Does Hot Pot Make You Smell?

The savory aroma of simmering broth fills the air as you walk into your favorite hot pot restaurant. You can already feel your mouth watering in anticipation of the delicious feast ahead. But as you leave hours later, stomach happily full and taste buds tingling, another smell follows you out the door – the lingering odor of hot pot on your hair and clothes.

This strong, stewed meat scent clings to you long after your hot pot meal is over. The smell seeps into your pores and hair follicles as you sit over the steaming cauldron of broth, meats, and vegetables. Like cigarette smoke, it attaches itself to your skin and garments. Even a thorough hand washing with soap may not fully remove the clinging odor.

So why does hot pot impart such a stubborn, savory smell? The answer lies in the cooking process. Hot pot involves long simmering times for meats and broth, allowing the smells to fully permeate your person as you hover over the cooking pot. The high humidity also enables scents to adhere. Additionally, ingredients like sesame oil and garlic further penetrate fabric and hair.

While the aroma reminds you of a wonderful meal, it may linger longer than desired. With some effort, the evidence of your hot pot indulgence can be erased. We’ll explore some tips and tricks to remove the tell-tale hot pot smell so you don’t have to keep answering “did you just eat hot pot?” for the rest of the day.

Why Hot Pot Makes You Smell

Hot pot involves long simmering times for meats and broth, allowing the smells to fully permeate your person as you hover over the cooking pot. Here are the main reasons hot pot makes you smell:

  • Simmering broth and meats – The long cooking times allow odors to thoroughly infuse into hair, skin, and clothing. Broths simmer for hours to extract flavors from bones and meats.
  • Steam and humidity – The hot steam rising from the pot enables smells to cling and penetrate pores more easily. The moist environment helps scents adhere.
  • Ingredients like sesame oil and garlic – Pungent ingredients like sesame oil and garlic also impart lasting odors that cling to fabric and hair. Their robust aromas are hard to wash away.
  • Close proximity to pot – Sitting near the cooking pot with your head over the steam subjects you directly to odor molecules that then cling to hair and skin.

So in short, it’s the long cooking process, potent ingredients, and close contact that cause hot pot to make you smell long after the meal is over. The smell seeps into clothing and hair, resisting normal washing.

Hot Pot Smell Removal Tips

While the aroma reminds you of a wonderful meal, it may linger longer than desired. With some effort, the evidence of your hot pot indulgence can be erased. Here are some useful tips to remove the tell-tale hot pot smell from hair and clothes:

Hair De-Stinking Tips

  • Shampoo twice – Lather, rinse and repeat to wash away more odor molecules caught in hair. Use a clarifying shampoo.
  • Baking soda scrub – Make a paste with baking soda and water. Gently scrub into hair and scalp before shampooing. Helps absorb oils and odors.
  • Apple cider vinegar rinse – Dilute ACV with water. Rinse hair after shampooing to further deodorize.
  • Lemon juice – A lemon juice rinse can help remove stubborn hot pot smells from hair. Rinse hair with diluted lemon juice after washing.
  • Essential oils – Oils like lemon, peppermint and tea tree help neutralize odors naturally when added to your shampoo or conditioner.

Clothing Freshening Tips

  • Machine wash twice – Wash clothes twice to fully remove hot pot smells embedded in fabric. Use a fragrance free detergent.
  • Borax soak – Soak clothes in borax and water solution overnight before washing. Helps remove stubborn food odors.
  • White vinegar – Add 1 cup vinegar to the wash cycle to help eliminate smells from fabric. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer.
  • Baking soda – Sprinkle clothes with baking soda before washing. The baking soda will help absorb clinging hot pot odors.
  • Activated charcoal – Place charcoal baggies in the hamper to absorb smells until wash day. Charcoal filters odors.
  • Air dry outside – Line dry clothes outside if possible. The fresh outdoor air helps air out any lingering hot pot smells.

Other Odor Prevention Tips

Here are some other handy ways to keep the lingering hot pot smell at bay:

  • Bring a jacket or shirt you can take off when eating to prevent food smells sticking to your main clothes.
  • Tie up long hair while cooking so it stays away from the rising steam and splashes.
  • Avoid leaning your head directly over the pot as you cook.
  • Wash your face, hands and arms thoroughly before leaving the restaurant to rinse away odor molecules.
  • Use mouthwash and brush teeth after dining to remove food smells from breath.

Does Hot Pot Smell Ever Fully Go Away?

With vigorous washing and deodorizing, you can eliminate most traces of the hot pot smell from your hair, skin and clothes. However, in some cases, a very faint aroma may still linger even after repeated washings.

If the smell seems stubbornly embedded in fabric or hair, it’s likely due to the way odor molecules bind to textures. Porous materials like hair can trap smells. Acidic ingredients like vinegar help dissolve the bonds. Over time, the smells will fade.

So while that tempting hot pot dinner may impart lasting aromas, with some work you can bid the smell farewell. Follow these odor-removing tips and tricks to freshen up after your hot pot indulgence so you don’t have to keep replying “yes, I just ate hot pot” when people ask about the savory scent trailing you.

FAQs About Hot Pot Smell

Here are some frequently asked questions about the lingering smell caused by hot pot:

Does hot pot smell go away on its own?

The hot pot smell will diminish over time on its own as the odor molecules naturally break down. However, it can linger for days if not washed out properly from clothes and hair. Taking active steps to remove the smell is better than just waiting.

What food smells linger the most after hot pot?

Ingredients like sesame oil, garlic, chilies, and fermented bean curd impart some of the most stubborn hot pot smells that cling to hair and clothes. The pungent aromas of these foods are harder to wash away.

Is hot pot smell harmful?

No, the smell itself is not harmful or hazardous. It is merely an inconvenience and can be socially embarrassing if it lingers strongly on your person and clothes after dining. With effort, the smell can be neutralized and removed.

Why does hot pot smell stick to some fabrics more?

The porous nature of some fabrics like wool, cotton, and other natural materials cause them to retain smells more than synthetic fabrics. Odor molecules get trapped in the fibers and are harder to wash out.

Will dry cleaning remove hot pot smell from clothes?

Dry cleaning uses chemical solvents that can be more effective at removing food odors than home washing. The chemicals dissolve and lift out smells from fabric. Dry cleaning is recommended for smell removal.


Hot pot’s combination of simmering broth, steam, potent ingredients, and close contact result in robust food smells clinging to clothes and hair after dining. But with vigorous washing, deodorizing tricks, and odor prevention, you can remove traces of the smell. So go ahead and enjoy your favorite hot pot meal—just be prepared for the resulting aroma! With a few freshening techniques, you can eliminate the evidence and savor the flavor.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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