Have you ever opened your new oven, imagining delicious aromas wafting from it, only to find out that the oven smells like burning plastic?
It is common to experience that burning stench in new ovens.
Sometimes it fades after the first use, while at other times, the ovens might take numerous cooking sessions to eliminate the smell.
The smell of burning plastic can be concerning if you’re unaware of what’s causing it. You might get scared of the oven suddenly melting from inside or bursting into flames.
Take relief in knowing that, most often than not, that smell is harmless and will go on its own after a while.
In some cases, however, an electrical fault could be the reason behind that nasty smell. Continue reading to find out why your oven smells like burning plastic and how you can remove it!
Possible Reasons for the Burning Smell
Here are a few reasons why your oven might be smelling like burning plastic:
1. The Zip Ties Are Still Installed
Most oven manufacturers secure the grills, baking trays, and other oven inserts with zip ties.
It is easy to forget to remove them before using the oven for the first time. When you turn on the oven, the heat melts the plastic zip ties and releases the burning smell.
In case you forgot to remove the zip ties before using your brand-new oven and are worried about the smell, at least you now know that the burning smell is plastic being burnt.
How to Remove the Smell
- Take out all trays and other oven inserts and use a scraper or knife to remove the burnt plastic. If the trays are still hot, use an ice cube to harden the melted plastic and then attempt to scrape it off
- Check the oven cavities and scrap off the residual plastic from there
- Scrub the oven’s insides using a dishwashing detergent and a metal sponge
- Wipe the oven cavity with a clean cloth and let the oven inserts dry
- Place a bowl full of odor absorbers (white vinegar, activated charcoal, fresh coffee grounds, baking soda, etc.) in the oven and close the door for a few hours or overnight
- The oven should be odorless when you open the door next. Install the inserts back and get ready to enjoy an odor-free cooking experience
2. The Oven is Brand New
If your oven still smells like burning plastic even though you removed the zip ties, it’s probably not your fault.
You brought a new oven, and new ovens tend to smell bad for the first couple of uses.
The oven’s insulation reacts badly to high heat and can smell like burning plastic. Additionally, manufacturers apply a protective coating around the oven cavity, and heat exposure makes it smell like burning plastic.
How to Remove the Smell
The irritating smell tends to linger for a couple of days or weeks. You can speed up the process by following these steps:
- Clean the oven cavity and all inserts using a sponge and dishwashing detergent
- A bowl of odor absorbers (white vinegar, activated charcoal, fresh coffee grounds, baking soda, etc.) placed in the oven for a few hours or overnight absorbs all smells and freshens up your oven
3. There’s An Issue with the Wiring
If your old, trusted oven suddenly starts exhibiting a foul burning plastic smell, it could be due to electrical malfunctioning.
A short circuit in the electrical wiring can melt the insulation or other components, releasing a smell that resembles burning plastic or rubber.
How to Remove the Smell
- As soon as you detect the burning smell, turn the oven off and unplug from the main outlet.
- Check the interior for any melted wiring or burnt oven components.
- Call a professional repairer and let them inspect and correct the issue.
Treating an electrical malfunction is dangerous, so you should let a professional deal with the issues. They’re better equipped to handle it on their own. Moreover, they have the required tools and safety gear for hazard-free repair.
4. There was Actual Plastic in the Oven
To err is human; it is possible to place a plastic container in the oven and then forget about it.
Children tend to throw their toys in the oven, too, and an unexpecting adult can turn it on without checking what’s inside it.
Sometimes people are in a hurry and turn on the oven for preheating, forgetting they left a plastic utensil or bowl in the oven when they used it last time.
How to Remove the Smell
The good thing is that the burnt smell is worse than the cleanup.
Here’s how you can remove the smell of melted plastic from your oven:
- Once the oven has cooled off, locate the melted goo and use an ice cube or ice pack to pull off the plastic from the oven inserts. Once the plastic has hardened, take a knife or scraper to remove it
- If it does not remove that way, heat the oven and allow the warmth to melt the plastic again. Use a wooden scraper or spoon to remove the softened plastic from the insides and inserts
- Use a dishwasher liquid and scrubber to clean the racks and the inside of your oven, and dry them using a soft cloth.
- Deodorize the oven using any odor absorbers
Wear oven mitts to prevent burns while handling hot racks and dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What material can I use for cooking food in my oven?
Ovenproof materials, such as cast iron, stainless steel, ceramics, and food-grade silicone, are widely preferred when cooking in an oven.
Plastic containers melt, and wooden ones warp due to excessive heat.
2. What can I do after accidentally inhaling burning plastic fumes?
Burnt plastic smoke harms health, but an accidental whiff or two will not cause any issues.
The fumes’ toxicity also depends upon the type of plastic. Polypropylene is generally safe, but polyurethane and PVC are toxic and can have harmful effects if inhaled.
3. What should I do if my oven smells like burning plastic?
Ovens tend to smell like burned plastic because they’re new and the internal coatings do not react kindly to hot flames, or you end up burning plastic in them.
The new ones will take time while you can get your older ovens thoroughly checked for any issues.
Generally, a wipe-down with dishwashing soap, water, and a clean rag is enough. You can expedite the process by placing odor absorbers in the oven.
In case of electrical malfunctioning, don’t experiment with the wires and call a professional as soon as possible.
If the odor persists, repeat the cleaning and odor absorption.
4. What should I do immediately after finding burned plastic in the oven?
Turn the oven off, crack open your windows and use your mittens to remove the oven inserts.
Try scraping off the plastic and washing and drying the racks, trays, and other inserts before installing them back inside.
You can also let the plastic cool down and use an ice pack to rub it off.
5. I used my oven for the first time, and it started smelling like burning plastic. Can I still eat the food I cooked in it?
If the burning smell is due to the new oven ‘breaking in,’ it is safe to consume the food you just cooked.
But, if the smell is because of burnt plastic, USDA recommends throwing away any food that has come in contact with and absorbed toxic plastic fumes.
6. When will the burning plastic smell go away?
It can take a few days if the smell is particularly strong.
Deep cleaning of the oven and using odor absorbers can significantly speed up the process. Repeat for as long as necessary.
7. Is the burning plastic smell the same as carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide does not smell like burning plastic.
It is a colorless, odorless gas that could leak from the stove, gas furnace, fireplace, dryer, or water heater.
8. How Long Should a New Oven Smell?
A new oven will smell during the first few uses.
By now, you know that it’s because of insulation coming in contact with heat for the first time. Or it could be due to the protective oils applied during manufacturing.
You can wash and wipe the oven before its first use, but it will still burn and produce a foul smell.
Keep it clean after every use, and it will soon stop smelling like anything other than the food you just placed inside it.
9. Can I cook in the oven after cleaning it?
It is perfectly safe to cook food after you’ve cleaned the oven out of its nasty smell.
The clean but damp oven may release steam after being turned on for the first few minutes. Therefore, it is better to preheat the oven for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking your next meal.