How to Get Burnt Plastic Smell Out of Dishwasher [Step By Step]

A burnt plastic smell from your dishwasher can be irritating. Once a plastic spoon, fork, or cup cover falls on its heating element and melts, it smells. Moreover, the melted plastic will produce dioxin fumes which causes coughing, dizziness, and shortness of breath if inhaled. Exposing yourself to dioxin for a long time can result in cancer.

But don’t worry if you already have the smell in your dishwasher, you can get rid of it just fine. All it takes are common ingredients that you can find in your kitchen. This article explores the source and how to get burnt plastic smell out of a dishwasher using baking soda. Also, you will discover tips for preventing such unpleasant odors in the future.

Why Does Your Dishwasher Smell Like Burnt Plastic?

This has remained the top question that most users of the dishwasher normally ask. Usually, a newly purchased dishwasher will give off a chemical smell; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a budget-friendly dishwasher. However, this smell will fade after two to three wash.

Dishwasher Smell Like Burnt Plastic

However, the smell of burnt plastic in the kitchen is terrible. There’s the possibility that a plastic spoon, fork, or lid that falls into the heating element has melted.

When the piece of the plastic material remains there through the dry cycle, it can transfer the plastic smell even to other wares you’ve stacked for washing.

Nevertheless, if there’s no fallen or melted plastic ware on the heating element, you’ll need to properly examine your machine. In this case, there’s a possibility that the heating element is faulty. You‘ll have to discontinue the use of the washer and call an appliance technician.

How To Get Burnt Plastic Smell Out Of Dishwasher

Like we’ve said earlier, the smell could be from melted plastic objects on the heating element of your dishwasher. You can get rid of the burnt plastic smell from your machine by using the simple home ingredient, baking soda.

How to Get Burnt Plastic Smell Out of Dishwasher

To do that, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Cool the Dishwasher

Allow your machine to complete its wash and dry cycles. Also, the dishwasher should have enough time to cool after its operation. Next, open your windows and doors for fresh air to flow in. You can then open the door after turning the knob to the ‘off’ position to ventilate the space.

Step 2: Remove the burnt plastic.

Ensure that you’ve removed any plastic object that would have triggered the smell. This most likely would have been melted by the heating element below the dishwasher basin. Where the object is still stuck to the element, you can remove it using a wooden spoon. Then, with a paper towel, smoothen the element to ensure that no plastic residue remains.

Step 3: Use the baking soda

Remove everything within the machine completely. Then pour the baking soda into the soap compartment to fill it. Proceed to set the machine to a normal wash. This allows the baking soda to fully utilize its odor-fighting capacities on the machine. You can repeat the process to ensure complete elimination of the smell.

Step 4: Allow it to Cool

When the second washing cycle is completed, you can turn off the dishwasher and allow it to cool. Then open up the machine door and check if the smell persists.

What Should You Do If The Smell Is Still Stuck To Your Dishwasher?

There may be a situation where the burnt plastic smell may persist. This may even happen after running the normal washing cycle twice with baking soda powder.

So if the smell is still stuck to your dishwasher, here are your solutions:

  • Pour baking soda powder into a small bowl and keep it at the bottom of your dishwasher. Close the door of your machine and allow the plate with the powder to sit throughout the night without disturbance.

The baking soda powder has the potency of absorbing any residual odor in your machine.

  • Alternatively, you can use white vinegar to tackle the smell. Using the white vinegar, you’ll follow the four steps above that were applied for baking soda powder.

White vinegar has the capacity of sanitizing and deodorizing the interior of your machine. But check the manual of the dishwasher to confirm the effect of white vinegar on it.

Some manufacturers may warn against the use of vinegar products in their dishwashers.

Preventing Plastic Smells On Your Dishwasher

It’s always easier not to have the burnt plastic smells on your dishwasher than to look for a solution for the removal.

Preventing Plastic Smells On Your Dishwasher

Remember, the major cause of burnt plastic smell in your dishwasher is a piece of plastic falling to the heating element. As the plastic melts, the machine picks the smell. Though your machine has the right compartment for loading your utensil, things can shift. So, irrespective of how careful you are in loading your machine, a plastic object can still fall off.

The best option in the preventive measure is hand wash. You should always separate your plastic wares and handwash them. This will not only save you the troubles of burnt plastic smell in your dishwasher, but it will also delay your plastic from deterioration. Plastics that contain polycarbonates deteriorate with time. However, high temperatures quicken the deterioration process with the emission of some harmful substances.

Alternatively, you can purchase a basket that keeps small plastic objects like pacifiers and peelers intact. As a result, the objects won’t move around throughout the washing cycle.


The great benefits of using a dishwasher in your kitchen can never be underestimated. But, a plastic material melts on the heating element, the smells can frustrate you. When you’re facing this issue, there’s no need to worry and involve a technician.

You now understand how to simply handle the smell by using common home ingredients, such as baking soda powder or white vinegar. Also, you can take a preventive measure by sticking with handwashing for all your plastic wares. That way, your plastic utensils won’t fall on the heating element and melt to smell in your kitchen.

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