Why Is Garlic Sticky? How To Keep Garlic From Sticking

Why Is Garlic Sticky

Garlic is one of the most common flavoring agents and seasonings used to enhance the flavor of a dish. Its pungent, spicy flavor gives food dishes a new life. But at the same time, garlic preparation is also a headache. Not because it’s small or tedious to peel, but it’s so sticky to chop and crush. Freshly chopped or crushed garlic sticks to your hands, chopping board, knife, and anything else you’ve ever touched on a kitchen shelf. Did you ever wonder why is garlic sticky?

How to prevent garlic from sticking? And how to get rid of the intense garlic smell off your hands? If you’ve such questions about garlic in your mind, you are on the right page. Here, we will answer your questions in detail, so be ready.

Why Is Garlic Sticky?

Garlic is full of sticky oils and sulfur containing compounds, also known as mercaptan. These sticky compounds and oils are released on chopping and crushing and attracted to other sulfur containing compounds.

Mercaptan reacts with sulfated amino acids such as cysteine and methionine found in our nails, hair, and skin.

Due to the formation of disulfide bridges, or you can say chemical bonds, garlic sticks to your hands and budge under your nails.

But why the knife gets too sticky? It’s because of garlic oils buildup. When dries garlic juice mount on itself and thus leading to a waxy or sticky knife. The same goes for garlic mincer or presser too.

Besides this, plastic bowls and wood surfaces also retain garlic oils for days. So, they require proper washing until its waxy intense smell is gone.

Is Sticky Garlic Bad To Use?

Not at all. Sticky garlic is not bad, but it’s a good indication that your garlic cloves are fresh and full of flavor. As you see above, the sensation of stickiness is just because of sulfur compounds and oils.

And your garlic sticks on cutting when it’s fresh and juicy, not bad. While it goes totally opposite for bad garlic.

Bad garlic has a soft, mushy, or sticky texture, even in raw or uncut form. So, if you find such garlic cloves, these will not work for you anymore.

How To Prevent Garlic From Sticking

You can prevent garlic from sticking by following a number of different ways. But it doesn’t mean that the garlic smell will not linger on your hands. However, you can avoid the unwanted stickiness to your hands, knife, and other utensils.

You can keep garlic from sticking by wetting knife, adding some salt or olive oil, wearing gloves, and using presser. So, let me explain them one by one.

Add Some Salt


Sprinkling some salt on minced garlic is the easiest method to get rid of awkward garlic stickiness. You can also add table salt to garlic, but coarse or sea salt goes best.

Adding salt will work in a couple of ways. Firstly, it becomes a coarse barrier between gummy garlic oils and your skin or knife. Secondly, it restricts the chemical bonding between skin and minced garlic.

Although it is the simplest method, it works well when you don’t have anything on your hand except salt.

Wet Your Knife Or Presser

If you’re a real star of your kitchen, you can also try this method. Just rundown cold water on your cutting knife and wet your hands as well.

Water droplets will dilute the sticky garlic juice and thus prevents the gummy, waxy sensation.

Don’t try this method if you’re a beginner because your hand may slip on the watery knife and may leading a skin cut. So, be very careful.

Drizzle Some Olive Oil

Like water, drizzling some olive oil to knife or applying it to hands may be risky as it will become too slippery to handle. But if you’ve a better experience of cutting garlic, you can try this method.

Apply few drops of olive oil or vegetable oil on your hands and also on a cutting knife or presser. The oily surface will also prevent the chemical bonding between garlic juice and your skin.

Wear Gloves

Wearing gloves while handling garlic is the most effective way to get rid of garlic stickiness. Additionally, food-grade gloves also keep your hands off from a pungent garlic smell.

You can also wear gloves when handling other vegetables like onion, ginger, leek, and shallots.

But don’t use thick gloves as they make the handling of utensils and garlic cloves too challenging.

Use Garlic Presser

Using a garlic presser while mincing garlic cloves is also another smart way. Garlic presser or a crusher will keep off your direct contacts with garlic juice, so there will be no more sticky sensation.

Drizzle some olive oil on a presser while crushing as there’s will be fine smooth garlic crushing. But always remember, you still need to rinse garlic remanent from utensils.

Read Also: Can I Use Garlic Powder Instead Of Garlic Salt? 

How To Get Rid Of Garlic Smell From Hands

While working with garlic, besides its stickiness, its pungent smell also lingers to your hands.

So, you need to get it off because it would be very irritating and awkward. Here are some ways that can help you to get rid of the garlic smell from your hands.


Being a more versatile kitchen staple, lemon works well when it comes to getting away the strong smell of garlic, ginger, or onions.

As lemons are well known for their acidity, so they neutralize the strong garlic smell and easily break the bonds.

So, slice a lemon into halves and rub its pieces gently on your hands and under the nails as well. And as a result, there will be a nice lemony scent on your hands. But avoid this method if you have got any skin cut.

Paste Of Salt And Baking Soda

In place of lemon, you can also use the paste of salt and baking soda if garlic juice dried on your skin. Add half tsp salt and 2 tbsp baking soda in a bowl. Add some water and stir until a thick white mixture.

Rub this paste on your hands for 1 to 2 minutes and rinse it away with cold water. Finally, there will be no more acrid garlic smell and sticky sensation. But avoid this method if you have dry or sore skin.


Vinegar also works well to get off bad smell from your hands. And it’s another simplest method. So, if you’ve vinegar on hands, use it.

Pour some vinegar on your hands and massage gently for 2 to 3 minutes. After that, rinse it off, and you’ll see there’s no more unwanted smell.

Cold Water

Cold water can also get off a bad smell if the garlic juice isn’t dried on your skin. So, rundown cold water on your hands and wash them with ordinary soap. This way, you can simply get rid of the garlic smell from your hands.

So, try any method that suits your skin and according to available ingredients.


So, why is garlic sticky? It’s just because of sulfated compounds of garlic juice that’s responsible for gummy or waxy sensation.

They bind strongly to the skin and nails even it gets difficult to handle garlic cloves. But you can prevent garlic stickiness by either sprinkling some salt, olive oil, or just wearing gloves.

Moreover, use lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, or dish soap to get off bad garlic smell from your hands.