How to Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell in Your Kitchen

We’ve all done it. You put a bag of popcorn into your microwave oven, then hit the “popcorn” button. You can almost taste the hot, freshly popped treat. But then–the unthinkable! Something goes wrong and instead of the wonderful fragrance of buttery popcorn, you have a terrible burnt odor that spreads through your house! What will you do? How can you get rid of the burnt popcorn smell in your kitchen?

Have no fear, there are some quick and easy ways to get that nasty fragrance out of your home!

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burnt popcorn smell

How to Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell in Kitchen

Few things are worse than the smell of burnt popcorn lingering in your kitchen.

Several years ago, one of my daughters decided to make some popcorn for our family. Although we also sometimes make microwave popcorn, she was making it the old-fashioned way on the stovetop.

After adding the coconut oil (our preferred cooking oil), she went off to do something else while the oil heated–and heated–and heated some more!

It didn’t take long for an overwhelmingly pungent, foul odor to waft throughout our entire house. It was so bad we were all literally feeling somewhat nauseous.

It took some time, but we were finally able to get that lingering odor out of our kitchen.

Fortunately, there are several simple methods you can use to get rid of the scorched popcorn smell and finally make your kitchen smell fresh and inviting again.

Seal It Up

The very first thing to do is to get to the source of the burnt smell.

For a burned bag of microwave popcorn, quickly seal up the burnt bag in a large Ziploc plastic bag. Once the bag is fully sealed up, put it in the garbage pail — or better yet take the whole thing to your outside garbage location.

Ziploc bags are designed to be air-tight and work wonderfully to seal in odors like burnt residue from overdone popcorn.

kitchen filled with smoke from burnt popcorn

Open Windows

After getting rid of the burned bag, the next step to try is to open windows.

Opening your windows can work wonders if you have an overwhelming burned smell (or any other bad smell, for that matter).

If you don’t have any windows in your kitchen area, then this tip won’t apply to you. But if you’re fortunate enough to have one or more windows (or screen doors) in your kitchen areas, this may be just what you need!

Get those windows open as quickly as possible to help the burnt smell go out and get the fresh air coming in. An open door and open windows can go a long way in alleviating unpleasant smells.

Crank Up the Exhaust Vent

Many modern kitchens have an exhaust vent or range fans over the stove. Vents and fans are designed to improve air circulation by sucking out heat, humidity, and unpleasant odors produced by cooking.

In addition to opening your windows, turn the exhaust vent to its highest speed. This will accelerate air movement to help get that bad odor out as soon as possible.

If you don’t have an exhaust vent, or if you want more air movement, you can set up portable electric fans in your kitchen. This helps to get the air flowing and get rid of bad smells.

Citrus to the Rescue

Not only does burnt microwave popcorn create pungent odors in your kitchen. Your microwave oven is going to be reeking of that odor for some time unless you take action fast!

To get to the source of the smell, put a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.

Then, cut a lemon or orange in half. Squeeze as much of the orange or lemon juice as you can into the water in the bowl, then drop the two orange or lemon halves into the mixture.

Microwave the lemon water bowl for approximately three minutes.

As the mixture heats up, the citrus smell naturally combats the strong odors from the burnt popcorn.

The steam from the citrus water also coats the inside of the microwave oven and the microwave door.

After microwaving, let the steam soak and help remove the burnt odors. After 10 minutes, you can wipe out the insides of the microwave with a paper towel.

The Power of Baking Soda

Another option to combat a burnt popcorn smell is to use baking soda.

The steps of this trick are similar to the citrus approach, but you use baking soda instead of lemons or oranges.

Take a heaping tablespoonful of baking soda and dump it into a bowl of water (about one-half cup).

Stir the baking soda into the water until it becomes a moderately thick paste.

Microwave the baking soda mixture for 4 to 5 minutes, then let it sit for one hour.

Finally, wipe out the microwave with a wet cloth or paper towel dipped in warm soapy water.

Odor-Busting Vinegar

If you don’t have lemons or baking soda, you can use vinegar to combat the popcorn odors in your microwave.

Combine half a cup of white or apple cider vinegar with a half cup of water in a microwave-safe container.

Microwave the vinegar water for three minutes, wait 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the bowl and wipe everything down.

The smell of vinegar may not be a lot more pleasant than a popcorn smoke smell, but at least you’ll know it isn’t due to burnt food!

Amazing Ozone

Another option to fight bad kitchen smells is running an ozone generator.

Ozone generators produce molecules of ozone gas that attack odors at the molecular level and break them down. This method is a very effective odor neutralizer (more so than lemon slices and using cups of vinegar), but it can be a little more expensive.

One thing to be aware of with ozone generators is that ozone can be harmful at high concentrations. While some people choose to use ozone generators with people or pets around, I personally would only run an ozone generator when no people or pets are going to be exposed.

You’ll want to run the ozone generator with doors and windows closed, but you can open windows afterwards to help the ozone aroma dissipate more quickly.

Suck Out the Smell

Although many people use ozone generators with good results, I prefer to use a high-qualify air purifier to do the job.

I have used this air purifier for a couple of years. It does an amazing job at cleaning the air, at much less cost than some of the high-priced purifiers.  It has sensors that monitor the air quality and turn the filtration level up when dirty air is detected.

The nice thing about having an air purifier in your kitchen area is that it is always working to clean the air. But it really shines at times when the air is foul, such as with burnt popcorn odors.

Other Tricks to Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smells in Your Kitchen

When dealing with strong unwanted smells like burnt popcorn, I would use one of the tips provided above.

But if for some reason none of these are options, you could try one of the below steps in your odor-fighting regimen:

  • Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray the mixture around the kitchen, paying particular attention to any surface that might be harboring the burnt popcorn smell. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before wiping everything down with a damp cloth.
  • Activated charcoal is another great odor absorber that you can use in your kitchen to get rid of burnt popcorn smell. Place bags or bowls of activated charcoal around the room and let them sit overnight to absorb any odors.
  • Essential oils can also be used as an air freshener and to mask odors, including those from burnt popcorn. Try diffusing a few drops of essential oils (these are some of my favorites) around the kitchen or placing small sachets filled with essential oil or vanilla extract around the room. This will help neutralize the unwanted odors and leave your kitchen smelling fresh.
  • Coffee grounds can absorb strong smells and make your kitchen smell better.
  • You can also try placing lemon peels or orange peels around the room to help mask and neutralize the odor.

bowl of popcorn

Closing Thoughts on Getting Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell

Nothing can ruin snack time or a movie night like the smell of overcooked popcorn.

Getting rid of a burnt popcorn smell can be tricky. However, by following these simple steps, you can make your kitchen air smell fresh.

So the next time your popcorn gets overdone, use one of these effective methods to get rid of that unpleasant burnt popcorn smell, and make your kitchen smell clean again.

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