Woman taking popcorn from microwave.

How to Get the Burnt Smell Out of Your Microwave - and Your Home

Tackling tough odors in your microwave can be hard, especially when common culprits like burnt popcorn, plastic, macaroni or fish set in. Luckily a simple steam and a wipe clean will usually do the trick to deodorize and absorb odors, mild or potent. Follow the steps below to get started.

How to Clean and Deodorize Your Microwave

Even great microwaves need regular maintenance to keep spills and splatter from settling in. If you’ve been looking to find out how to get the burnt popcorn smell out of your microwave, it’s important to know that cleaning it before you deodorize it is an essential first step. A few common household items will make both cleaning your microwave and getting rid of unwanted smells easier.

Pot of boiling water

Step 1: Steam Water in Your Microwave to Soften Stubborn Grime

  • Add 1 cup of water to a microwave-safe container, then microwave the container for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Allow the steaming water to sit for an additional 15 minutes for extra softening power.
  • Remove the container and turntable, then clean the turntable in the sink or dishwasher. Check your microwave manual first to make sure the turntable is dishwasher safe.
Hand holding towel

Step 2: Wipe Out Microwave to Remove Odor-Causing Spills and Stains

  • Wipe down the inside of the microwave, including the door, with a rag or paper towel. For models with a stainless steel interior, rub in the direction of the metal’s grain.
  • For tougher grime, dip a sponge in warm water and scrub stuck-on stains using the rough side of the sponge.
Bag pouring into bowl

Step 3: Get Rid of Microwave Smells Using Vinegar or Lemon Juice

Let the ingredients you have on hand determine what you’d like to use to deodorize your microwave, and rest assured knowing whichever ingredient you choose can deliver positive results. The ingredient amounts will be the same no matter the size of your microwave, and you’ll want to dilute your preferred additive with water to create each mixture.

  • Lemon: Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of water, or slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the dish, then add both sliced halves to the dish. 
  • Vinegar: Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a dish filled with 1 cup of water.

Microwave the mixture for 2 to 5 minutes, then allow it to stand for an additional 5 minutes.
Wipe down the inside of the microwave with a rag or paper towel. 

Maytag tip icon

Make Your Home Smell Even Better With Vanilla

If you’re looking for a sweeter scent to fill your home, try adding 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of lemon.

Tipped measuring spoon

Step 4: Absorb Lingering Burnt Smells in Microwave with Baking Soda

  • Add baking soda to a small, microwave-safe bowl, then add water to create the mixture.
  • Microwave the mixture for 5 minutes, then remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a clean rag or paper towel.

If you’re still struggling with how to get odors out of your microwave, try repeating the steps above as necessary.

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