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Get rid of your oven's bad smells with these tips

Chemical, burnt food and sulfur smells all have their causes and solutions.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Ovens sometimes stink. Unfortunately, there's no spray that can deodorize them without impacting the taste of your food. There are some cures for those odors, however, which differ depending on the smell.

Chemical smell

If you have a new oven, this problem is pretty common. The smell comes from the the insulation around the oven cavity getting exposed to extreme heat for the first time. You can fix the problem by "burning in" your oven. Taylor Martin has the steps to burning in a new oven, here.

Burnt smell

Burnt smells come from foods that have dripped on the bottom of the stove. This is the most common bad oven smell and it's easy to get rid of. Before you reach for the store-bought oven cleaner, try using your oven's self-cleaning mode.

Note that even if your oven has a self-cleaning option, it should only be used under certain circumstances. For instance, there should be excellent ventilation, so that heat can escape. Likewise, your kitchen (or kitchen area) should be vented to allow potential smoke to escape. Faith Durand from The Kitchen shares her experiences with self-cleaning mode and, as such, we recommend thoroughly reading your oven's manual prior to using self-cleaning mode.

With that in mind, here are the steps for getting rid of burnt smells:

  1. Remove the racks from your oven and any obvious chunks of food. Then, set the oven to self-cleaning mode, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Let the oven cool down.
  3. Make a solution of one part vinegar and one part water in a cleaning bucket.
  4. Wipe down the inside of the oven with the vinegar solution.

If your oven doesn't have a self-cleaning mode, you can use these instructions to give it a good clean without harsh cleansers: 

Sulfur or rotten egg smell

A substance must be added to natural gas to make it smell like rotten eggs or sulfur. If your gas oven is making that smell, turn it off, leave your home immediately with the door open to prevent the gas from building up inside your home. The smell usually means there's a gas leak. Gas leaks are lethal can cause explosions and fires. 

Next, call your local gas company or 911. They will be able to send someone out to check for leaks. Also, if it's away from your home, go to your gas meter and use the emergency shut off switch. If you don't know where your gas meter is, just sit tight and wait for the emergency crew.

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