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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.
Here are several ways to clean a burnt microwave.
Did you leave that microwave popcorn in there too long? Do you have a brown, yucky mess? I did too! I tried one tip that barely worked, then I remembered using something to clean off the soot on the inside of my wood stove window: Simple Green.
Yes, it's simple and it's in a green can. I like the fact that it's also non-acidic, non-toxic, and bio-degradable. And boy does it work! I used it to get off the brown stains in my microwave from really OLD popcorn. I sprayed it on, waited 2 minutes (if that), and wiped with a paper towel and that was it. No more brown stains! Hallelujah for Simple Green.
By Dustie Jackson from Tuscola, TX
The finger nail polish remover, acetone, to remove the yellow burnt stains works! Also, using it direct on a flat cosmetic swabs worked best, believe or not. Use your knuckles in the swab and quick strokes with the swab worked best. It will take a few times over, but now it looks like brand new.
Grandma burned some previously cooked chicken in the microwave, attempting to recycle it for the dog. Bad idea. Came home to billows of smoke and ghastly smell. The house cleared with airing and orange oil air fresheners. The microwave was more difficult. I cleaned the stains with nail polish remover (thank you!) followed by baking soda and water baths. Boiled vinegar (some better), followed by boiling water with lemon oil and vanilla several times a day. Everything helps a bit, but if it doesn't clear in another day or two, will soon be microwave shopping.
I have had this problem numerous times, mostly from burned popcorn, but today, from a burned brownie (the kind that come with microwaveable meals, I cut out the section with the brownie one day when I didn't want the brownie, and saved it for later, but when I tried to cook just the brownie portion today, I didn't adjust the cook time, and voila, instant house filled with thick smoke that smelled like pure burnt sugar).
I tried everything, from vinegar with baking soda to Windex to orange scented cleanser to Pine-Sol, and nothing worked to kill the lingering smell inside the microwave. I refused to admit defeat, because it's a brand new microwave! I'll save my rant about the popcorn button on it for some other forum, let's just say, the only way I can cook popcorn without burning it is to underpop the stuff. The microwave is too powerful for it's own good, and even reducing the power level doesn't help, because then the popcorn stops and starts popping a lot, which results in disaster.
Finally, I thought of something: Coffee absorbs odors! I put two tablespoons of freshly ground coffee into a ceramic coffee cup, and added enough water to bring it to about half full. When you do this, be sure to sit the coffee mug down into a microwave-safe ceramic or glass bowl or something, because it boils over all over the place). Put that in the microwave and nuke it for about two minutes (long enough for it to boil all over the place, or preferably into the bowl). It will splash out around the microwave some, but that's a good thing in my opinion!
Open the door, carefully remove the bowl and mug (carefully! It was boiling a second ago, remember?!) and sit it gently down into the sink to cool. Immediately wipe out the microwave with a damp cloth or paper towels, and if you have a pool of liquid in the bottom of the microwave, use a handful of paper towels to soak it up so you don't get any on yourself and burn yourself.
After you've wiped it all clean, poke your head in and smell the inside of the microwave. Smell anything other than a little coffee smell? Repeat if you need to, I had to do it twice, but the smell seems to be gone now!
I also wiped the inside down with some windex afterward to be sure I got all the coffee to prevent coffee stains.
By Lisa S.
Cleaning products used in a microwave can leave stains and odors, if the oven is inadvertently used prior to rinsing them off. This is a guide about cleaning chemicals burnt into microwave.
Thanks for all the great suggestions. Vinegar and lemons didn't really help. Neither did the coffee. A Hot Pocket burnt to charcoal as was the plate.
On hearing the suggestions to cook food, I popped four bags of popcorn and right now anyway, that's the predominant smell. I am also perking coffee on the stove below. The house now smells like popcorn and coffee, far better than burnt charcoal. I'm going to continue to pop popcorn and get some bacon to cook. Also I used an erase away pad on the yellowed interior. It is almost perfect. I will get Simple Green. Thanks again.
My son tried to burn up my Microwave the other day with microwave popcorn. It has been almost 1 month and I still can't get the smell out of my microwave. I've cleaned, scrubbed it. I even put a lemon in water and turn it on for 1 minute increments. It didn't help. I would appreciate any and all helpful hints. Really am getting tired of the smell.
Karen in PA
By Kerry Brown
I came here this afternoon to ask the same question about a yellow/brown stain from popcorn in my microwave. I got a new microwave two years ago today. About a week later I tried out the "popcorn" button that was supposed to be pre-programmed for a store-bought bag of microwave popcorn. Well, instead of yummy popcorn, I got a burning mess that left a brown/yellow stain on the whole left inside wall of the oven.
I was really upset! I tried everything, oxiclean, bleach, baking soda, you name it. The smell went away within a few days of cooking, but the stain lasted. I had a service guy here from the manufacturer for another problem with the microwave and he said "Oh, you'll never get rid of that popcorn stain".
As I said, I came here today to ask about getting rid of the stain. I tried acetone and it worked! I used cotton balls, a sponge and then a "scotch-brite" pad (the green nylon things that don't scratch) and it's gone! My microwave looks as good as new!
Thank you so much for the suggestions here and to whomever keeps this board/site running. What a great resource! By the way, when the stain was all gone, I soaked a washcloth with vinegar and wiped all the inside surfaces with it. Then I used some soap and water on the inside surfaces. I let that dry, then did the little trick with the vanilla and the inside smells fresh, no harsh odors, and the food cooked in the microwave came out smelling/tasting "normal".
Thanks again! (02/19/2006)
By Bob #3
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I was heating a dry towel in my microwave and the towel burnt and left burn marks on the inside of the microwave. I put baking soda and vinegar inside to take away the odor. It doesn't have an odor unless I have something something in for longer than 5 minutes, then the microwave has that burnt smell. I'm sure it's because I can't get the burnt marks off. I've tried a baking soda paste and even a soapy Brillo pad, but I just can't get the stains off. Is there anything short of buying a new microwave that someone could suggest?
By Nancy W.
We had a burn mark in our new microwave due to a small metal tie around a package of frozen hamburger rolls. We tried all the products we learned on the internet. Nothing worked. I then remembered the Quixx scratch remover I had bought for a scratch on our car. I followed the directions and it really removed the burn mark and all the discoloration. We were amazed.
I burned popcorn in my microwave and the inside is now stained yellow. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get this out?
How do I clean a microwave oven that had a burnt popcorn melt down? There are lots of yellow areas that look horrible.
There are a few things you can do. A 2 tablespoons of ground coffee in some water and mix it in a bowl ( 1/2-2/3) the way full or use fresh coffee you've already made in a cup put it in the microwave for a few minutes (let it boil over. It will spill clean it. You may need to do this twice but coffee removes Odor. It should work.
But if you don't want the mess of that, get a product called simple green (at Walgreens and most hardware and home improvement stores) spray it, let it sit for a few minutes and wipe clean. Also nail polish remover will get rid of the yellow stains.
Hope that helps!
I wouldn't use acetone around a heat source, that could be very dangerous! To remove odors, put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl with a cup or two of water, and let it go on high for about 5 mins. This should help take the smell away. Remove the bowl carefully! Now your oven is nice and moist, and will be easy to wipe down with a bit of vinegar and/or lemon juice. No chemicals, no cost. By the way, a plain bag of popcorn is so much cheaper and healthier, not to mention you can flavor it in so many ways if you do it yourself on the stovetop.
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The inside of my microwave got very burnt, a microwave rice cooker burnt to cinders. It is very brown and burnt on the inside. What can I clean it with to get rid of the burnt look?
Patricia from Miami, Florida
I used a vinegar, water, and lemon juice spray first then scrubbed the hard to get off spots with a paste of baking soda and water using a toothbrush. It worked pretty well. I then left a bowl of baking soda in the microwave for a few days, that helped with the smell. (06/20/2007)
I wiped down the microwave with the nail polish remover 5 times and with Simple Green 2 times. They helped with the cavity of the micro, but not the air ventilation system, where the burnt smell stays. I tried the coffee grounds idea and did it twice for thoroughness. I have no more smell. The coffee method did leave a coating of coffee inside the cavity, but I just Windexed and wiped, and now I'm good as new. (09/16/2007)
As far as the odor, put it outside for a couple of days. This worked for us when our daughter burned Canadian bacon in ours. (11/03/2007)
After burning up a bag of popcorn, the stench was horrific. I thought I'd surely have to just replace the microwave. So, I tried the acetone. Took the yellow right off. Then I put a couple tablespoons of coffee in a mug, filled it half full of water; set that in another microwave bowl and let it go for 2 minutes on high. Smell is gone now too. I merely wiped it out with a damp soft towel and all is well in microwave land again. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. (02/17/2008)
OK, so the acetone works well inside the microwave, but the smell didn't seem to be leaving the area. I realized it was because the vent fan circulated the burnt popcorn smell as well. Turning the fan on to high and sending some Febreze mist right into the intake (bottom of microwave above the stove top) seems to do the trick if you keep spraying some in every 5 minutes or so. (06/25/2008)
I well-overcooked the microwave popcorn. Thanks to all for the finger-nail polish remover. The microwave was badly yellowed and the nail polish did the trick. We used non-acetone and it worked just fine. For the smell, we heated the cut lemons, but still had a smell of hot lemon and nail polish smell, so I added some Cascade dishwashing liquid with lemon scent, just a few drops into the bowl with the lemons. Now we've got a clean detergent smell. Hope this last step helps someone else. PMV (07/14/2008)