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How to remove burnt smells from your house?

Updated on November 15, 2023
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.

The smell of delicious food cooking in your kitchen is one of the biggest comforts in life, but if you accidentally burn your dinner or have a fire, the smell of smoke in your home is just the opposite.

Burnt smells can be tough to remove as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) like smoke and other odors cling to your walls, curtains, furniture, and more. Even after you remove whatever was burning, you might still notice the smell for days or even weeks to come. 

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to remove this burnt smell. So, let’s go over the top 10 ways to eliminate burnt smells from your home.

1. Remove whatever you’ve burnt from the kitchen

The first thing you should do whenever you burn something is to remove it from your home. If you overcook some food, you may be tempted to simply place it in the trash, but this can cause the smell to linger in your home. If possible, take it outside and place it in a garbage bin.

It’s important to know when you should and should not attempt to combat a fire, but generally speaking, small kitchen fires should be smothered or extinguished with a fire extinguisher or with baking soda. If things get out of hand, leave your home and contact emergency services immediately. 

2. Open your windows and doors

Sometimes the simplest things work wonders, and that’s certainly true when you need to get rid of a bad smell in your home. 

By opening your windows and doors and allowing fresh air to cycle in, you’ll be able to get rid of most bad odors, including burnt smells. 

3. Clean your surfaces 

As we know, smoke clings to surfaces, and that terrible burnt smell comes along with it. Once you’ve removed the source of the odor, you’ll want to wipe down any nearby surfaces as this will get rid of any leftover smoke residue and help remove the odor from your home. 

You can use any number of commercial cleaning products for this application, but again, a little bit of white vinegar followed by some warm water can work well. 

It can be particularly difficult to clean your ceiling, so you’ll still want to use an air purifier with an activated carbon filter, but give your easy-to-reach surfaces a wipe, and you’ll notice a big difference right away. 

4. Spread some baking soda 

Baking soda can be very effective at absorbing odors. Many people leave an open jar of baking soda in their refrigerator for this very reason. Depending on the amount of smoke that was in your home and how far it spread, you may be able to absorb the burnt smell by simply spreading a bit of baking soda around the area. 

If you have a lot of smoke in your home and the burnt smell is particularly strong, then baking soda alone may not do the trick, but it’s still a good idea to use baking soda in tandem with some of the other methods we’ll go over. 

5. Spray white vinegar on furnishings 

White vinegar is great at neutralizing odors and can be an awesome tool if you have a burnt smell in your home. Consider spraying some white vinegar on your sofa, cushions, and fabrics as this can sometimes work just as well as a steam cleaner. 

You’ll definitely smell the vinegar for a little while, but the smell of vinegar will dissipate relatively quickly and won’t last nearly as long as the burnt smell will if it has seeped into your fabrics and furnishings. 

6. Use a charcoal bag 

Place a charcoal bag near the source of the smell, as charcoal is surprisingly good at absorbing foul odors and bad smells. You can find charcoal bags in most home improvement stores, big box stores, or online. Alternatively, you can make your own following these instructions:


You can also try sprinkling some charcoal powder around your stove, as this will eliminate the burnt smell quicker compared to simply placing the bag near the stove. Either method can work well depending on the circumstances, but when in doubt, do both. 

7. Wash your fabrics 

Because smoke sticks to surfaces, it can attach to the fabrics in your home and last a long time even after you’ve removed the source of the odor. Therefore, to completely eliminate the smell from your home, it’s a good idea to wash any fabrics that the odor may have come in contact with. 

Washing your clothes, kitchen apron, and curtains is relatively easy, but if the smell has seeped into your furniture, you’ll probably need a steam cleaner to completely eliminate the burnt smell from your home. That said, if you don’t have a steam cleaner, then there is another more common cleaning agent that can help – keep reading. 

8. Use coffee, yes… coffee

Coffee, like baking soda and charcoal, does a fantastic job of absorbing odors. This is why when you buy perfume, the salesperson may offer you a jar of coffee to smell – because it neutralizes any lingering odors in your nose. You can use coffee in much the same way you would the baking soda or powdered charcoal. 

Simply sprinkle some ground coffee around the area where the burnt smell is the strongest, and the coffee will absorb much of the odor fairly quickly. Afterwards, wipe up the coffee and dispose of it outside in a garbage bin. 

9. Spray some lemon water 

One easy home concoction that can remove burnt smells from your home is lemon water. The trick is to mix a bit of baking soda (about 1/8th of a cup) with a few cups of warm water and a half cup of lemon juice. Mix this all up and add it to a spray bottle. This mixture works miracles when you need to eliminate burnt smells from your home. 

You can use lemon water in place of white vinegar to neutralize the smell of lingering smoke on your fabrics and furniture, or you can simply spray it in the air wherever you notice the burnt smell, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the odor vanishes.

10. Get an air purifier with an activated carbon filter 

By far the best way to eliminate a burnt smell from your home is by using an air purifier. But not just any air purifier will work; only an air purifier that has a packed activated carbon filter will be able to eliminate the odor. This is because activated carbon adsorbs VOCs and odors whilst HEPA filters only target particlate pollutants. We studied the currently available air purifiers on the market and produced a list of what we think are the best air purifiers for VOCs right now.

To ensure that your air purifier can effectively remove the burnt smell from your home, you should use an air purifier that has a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). CADR is a measure of how efficiently an air purifier can cycle and clean the air. The higher the CADR count, the quicker the smell will dissipate.  


Check out our recommendations for the best air purifiers for tackling cooking odors.

Are you considering an air purifier for your kitchen? These are our top picks for the kitchen based on our own testing:

  • Best for most kitchens: Shark HP102 The HP102 cleaned the air in our 728 cubic ft. home lab in just 38 minutes and comes with every smart functionality you may need. It is our top pick overall due to its excellent air cleaning performance, its accurate onboard air quality sensor and its powerful NanoSeal™ Filter (True HEPA Multi-Filter with Microban® antimicrobial coating).
  • Best for small kitchens: Levoit Core 300S – Another air purifier with an onboard air quality sensor that allows for handy smart features such as auto-mode, so you don’t need to worry about turning the unit on and off while you’re cooking. The Core 300S can clean kitchens as big as 219 sq. ft., and its price is just shy of $150.
  • Best for large kitchens: Alen BreatheSmart 45i – The 45i is a large unit for large kitchens of up to 800 sq. ft. but it’s worth mentioning that the air intakes are located along the sides of the unit, so you will be able to place it close to the wall without affecting its air cleaning performance.
  • Best for commercial kitchens: IQAir HealthPro Plus – This powerful air purifier can clean large commercial kitchens as large as 1,125 sq. ft. thanks to a mighty combination of a HyperHEPA filter and a V5-Cell filter packed with activated carbon to deal with kitchen smells and the chemical gasses of strong cleaning products.

Final thoughts

Smoke and burnt smells are among the very worst odors you can have in your home, and they’re also some of the trickiest smells to eliminate. Fortunately, there are a few things that can help. First off, make sure that you remove whatever was burnt or burning as this will stop more odor from being released into your home. 

Next, use something to absorb the odor, such as baking soda, a charcoal bag, some white vinegar, coffee, or lemon water. Always clean any surfaces in your home because smoke and burnt smells love to stick to things. Add some fresh air by cracking open a few windows, and for the best results, use an air purifier with an activated carbon filter and a high CADR count. 

Looking for a TL;DR? Check out our infographic with all the tips in one handy image:

At HouseFresh, we have been reviewing air quality products since 2010. In all these years, we learned not to rely on manufacturers’ claims and the ever-so-glowing marketing materials. That is why we buy products with our own money, so we can write unbiased reviews after we’ve had enough time to evaluate air quality products in our home lab. Every unit we recommend has been thoroughly tested to assess its performance, energy consumption, and noise levels emitted in real-life environments. If you have any questions about our testing process for different types of air quality products, just drop us an email at
About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers and indoor air quality since 2010. He is our lead tester, conducting all the tests we use to evaluate air quality products. That is why you will always see his name attached to our reviews.