Air fryers are wonderful appliances, so compact, so versatile, and easy to cook quick, healthy, delicious meals in. Air fryers use the concept of convection heating, using hot air that recirculates in a small chamber to evenly coat the entire surface of the food inside and cook it to perfect crispiness and bring it to the right temperature inside and out. Just like the name suggests, it basically fries and/or bakes foods without the need for oil. A conventional oil fryer uses the concept of heating the oil that completely surrounds the food and cooks it from the outside in — the drawback is dealing with the excess oil and grease that is not great for the heart and arteries.
If you have gotten a new air fryer recently and started cooking with it right away, you might have experienced the unpleasant smell of plastic either around the kitchen or in the food. Since no one really enjoys plastic-smelling food, you went online looking for answers. Well, we are here to help explain why new air fryers can sometimes have a plastic smell and how to get rid of air fryer plastic smell quickly and easily.
Why Do New Air Fryers Have a Plastic Smell?
Air fryers are made of heat-resistant plastic, from the outside case to most of the components inside. The heat-resistant plastic is great for insulating the heat, keeping it concentrated inside the air fryer and being cool enough on the outside to touch and handle without burning your skin. Most of the components of an air fryer are plastic mold-injected parts that require the parts to vent the plastic fumes over time through the process of heating and cooling. Most factories do not have the time to heat and cool the plastic multiple times to rid the air fryers of the plastic smell, which unfortunately creeps up during the first couple of uses.
In addition, the fans, heating elements and other electronic components in the air fryer also have a short break-in period. The bearings in the fan may also emit an offensive odor until they are properly broken in, and the heating element’s electric soldering does the same until everything settles where it should be. Last but not least, the anti-stick coating also experiences fume release in the first couple of uses, and it could use some good old-fashioned pan seasoning just like with a cast iron pan to take away those nasty smells and improve the surface finish. How does one get rid of air fryer plastic odor?
How Does One Get Rid of Air Fryer Plastic Odor?
We put together a short guide on things to do to properly break in your new air fryer and get rid of any plastic smell.
1. Thoroughly Wash the Basket and Grease Separator Tray
Start by using a strong dishwashing soap with good degreasing power to scrub away any plastic particles, oils and dirt from the new basket and separator tray. Please be careful with this step, its essential that you do not use the green side of your scrubbing pad (the aggressive or abrasive side) because this abrasive side can scratch or chip your anti-stick coating, we recommend using the sponge side of the scrubbing pad to prevent ware and flaking of the anti-stick coating on your air fryer. This process is essential because you don’t know how clean the basket is when handled in the manufacturing process. Clean the basket, degrease it and let it air dry.
2. Break in your Air Fryer
We highly recommend running the air fryer with no food in it for a couple of cycles to allow the plastic inside and outside to heat and cool then release the plastic fumes. Much like a new car (oh, that new car smell), the smell is basically plastic fumes being released — after a couple of weeks, it starts to wear off because the fumes have been released from the plastics, and they are now settled. Take your clean air fryer basket and separator tray, place them in the air fryer, set the air fryer to 350-400 degrees and let it run with no food for 40 minutes. Then, allow the air fryer to cool for 15 minutes and repeat the process 3-4 more times. Doing so will expedite the process of fume release and remove the plastic odors. We suggest doing this break-in routine outdoors (with access to an electric outlet) or in a garage if your air fryer makes the whole room or house smell like plastic.
3. Prime or Season the Basket and Grease Separator Tray
After you complete step 2, we suggest coating your basket and grease separator tray with a light coating of cooking oil. Take regular cooking oil and dampen a paper towel with it; use your oil dampened paper towel and coat the inside of the basket and grease separator with it. Then, set your air fryer to 350-400 degrees, run it for 10 min, let it cool for 10min and remove the tray. Wipe it down and repeat the process once more. Once this is complete, wipe the basket of any excess oil, wash it with dish soap and let it air dry. Do not use any spray-type cooking oil, such as Pam, as it will cause your anti-stick coating to peel off.
4. Distilled Vinegar and Lime Juice Steam Bath
Get a small oven-safe dish, put in 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar and 1 tablespoon of lime juice, mix it up and place it in the air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 350-400 degrees, run the air fryer for 3 min and let it cool with the dish inside for another 15 minutes. The lime and vinegar will coat the inside and absorb any fumes. Wash the basket once more after this steam bath, and wipe the inside of the air fryer with a damp towel to remove any plastic fumes and residue.
Once you complete the above steps, you should have no plastic smell or taste when you start cooking in your new air fryer. We recommend washing your basket after every cooking session to prevent grease buildup and bacteria growth that could foul the foods and make you sick. Wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a damp towel after every cooking session as well. Last but not least, do the vinegar lime steam bath once a month to keep the air fryer clean and odor-free for life.
5. Keep your air Fryer clean to avoid baked on grease build up
As a follow up we recommend you keep your air fryer clean. We recommend you wash or wipe it down thoroughly after every use to avoid baked on grease build up which can be difficult to remove. Keeping your air fryer clean after each use is also sanitary and hygienic, you dont want old grease sitting in the basket accumulating nasty bacteria and mold growth. Keep it clean and keep your family safe and healthy. We put together a nice guide on how to get rid of baked on grease from an air fryer if you end up having that problem later down the road.
Bonus Tip #1
Here is a nifty trick for keeping even an odorless air fryer stay mess-free and clean while helping your basket’s anti-stick coating last a whole lot longer. We use heavy-duty aluminum foil and cover the bottom of the basket, allowing all the extra grease, melted cheese and god knows what else drips off your food to be captured by the aluminum foil. We like to make our aluminum foil into a little tray with handles sticking out the sides so that it’s easier to just lift the cooked food and the grease completely out of the basket. The aluminum protects the anti-stick coating from any mess and damage by utensils. Also, if you want to pour the juices back onto the food, well, it’s all right there in the aluminum tray. Once you’re done, just pitch the soiled aluminum and wipe down the basket with a clean damp towel, et-voila — mess-free air frying.
Bonus Tip #2
For better fully cooked food, especially to the core when cooking chicken breasts or steaks, a tip we have is to preheat your air fryer. This works great for crispier fries as well. Preheat the air fryer to the desired temperature and let it run empty for 5 min prior to inserting the food in the basket — that way, the internal temperature of the air fryer is already at the desired temperature. We tried it out once with our Uber Appliance Odorless Air Fryer and will not go back to just starting cold since it cooks the items faster and more fully. Chicken, steak and fish benefit from this — it allows the hot air to seal the juices inside, making the food juicer and more flavorful.
Overall, owning an air fryer is a major convenience due to its small size and huge cooking capabilities. Air fryers are great for small apartments and dorms, or on the road in an RV, when camping with access to electricity or while in a car with an inverter (think tailgating, fire up the air fryer for delicious wings, onion rings, fries and air fryer steaks woot woot!). There are a bazillion air fryer recipes out there, from healthy homemade chicken wings to perfectly crispy oil-free fries, delicious sweet brownies or soufflés and much much more. With all awesome things, there is some maintenance involved, and if you set up your air fryer right from the start, it will serve you well for a very long time.
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Did you like this article? Did you find it useful? If so, please share it. Do you have an air fryer? Did you have issues with air fryer plastic smell during the first couple of uses? If so, what did you do to get rid of the air fryer plastic smell? We love to hear from you, so please let us know in the comments below!