How to Get a Burned Smell Out of a House


Burned food is a common source of a lingering burned smell in your house, but anything that burns can leave a lasting odor. Because smoke clings to many surfaces, airing out the house or using cover-up fragrances may not be enough to quell the smell. To get rid of the odor for good, use household supplies to thoroughly clean the areas where smoke odor lingers.

Things You'll Need

  • Fans
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Oven mitts
  • Table salt
  • Scrubber, such as scouring pad or scrub sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Baking powder
  • Air purifier, if needed

Banish Smoke Stink

  • Open the windows and run fans to increase ventilation. Dispose of any burned food or other burned items in the outside garbage after they cool. Submerse the cooking container, if applicable, in warm water with a squirt of dish soap. If a container is too damaged to clean, throw it away in the outside garbage.

  • Simmer 1 cup or more of undiluted vinegar in a pan on the stove to cut the odor. White vinegar is a good choice because it's colorless and tends to be inexpensive.

  • Sprinkle table salt on any spills or boil-over of scorched or burned food. If the burned food is inside the oven, put on oven mitts before sprinkling salt on the spill to reduce the risk of burns.

  • Scrub any burned residue or scorch marks on impermeable surfaces with warm water and full-strength dish soap on a scrub pad or scrub sponge. Dip the scrubber in baking soda to scour off tough baked-on or cooked-on spills. Soak any affected stove or oven parts, such as burner liners or broiler pans, in the sink in warm, soapy water.

  • Wipe down moisture-tolerant surfaces near the original source of the burned smell, including cabinets and counters, with undiluted vinegar. Pat undiluted white vinegar lightly on drywall or other porous surfaces to get the smell off without causing moisture damage. Don't use colored vinegars such as wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar on painted walls or porous surfaces such as drywall or unfinished wood, as they may stain.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on carpets or rugs that retain a burned smell. Leave the baking soda in place for half an hour and then vacuum. Alternatively, follow the manufacturer's instructions to apply a carpet deodorizer.

  • Check textiles including curtains, drapes, pillows, and upholstery for any burned smell. Wash washable items and send others to the dry cleaners.

  • Run an air purifier in the area of your home that has the strongest odor, if needed, to help remove any lingering burned smell.

Tips & Warnings

  • As time passes, you'll become accustomed to the burned smell, and it might be harder for you to detect all the areas that have absorbed smoke. To identify any lingering smoke smell, sniff around after you've been out of the house for a few hours.
  • The longer the burned food remains in the house, the more the house will smell. If you can't take the food out to the garbage right away, put it in a container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a large jar, to contain the smell.
  • Many of these cleaning steps can be used to remove the odor of smoke from sources other than burned food (for example, smoke smell from cigarettes or wood stoves).
  • A burned smell or smoke in your home from your fireplace or wood stove may be a sign that it needs to be cleaned. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, particles and gases from wood smoke inside your home can get into your respiratory system and harm your health. Contact a certified chimney sweep or other qualified professional to inspect and clean your wood-burning unit.
  • Only use scrubbers and cleaning products that are approved by the manufacturer for your stove's surfaces. Steel wool and many common scouring products can scratch cook tops and enamel.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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