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Why does my air fryer smell like plastic?

Proscenic T31 Air Fryer Oven on kitchen counter, angled view, opened

Our expert tips determine why your air fryer smells and how to eliminate unpleasant odours

Ever turned on your air fryer to preheat the unit, only to be hit with the revolting smell of burning plastic? Not only is it unpleasant, but it can be extremely worrying, too. After all, a malfunctioning electrical appliance is something that can be a real cause for concern.

The good news is that plastic smells emitting from air fryers are rarely anything to worry about, and you can rest assured that your perfectly cooked, crispy air fryer chips won’t harm you in any way. It’s unlikely that you’ll have to splash out on a new air fryer, provided you take a few simple precautions.

So, if you’re dealing with an air fryer that smells of burning plastic, read our handy guide for the reasons that could be causing it, and discover the fixes that will do away with the problem for good.

Why does my air fryer smell like plastic?

Air fryers are made from a variety of materials, but commonly the body and inner drawer are made from heat-resistant plastic, while the pan and basket are coated with PTFE – a synthetic thermoplastic polymer referred to as non-stick. The benefits of these materials are that the outer housing of the air fryer offers decent insulation properties and is cool to the touch, while the PTFE coating on the inside prevents your food from sticking to the pan or basket, allowing it to cook evenly. The latter is particularly true of a rotisserie style air fryer such as the Proscenic T31.

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The downsides are that new plastics can emit unpleasant chemical smells, particularly in their first few times of use when the material is reaching high temperatures. While not harmful, the odour is acrid – and nobody wants a kitchen full of fumes even if the food remains unaffected.

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How do I get rid of plastic smells from my air fryer?

Any plastic smells from your air fryer in use should settle down over time, but there are things you can do to accelerate the process.

Clean your air fryer: Remove the drawers and basket and wash with hot soapy water using a soft cloth. If you’ve used your air fryer then ensure it’s left to cool for 30 minutes before handling and washing. Read our in-depth guide on how to clean an air fryer.

Run it on empty: Not all new air fryers will have been heated and cooled during the manufacturing process, and as such new plastics will release odours on first heating. Set your air fryer to maximum temperature for the maximum time setting and leave it to run in a well-ventilated area. Let it cool and repeat until any plastic smells have passed.

Season your air fryer: Much like a good wok or frying pan, air fryer pans and baskets benefit from seasoning to function at their best. Do this by soaking a few pieces of kitchen paper in flavourless oil and wiping over the non-stick parts of the pan and basket(s) after cleaning.

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Keeping your air fryer odour free

Air fryers are convenient, healthy and energy-saving, so it’s natural that they will undergo heavy use. As such, it’s important to clean it regularly via gentle washing as described above to keep your air fryer free from unpleasant smells. If you notice your non-stick PTFE areas of the machine becoming scratched, chipped or compromised in any way, it’s time to call it a day. Damaged PTFE is likely to release nasty smells, and can also mean harmful chemicals can circulate, so it’s best to start keeping an eye out for the best new deals on air fryers.

Aside from plasticky smells, air fryers can emit odours from a build-up of baked-on grease. While regular cleaning should help prevent this, lining the pan of the air fryer with a layer of foil will catch any excess oils, sauces and bits of food that fall through the basket ready to be disposed of straight after use.

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