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Removing Odors from the Microwave

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 form the microwave.

Photo of a white microwave oven.
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February 7, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

Alright, my name is Haily. I'm 15 years old. So just recently, tonight, I got hungry and I really wanted macaroni and cheese. So, my mom got those little mac'n'cheese cups that go in the microwave. Well, being as stupid as I am, I put the cup in the microwave, forgetting to put water in it. I put it in the microwave for 2 minutes like they say. And well, it completely like melted, and burned the noodles to a crisp.

I was home alone, so my parents didn't find out at first, so I opened the windows and doors and aired out the house. But I'm worried about getting the smell out of the microwave. We have one of those wall built in things, and my parents said that if I couldn't get the smell out of the microwave that I'm paying with my own money to get it fixed.

Now I'm looking for help. Not comments from people telling me that I'm irresponsible.
So, please, help?


By Haily from Pittsburgh, PA

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October 21, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I think it eventually goes away on its own. The kids at school used to burn popcorn on a fairly regular basis -- and the microwaves didn't smell for too long.

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November 29, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Are you certain that the microwave is safe to use after an internal fire? If so, here's a suggestion.

Leave a large (microwave safe) mixing bowl, with a couple of cups of white vinegar in the microwave overnight. (Door closed.) The next day, add some water and heat til the liquid boils. (Watch closely, you don't want to boil dry and start another fire.) Don't open the door and let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Once the liquid has cooled to warm, use a clean rag, dipping it into the water/vinegar mix and wringing it out, to wipe down the interior. You may have to repeat the boil and cool routine.

If it smells better, but you notice the smokey smell returning after regular use, it's probable that there is more damage than you thought and the oven is damaged to the point of being a fire hazard. If this happens, unplug the microwave and discontinue use until it is professionally repaired or just replace it. It's not worth the electrical fire risk to keep using it as is.

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October 23, 20140 found this helpful

10.23.14 I don't have an answer and been trying to Google one. I just had to reply to this post because my 11 y/o daughter did the EXACT SAME THING on Tues and I'm trying to get the smell out of the microwave with NO luck. I can get the smoke out of the house, its just that every time you use the microwave the burn smell is emitted and that cant be healthy smelling that all the time.

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August 7, 2011 Flag
6 found this helpful

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.


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

August 9, 2011 Flag
3 found this helpful

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

September 27, 2007 Flag

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.

July 14, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

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.

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December 28, 2007 Flag
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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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August 3, 2011 Flag

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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March 17, 2015 Flag
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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

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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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November 8, 2011 Flag
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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

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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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April 2, 2012 Flag

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.

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October 29, 2014 Flag
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My microwave smells like old milk, but it's only 6 weeks old and I clean it every day.

By Kath

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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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