How to Get Rid of Air Fryer Plastic Smell

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If you are brand new to owning an air fryer, you will be surprised to find that it gives off a “plastic-like” scent every time you use it. So here’s how to get rid of air fryer plastic smell:

As a general rule, with a brand new air fryer, run it at 400° F for 20 minutes empty before cooking food in it. This allows the protective coating on the basket to burn off without coming into contact with food. But air fryers with more plastic parts may require repeating that process.

Luckily, while the smell is definitely unpleasant, it’s not a cause for concern and will go away after just a few uses.

So in this article, we’re diving deep into air fryers. We’ll explore why they smell like plastic when you first use them. But we’ll also look at how to get rid of that smell before you use it, and whether there is any cause for alarm if that smell continues.

Let’s get into it!

Why does my air fryer smell like plastic?

Air fryers come with a protective coating. When the air fryer is used initially, this coating gets heated to high temperatures. This causes the coating to burn and give off a plastic smell. This coating typically burns completely away after a few uses and won’t smell after that.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to cook food those first few times to get rid of the smell.

Many air fryer brands specify to run the fryer at 400° F for 20 minutes empty before using it for cooking food. That way the plastic burns off and won’t simply melt onto what you’re cooking. 

I will say though, that the more plastic parts a fryer has, the more it will smell and the longer it will smell.

Metal air fryers still have the coating, but with fewer plastic parts, the smell isn’t as strong and will go away after that initial 20 minutes of heating. 

So not all air fryers are created equal and it pays to look for one that’s more metal parts than plastic.

But the burning of that coating isn’t the only thing that can cause an air fryer to give off an unpleasant smell. Here are some other possible reasons:

The heating element

Most air fryers have a heating element that is located on the top of the unit. Over a period of time, food particles can start to collect in this area. That can eventually release an unpleasant burning smell.

Not keeping it clean

Along those same lines, not cleaning your air fryer after every use can cause it to give off a bad odor when used.

Luckily, most air fryers’ removable parts are usually dishwasher safe. So I like to throw my basket in the dishwasher after every use, giving it a quick rinse and scrub first if there are any baked-on food particles.

Then with a wet sponge and maybe a tiny bit of dish soap, wipe down the entire inside (once cool) and outside every time too.

How do I get the smell out of my air fryer?

On a new air fryer, remove all plastic wrap, and wash and dry all removable parts in a sink with warm water and dish soap. But you can also place a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and lemon juice in a glass bowl and heat inside the air fryer for 2 minutes at 400° F.

But let’s look at those things in a step-by-step just to eliminate any confusion:

First method

  • Remove all the plastic wrap that your new air fryer may come with. This is NOT designed to be kept on the fryer and will definitely create an unpleasant smell if left on
  • Most parts of the air fryer are washable such as the pan, rack grill, and removable basket
  • Place these parts in a sink full of warm soapy water and let sit for 15 minutes
  • Gently scrub these parts with a soft sponge and then wipe out the inside of your air fryer
  • Rinse the parts with clean water and wipe out the inside of the fryer with a wet sponge with clean water
  • Wipe everything dry with a kitchen towel
  • Now the air fryer is ready to be run

Remember, of course, as we talked about above, if the fryer is brand new, you’ll still want to run it for 20 minutes a 400° F empty before using it to cook food. This will ensure any protective coating left gets burned off.

While those steps work great on new air fryers, they also work well on older fryers that may have baked-on grime creating off smells.

Second method

If the steps above do not work then this method will almost assuredly eliminate the bad odors.

  • Use a small glass or ceramic air fryer-safe bowl
  • Place 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the bowl
  • Set the air fryer to 400° F
  • Run the air fryer for 2 minutes
  • Repeat as necessary or a few times per year to freshen it up

Don’t have lemons or vinegar?

You can just use one or the other if you don’t have both. I would not recommend other types of vinegar as some, such as balsamic or apple cider could leave a sticky residue.

Also, avoid using harsh cleaners or bleach.

Bonus tips on keeping your air fryer odor-free

Coat the basket and grease separator tray with oil

This is much like seasoning a cast-iron skillet.

Take regular cooking oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, or any oil with a mild flavor and high smoke point) and a paper towel.

Pour a little oil on the towel. Then run the paper towel inside and then coat the basket and separator tray with a light coating of oil.

Turn on the air fryer and run it at 400° F and run it for 10 minutes.

Then let the air fryer cool down for 15 minutes. Once it has cooled down, just remove the tray and wipe it down with oil again. Then place it inside again and repeat the process.

Wipe clean with a damp sponge afterward. Also, make sure to avoid using spray oil for this process as some of the additives in that can damage the non-stick coating.

Use aluminum foil inserts

This is a bonus tip for you to keep the air fryer clean and mess-free.

But it will also keep your basket’s non-stick coating in better shape and help it last longer. Use aluminum foil and cover the bottom of the basket.

This will allow all the extra grease or melted cheese to be collected in the aluminum foil rather than spilling into the fryer and getting baked on.

Twist the 4 corners of the foil to make it easier to pick up when it’s time to throw it away.

Preheat the air fryer

This tip is good not only for newer air fryers that might still have some unpleasant smells but it will actually help the food cook better and come out better too.

It’s especially good for cooking chicken breast or steaks.

Simply set the air fryer to the temperature the recipe calls for. Then run it empty for 5 minutes. Now everything is heated up and ready for the food and any lingering bad smells have likely dissipated.


Air fryers are indispensable for those with small kitchens or those whose hectic schedules demand convenience.

So in this article, we examined why air fryers smell, especially when brand new. But more importantly, we looked at how to get rid of that smell. Then we looked at some great tips for ongoing maintenance to keep the air fryer odor-free.

If you take good care of your air fryer from the beginning, and then keep it clean after every use, it will last you for a very long time.

The smell of burning plastic is not something you want coming from your kitchen. But the good news is that the smell is only temporary and will go away quickly.

Photo which requires attribution:

Still frame taken from video – Panfish CATCH & COOK with NEW AIR FRYER! by LakeForkGuy is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a graphic and text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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