Every once in a while, you’ll need to clean your microwave filter. Although hidden from plain sight, they serve a fundamental purpose: filtering out grease, grime, and other contaminants that might otherwise find their way into your kitchen.
Fortunately, cleaning them is relatively easy; here’s how to clean a microwave filter.
Turn off your microwave, locate and remove the filter from its housing. Fill a sizeable container with warm water and soap, submerge your filter to soak for 15 minutes. Once soaked, gently scrub away any grease or grime using a soft-bristled brush. Thoroughly rinse with hot water. Allow it to air dry before reinstalling it in its housing.
And that’s all there is to it! Your filter should be good as new. In this article, we take you through each step of the process. We also explain why it is vital to clean your filter regularly and what could happen if you don’t.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
What is a Microwave Filter?
Before we discuss why cleaning your microwave grease filter is important, let’s define what it is. This will provide context for those unfamiliar with filters and their purpose.
Simply put, a microwave filter is a mesh screen that sits between your microwave’s ventilation system and its exhaust fan. These filters are designed to keep gunk from cooked foods from clogging your venting system or blocking your exhaust fan, preventing them from pulling hot air out of your microwave.
The downside of having one in a microwave is that you must clean them regularly to function effectively. If you don’t, they get clogged up and stop working altogether.
Types of Microwave Filter
That said, most microwaves have two filters: charcoal and a grease filter. Let’s take a look at the two types in more detail.
1. Charcoal Filter
This filter traps food particles, preventing them from clogging your venting system or blocking your exhaust fan. It is located at the entry point of your microwave’s ventilation system. To access it, you’ll have to loosen a few screws.
It is recommended that you replace your charcoal filter every 3-6 months, depending on how often you use your microwave. However, never wash it or put it in the dishwasher, because doing so could render it ineffective.
2. Grease Filter
This filter sits directly below the microwave and captures grease from the exhaust air before reaching the air stream. Therefore, you must clean it regularly, or hot air will not escape from your microwave. To access it, you’ll need to slide out its cover.
Typically, you should clean your grease filter every 3-6 months. However, if you use your microwave frequently or cook greasy foods, then it is recommended that you clean it more often.
A Simple Guide to Clean Your Microwave Filter
Microwaves, as previously stated, have two filters: a grease filter and a charcoal filter. Both of these filters are prone to clogging over time and, therefore, you need to replace or clean them from time to time.
However, it is critical to emphasize that you should never clean a charcoal filter. Instead, replace it with a new one. On the other hand, you can easily clean grease filters.
So, in our guide, we’ll show you how to clean a microwave grease filter effectively and adequately.
What You Will Need
- Bar soap or dish detergent
- Baking soda
- Sponge, cloth, or paper towels
- Soft Brush
- A large container or sink
- A screwdriver
Step 1: Turn Off Your Microwave and Unplug It
Before cleaning your microwave, make sure it is turned off and unplugged. Electrical appliances can be dangerous if not handled properly. Therefore, always follow these safety precautions.
Step 2: Slide off the Housing to Remove the Filter
To begin, locate the grease filter in your microwave. It’s typically found beneath your microwave and is built of either steel or aluminum. If you’re going to clean your filter, make sure it’s dishwasher safe.
While Stainless steel filters are safe for cleaning in a dishwasher, clean the aluminum ones only by hand wash. Alternatively, check your owner’s manual for more instructions.
Once you have located your filter, slide the housing off to remove it from beneath your microwave. Depending on your model, it is usually secured by a clip-like latch that you can remove by sliding it up or down.
Step 3: Soak Your Grease Filter in Hot Soapy Water
In a large container or your sink, make a mixture of warm water and dish soap. Put your grease filter and submerge it into the soapy water for at least 10 minutes. Two things will happen during this time:
- The grease and food particles accumulated in your filter will dissolve into your soapy water mixture, making it easier for you to remove them later on during step 4.
- The hot water will aid in the removal of any mold or mildew from your filter, preventing it from re-accumulating.
If the soap and water solution does not remove the grease, add a cup of baking soda to the warm water and let it soak for another 10 minutes. This should now loosen up all of that tenacious grease completely.
Step 4: Scrub Your Grease Filter with a Soft Brush
After your grease filter has soaked in hot soapy water for 10 minutes, take it out and scrub it gently with a soft brush.
This should help remove any food particles still stuck on your filter. Ensure that you do not use a metal or stiff plastic brush, as these can damage your filter.
Step 5: Rinse Your Grease Filter Thoroughly With Running Water
After scrubbing your filter, rinse it thoroughly with running water. This will help remove any soap residue and food particles from your filter. If you are cleaning aluminum filters, be careful not to use too much force when rinsing, as these filters can scratch easily. Instead, wipe them down gently with a soft cloth or paper towel.
Step 6: Air Dry Your Grease Filter Extensively
Let it air dry for at least 24 hours before placing it back underneath your microwave. The longer you let your filter to dry, the better, as moisture is one of the main reasons grease filters become clogged over time.
Final Step: Reinstall the Grease Filter Back
Now that your filter is nice and clean, it’s time to put it back in place. Simply press down on both sides of your grease filter until it snaps into place, then cover with its housing.
Faqs on How To Clean Microwave Filter
1. Can you clean and reuse microwave filters?
Yes, you can clean and reuse microwave filters. Make sure to clean them regularly, approximately every month, depending on how often you use your microwave. However, if your filter still looks dirty after cleaning, replace it with a new one.
2. How often should you clean the microwave filter?
It is required that you clean your microwave filter every three months. However, this can be more or less frequent depending on how often you use it and what types of food you cook in it.
3. Do countertop microwaves have filters that need to be cleaned?
Countertop microwaves do not have filters that need to be cleaned. The microwave is connected directly to your exhaust system, and no special filters are needed. However, if you use an over-the-range or under-the-counter microwave, it might have a filter that will require you to clean regularly.
4. How do you clean a microwave filter with vinegar?
Remove your filter located underneath your microwave and place it on a countertop. In a large container or your sink, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with warm water.
Submerge your filter into the mixture, ensuring that all parts are covered by at least an inch of liquid. Allow it to soak for 15 minutes before removing it from the solution and rinsing off under warm running water. Dry thoroughly before returning it to your microwave.
5. How do you clean a microwave filter with baking soda?
Follow the same steps as with the vinegar, but this time replace it with baking soda. Soak for 15 minutes in the warm baking soda paste, then scrape any grime away with a soft brush. Rinse it under running water and allow it to dry completely before placing it back into your microwave.
6. Why does my microwave have a charcoal filter?
Charcoal filters are commonly found in over-the-range microwaves, especially those without venting. They serve as an odor filter and prevent small particles from escaping into your kitchen. Over time, they can become clogged with grease and other debris, which can cause unpleasant odors and negatively affect cooking performance.
7. Can you wash a charcoal microwave filter?
It is not recommended that you wash your charcoal filter. Washing your charcoal filter could cause damage rendering it ineffective and unsafe for use. Instead, replace it every six months as part of your regular appliance maintenance.
8. Can microwave grease filters be washed?
You can wash your microwave grease filters in warm water with dish soap except for aluminum ones. It would help if you never use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads because they will scratch and damage your filter.
9. How do I know if my microwave has a charcoal filter?
Most over-the-range microwaves have a charcoal filter usually found behind the vent grill near or on top of your microwave. If you’re not sure if your microwave has one, check with your manufacturer’s user manual.
10. What happens if you don’t change the microwave filter?
You might notice your food taking longer than usual to cook. Over time, food will burn and smell bad. You’ll also see black spots on your dishes or stains on your microwave walls. Changing your filter more often can help prevent these issues from occurring.
11. How do you get grease out of a microwave vent?
First, steam clean your microwave to loosen any grease that might have stuck in your vent. Use a microwave-safe bowl partly with water and heat for five minutes.
Then, scrub away any gunk accumulated around your vents with an old toothbrush or sponge. Finally, wipe down your vents with a damp paper towel to remove any remaining grime.
12. How do you reset a microwave filter?
After replacing your microwave’s filter, resetting the filter button is as easy as pushing a button. In most cases, you can reset it by pressing and holding down the button labeled ‘Reset Filter or Clean Filter’ for 3-5 seconds. And that’s it!
All in all, cleaning a microwave filter is not that difficult. It may take some time, but if you follow our guide above, you will have a sparkling filter in minutes.
Remember prevention is better than cure, and it’s always good to keep your home clean and healthy for your family. If you find that your filters are getting too dirty or smelly, it’s probably time for a thorough cleaning.
And if they have surpassed their use-by date (six months), it’s time to replace them with new ones. We hope you found our tips helpful, and remember: when it comes to food safety, never compromise.
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