It can happen to anyone. You overcooked something in the microwave and it came out blackened and burnt to a crisp. But now that you’ve thrown away the offending item, the interior of your microwave still has a horrible burnt smell!
Although a burnt smell can be difficult to get rid of, it’s definitely not impossible. Follow our comprehensive guide for our top tips to make your microwave odor-free once more!
Thoroughly Clean Away Any Loose Debris
Sometimes, a burnt smell might not even start from an overcooking incident—it can start from a spill. Spilled food may not be burned at first, but if it’s not cleaned up it will quickly become burned with repeated use of the microwave. Any debris needs to be cleaned up immediately.
- First, remove the turntable and give it a thorough wash. You can clean it by hand under warm running water, using detergent and a scrubbing brush.
- Use a clean, soft cloth and a mild detergent to wipe away any debris in the microwave cavity.
- Check to see if the burnt smell persists. If there are some stubborn stains or the odor is still there, move on to the next step!
Use Steam to Soften Burnt Debris
It’s best not to use harsh scrubbing on your microwave interior, as this can cause damage to the surfaces. If you’ve cleaned out all loose debris but there is still grime remaining, you can use steam to soften the grime so that it’s easy to remove.
Here’s how to do it:
- Take a microwave-safe container and fill it with one cup of water.
- Place the container in your microwave and microwave it on high for 5 minutes.
- Leave the microwave closed for a further 10 minutes so the steam can do its job of softening the stains.
- Open the microwave, remove the container, and thoroughly wipe down the interior with a soft cloth. This should get rid of all remaining stains. If any persist, repeat the steps until all stains are gone.
- Leave the door to your microwave open until it completely dries. This will also help the smell to dissipate.
Clean Your Microwave with Vinegar
If you’ve used the above two steps to remove all visible debris, yet your microwave still has a burnt smell, you might need to move on to deodorizing measures. A burnt smell can linger and be absorbed into the plastic parts of the microwave, but thankfully there are ways to remove the smell. Vinegar is the ideal choice when cleaning your microwave, as it is completely non-toxic and food-safe.
- Fill a microwave-safe container with four parts water and one part white vinegar.
- Microwave it on high for 5 minutes, then let sit with the door closed for 10 minutes, as above.
- Remove the container and carefully wipe out the interior of the microwave. Vinegar is a powerful deodorizer, so this will hopefully solve your odor problems.
Absorb the Odor with Baking Soda
Baking soda is excellent at deodorizing thanks to its alkaline properties. Most odor-causing compounds are acidic, so using an alkaline deodorizer helps to neutralize unpleasant smells.
To do this:
- Place a tablespoon of baking soda in a microwave-safe container, along with enough water to make a thin paste.
- Microwave it for 3 minutes, then leave the microwave closed for at least half an hour for the baking soda to do its work. If you like, you can do this and leave it overnight to maximize the odor-absorbing abilities of baking soda.
- Open the microwave and wipe away the baking soda residue.
Mask the Odor with Pleasant Smells
If you’ve tried all the tips above and your microwave still has a lingering burnt smell, you can try masking the scent with something that smells nice. Our top tips are vanilla essence or lemon.
- Take a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with water.
- Add something pleasant smelling of your choice, ensuring it is something edible. For example, you could add half a lemon to the water, a few drops of vanilla essence, or any other baking essence.
- Microwave the bowl on high for 3 minutes, then leave it to stand for a few more. If you prefer, you can leave it overnight before removing the container.
Use Coffee Grounds to Mask the Scent
If you don’t have access to baking soda, or you don’t like the scent of vanilla or lemon, there are other compounds that are good at absorbing odors that you can try. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, which is particularly good at absorbing unpleasant smells, including burnt smells.
- Put 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds in ½ a cup of water in a microwave-safe container.
- Heat it in the microwave for 1 minute on high.
- Leave the container in your microwave for at least an hour for maximum effects.
Use Activated Charcoal to Absorb the Odor
Activated charcoal is the gold standard for absorbing odors, but it is something you’re a little less likely to have on hand in your house. If you have tried everything else on this list and you still haven’t got rid of the smell, try purchasing some activated charcoal. Activated charcoal particles are incredibly porous, making them perfect for absorbing odor particles.
- Place a small bowl of activated charcoal in your microwave and leave it overnight.
- In the morning, remove the bowl and see if your microwave still smells unpleasant. If there is still a noticeable smell, replace the bowl of charcoal until the odor disappears. You may have to refresh the bowl with new charcoal after a few days of use.