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Burnt Your Food? Here’s How to Clear the Smell Out of Your Kitchen

Smoke curling out of an open oven, obscuring the burnt food within.
Evgeniy Kalinovskiy/Shutterstock

It’s easy to burn something in the kitchen accidentally. Maybe you had the stove up to high, or you microwaved it for a minute too long. Once you’ve done it, though, it takes hours for that smell to dissipate. Here’s how to get rid of the smell.

Get Rid of the Burned Food

If your meal is still edible despite the roasting you gave it, you might as well eat the evidence. If it’s not edible, stick it in a grocery bag and take it right outside to the trash bin—don’t keep it indoors. Even though it might not be smoking anymore, it’s still releasing the odor of the burnt food into your kitchen.

Clean Whatever You Cooked It In

If you scorched your meal in the microwave, give the microwave a quick wipe down inside to get rid of the residual smell.

If you burned your meal in a pot or pan, get it soaked and cleaned as soon as possible. The stinky smell is already in the air, but those dirty dishes aren’t helping any.

Freshen Naturally and Air Things Out

Instead of grabbing the air freshener, which is more likely to make your home smelled like burned flowers instead of an amazing floral scent, make your own air freshener. No need to spray chemicals in the air when you can fill a pot with water and simmer it on the stove with your choice of scents. You can use essential oils (like lavender), or toss in lemon and orange peels for a citrusy fresh scent.

In addition to giving the air a pleasant and natural scent, throw open some windows and use the vent fan in your kitchen to pull odors out and fresh air in. Do pay attention to the air movements in your house though. If you have windows open upstairs or across your apartment in your bedroom and you open a window in the kitchen, the cross breeze through your living space can make your kitchen smell better at the cost of blowing the smoke and burnt odors into other rooms. Opening a window in or close to the kitchen while the vent fan is running is a great way to get fresh air through the kitchen without pushing the smells deeper into your house.

Tips for Really Tough Odors

A woman cleaning her microwave with a lemon and sponge.
goffkein.pro/Shutterstock

If you’re having trouble getting the burned smell out of your cookware or your microwave, some ideal smell removers include baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Soak a pan in white vinegar or wash it out with a mixture of water and baking soda. The vinegar is a mild acid that will help loosen up the smelly burnt-on gunk, and the baking soda is a mild abrasive that will help you scrub it away.

For stubborn smells in your microwave, you can combine two of the previous steps into one: cleaning and air-freshening. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe bowl along with a cup of water, drop the two halves in, and microwave it until the water begins to boil—typically around 3-4 minutes depending on the model microwave you have. It’s like a lemony-fresh steam bath for your microwave that’ll loosen grime, banish burnt cooking smells, and freshen your kitchen, too.


While burning a meal may be stressful, you don’t have to wait hours for the residual smell to go away on its own. These tricks will help you forget you even burned the spaghetti within a short time.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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