Did you know it's normal for a new oven to smell like plastic or chemicals? Before using an oven for the first time, get rid of this unappetizing odor by completing the "burn in" process. However, if your oven smells like burning food every time you turn it on, it's time to clean it. Ventilating your kitchen can help you get rid of an overpowering smell while you wait for the oven to cool to clean up the mess.
Using an Oven for the First Time
If your brand-new electric oven smells like plastic, don't worry. This smell is completely normal and will go away after you "burn in" your new oven. According to Repair Aid, the smell could come from several different sources, including a protective oil applied to the inside of the oven at the factory, insulation emitting from within the oven's walls or plastic zip-ties that weren't removed after installation. Either way, much like the new-car smell, the new-oven smell doesn't last forever.
However, you don't really want to transfer that smell to any of the food you cook in the oven. Therefore, to "burn in" a new oven you should allow it to run at a high temperature (about 450 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient) for about 30 minutes with nothing inside it. Repeat several times until you no longer notice that your oven smells like chemicals. Check your owner's manual to see if the manufacturer recommends a specific temperature or time frame for the burning-in process.
Burnt Food Smell From Oven
If your oven smells like burning food because something spilled on the bottom of the oven, the only way to completely get rid of the smell is to get rid of the spill. Sprays might mask the odor in the short-term, but they aren't an effective long-term solution.
Never attempt to clean an oven unless it is completely cool! Remove the racks from the oven and use a wire brush to scrub burnt debris. Use a food scraper to lift as much of the burnt food off the bottom of the oven as possible. Pour a little water over the top of stubborn debris to help soften it before tackling it again with the scraper.
If burnt-on debris persists, Architectural Digest recommends adding just enough water to some baking soda to turn it into a paste and scrubbing this over the burnt areas. Pour or spray on some vinegar to activate the baking soda for extra oomph. When you're satisfied that you've lifted as much of the debris as possible, wipe out the entire oven with a damp paper towel.
Ventilate the Kitchen
There's a mess in your oven and you have to wait hours for the temperature to cool down so you can safely clean it up. In the meantime, your kitchen (and house!) smells horrible. It's tempting to reach for heavily-perfumed aerosol sprays to mask the odor, but you'll typically end up with an even stronger odor.
The burnt smell will still emanate from your oven until you get a chance to clean it up, but you can dilute the scent by forcing it out of your home and beckoning fresh air in. Use the principles of indoor air pressure to quickly facilitate this exchange of air. Open one window as the "intake" and a second window as the "exhaust." The more windows you can open, the better.
Run your stove's exhaust fan and any ceiling fans to help air circulate. Turn off your HVAC system to prevent the odor from getting into the ducts and reaching other rooms in your home. By the time you can safely clean your oven, the smell should have been drastically reduced thanks to the increased ventilation.