Why Your Oven Smells Like Burning Plastic (& What to Do)

Why Your Oven Smells of Burned Plastic

Does your oven have a burning plastic smell?

That sucks! I know how annoying it can be when your oven smells bad, especially when you’re about to cook.

But don’t worry; I’m here to help.

If your oven smells like burning plastic, it’s probably new, you forgot to remove the zip ties, or there’s an electrical wiring issue. A melted plastic container could also explain the problem.

Read to learn different ways to get rid of the burning plastic smell!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

Why Does Your Oven Smell Like Burning Plastic? 4 Explanations

In this section, I’ll guide you through the different reasons why your oven has a burning plastic smell and provide various cleaning methods.

#1 You Forgot to Remove the Zip Ties

I tend to find that when an oven has a burning plastic smell, it’s typically because of burned zip ties.

Most oven and appliance manufacturers often use zip ties to secure the grills and other oven inserts. So, if you forgot to inspect your oven before using it, there’s a chance you’ve accidentally burned these zip ties.

Try the following cleaning method if your electric or gas oven smells like burning plastic due to zip ties:

  1. Remove all the oven inserts, place them on a flat surface, and put an ice pack on parts with the burnt plastic residue to harden them so you can remove them easily. If the residue is already cool, carefully use a scraper to remove it.
  2. As the ice on the inserts melts, check and remove the residue of the molten zip ties from the oven cavity.
  3. Use a mild dishwashing detergent and a scrubbing pad to give your oven and inserts a good clean down. 
  4. Dry the oven cavity using a clean microfiber cloth and leave the inserts out to dry.
  5. As the inserts dry, fill a bowl or a cup with an odor absorber, such as white vinegar or baking soda. Then, place it inside the oven cavity and close the oven door. 

I like using white vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which  bonds with volatile molecules making it an incredibly efficient deodorizer.

Baking soda is also great because it neutralizes odors by reacting with acids and alkalis, converting them into neutral salts, which is why it absorbs odors instead of masking them.

I recommend leaving the deodorizer in your oven overnight to let it absorb the burning smell. Then, replace the inserts and enjoy cooking!

cleaning oven tray
Use baking soda in your oven’s compartments to neutralize unpleasant odors.

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#2 It’s a New Oven Smell

If your new oven smells like burning plastic, don’t worry. It’s completely normal.

New ovens can emit a burned plastic smell because the insulation around the cavity gets exposed to high heat for the first time. Additionally, the protective oil coating used during manufacturing can also burn off, contributing to the smell.

Here’s how to get rid of the new oven smell:

  • Use hot soapy water and a clean microfiber cloth. Please wipe down the oven cavity and inserts. 
  • Mix ½ a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice with an ⅛ cup of baking soda and two cups of water in an oven-safe bowl, and place it in your oven. The steam will absorb the odors and impart a nice citrus aroma in your oven. 
  • Run the self-cleaning cycle for about half an hour, then remove the bowl.

If you don’t want to use the self-cleaning cycle, place the solution in the oven for about three hours or overnight to absorb the burning smell.

#3 Electrical Wiring Issue

In my experience, when an oven emits a noticeable burning plastic smell accompanied by smoke, it indicates a failure in the oven.

Sometimes an electrical malfunction can shorten your oven’s wiring, melting its insulation and causing other components to burn and malfunction.

Don’t worry, though. Most ovens are designed with multiple safety features. So, in case of a potential short circuit, the safety mechanisms will typically trip the breaker to keep you safe.

So, if you experience a burning plastic smell accompanied by smoke, turn off the oven and go to the circuit breaker. Ensure it’s in the “Off” position.

You can check the interior of your oven for signs of burned wiring insulation or other components. However, I find it best to call a professional and have them diagnose and fix the problem.

electric oven wiring
Check your oven’s wiring or call a professional.

#4 Burnt Plastic Container

If you still notice a plastic burning smell, chances are you placed a plastic container in your oven.

Don’t worry, though. Forgetting a container inside the oven can happen to all of us.

Please follow these simple instructions to remove the burning plastic smell caused by a burnt plastic container.

  1. Let the oven cool off so the molten plastic can harden for easier removal. As in the earlier molten zip tie removal process, you can also use ice packs to speed up the process.
  2. Once it cools down and forms the residue, please remove the racks and peel it off.
  3. Use a hot soapy water solution and a dish-friendly scrubber to scrub off the inside of your oven, and do the same for the racks.
  4. Dry the oven and the inserts using a clean cloth.
  5. Pour baking soda on a plate, and leave it there for a few hours to deodorize your oven.
Burned plastic inside of oven
If you forgot a plastic container inside the oven and it melted, use ice packs to harden the molten plastic for easier removal.

Your oven should be clean and free of any odors by the time you remove the baking soda. If you don’t have time to wait for the plastic residue to harden, you can always scrape it off. But remember to wear your oven mitts as the interior is probably still hot, and you don’t want to risk burns.

Always remember to ensure your containers are made of oven-safe materials, such as stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic kitchenware, or food-grade silicone. Avoid putting anything plastic or wooden in your oven as it’ll either melt or warp.

Is Inhaling Burnt Plastic Fumes Dangerous? 

If your oven or stove smells like burning plastic, you’re probably concerned about the potential health risks of inhaling those fumes.

The danger of inhaling burnt plastic will depend on the type of plastic material burned. For example, polypropylene is a long-chain polymer that is generally considered safer. However, it’s still not recommended to inhale its fumes intentionally.

On the other hand, certain plastics like PVC and polyurethane produce toxic fumes that can be harmful to your health, as they can release toxic substances such as:

  • Dioxins
  • Cyanide 
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Volatile organic compounds

While some plastics produce less toxic fumes, you should steer clear if possible as they’re bad for you in the long run and for the environment. In unavoidable scenarios, such as when your oven smells of burning plastic, open your windows and doors to promote ventilation and ensure you identify and fix the issue as soon as possible. 

Wrapping Up: Your Guide to a Fresh-Smelling Oven

Hopefully, now you know how to eliminate the burning plastic smell from your oven.

Remember that if your oven smells like burned plastic, it’s probably because you forgot to remove the zip ties or a plastic container. Having a new oven or an electrical wiring issue could also explain the problem.

Don’t forget to clean your oven and use natural deodorizers, such as vinegar, baking soda, or lemon.

Thank you so much for reading! If you found this article helpful, please check out our other posts below.

Good luck!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more