Why Does My Air Fryer Smell? Learn to Sniff Out the Issue!

There are a few reasons why your air fryer smells, and today we’re going to tackle them. Sometimes, an air fryer smells like plastic or chemicals, but other times it may just smell, well, bad.

Let’s talk about the reasons why these different smells occur in your air fryer, and what you can do to make it go away. 

why does my air fryer smell dinners done quick helpful guide featured image

Why Does My Air Fryer Smell Like Plastic?

If your air fryer smells like plastic, it’s likely because it’s a newer unit. However, if it’s an older unit and your air fryer smells like burning plastic, that may indicate a problem or malfunction.

During the manufacturing process, the components of the air fryer are coated so that they don’t get damaged during assembly.

This non-toxic coating is designed to burn off with heat. Since the factory isn’t going to use that new air fryer you just paid for, that job falls to you.

The good news is that generally after 2-3 uses, everything should be pretty well broken in and your air fryer shouldn’t smell like plastic anymore.

If the smell really bothers you, I recommend plugging your air fryer in in the garage, patio, or another place you can ventilate well, and letting it run for at least 20 minutes on the highest heat setting (400°F or more). That should get you over the initial hurdle.

All that said, if your air fryer is not new and you smell burning plastic, it likely means there’s a malfunction or something is stuck in the heating element.

Inspect the air fryer thoroughly when it’s off and cooled, including the heating element. Remove any debris you may find. Should you notice any damage to the unit or housing itself, for safety reasons you should replace the air fryer.

Why Does My Air Fryer Smell Like Chemicals?

Sometimes instead of a plastic smell, your air fryer will smell like chemicals. If it’s a new unit, it’s likely still a coating on the fan, heating element, or other components of the air fryer.

In a similar fashion to dealing with the plastic smell, you can expect the chemical smell to burn off after a few uses. Should it be really persistent, plug it in outside (weather permitting or in a covered area) and cook for an hour on the highest heat setting.

If that doesn’t seem to work, there are some other tactics you can try:

How to Remove Smell From Air Fryer

  • Thoroughly wash and dry all interior components and spot clean exterior
  • Apply a thin coating of olive oil or another high smoke point oil to all racks or baskets
  • Place an oven-safe dish filled with 2 Tbsp white vinegar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in your air fryer basket and cook for 3 minutes at 400°F

If your air fryer is still stinky after a couple good uses, these are the most popular methods to remove smell from an air fryer.

Like the plastic smell, if the problem persists beyond these tactics, there may be a problem with the appliance itself that warrants some further investigation.

Why Does My Air Fryer Smell Like Grease?

If your air fryer smells like grease, the answer is that it’s dirty.

Grease buildup is incredibly common in air fryers, as food releases it while it cooks (meat in particular).

Every time I make these air fryer brussel sprouts with bacon I end up with a pile of grease in the bottom of the basket from the cooked bacon.

You’ll want to regularly clean all your interior components (like trays, baskets, or racks) with a grease-cutting soap and hot water, or put them in the dishwasher if you can.

Wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a lightly damp rag or sponge and more grease-cutting soap (but never use oven cleaner). Make sure to scrub the sides very well, as they get splattered easily during cooking.

Check the heating element as well for food particles and splatter on the coils.

You have to remember that air fryers use heat and high powered convection air to cook, so it’s going to take any smells and circulate them with more strength than other appliances. Whether it’s grease or fish, smells only get amplified when the air fryer is on.

Why Does My Air Fryer Smell Like Soap?

If your air fryer smells like soap, it simply means you didn’t get all of the soap residue off when you washed it.

The shell of most units can be spot cleaned, but you’ll need to pass over it again with a clean cloth to remove residual soap.

Interior components, whether hand washed or scrubbed in the dishwasher need to be rinsed very well. I notice particularly in the dishwasher that detergent sometimes gets caught in the grates.

When you turn the air fryer on, it’s going to heat up and “cook” any residual soap left on the parts, causing that soap smell. 

Any time I’ve done this, it’s burned off before the preheat cycle is complete. However, if your problem persists, just make sure to thoroughly rinse and dry all interior components and wipe down the outside with a clean cloth or sponge.

For more tips on cleaning your air fryer correctly, check out our guides to clean a Cuisinart air fryer and on how to clean a Ninja air fryer.

Is It Normal For an Air Fryer to Smell?

Yes, it’s completely normal for an air fryer to smell, particularly if it’s new or hasn’t been cleaned in a while.

Certain brands smell more than others, as it all depends on the manufacturing process. However, nearly all air fryers are going to smell a bit when you first get them.

In fact, one of the first manufacturer recommended steps for using a Chefman air fryer for the first time is to wash all the components.

If you don’t clean your air fryer after each use, you’re also likely to build up some grease, food smells, or other weird smells.


Now that you know the most common reasons why your air fryer smells, you’re that much closer to getting to the root of that stinky situation.

If you’re just unboxing your first air fryer, you now know what to expect. For an experienced owner, hopefully you’ve learned some tips and tricks to cut down on the smells your air fryer produces.

Each air fryer may differ as well, so one method may work better for one type and not the other.

Katie Vine