Microwaves disasters happen. That awful, pungent burnt odor that lingers for days is a sure sign you’ve messed up.
We’ve all been there; a thoughtless oops quickly turned into an unforgettable nightmare. And yet no matter how hard you try to clean it away, the odor persists.
So what do you do? How can you get rid of that obnoxious smell?
It’s pretty simple. Pick a microwave-safe bowl and add a cup of water and one teaspoon of baking soda, stirring until dissolved. Microwave your bowl for 5 minutes on high power to clean it out with steam. Remove the bowl, and using a damp cloth, wipe down your microwave.
And that’s all there is to it. In this post, we’ll explore three easy methods on how to get burnt smell out of microwave. We’ll also explain what causes the burnt stench in the first place and share some tips to avoid such mishaps in the future. So, let’s dive right in.
What Causes Burnt Smell in a Microwave
If you have a burnt smell coming from your microwave, it could be due to many reasons. That’s why troubleshooting is critical before replacing an appliance that may still be functional.
Here are five possible causes of a burnt smell in your microwave
1. Cooking Too Long
Food can dry out and burn if left unattended for too long. Microwaves operate by heating water molecules, so when food is left in there too long, it dries out and starts to burn.
Always check on your food periodically while microwaving and remove as soon as you notice some parts browning or turning black. And if your microwave has a timer setting, use it! It’s better to err on the side of caution.
2. Overheating Your Food
When microwaving food, it’s essential to set your microwave at a power level appropriate for what you are cooking. For example, if you defrost meat or thaw frozen vegetables, don’t use a power setting higher than 50%. The same goes for reheating leftovers.
Use the low power setting, especially when heating food with low water content. Remember that microwaves cook by heating water molecules. So if there isn’t enough moisture in your food, it will start to burn and emit a burnt smell.
Constantly stir and flip your food halfway through to get all parts heated evenly.
3. Build-Up in Your Microwave
The most common reason for a burnt smell coming from your microwave is food debris and grime build-up on its walls and ceiling.
Over time, tiny bits of food can get stuck to these surfaces and start to burn, emitting an unpleasant odor. Use a damp cloth or sponge with warm water to wipe down all interior surfaces of your microwave after each use.
4. High Sugar Content in Food
Many foods have high sugar content, which leads to a burnt smell as they microwave. Bananas, potatoes, and all types of pastries have high sugar content, and you should avoid them when microwaving.
Sugar will burn quickly and produce smoke if heated for too long or at too high of a temperature. This can result in a smoky odor coming from your microwave.
5. Outdated or Faulty Microwave
Before you throw away your microwave, make sure it isn’t just an issue with its electrical system. Over time and use, frayed wires can cause arcing that gives off burnt smells.
If you smell something burning when you turn on your microwave, call an electrician to check your wiring. The same goes for any small parts like door latches or seals: If they look worn out or damaged, toss them and buy new ones before using your microwave again.
How to Get Burnt Smell Out Of Microwave
Now that we’ve identified the causes of a burnt smell in your microwave, it’s time to take action. Here are three methods to eliminate any odor and restore your kitchen appliance to its former glory.
Method 1: Steam the Inside of the Microwave with Water
Before moving on to more daunting methods, try a comparatively simple one first. You don’t need to incur any expenses buying expensive cleaners or other products when you could eliminate the smell with just steam and water. Here’s how you do it:
1st Step – Unplug Your Microwave
Before you start any cleaning, ensure that you’ve unplugged your microwave. You don’t want to risk getting electrocuted.
2nd Step – Fill a Bowl with Water And Place It inside Your Microwave
Once you’re sure, it’s safe to start the cleaning process, fill a bowl with water and place it inside your microwave.
The bowl should be microwave-safe and big enough to fit inside without tipping over. You don’t want it to overflow while steaming. Also, avoid using metal bowls as they might cause sparks or even damage your appliance.
3rd Step – Heat the Water for 5 Minutes
Now that you have everything set up, heat your bowl of water for about 5 minutes on high power. Three things will happen here.
- So Steam will form inside your microwave as a result of superheated water reaching every corner of your appliance.
- The steam loosens up any leftover food particles stuck to your walls. Also, it helps remove the burnt smell from your microwave by neutralizing its odor molecules.
- The burnt smell will get dissolved into the water.
4th Step – Let It Cool Down Before Removing
After heating your water, let everything cool down before opening your microwave door. This is important because if you open it too soon, there’s a chance that hot steam could burn you. Make sure to use oven mitts when handling anything hot.
Step 5 – Wipe Down Your Inside Walls with A Clean Cloth
Finally, wipe down your inside walls with a clean cloth to remove any remaining dirt or grime. If your microwave has a removable tray, clean it thoroughly.
For extra thoroughness, you can repeat steps 1 through 5 until you’re satisfied with how clean your microwave looks. However, if the smell still lingers after several rounds of steaming, you’ll need to move on to other methods.
Method 2: Use Vinegar or Lemon Juice to Remove Odors from Your Microwave
If you’ve tried the first method and it didn’t work, don’t fret. There are other ways to get rid of the burnt smell in your microwave. One such way is by using vinegar or lemon juice.
It’s a more inexpensive alternative to store-bought cleaners, and it’s easy to get your hands on. Plus, both vinegar and lemon juice have a neutralizing effect that will help remove odor molecules once exposed.
Here’s how you do it:
1st Step – Steam Your Microwave with Water
This is a repeat of step one from method one, so if you’ve already done it, feel free to skip straight to step two. You want to make sure that all parts of your microwave get steamed thoroughly to loosen up any leftover food particles or grease stuck to its walls.
2nd Step – Grab Some White Vinegar or Lemon Juice and Mix with Water
Once you’ve finished steaming your microwave, mix either vinegar or lemon juice with warm water. The ratio should be about 1 cup of water for every vinegar or lemon juice tablespoon. If you like, add vanilla extract to mask odors even more.
If you don’t have either of the two ingredients in your kitchen cabinet, you can always pick up some at your local grocery store.
3rd Step – Put the Solution in a Bowl and Heat It Up
Pour your mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and place it into your microwave. For best results, microwave for at least 5 minutes on high power. Just like before, superheated steam will form inside your appliance, loosening up burnt smell residue and the odor molecules dissolved into your solution.
4th Step – Remove Your Bowl from the Microwave and Let It Cool Down
After steaming, let everything cool down for about 10 minutes before removing the bowl. This will ensure that the steam reaches every inch of the microwave, including crevices, corners, and vents. Then, with oven mitts on, carefully open the microwave door and remove the bowl to avoid any steam burns.
5th Step – Wipe off The Microwave Interior Walls with a Clean Cloth
Now that the charred odor has dissipated wipe down your microwave walls using a clean cloth. Don’t forget about your removable tray. Let it air dry for about an hour before putting back into service.
Method 3: Deodorize Your Microwave with Baking Soda
If the two methods above don’t work, a more drastic approach may be necessary. This is where baking soda comes into play. It’s an odor-absorbing powerhouse that will make your microwave smell fresh and clean again.
1st Step – Make a Solution Using Baking Soda
To form a thick paste, mix half a cup of water and a tablespoon of baking soda. You want it thick enough that it won’t drip but thin that it will cover every inch of your microwave’s interior when heated.
2nd Step – Microwave Your Paste on High Power for 3-5 Minutes
Once you’ve created your paste, microwave it on high power for 3-5 minutes. You’ll want to ensure that all parts of your microwave are thoroughly covered with a thick layer of baking soda solution. This will help neutralize any remaining odor molecules and burnt smell residue still clinging to its walls.
3rd Step – Let the Baking Soda Sit Overnight
Once you’ve finished steaming, let your baking soda solution sit overnight. This will give it plenty of time to absorb any remaining odor molecules from your microwave’s interior.
Ensure you notify everyone in your household of a bowl of hot baking soda sitting in your microwave.
4th Step – Remove Your Bowl and Wipe down Walls with a Clean Cloth
Your microwave should be odor-free by now. Once you’re satisfied, remove the bowl from the microwave and wipe down its walls with a clean cloth. If you still have the lingering burnt smell, repeat steps 1 through 3 again.
Faqs About How to Remove Burnt Smell from microwave
1. Is it safe to use a burnt microwave?
If you have a burnt microwave, it’s probably best not to use it until you get rid of the burnt smell first. You can only resume using your microwave once you have removed all traces of burnt food causing the unpleasant odor. However, if any part of your microwave is damaged or burnt, purchase a new one.
2. How do you tell if a microwave is going bad?
If your microwave smells like burnt food, it’s time for a replacement. Other signs include frequent error messages, slow cooking times, and uneven heating.
It’s important to note that microwaves typically have an average lifespan of seven years. So if you’ve had yours longer than that, it might be time to upgrade.
3. Why does my microwave smell like burnt popcorn?
When food begins to burn, you’ll likely notice an unpleasant odor first. Many things can contribute to a burnt smell inside your microwave. Some common causes include cooking fish or other smelly foods, heating food for long, microwaving sugary items such as sweetened condensed milk, etc.
4. How do you make a microwave smell better with lemon?
Getting rid of the burnt smell of your microwave using lemon is easy. In a microwave-safe dish, slice a lemon in half and blend with a cup of water. Nuke on high for 5 minutes, then wipe with a moist towel or cloth. The citrus scent will help freshen up your microwave without masking odors.
5. How do you get rid of the fishy smell of the microwave?
If you have a microwave that smells like fish, clean it with vinegar. Pour one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a container with half a cup of water and nuke for five minutes on high.
The vinegar will help remove the smell, and any fish residue stuck to your appliance’s walls. Let it stand for 15 minutes before wiping down all the surfaces with a damp cloth or sponge.
6. How do I get the vinegar smell out of my microwave?
Although vinegar is one of the most effective agents for eradicating odors, it can leave a lingering smell in your microwave. The good news is that there are several methods for permanently removing the vinegar odor.
If you need a quick remedy, pop an open package of baking soda into your microwave while it’s running. This will absorb any lingering odors and leave a fresh scent behind. Alternatively, you can use lemon juice or citrus-based cleaners to neutralize odors.
7. How long do you put vinegar in the microwave to clean it?
The longer you leave vinegar solution in the microwave, the more effective it becomes. Removing odor for an average-sized microwave using the solution will take roughly 5 minutes.
8. How do I clean my microwave without vinegar or lemon?
If you don’t have vinegar or lemon on hand, there are other ways to clean your microwave. Try baking soda and water (or even just baking soda) to eliminate that burnt smell.
Be sure to let it sit for about 10 minutes before wiping it down with a sponge. And if the odor isn’t too intense, simply steam clean your microwave.
Microwaves are undeniably one of the most useful kitchen appliances. While the aroma of freshly cooked food is enticing and irresistible, it’s not always pleasant when the same odor gets stuck in your microwave.
Fortunately, as explained in our post, there are three methods you can use to get rid of that noxious burnt odor for good.
These methods include cleaning your microwave with steam, vinegar and lemon juice, or baking soda and water. The good news is that these methods have been proven effective and safe. So it’s just a matter of choosing which one works best for you.
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