Kitchen with white cabinets, built-in oven and overhead microwave.

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A Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave

Microwave filter cleaning and replacement: how-to guide

How long has it been since you cleaned your microwave filters? Most over-the-range microwaves have a grease filter, as well as a charcoal filter that helps reduce odors—but in order to do its job, it needs to be changed on a regular basis. Our guide will show you how to clean your microwave vent and keep both styles of Whirlpool® microwave filters clean, fresh and in tip-top shape.

A Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave and an electric range

How often should you clean or replace microwave filters?

The grease filter of your over-the-range microwave should be cleaned monthly. This filter helps keep grease and other debris from entering the vent system of your microwave so the exhaust fan can circulate clean air into your kitchen as you cook at your range. If the grease filter is dirty, the exhaust fan won't be able to do its job well.

Additionally, your microwave's charcoal filter will need to be replaced. Unlike the grease filter, the charcoal filter cannot be cleaned and should instead be replaced every 6 months. The charcoal filter helps minimize odors being released into your home as you cook.

You can continue to clean your microwave grease filter monthly, unless physical damage occurs. If your grease filter breaks, it is best to replace it as soon as possible to prevent grease from entering the vent system of your microwave. Once replaced, continue to maintain as recommended.

While cleaning and replacing the filters of your microwave is important, it is also recommended to clean your microwave regularly. Regular cleaning will reduce build up that may ultimately damage your microwave.

A microwave filter filtering steam from a boiling pot

How to clean and replace microwave filters

Now that we know the importance of microwave filter cleaning, it is time to get into the nitty-gritty. In this next section, we will cover how to clean a microwave grease filter and how to properly replace a microwave charcoal filter.

  • Phillips-head screwdriver

  • Dish brush/scrub brush

  • Paper towels

  • Dish soap

  • Baking soda

A microwave grease filter

How to clean a microwave grease filter

Your Whirlpool® Over-the-Range Microwave comes equipped with grease filters that help clear the air while you cook. While these filters are reusable, they need to be cleaned on a monthly basis to ensure that they maintain peak performance.

A plug and outlet

Step 1: Disconnect your microwave’s power

Make sure your microwave is turned off before proceeding.

A microwave grease filter

Step 2: Remove the microwave grease filter

The grease filter should be underneath your over-the-range microwave. Remove the filter from its housing by gently sliding or popping it out—no tools needed (if you’re not sure how to remove the grease filter, consult your owner’s manual).

A submerged microwave grease filter

Step 3: Soak the microwave grease filter

Place the filter in a sink or basin full of hot, soapy water. If your filter is exceptionally dirty, pour in about ¼ cup of baking soda. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes, or longer if necessary.

A hand holding a wipe

Step 4: Scrub the microwave grease filter

Once the microwave filter is done soaking, use a dish brush or household scrub brush to clean it more thoroughly. Use gentle pressure and take care not to bend the filter or filter frame.

A spray rinse

Step 5: Rinse and dry the microwave grease filter

When you’re done cleaning the filter, rinse it thoroughly in hot water. Let your grease filter air dry, or pat it dry with a paper towel or soft, clean cloth.

An over-the-range microwave

Step 6: Set the microwave grease filter back into place

Once the microwave filter is completely dry, you can slide or pop it back into place.

A microwave charcoal filter

How to replace a microwave charcoal filter

The charcoal filter for your microwave should be replaced every 6 months. The microwave charcoal filter cannot be cleaned.

A plug and outlet

Step 1: Disconnect your microwave’s power

Make sure your microwave is turned off before proceeding.

A Phillips-head screwdriver

Step 2: Dismantle the vent panel

Using a Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the screws holding the vent panel in place. Set aside the screws in a safe place, and remove the vent panel by gently lifting it away.

A microwave charcoal filter

Step 3: Remove the old microwave charcoal filter

Once you locate the microwave charcoal filter, gently remove it and dispose of it properly.

A microwave charcoal filter

Step 4: Replace the microwave charcoal filter

Replace the old charcoal filter with a new one. You can purchase Whirlpool® microwave filter replacements directly from When you replace the filter, make sure it is properly positioned and secure.

An over-the-range microwave

Step 5: Reassemble the vent panel

Once the new microwave charcoal filter is secure, position the vent panel back in place. Use the original screws to tighten and secure the vent panel in position.

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Explore Whirlpool® microwave ovens

Need to replace your current over-the-range microwave or looking to upgrade to a new one? Explore our Whirlpool® Low Profile Microwave Hood Combinations, with a space-saving design with plenty of room to fit tall glasses, wide plates and big bowls. Or check out our microwave guide to determine which size and style of microwave is best for your home, and then browse our countertop models or full listing of microwaves.

Explore Whirlpool® microwave ovens

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