How to Remove Burnt Plastic Odors


Karen asked: I accidentally left some combs/brushes in a pot of water on the stove (trying to kill lice/eggs) and they melted and caused the whole house to get smoky. How do I remove the odor from the curtains and rugs?

Burnt plastic is one of the worst smells and can quickly fill a house. There are several different odor fighting solutions and it may take one or several to tackle the smell. Of course, the windows need to stay open to allow the area to air out well. These steps will help to get rid of the last remaining odors.

You Will Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry detergent

Steps to Remove the Burnt Smell:

  1. For curtains and draperies, it is best to clean them either by washing them or having them professionally cleaned.
  2. If the curtains are washable, simply place them in the washing machine and add a cup of vinegar to the cycle in addition to the laundry detergent.
  3. Allow them to air dry until the odor is completely removed.
  4. Repeat the washing process if necessary.
  5. For rugs and carpeting, baking soda is the odor-absorber of choice.
  6. Sprinkle the rug/carpet with the baking soda and allow it to set for a couple of hours up to a couple of days, depending on the smell.
  7. Vacuum it away.
  8. If the smell remains, reapply.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • If the smell is lingering the house after the cleaning methods above have taken place, try setting out some bowls of coffee grounds. They will absorb the odor and freshen the room within a couple of days.
  • Burning candles or incense will not remove the smell, but it can mask it while you are working to remove it.
  • Another way to clear the smell out of the air is to boil lemon juice and lemon peels.


  1. Tiffany says:

    Is the smoke harmful to inhale?

  2. Melanie says:

    Yes, inhaling plastic smoke can be harmful, even toxic – and very quickly. Any fire will produce carbon monoxide (a toxic gas), but some plastics, like PVC pipe, will also produce cyanide gas. Depending on what materials are in the plastic, there are also other harmful chemicals that can be given off in plastic fires, such as dioxins, which are carcinogens.
    Source: Daily KOS – PSA–Burning Plastic Can Kill You
    Source: National Fire Protection Association – The consequences of fire
    Source: Minnesota Department of Health – Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning In Your Home
    Source: plastic is rubbish – Dioxins & why you don’t want to be burning plastic

  3. Amanda says:

    What if a plastic cup got burned in a dishwasher? How do u get rid of that smell?

  4. CW says:

    You’ll have some work cut out. Most fabrics absorb the smell and burning plastic usually puts off spider web-type residues. It will look like a dark cobweb. It’s fall cleaning time and that’s what you will need. There’s no quick fix. Like many said, you can mask it, but the first damp day, the stench overrides the masking. We had a fan ignite on the second floor. I still can smell traces on the lower level (after cleaning).

  5. Odourius says:

    Thanks for the advice. I will have to try these.

    Two days ago, I was warming a piece of bread in the microwave on top of the microwave food cover, which is made out of PP plastic. I accidentally left it in for far too long until I noticed the smell of burning plastic. When I opened the microwave, a cloud of smoke came out and I noticed that the plastic around the bread had melted and become black, and the bread had stuck to the melted plastic. The food cover naturally went into the trash, but the smell of the charred plastic still lingers in my apartment two days later. I have aired the apartment for hours and the smell doesn’t go away.

    What worries me the most is the microwave. It works as well as before, but every time I warm something in it, it still releases a strong smell of plastic melting. So now I worry that the plastic fumes have created a layer of plastic inside the microwave, and that every time I use the microwave, the layer of plastic melts and creates more fumes, which both cause the smell as well as contaminating the food. I now have to test your cleaning advice when washing the inside of the microwave to see if the smell goes away.

  6. Gloria says:

    Do I use fresh or used coffee grounds to get rid of burnt plastic smell??

  7. Melanie says:

    Using fresh grounds would work best.

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