How To Get Fish Smell Off Your Hands

After a long and successful day out on the water, there is usually some type of clean up that needs to occur. The washing of the boat or other tools you used, as well as putting away tackle boxes, and rods and reels. Now, you just have to rinse the fishy smell off of your hands.

It can mark a great day out on the water, and to you, it may bring you feelings of nostalgia or success. To everyone else though, it just means you reek of fish. Which is probably not a good thing. 

So, if you would like to know how to rinse off the smell of fish from your hands then check out the article below. We’re going to go over a few different items from what causes the fishy odor as well as some home recipes for getting it off of you.

Best Products To Keep The Fish Smell Off

What Is That Fish Smell?

While in the water, fish actually don’t smell all that bad. Sure, they may be a little funky, but it’s not nearly as bad as when they’ve been sitting on a stringer all day and are ready to be cleaned and cooked.

The stink you smell on live fish you just caught will come from their slime or mucus coating. This slime acts as a protective barrier for the fish. Protecting it from bacteria and other infections. The issue is that this slime typically does not smell very good. 

The tissue of the fish is actually odorless. Once the fish has been killed and the tissue has been exposed to air it begins to break down into new chemicals. Thus giving it that stink that we are all aware of. This is where a lot of the stench comes from.

Different Ways To Keep The Fish Smell Off

There are a couple of different ways to keep the fishy strong smell off of your hands. Each is going to have its own pros and so think about what you need and which is going to work best for you then check out the ways to do so below.


The best way to keep the fish smell off of your hands is to never let it touch them in the first place. So, If you don’t want to get that fish smell on you then gloves could work very well. Rubber gloves, surgical gloves, or dish gloves would be great. Also, something that is light and easy to slide on would be ideal.

Keep a box of surgical gloves either in your boat or tackle box. Thus making it easier to grab before handling the fish.

Be careful when handling fish with gloves though. The gloves can take off the layer of slime on fish and can leave them vulnerable to infection. 

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Classic soap and warm water have been used for years and years to help clean anglers hands after a long day out on the water. Not only will it sterilize and get any germs off of you, but it will also leave smelling clean and fresh.

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Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

You’d be surprised to learn that stainless steel can naturally take away strong odors. Cooks have been using this in their kitchens for years to help remove odors of both garlic or onions off of their fingers after slicing them. The stainless steel bar is a great way to get rid of fish smells and any other unpleasant odor you might find. 

There are many different products but they make stainless steel bars in the shape of a soap bar. All you need to do is rub this on your hands like you were washing them soap and it will take the fish odor off. Feel free to use with or without water.

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Anyone who has spent time in a shop working has heard of and used GOJO. This stuff is strong and is used to help take away grease oil, and any other grime your hands might find while working on cars or other machinery.

The strength of GOJO will take off the scent of fish on your hands. However, the product itself also smells strong. So, if you don’t like the smell of it then choosing something else will be of better value to you.

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Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

This might be one of the most convenient ways to keep the fish smell off of your hands. If you don’t like wearing gloves, then keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in your boat, glovebox, or near your filet station will help keep the smell away. 

Just use immediately after handling a fish and the alcohol and other scent enhancers in the product will help kill off anything the fish may leave on your hands. 

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Baby Wipes

Baby Wipes

These will work in the same way that hand sanitizer will. You can keep these in your boat or nearby and whenever you handle a fish all you have to do is give your hands a wipe and then dispose of the wipe in a receptacle.

The extra step of disposing of the wipes could be enough to make people shy away from using them. 

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Home Remedies

Now that we’ve gone over some products you can buy especially for taking care of the fish smell. Let’s talk about some other products that can be used if you find yourself in a jam and don’t have any wipes, soap, gloves, stainless steel bar, or sanitizer.

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Chances are if you’re going to be cooking fish then you probably have a lemon or two handy. So, when done fishing or filleting your catch, all you have to do is slice a lemon and squeeze some of the juice into your hand. The acid in the lemon will help neutralize the smell and take some of the amines off of your hand. The amines are what cause the bad smells. When done, just rinse your hands in water.

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Coffee and fishing go hand in hand. So, similar to lemons, if you’re going on a fishing trip then the chances of you having coffee grounds on hand are going to be extremely high. Keep in mind you cannot use the grounds that just went through the machine to make your morning cup.

You must use fresh grounds in order for this to work. Take a handful of fresh grounds and rub them in your hands for a minute or so. The strong scent of the coffee will cover up the scent of the fish. Rinse with cold water from the faucet when done. 

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This is something that older anglers may have heard of. Using a handful of salt and rising off into the river or under a sink will help utilize the odors caused by fish. Give a good rinsing and the smell should be gone in no time.

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Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Because of the PH in baking soda, you will find that it is able to easily remove the smell from your fishy hands. Mix water and baking soda together to make a thick paste that you will rub vigorously across your hands, fingers, and forearms. Leave it on and scrub for several minutes in order to help remove the fish smell. 

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This may seem just as gross as having your fingers smell like fish, but trust me this is going to get rid of the smell and once you rinse it off your hands are not going to reek of ketchup or be sticky. 

Squeeze a well-seized glob into your hands and rinse thoroughly in water until all of the ketchup has been rinsed off. This method works the same way that tomato paste poured onto a skunk victim works. 

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Getting rid of fishy fingers doesn’t have to be a pain. It can be done in a number of ways and with products that you can easily buy from Amazon, or from products that you may have just sitting in your cabinets at home. You can also use toothpaste or saltine crackers!

The list of times above will help out everyone who may want to rinse the smell off after a long day. However, some are more effective than others. So, keep that in mind as someone who handles fish for a full day may need something stronger than just soap and water to get the smell off.

Use the products above to help you or someone else you know out!