August 28

How to Get Burnt Smell Out of Microwave | 5 Efficient Methods to Get Rid of the Odor

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Microwave ovens are great and widely used kitchen appliances for quick cooking. It’s quite easy to use and also very convenient. You can cook, warm your food, and toast your bread with just a touch of its screen keypad. They come cheaper than convection ovens, as deals found here or in this review suggest, but some can be stylish statements, too.

But no matter how efficient this kitchen workhorse is, you may still experience some unexpected problems like burnt smells.

You don’t have to throw it away, though. In fact, you can recover from such a disaster by learning how to get the burnt smell out of the microwave oven, which I will be discussing in this article.

Causes of Burnt Odor in a Microwave

It’s a common fact-of-life that cooking greasy or oily foods in a microwave oven leaves behind a lingering smell.

Those odors can get into other food and even spread throughout the kitchen as the day progress. It’s not something you should allow to linger if you want to continue enjoying eating your food.

Burnt Popcorn

Popcorn tastes better when you microwave it. If you smell popcorn when cooking with a microwave, it is most likely due to the oxidation process of air conduction within the popcorn itself, resulting in a scent.

Oftentimes, the popcorn aroma can be quite strong even when cooking with a low wattage microwave oven as popcorn contains a lot of fat which is easily oxidized.

person taking popcorn

Your burnt popcorn smell can combine with the next meal to create a new smell. If you microwave fish, for example, and make a bag of popcorn right after, you may end up with flavored popcorn - not the greatest smelling snack by any means.

Other Food

When you cook in a microwave, you can smell the food coming off the microwave. This is because the food inside the microwave pumps out fumes and flavor continuously.

The sheer amount of heat exposure to your food such as coffee, fish, fries causes it to smell. This is also true of deep fryers and ovens where the food is being cooked at a high temperature. Microwaves heat food quickly, so it will begin to burn if you leave food in the microwave too long.

other food

Things You Need to Know Before You Start Cleaning Inside of the Microwave

When a food item like popcorn or a sandwich is burned and left in the microwave, not only does that smell linger throughout your kitchen, but it will be re-burned and smell more.

This will only make matters worse. The first thing that you need to do is empty or remove any burnt food inside of the appliance. Take anything out so that you can get a better view of what needs to be cleaned - see also 'Best Way to Clean a Microwave'.

You should not use a metal sponge to clean the outside and inside of the microwave. One of the reasons to avoid metal sponges is that they can cause you injuries, which is not what you want when you are in the middle of cleaning the microwave.

Also, the sponge can leave metal shavings on the inside of your microwave and if there are bits of metals in the microwave, they can heat up when the microwave is turned on and cause a fire.

sharp microwave

How to Get Burnt Smell Out of Microwave? Here Are 5 Methods That Work!

Method 1

To clean your microwave, all you need is a few basic tools such as a damp cloth, soap, and water.

You want to make sure that the buttons on your microwave are turned off. Pull the plug out before removing the microwave-safe bowl. Secondly, find a place that is well lit and free from distractions.

Use Soapy Water and Cloth

One way is to pour soapy water through a damp cloth and clean the microwave with it. Another way is to use a nice, soft dry kitchen towel. All of these methods are particularly satisfying and are safe for your appliance.

The key to microwavable cleaning is getting the damp cloth much deeper within the crevices than you would with regular cleaning. This will remove all the crumbs, coffee spills, stains, and food particles.

Wipe all these food spills, and do not forget the microwave ceiling too.

Deep cleaning like this takes time; you should plan ahead and make sure you have a pot of hot water ready before you start working in your kitchen.

soapy water

Drying after Cleaning Microwave

All you do is use a couple of paper towels or a cloth to dry your microwave. Dry inside and outside of your microwave. It only takes a few minutes, and most of the moisture will be dried away before you even get started putting your food in the microwave.

Method 2

Use Lemon

Lemon will soften hardened food spots, remove odors created by overcooked food, and help keep the microwave clean.

Place Slices of Lemon inside of the Microwave

Instructions: To clean inside of a microwave, place slices of lemon in a microwave. Set the microwave to one-minute time to heat them. The lemon will release its juice and vapors, into the microwave, loosening sticky food particles. When done, simply wipe with a paper towel - you can also check out our 'How to Clean Microwave with Lemon' post for more detailed guide.

Microwave Yellow stains

Use of Lemon Juice

Some experts recommend using lemon and water or lemon juice to clean the outside and inside of the microwave.

Instructions: Dip a cloth inside the lemon water or juice and clean the microwave to get rid of the burnt odor; including the microwave-safe bowl and door. You may need to do this a few times before you notice an improvement.

The odor will be completely gone, and all you will smell is the fresh scent of the lemon. This works every single time I've used it, and it will even keep ants out of your kitchen as well. I hope this helps someone.

Method 3

Baking Soda

If the burnt smell persists after cleaning with lemon, try baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda can be used to remove the smell of food. It is safe for use on your microwave.

Have the following supplies in order to use baking soda to clean your kitchen appliance;

  • 1 box of baking soda
  • 1 bowl of water
  • Cloth
  • A spoon
  • Water
spilled bottle baking soda


  • Fill a small bowl with water.
  • Put 5 spoons of baking soda and mix with a spoon very well
  • Open the microwave door and place the bowl inside
  • Heat the mixture for five minutes, keep an eye on it and when it starts to bubble over, stop the cycle
  • Let the bowl of water remain in the microwave to neutralize or absorb the strong smell. Remove the bowl after 1 hour.
  • Alternatively, you can use a cloth, dip in the mixture of the baking soda and water and wipe down the inside and outside of the microwave.

The process usually takes about 10 minutes to complete. Rinse with clean water and leave the door open to dry. Once you are satisfied that it is no longer smells like burnt popcorn or anything else, you can dry your microwave with a dry towel.

 Method 4

White Vinegar

You can use white vinegar to deodorize or neutralize the burnt smell in a microwave. Vinegar can be used to clean many things in the kitchen. It's anti-bacterial, inexpensive, and super handy for cleaning stains on the inside of your microwave. Also, it is effective against mold and mildew.

Vinegar + Water = microwave cleaner. This is one of my favorite cleaning tricks. You will need:

  • White vinegar
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • A cup of water
  • A towel
  • Bowl
Vinegar and water

Instructions for this Method

  • Fill your bowl with ½ water
  • Add 3 spoons of vinegar and mix very well
  • Soak the towel in the solution and start to clean your microwave

Using white vinegar and water solution will help kill bacteria and soften grease, making it easier to wipe or clean the microwave. This method is probably the easiest way to clean inside of a microwave.

How Do You Neutralize Burnt Smell with Vinegar?

  • To neutralize the burnt smell out of the microwave put the solution or mixture of vinegar and water in the microwave.
  • Heat it until it starts to boil
  • Keep the door closed and let the solution remain in the microwave in order to neutralize or deodorize the smell
  • Use a dry cloth to dry the appliance

The strong scent of vinegar will clear out any smells and leave your microwave smelling fresh.

Method 5

Use Vanilla Extract

Burnt odor can build up fast inside of a microwave despite diligent cleaning, and it usually requires professional attention. But there is one trick you can try to remove odors without calling in the experts- use vanilla extract.


To eliminate odor inside of a microwave, put 2-3 tablespoons of vanilla extract in a bowl filled with hot water. Place the bowl in the microwave with the solution, turn it on for 5 minutes, and let it sit for another 5 minutes with the door closed.

The scent of vanilla will neutralize any odors, leaving your kitchen smelling like cake batter rather than burnt popcorn.


Is It Safe to Use Microwave After Burning Food?

Yes, it is safe to use a microwave after burning food. The odor of burnt food can infuse into the microwave wall and tray.

This will make it difficult to use that very microwave again. In order to get your microwave back up and running quickly, use one of the methods that I have discussed here to remove the burnt odors.


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