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Removing Odors from the Microwave

Category Appliances
Photo of a white microwave oven.
Microwaves can pick up odors from the foods that you cook, especially if they get burnt. It is unappealing to use a microwave that smells bad. This is a guide about removing odors from the microwave.
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Solutions

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By 6 found this helpful
August 7, 2011

Put one cup of water into a two cup measuring cup. Add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Microwave on high until water starts to boil (about 2 - 3 minutes). Let stand for another few minutes before opening the door. Remove measuring cup. Wipe down sides and bottom of microwave removing food particles. The result is a clean and clean smelling microwave.

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I do this once a week when I do my Friday cleaning. If I spill something earlier in the week, I clean that up immediately.

By Hester from Chesterfield, MI

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By 3 found this helpful
August 9, 2011

For years I have kept a small opened box of Arm and Hammer baking soda in my microwave oven. I completely remove the top of the box before putting it in the microwave. Things like popcorn, pizza, etc., can leave a smelly microwave oven, and it's such a simple thing to do so the smells vanish.

I happened upon the idea one day while I was putting baking soda boxes into my fridge/freezer. And it dawned on me that maybe it would work in the microwave.

By Roberta S. from San Antonio, TX

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September 27, 2007

To get rid of the awful lingering smell of burnt microwave popcorn, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and sprinkle your favorite spice like cinnamon or add several drops of vanilla or lemon extract. Bring to a boil. Let it sit inside for 10 to 15 minutes to cool down. Simply wipe the walls down with paper towels. Leave the door open to further air it out.

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By 1 found this helpful
December 28, 2007

I cooked some corn dogs that were old and frost bitten. Boy, did I burn 'em. Anyway, I had a hard time getting the smell out of the microwave. Tried everyone's tricks and tips. They reduced the odor, but it was still present, especially when I'd microwave something else.

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So I left a small plate with coffee grounds in the microwave overnight, and was very happy to discover that the smell was totally gone. This morning, I stirred the grounds up and put it back in the microwave (not taking any chances).

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April 2, 2012

I first mix fresh lemon juice and water in a microwave safe cup or bowl and put it into the microwave. Run on high for 2 minutes, then wait 2 more minutes before removing the mixture.

If the smell continues, I make a paste with the juice and water mixture and baking soda and scrub the interior of the microwave. I let this paste sit for 10 minutes the wipe off and rinse. Then my microwave is clean and odor free.

If you leave the door open for a little while after you cook something, the smell will go away on its own also.

By Regenia from Richmond, TX

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By 1 found this helpful
August 10, 2011

To removing fishy and burnt smells from a microwave, use a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rub. This cleans it right up and kills the smell. You may want to leave the microwave open for a few minutes, until the alcohol smell dissipates. Then clean with soap and water.

Source: A friend from my job taught me this trick.

By Josie Anne from DuBois, PA

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July 6, 20170 found this helpful

When food gets burnt in a microwave it can leave behind a strong burnt odor that can be challenging to remove. This page shares advice about removing burnt smell from a microwave.

Microwave popcorn being made.

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August 3, 2011

Lots of food smells linger in the microwave for a long time. To combat those odors and leave your microwave smelling fresh, use lemon essential oil. Just put a cup of water into a microwave-safe glass container...

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 8, 20110 found this helpful

I burned a piece of coffee cake. (10 minutes instead of 10 seconds) I have read all the great ideas about removing burn odors, however they seem to involve heating a liquid in the offending microwave. Because the fan was involved, it caused the whole microwave to shut down and resulted in a repair bill. While waiting for the replacement parts, I would like to remove the odor so I can use it when it is repaired. The microwave is built in, so taking it outside is not an option. Thank you for any help you can give this old lady.

By Arlene

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 8, 20110 found this helpful

Put an open dish of dry (fresh) coffee grounds inside. It will help immensely! (Just don't forget to remove them once it is fixed!

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November 9, 20110 found this helpful

I use my if nothing else works paste; it is 1/2 toothpaste and 1/2 baking soda (I came upon it because I was out of cream of tartar) scrub it out good. Then put a bowl of baking soda in it. If any of the odor isn't cleaned from the microwave nothing you do will be permanent fix. So clean well first. You can use tea tree oil in this also it has stronger smell. Then the baking soda will absorb all of the left over burnt smell. Works well with badly burnt popcorn. Luck to you!

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November 10, 20110 found this helpful

Another way to remove the burn odor from your microwave is to wipe down the interior with a half water-half vinegar solution.

Then pour a quarter to a half cup of straight vinegar into a shallow bowl, place it inside the microwave, close the door, and leave it at least overnight. You should wake up to a nice odor free microwave.

LOL, ask me how I know:)

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September 21, 20160 found this helpful

Mine smells like burnt plastic

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By 0 found this helpful
October 10, 2011

My 82 year old mother recently was baking potatoes in our microwave and put the timer on for a ungodly amount and burnt them to a crisp. The whole house smelled of burnt food, the cabinets and microwave. My mother decided to use carpet deodorizer inside the microwave to get the odor out.

She swears she "rinsed it all out good", but my husband and I have our doubts that it's even safe to continue to use the microwave with the carpet freshener smell inside. I Googled everything I could think of but came up with no answers. So I ran across this site when Googling smoke odors. Does anyone know if the smell will be dangerous to the foods we microwave inside? And if so can we still use something to get rid of it to make it usable again? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

By Gwen72 from PA

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
October 12, 20110 found this helpful

Earlier this year I copied tips from 2 different TF members for deodorizing a microwave.

1 - To combat those odors and leave your microwave smelling fresh, use lemon essential oil. Just put a cup of water into a microwave-safe glass container and add 4 drops of lemon oil. Microwave the bowl on high for 2 minutes; keep the microwave door closed until the water is cooled a little, about 10 minutes.

2 - To clean your microwave, take a bowl of water and add a half cup of lemon juice. Place in microwave for 3 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes or so to loosen the dirt inside and wipe clean. This makes all the dirt and grime come off a lot easier. (Note from me: This tip is for cleaning, but it should deodorize as well. If there is grime on the inside surfaces, it should be cleaned off, since the grime probably absorbed the odors as well, and would release the odor again when heated.)

(Sorry, I didn't record the names of those who sent in these tips.)

I would try either method. You might have to repeat a few times, but hopefully you can salvage your microwave oven. Good luck!

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October 13, 20110 found this helpful

Try microwaving a cup of vinegar for one minute, let it sit overnight, without opening the door. Hope this helps.

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October 13, 20110 found this helpful

If the lemon method does not work, try vinegar. I heat a cup of vinegar in the microwave for 3 minutes and let cool for a few minutes before opening the microwave. It will loosen everything up and it should get rid of most smells, too. Good luck!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
July 14, 2016

Food was left in the microwave for two weeks. How do I get the nasty smell out of my microwave? I was gone for 2 weeks and I have no idea who left a plate of food in the microwave. What I do know is that it wasn't me, but of course no one is running up to admit it! I cleaned it with a water and bleach mixed and Dawn dish soap. I have even let it stay open for a while, but it still stinks! Help me please.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 27, 20170 found this helpful

I had a similar problem with exploding egg in the microwave oven that stunk everything up

I took a cup of white vinegar and nuked it for 3 minutes

then I took a cup of water with orange peels in it, and nuked this for 3 minutes

I kept doing it until the smell finally went away

you can also try leaving baking soda in a dish in there for a bit, or getting activated charcoal and leaving it in there https://www.ama  2?tag=thrif06-20

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February 28, 20170 found this helpful

Microwave a mug filled with 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, and half a lemon for 3-5 minutes. Leave 15 minutes. Sponge out the microwave. You may have to repeat this, but you will get rid of the smell.

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May 18, 20110 found this helpful

I need to know how to get a smell out of my mircowave.

By Bea

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 18, 20110 found this helpful

I like to put a dish of water with some cloves, cinnamon, and an orange or lemon slice (or two) inside and microwave it for 3 minutes. Then, while it is still warm and steamy inside, I wipe it out, the steam will loosen the gook. (Repeat the process, if necessary, but make sure your water doesn't boil dry.) Leave the door open for a while. If the odor persists, and you know the microwave is clean, put a small dish of dry coffee (unused grounds) inside, close the door. Store the coffee in there for a few days, taking it out only when you need to use the microwave.

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May 18, 20110 found this helpful

White vinegar will work, too. Place 1 cup each of vinegar and water in a 1 quart microwavable glass measuring cup and micro on high for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the container, it will be hot! Wipe down the walls with a dry cloth. The vinegar smell will be overwhelming, but will disappear when the surfaces have dried, leaving your micro odor free.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
September 9, 2015

I was home alone and decided to make a microwave mac and cheese and it burnt and it smells bad. I tried microwaving lemon slices and vinger and it didn't work. What should I do? I need something quick, please help me.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 17, 20170 found this helpful

Usually boiling a bowl of white vinegar helps, but have you tried simmering some vanilla extract? Be sure the microwave has been thoroughly cleaned and leave the door open over night.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
March 17, 2015

I set my micowave for 2-1/2 minutes and then ran to the hardware store. Upon returning I thought the house was on fire. I apparently set it for a far longer time. The food was charcoal and the plate it was on splintered into hundreds of pieces. I spent weeks cleaning the kitchen, but the microwave smells burnt when it is used. The roof of the microwave is black and can not be cleaned. Any ideas?

By topato

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
March 18, 20150 found this helpful

From your description, it appears your microwave may be shot. Even if it works now, you do not know what happened in the rather drastic burning event (!) and the oven may have a problem not yet apparent now. If it were me, I would buy a new one now to be safe.

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October 29, 20140 found this helpful

My microwave smells like old milk, but it's only 6 weeks old and I clean it every day.

By Kath

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 1, 20140 found this helpful

Try the following: Cut up a lemon put it in a cup add water to at least halfway up. Set the microwave to run for at least 3 or 4 minutes. Then let it sit unopened for a good 10 minutes. Carefully take the cup out (it will be really hot still) then wipe out all surfaces in the unit, including the ceiling, walls under the plate, the door etc...

If this doesn't work, take a box of baking soda and put in the micro and let it sit in there for several days. If you use the unit, take out the baking soda and then put it back in when done. Remember you can use the baking soda for other applications after... pour some down each drain followed by a 1/4 cup of vinegar. You can through a scoop of it in to smelly laundry.

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May 23, 20130 found this helpful

How do I remove burnt popcorn smell from a microwave?

By Lidia F.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 27, 20130 found this helpful

Cut up a lemon and put it in a bowl with some water. Should be half full. Cook until water boils. Let sit until cool. The lemon is a natural deodorizer. The steam helps the lemon smell circulate in the microwave. I used this method when I cooked salmon in my microwave. Worked like a charm. Hope this helps.

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April 2, 20130 found this helpful

My microwave was not being used for almost a year and now I've started using it, but it smells badly. I tried cleaning it using soda and then I heat on high lemon juice and then cleaned with lemon juice, it but didn't work. Please help

By Grace from Lilongwe, Malawi

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 8, 20130 found this helpful

You can try microwaving a measuring cup amount (or two) of vinegar-put the vinegar into a microwave safe glass container and set the timer for five minutes, ten if you use two cups.

If that doesn't neutralise the odor you need to consider the possibility that something has died in the concealed parts of your microwave. If you are at all 'handy' you can try carefully unscrewing the housing surround and visually inspecting the area for bodies. Mice are smaller than you'd think and have been known to squeeze into tiny places and die.

It happens, especially to stored things in a sub-tropical climate like Malawi's. You may need to replace the microwave.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

April 1, 20120 found this helpful

I burnt garlic in the microwave. I need help with the smell.

By Theresa B

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 11, 20120 found this helpful

Cut lemons into wedges and place into a bowl of water, turn on microwave and boil the water and lemons in microwave for 2 mins on high. The citric acid of the lemons soaks up the odors.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 27, 2013

How do I get the burnt smell of bacon from my microwave?

By Sharon

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March 25, 20130 found this helpful

Is it harmful to keep using a microwave when food has been burnt and you keep smelling the fumes?

By Marilyn W.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 9, 20110 found this helpful

To get rid of smells in your microwave, cut half a lemon up into several small pieces and place in a cup of water. Add a couple of whole cloves. Place this in the microwave and boil for 5 minutes.

By Lisa

Answers:

Freshening a Stinky Microwave

Have a stinky microwave? Just quarter a lemon and put it in a microwave-safe dish along with some water and cook on high for 2 minutes.

(11/22/2004)

By Robin

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 24, 20110 found this helpful

Lots of food smells linger in the microwave for a long time. To combat those odors and leave your microwave smelling fresh, use lemon essential oil. Just put a cup of water into a microwave-safe glass container and add 4 drops of lemon oil. Microwave the bowl on high for 2 minutes; keep the microwave door closed until the water is cooled a little, about 10 minutes.

By JodiT from Aurora, CO

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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