How to Get a Burnt Smell Out of Microwave Ovens

A malodorous microwave can be quite off-putting, especially when you’re about to use it to heat your next meal. Lingering burnt smells can be quite persistent, making it necessary to take action. Luckily, a comprehensive steam treatment using a mixture of vinegar and water is often an effective solution to eliminate these unpleasant odors. Follow Food and Meal‘s article about How to Get a Burnt Smell Out of Microwave Ovens for more information

Burnt Smell in the Microwave

The most straightforward way to eliminate an unpleasant odor from your microwave is to address it immediately. Here’s how:

1. Open the microwave and carefully inspect the interior to check for any spilled or splattered burnt foods or sauces. Don’t forget to look at the ceiling of the microwave, as food splatters can sometimes travel upward.

2. Once the inside surfaces of the microwave are cool enough to touch, use a damp dishcloth or sponge that is not overly soaked to wipe down the interior.

3. This process is effective in preventing odors from lingering inside the microwave between uses. Additionally, leaving the microwave door open for a few minutes after cooking can help disperse food odors, even if you’ve had a mishap like burning popcorn.

Taking these steps promptly will help ensure your microwave stays fresh and odor-free.

How To Get A Burnt Smell Out Of Microwave Ovens
Using lemon

Vinegar Steam Treatment

Vinegar is a highly effective remedy for eliminating household odors, including those lingering in the air. Here’s how to use it to tackle burnt odors in your microwave:

  • Take a small glass measuring cup and fill it halfway with water. Add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the cup. If the burnt odor is particularly strong, you can increase the amount of vinegar in the cup.
  •  Place the measuring cup with the water and vinegar mixture in the microwave.
  •  Microwave the liquid for about 90 seconds, or until you see the liquid just beginning to boil, creating steam on the interior-facing portion of the microwave door.
  • If any time remains on the microwave timer, turn it off and leave the microwave door closed for several minutes. This allows the steam to coat and loosen any hidden bits of debris.
  • Open the microwave door carefully, remove the measuring cup, and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.
  •  The burnt odor should be eliminated, and any lingering vinegar smell will dissipate within a few minutes.

This method effectively removes burnt odors from your microwave and leaves it smelling fresh.

The Lemon Water Method

How To Get A Burnt Smell Out Of Microwave Ovens
Lemon water

If you prefer not to use vinegar and dislike its smell, you can still effectively steam clean your microwave using water and a lemon. Here’s how:

  • Take a microwave-safe glass bowl or measuring cup and pour in half a cup of water.
  • Squeeze the juice from a sliced lemon into the water, and then place both lemon halves into the water as well.
  • Put the bowl or measuring cup into the microwave.
  • Microwave the water and lemon mixture for a few minutes until it begins to boil, creating steam inside the microwave.
  • Afterward, carefully remove the bowl or cup from the microwave.

The steam produced by the lemon and water mixture will help loosen any stuck-on debris and eliminate odors in your microwave, leaving it smelling fresh without the scent of vinegar.

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You can use the lemon water method to steam clean your microwave as follows:

  1. Place the microwave-safe bowl or cup with the lemon water mixture in the microwave.
  2. Heat the bowl or cup for a short duration, usually around 90 to 120 seconds, depending on your microwave’s power. This will create steam inside the microwave.
  3. Leave the microwave door closed for several minutes to allow the steam to work on softening any stuck-on debris.
  4. After the waiting period, open the microwave door and carefully remove the bowl or cup.
  5. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the interior surfaces of the microwave.

You can also use the cooled lemon water to further wipe down and freshen the inside of the microwave. This method effectively steam cleans and refreshes your microwave without the need for vinegar and leaves a pleasant lemony scent.

Save That Lemon Water

Save That Lemon Water
Save that lemon water

The lemon water used for deodorizing the microwave can serve multiple purposes around the house. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  • After deodorizing the microwave with lemon water, save the liquid for its pleasant citrus aroma.
  • Place the cooled lemon water and the used lemon halves in a saucepan and simmer it on low heat until steam forms. Let it simmer for about an hour, keeping an eye on the pan to prevent it from running dry.
  • If you desire a stronger citrus scent, feel free to add more sliced citrus fruit and water to the pan.
  • Once the lemony water has cooled down, you can use it as a versatile household cleaner and disinfectant.
  • Dip a soft cloth into the lemon water and use it to wipe down various nonporous surfaces in your home, including kitchen appliances, door handles, and more.

Additionally, vinegar and water are also excellent for cleaning household surfaces. You can use the cooled vinegar solution in various ways:

  • Wipe down the refrigerator, glass windows, and mirrors with the vinegar solution.
  • Remove stubborn mineral deposits from your coffee maker by brewing a pot of vinegar water (without coffee). Afterward, run a brew of plain water to rinse the coffee maker.

These cleaning solutions are effective, eco-friendly, and budget-friendly options for maintaining a clean and fresh home.


  1. Q: What should I do immediately after burning something in the microwave?

    A: Remove the source of the burnt smell and open the microwave door to let fresh air in. This helps dissipate the odor and prevents it from lingering.

  2. Q: How can I get rid of a burnt smell in the microwave without using harsh chemicals?

    A: Place a bowl of water with a few slices of lemon or a tablespoon of baking soda in the microwave. Heat it on high for a few minutes to neutralize the odor.

  3. Q: Can I use vinegar to eliminate a burnt smell in the microwave?

    A: Yes, a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl can help eliminate odors. Heat it for a few minutes, and the vinegar will absorb and neutralize the burnt smell.

  4. Q: Is it safe to use commercial microwave deodorizers to remove odors?

    A: Yes, many microwave-specific deodorizers are safe to use. Follow the product instructions for placement and usage to effectively eliminate odors.

  5. Q: How long should I ventilate the microwave to remove burnt odors?

    A: Ventilate the microwave for at least 15–30 minutes by leaving the door open. This allows fresh air to circulate and helps dissipate the burnt smell.

  6. Q: Can I use air fresheners or scented candles to mask the burnt odor?

    A: While these products can temporarily mask odors, it’s better to neutralize the smell first. Use natural deodorizing methods before resorting to scented products.

  7. Q: Should I clean the interior of the microwave to remove the burnt smell?

    A: Yes, cleaning the interior with a mixture of mild dish soap and water can help remove residual odors. Wipe down surfaces, paying attention to any areas where food may have splattered or burned.

  8. Q: What if the burnt smell persists after cleaning and deodorizing?

    A: Repeat the deodorizing process using methods like baking soda, lemon, or vinegar. Additionally, check for any lingering food particles or spills in the microwave that may be causing the odor.

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I'm Kelly Atkinson, with a passion for dissecting the world of home goods. My reviews stem from thorough testing and a love for sharing detailed insights. Each piece I write offers a glimpse into my explorative journey, aiming to guide readers to informed choices with authenticity and precision, making every review a blend of exploration and expertise.

Production Manager of The Dinner Dude Division at |

I'm Mark Zoch, a culinary expert, Production Manager at Hana Hotel Travel Company, and the proud founder of "The Dinner Dude." My journey, shaped by personal and familial health struggles, has also led me to become a renowned health coach in Houston, where I'm dedicated to transforming lives through tailored nutrition and wellness programs.

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