Is there a burning plastic smell in your house? Here is what to do about it.

A burning plastic smell is easily noticeable. It does not smell like a warm wood fire or a pile of leaves. Rather, it smells chemical and unpleasant. Even if you’ve never smelled burnt plastic before, the moment you get a whiff, you’ll know something is wrong.

Smelling burning plastic when there is no clear source of the stench is alarming, and it should be treated as quickly as feasible. The reason might be something little, or it could indicate a more serious condition that requires immediate attention from emergency personnel.

If you have a burning plastic smell in your home, here are a few probable reasons to consider, what you can do about it, and, if you’ve eliminated any problematic causes, how you may get rid of the smell and its potentially toxic vapors.

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Where Does a Burning Plastic Smell Come From?

A burning plastic smell can arise from genuine burnt plastic, such as a plastic food storage container that slid to the bottom of a dishwasher, a plastic cooking item that melted on a hot burner, or a plastic hair accessory that came into close contact with a straightening iron. If the burning plastic smell is originating from one of these sources, you’ll know straight immediately. You’ll still need to deal with the stink, but it’s a simple solution.

Unfortunately, a burning plastic odor is not always that easy to detect. One of the most serious reasons of a burning plastic odor is poor electrical wiring. Bad electrical wiring can overheat or catch fire, resulting in burning insulation, connections, and other components. These elements are most often hidden from view, making it difficult to determine where the stench is originating from.

HVAC systems and furnaces are another possible culprit, particularly if an overheated element is caused by a system that has not been cleaned regularly or a clogged air filter. Similarly, almost all appliances can produce a burning plastic odor if they overheat owing to blockages or dust.

In addition, overloading your electrical system’s wall outlets can cause them to overheat, melting the different plastic components in a wall socket.

What Should You Do If You Smell Burning Plastic?

Because the burning plastic odor might be caused by a faulty electrical system or overloaded wall outlets, acting quickly is critical to preventing a fire from starting or spreading. Determine quickly where you feel the stench is originating from. If the scent is connected to a certain appliance or location, switch off and unplug any related appliances. You should even switch off the power to the area at the breaker to verify that no energy continues to flow to it.

If you can’t figure out where the burning plastic scent is coming from, call a professional. Call 911 if the odor persists or you notice smoke or flames.

If you do not feel there is an urgent fire risk, but the scent is persistent, contact an electrician, preferably one who handles emergency calls. You’ll want to get them to your house as quickly as possible to establish the source and ensure there is no danger. The electrician can also determine whether an HVAC system or appliances are overheated. At that time, you may choose if a professional repair or cleaning is required or if you can clean the filters and dust yourself.

How Do You Get Rid of the Burning Plastic Smell?

A burning plastic scent is unpleasant due to its caustic, chemical character, but it can also be dangerous if it comes from burning plastic.1. Plastic Fume Monitoring and Exposure. Envirocare.

 Because these vapors might create more than just a sensory impairment, it is critical to eliminate them as soon as possible.

First, if feasible, remove the source of the burning plastic odor. Remove any blocked filters that may have caused the problem. To air out your home, open all of the windows, put on any fans, and bring in an air purifier.

Then, try to eliminate the odor from your home by placing bowls of white vinegar in the affected areas. This should help clean the air and absorb odors. Fill a bucket with dishwashing solutions and water, then use a sponge to wipe off counters, cabinets, furniture, floors, appliances, and any other surfaces in the affected areas. Although remediation may take some time, providing ventilation and taking proactive actions to clean the afflicted surfaces may assist speed up the process.

  • Does an electrical fire smell like burned plastic?

An electrical fire emits chemical scents from burning insulation, wire, and connections, which can smell like burnt plastic.

  • What should I do if I smell burning plastic inside my home?

Whether you smell burning plastic, you should quickly determine if it is only a scent or whether there is visible smoke or flames. Call 911 if you see smoke or flames, or if you are worried about the scent. Otherwise, switch off and disconnect all equipment, then contact an electrician for an emergency visit to discover what is generating the odor.

If you smell burning plastic inside your home, it’s essential to take immediate action to ensure safety. Here are the steps you should follow:

  • Identify the Source: Try to locate the origin of the smell. Check electrical outlets, appliances, cords, and any other potential sources of heat or melting plastic.
  • Turn Off Electrical Devices: If you identify an appliance or device that is emitting the smell, turn it off immediately. Unplug it from the electrical outlet if possible.
  • Ventilate the Area: Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate. Use fans to help dissipate the odor.
  • Check for Fire: Inspect the area for any signs of fire or smoke. If you see flames or smoke, evacuate your home immediately and call emergency services (fire department) from a safe location.
  • Call for Professional Help: Even if you don’t see visible signs of fire, it’s crucial to call a professional electrician or fire department to assess the situation. They can identify any hidden issues and ensure your safety.
  • Avoid Breathing Fumes: Inhaling fumes from burning plastic can be harmful. If the smell persists, consider leaving the area until it’s resolved.


A burning plastic smell in the house can be caused by a variety of factors. These may include electrical issues, such as faulty wiring or overloaded circuits, which can lead to overheating and the release of a burning plastic odor. Additionally, overheating appliances, such as malfunctioning ovens, microwaves, or electronics, can also emit a similar smell.

In some cases, the smell may be due to something burning in the house, such as plastic materials in contact with heat sources or even small fires. It is crucial to identify the source of the smell promptly to ensure the safety of your home and family. If you notice a burning plastic smell, it is recommended to first check your electrical connections and ensure there are no signs of damage or overheating.

If you suspect a faulty appliance, it is advisable to unplug it and have it inspected or repaired by a professional. In more serious cases, such as persistent or strong smells, or if you suspect an actual fire, it is important to immediately evacuate your home and call emergency services for assistance.