Whirlpool® Over-the-Range Microwave in a bright kitchen

How to get a burnt smell out of a microwave in 3 quick ways

Everyone’s done it: you read a label wrong or leave the cooking to your teenager and end up with a scorched smell in your microwave. Whether you’re trying to get rid of the smell of burnt popcorn, indoor s'mores or another food odor, this guide is here to help.

How long does it take for a burnt microwave smell to go away?

Without a proper cleaning method, the burnt smell in a microwave can linger and even seep into the surrounding cabinetry. With the right cleaning technique, you may be able to eliminate the burnt smell in your microwave quickly.

It can take anywhere from ten minutes to 24 hours to get the burnt smell out of your microwave depending on the cleaning method you choose and the intensity of the odor.

Removing smells from a microwave: a guide

Quickly help eliminate burnt smells from your microwave by steaming its interior with water, followed by a thorough cleaning with dish soap. Alternatively, infusing the steam with lemon or vinegar can also effectively neutralize odors.

Explore the microwave cleaning methods below to find the option that works best for you.

Over-the-range microwave with an open door Over-the-range microwave with an open door

Method 1: Clean the inside of your microwave

Your first defense against odors is a good cleaning. Start with this quick and easy process before trying anything else.

Coffee mug inside of a microwave
1. Steam with water

Remove any debris or loose burnt pieces from the microwave, then heat 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe container for 3 to 4 minutes. The steam will help loosen up grime.

Person wiping the inside of the microwave
2. Clean with dish soap

Wipe the interior with a soft cloth dipped in water and a little dish soap. On stainless steel models, rub in the direction of the metal’s grain to avoid leaving unwanted streaks behind.

Person wiping the inside of the microwave
3. Rinse and dry

Rinse the microwave with clean water and dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Leave the microwave open for 2-3 hours to let it air out.


Learn how to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of your microwave.

Cooking tip:

Because microwaves cook by heating and evaporating the water in food, dishes that are dry or starchy (think bread or popcorn) are more likely to burn. Keep a close eye on your food and leave toasting to the toaster.

Method 2: Steam your microwave with lemon juice or vinegar

Some particularly strong odors, like burnt fish or plastic, may call for a little extra help. If cleaning your microwave using the steps above doesn’t do the trick, the acid in natural cleaners like lemon juice and vinegar can help to neutralize smells.

Select Whirlpool® Microwaves offer the Steam Clean option to help periodically clean up everyday light spills on the bottom of the microwave.

Whirlpool® Over-the-Range Microwave
1. Make solution and steam

Remove any debris or loose burnt pieces from the microwave, then mix 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of either lemon juice or vinegar in a microwave-safe container. Heat for 2-5 minutes.

Person wiping the inside of a microwave with a cloth
2. Wipe clean

Wipe the interior of your microwave and the inside of the door with a dry sponge, rag or paper towel to remove any remaining moisture.

Cleaning tip:

Don’t like the smell of vinegar or lemon juice? You can try either 4 tsp of vanilla extract or 2 tbsp of coffee grounds mixed with ½ cup of water.

Person pressing a button on the microwave Person pressing a button on the microwave

Method 3: Deodorize microwave overnight

If the odor persists after using one of the cleaning methods above, a longer term solution may help. This overnight method may help get your microwave back to smelling normal.

Deodorizer icon
1. Place deodorizer inside microwave

Place an open box of baking soda inside your microwave before you go to bed. If you don’t have baking soda, you can also use either 1 cup of activated charcoal or dried coffee grounds in an open container. Let family members know that they should not use the microwave while your deodorizer is inside.

Sparkle icon
2. Remove and reuse deodorizer

Let the deodorizer absorb odors overnight and remove it in the morning. While you shouldn’t use the same baking soda to cook afterward, you should still be able to use it to clean. If the cabinets above your microwave smell burnt, you can also move your deodorizer there to try and remove the odor over time.

Cleaning tip:

If the burnt smell is very severe, it may be trapped in your microwave’s charcoal filter, which normally helps reduce odors. Read more about how to replace and clean your microwave filters.

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With convenient Air Fry and Steam Cooking capabilities on select models, microwaves by Whirlpool brand give you access to quick and delicious results for whatever you're heating. From Countertop to Built-In, to Low Profile and Over-the-Range, Whirlpool brand has a microwave model that will meet your unique cooking needs. 

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