Should You Consider Leaving An Onion In Your Shower?

In 2021, a woman posted a TikTok video of her purported reaction to finding a bowl of onions on the toilet tank of her Tinder date's bathroom. The post went viral, garnering millions of views, and soon after, "shower onions" was trending all over social media. The TikToker, an actress and comedian, eventually admitted the whole thing was an elaborate prank. Still, the idea of shower onions endures. So what exactly is all the fuss? While it may seem strange, and while there's no actual scientific evidence that this hack is useful, some believe that leaving an onion inside or nearby your shower may actually come with some benefits.

As it turns out, even before TikTok made shower onions famous (or infamous, depending how you look at it), people had already been using onions to neutralize household odors, from stinky socks to paint fumes. Some also use onions to keep their closet smelling fresh as well. And since bathrooms tend to have lots of unwanted smells, this may be another ideal place to place these vegetables. Not only that, but shower onions may also come with some other health and beauty benefits, too. 

Why you may want to leave an onion in or near your shower

It may seem counterintuitive to leave an onion in the shower, as these vegetables are notorious for their pungency. After all, "onion breath" is a real thing. But cutting an onion and leaving it to absorb odors won't replace one stink with another — at least, not for long. After a few hours, the onion smell will dissipate and should instead draw any other odors out of the air, leaving the room smelling fresh and clean.

So how do onions work to neutralize odors? In the case of paint fumes, there is a powerful chemical reaction going on. The onion's compounds that make us cry when cut (specifically Syn-propanethial-S-oxide) react with compounds given off from the paint and basically "bleach" the odors away. This is why you may want to cut an onion before painting a room

When it comes to soaking up the stench from your bathroom, though, there's no actual scientific evidence behind this hack. But many still swear by it, including UK cleaning expert Lynsey Crombie, who notes that your cut onions will look shriveled the next day after having absorbed the smells (per Independent). Further, onions aren't just natural odor-eaters. They also contain quercetin and naturally-occurring sulfuric acid, antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritated skin or acne and may even have anti-aging properties. Onions can also loosen up mucus, which is great if you're suffering from congestion.

How to use shower onions

So how exactly can you use onions to keep your bathroom odor-free and to reap some potential health benefits? Well, there are a few ways to try out this trick. Some people leave them whole in a bowl, while others prefer to cut them in half. Additionally, while the moniker "shower onions" may lead some to assume you have to place these vegetables directly inside the shower, that's actually not the case. You could keep them on your toilet tank, next to the sink, or on a shelf instead. If you're cutting them, consider leaving the halves in opposite corners of the room to cover as much ground as possible.

Another suggested use is to place cut onions into a mesh bag and hang it on your showerhead. The idea is that the hot water and steam will release the helpful compounds so you can inhale them for maximum benefit. However, keep in mind that this may irritate your eyes as the Syn-propanethial-S-oxide compound in the onion is released, so try this particular trick with caution. Also keep the onions away from your pets, as they're toxic if consumed. Once you've finished your onion shower, keep the root vegetable theme going by bringing a potato into the shower to clean the glass doors.