How to Remove Rancid Oil Smell from Deep Fryer

Pam asked: How do I clean a deep fryer left with oil in it for a long time? My daughter had a new deep fryer and left the oil in it for a long time (she had moved away). Now, no matter how I scrub or what I use, I can’t seem to get the old oil smell out. It looks clean, but the frying basket and inside of the fryer still reek of old oil smell. Any ideas?

If a good scrubbing with a grease fighting dish detergent doesn’t take care of the rancid oil smell in your deep fryer, give this unexpected solution a try.

You Will Need:


  • 20 Mule Team Borax
  • Water
  • Cloth scouring pad
  • Small bowl
  • Paper towels

Steps to Remove the Rancid Oil Odors:

  1. Make a paste of Borax and water.
  2. Apply it generously to the inside of the deep fryer and over the basket.
  3. Wait up to five minutes, but do not allow the paste to dry.
  4. Scrub with the cloth scouring pad, adding water to help wash the sides out. Be sure to get all the way to the top.
  5. Rinse clean with plenty of water. Dry with paper towels or a soft cloth.
  6. If the smell lingers, you can repeat these steps OR pour dry Borax powder into the fryer. Close it up, and allow it to sit for 24-48 hours to absorb odors. (You may also use baking soda instead.)

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Yes, Borax is a laundry detergent, but it’s also a safe, effective cleaner and deodorizer for several household surfaces, including cookware.
  • Other common household cleaners can work wonders on odors. Alternatively, filling the fryer with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water OR scrubbing it with a paste made from baking soda and water.
  • If the odor stays, thoroughly inspect the fryer for causes other than the frying vat. Check the screen/filter, vents, and other areas for odor. If you find a dirty spot, use a small brush and white vinegar to scrub them clean. Avoid cleaning with Borax or baking soda paste in hard-to-reach areas; it may be difficult to remove.


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