8 Useful Tips for Getting Burnt Smells Out of Your Home

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated April 19, 2022
A family eats popcorn
Photo: monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images

Make popcorn without fear, thanks to these odor-neutralizing tips

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Whether it’s a sheet of cookies you forgot about in the oven, a bag of burnt popcorn in the microwave, or a candle-lighting disaster, smoky odors have a way of taking over your entire house for hours, if not days or weeks. But you don’t have to banish your favorite movie snack from your house or fear trying a new recipe. There are plenty of ways to clean unpleasant scents before they become overwhelming, including these eight tips to get burnt smells out of your house. 

1. Pour Salt on Food Residue

If that extra-cheesy pizza is dripping greasy cheese and sauce all over the bottom of the oven, the residue will smell the next time you go to bake something. Prevent this odor before it starts with just some regular table salt.

  • Pour salt all over the spill while it’s fresh. Be cautious not to touch the oven walls, floor, or racks, as they’ll still be hot. The salt will keep food residue from becoming a tough, stuck-on mess.

  • Scrape or wipe up the spill when the oven cools.

2. Get the Air Circulating

Opening a window
Photo: Ruslan Solntsev / Adobe Stock

If something burned, you want to start wafting the smoke and smells out immediately. Turn on any exhaust fans around the house. Open as many windows as you can to circulate fresh air inside, and use fans to direct the burnt odor out of the house.

3. Throw Out Burnt Food

If you let burnt food sit in a pan, the smell will just have more time to set into your home. Instead, toss burnt food or other burnt items out as soon as possible. You may even want to seal these stinky items into an old grocery or plastic bag before tossing them in the trash. Then, take the garbage out to the outdoor garbage can to keep the smell from lingering inside your home.

4. Turn on an Air Purifier

Air purifiers do more than just absorb pet dander and germs. These handy devices can also get rid of strong odors. Turn on an air purifier, preferably one with a HEPA filter, near the burn area. If you have multiple air purifiers in your home, turn them all on to remove odors even faster.

5. Wash Linens

Strong odors, like from smoke or burnt items, can cling to fabrics. If your house has an acrid scent, you'll need to wash linens—like tablecloths, curtains, towels, or blankets—to get rid of the smell quickly. Try these steps:

  • Fill a clean sink with warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar.

  • Soak fabrics in the vinegar mixture for about 1 hour.

  • Wash the fabrics according to their care instructions.

  • Give your linens a sniff before tossing them into the dryer. If they still have an odor, rewash them.

  • Wait to dry fabrics until the scent is gone, or you'll risk setting the smell into the fabrics.

6. Scrub Pans

Scrubbing a pan in a sink
Photo: Stephen Kirschenmann / Adobe Stock

Just as you should toss out burnt food as soon as possible, you should also scrub out the pan rather than letting it sit around stinking up the place. Do the following:

  • Scrape out any burnt food residue into the trash, and then take out the trash immediately.

  • Boil 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water in the pan if the charred food is stuck to the pan. This can loosen up stubborn spots.

  • Use soap, hot water, and a sponge or scrubber that’s safe for your pan until it's clean.

7. Neutralize Odors in Carpets and Rugs

Burnt odors have a way of clinging to fabrics, which is why you could be stuck with a bitter scent in your home for days or even weeks after something has overcooked. While you can wash curtains and blankets to eliminate the smell, it may also absorb into your carpets or rugs. Try taking the below measures:

  • Pour generous amounts of baking soda on carpets and rugs.

  • Allow the baking soda to sit overnight to absorb the burnt smell.

  • Vacuum up the baking soda.

If the smell persists, hire a professional carpet cleaner near you. A more advanced cleaning session can get rid of persistent smoke and burnt odors in carpets.

8. Place Natural Deodorizers Around the House

You need to look no further than your pantry to find odor eliminators for your home. White vinegar or baking soda are great options to get rid of burnt smells in your house. Place bowls or jars filled with vinegar or baking soda near the burn site and around the home to absorb nasty smells.

Another reliable option to neutralize burnt smells is coffee. Fill containers with ground coffee or coffee beans, then place the containers wherever the burnt odor resides. The nitrogen in coffee will help eliminate the pungent smell.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you burn popcorn or other food items in the microwave, the smell lingers for an uncomfortably long time. To get the burnt smell out of your microwave, remove any leftover burnt food debris and then heat 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe container for about three minutes. Next, clean the inside of the microwave with a soft microfiber cloth, water, and a small amount of dish soap. Dry and let the microwave air out for two to three hours.

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