Why Do My Fingernails Smell Like Garlic?

Have you ever noticed your fingernails smelling like garlic? Perhaps the nails started smelling after peeling or grinding a garlic clove. Or it was smelling without you touching garlic.

This must have made you worry. However, many people experience this smell and wonder why it happens. So, why do my fingernails smell like garlic?

There are several possible reasons why your fingernails may smell like garlic. These can include the presence of sulfur compounds in garlic, certain medications, certain medical conditions, infection, regular consumption of garlic, emotional stress, or sensitivity to odors. If the smell persists or causes you concern, it is a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

However, I’d be providing much information about this issue in this post. So, let’s get right into it.

7 Reasons Why Fingernails Smell Like Garlic

1. Presence of sulfur compounds in garlic

The presence of sulfur compounds in garlic can be a major reason your fingernails smell like garlic. These compounds can stay on the skin and the fingernail tips for as long as possible, from hours to days. Other Alliums like cloves and onions can also make the fingernails smell. This is because they have the same sulfur compounds that garlic has.

2. The use of some medications

If you have been wondering why your nails smell often like garlic, it could be due to the medications you are using. Perhaps you are using antifungal medications or antibodies.

All these meds can make your nails smell like garlic. However, it could be temporary while you are still using the drugs.

3. Due to some medical conditions

A doctor can best know some medical conditions like diabetes, nail fungus, and other conditions.

So, you might need to see a doctor if the smell is persistent. The doctor will test you and determine the cause of the pungent smell.

4. Due to infection

Your fingernails can smell like garlic due to fungal and bacterial infections. Technically, wherever bacteria or fungi stay, it smells so bad.

So, due to the bacteria living beneath your nails, that’s why it smells like garlic. You might need to treat the infection to stop the smell. Infections on fingernails can also make your fingernails smell like cheese.

What happens if I don’t treat nail fungus?

If nail fungus is not treated, your nail condition might worsen by developing some amputation or infection. Other than what we know, leaving nail fungus untreated would cause more damage.

I’ve heard in some cases that the fungus goes away on its own, but the comeback won’t be pleasant. Normally, nail fungus makes the nail hard and unattractive, so not treating the fungus would make it more unattractive.

If your nail condition is similar to fungus, go to the doctor and treat it. You’d be given some drugs to treat the fungi infection and other things you might need. Also, you can prevent nail fungus by keeping your nails clean every time.

5. Regular consumption of garlic

If you consume garlic daily, there’s a possibility of a smell on your nails. Peeling the cloves of garlic can make your nails smell.

Normally, if you eat garlic, it will smell in your mouth all through the day. It will do the same to your nails.

6. Emotional stress

If stressed and sweat a lot, your nails will smell like garlic due to the sulfur-producing bacteria excreted from your oily sweat. Most things, such as stress, can produce a pungent garlic smell. So, you’d have to rest a lot to stop the smell.

7. Sensitive to odors

Those suffering from fibromyalgia and some pregnant women are usually sensitive to odors. So, it could be that the smell isn’t on your fingernails but coming from around the places. The hormones in these two sets of people make them very sensitive to odors aside from the garlic smell.

How Do I Stop My Fingernails From Smelling Like Garlic?

The smell of garlic on fingernails is not the kind of smell anyone will love. But If you notice your nails smelling like garlic, there’s a way to stop the smell. Below are the ways to stop your fingernails from smelling like garlic.

1. Using raw potatoes

Potatoes are not made to be consumed only; you can use them for other things, like removing the garlic from your fingernails. The polyphenol oxidase enzyme can oxidize compounds that give garlic a pungent smell, turning it into an odorless element.

Materials needed

  • 1 raw potato.
  • Soap.
  • Coldwater.
  • Knife.

Cut the raw potatoes in half with a knife, and rub the half potatoes on your hands to your nails. Then, leave it for a few minutes and wash your hands with soap and cold water. Dry your hands with a dry towel.

2. Use metal or stainless steel

Putting your hands on a metal or stainless steel item can remove the garlic smell from your fingernails. This is because the sulfur in the garlic binds with the steel to remove the smell from the nails. It might seem like a myth, but it has been backed up with some scientific evidence.

Materials you need

  • Stainless steel item.
  • Coldwater.

Get a stainless steel item, either plate, lid, etc. Put your hands on it and make sure your fingernails are touching it. Turn on the tap and let the cold water run on your hands while it’s still in the stainless steel.

Nb- let it run for about 30 seconds.

3. Using baking soda

Baking soda is one deodorizer that can remove a pungent smell like garlic from any material, including your fingernails.

This element works effectively with salt. So, you’d use baking soda and salt to remove the garlic odor from your fingernails.

Materials you need

  • 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Two teaspoons of baking soda.
  • Water.
  • Moisturiser.
  • Soap.

Make a paste in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon salt, two teaspoons baking soda and a little water. Apply the paste on your hands to your nails and massage the paste into the nails for about 30 seconds. Then, wash the paste away with soap and cold water. Add moisturizer to keep the hands from drying off.

4. Use a mouthwash

You can use mouthwash to remove the garlic smell from your fingernails. This is because mouthwash was made with antiseptics, antibacterial, and alcohol elements to kill germs and eliminate odors.

If the mouthwash can successfully work for bad breath, why won’t it work for pungent smells? So, with this mouthwash, you can successfully eliminate the garlic smell.


  • Mouthwash.
  • Soap.
  • Coldwater.

Put one cap-full of mouthwash on your hands and massage the wash into your nails for some seconds. Wash the mouthwash away from your hands with soap and water. Add moisturizer to your hands after washing.

5. Using ground coffee

Finally, another thing you can use to remove the garlic smell from your fingernails is by using ground coffee. You might be wondering how something you drink can eliminate the smell.

Well, it can. In fact, the coffee ground is a well-known odor remover which is why you’d be using it. Below are the materials and procedures needed for this method.

Materials you need

  • Ground coffee.
  • Water.
  • Soap.

Put the ground coffee on your hand, add a little water to it, and massage it into your nails (also rubbing it in your entire hands). Massage for 35 seconds and wash away the residue on your hands with soap and water. Add moisturizer to your hands to prevent them from drying. By now, the smell would have reduced.

6. See a doctor

After trying all the methods provided, you might need to see a doctor. The doctor will run some tests to detect if it’s a serious condition. If it is, it needs to be treated immediately.

Why do my fingertips smell of garlic?

Your fingertips may smell of garlic if you have recently handled garlic or if you have been consuming a lot of garlic, if you are using certain medications or have certain medical conditions that cause a garlic-like smell, or if you have an infection.

Why do my nails smell rotten?

Your nails smell rotten due to bacteria and fungi infections. Typically, it smells so bad wherever fungi and bacteria stay (rotten). It could be some other reasons, but the most known reason is due to bacteria and fungi. Clear evidence of this nail infection is nail discoloration, cracking of nails, and thickening of nails.


There are numerous reasons why your fingernails will smell like garlic, and they have been listed above. However, you should talk to your doctor if you notice this smell on your nails.

This is because the garlic smell on your nails can result from an underlying medical condition. Also, taking care of your nails often is important to prevent infection from worsening. With the information provided in this article, you can eliminate the smell in your nails. Good luck.