold on to the smells for a much longer time than a semi-flat surface.

The most powerful thing you can do?

Keep it clean! Clean and wash down your kitchen after every meal, this is crucial for you and your vans smell.


As soon as you are done with the cooking you should do your dishes, after that, make sure you boil some water and wipe everything down with a kitchen cloth, especially the walls behind the kitchen and also the part where the steam and fumes go above the kitchen.

Keeping everything clean is really the key to a fresh smelling van, so don’t skip that – You don’t have to be dirty and nasty just because you live in a van!

Did I miss anything? Please leave a comment below if you have some other tips, as long as it doesn’t involve using chemicals inside the van.


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