How to get the burnt smell out of the microwave

Smoke be gone!

A microwave with lemon and white vinegar on a blue background.
(Image credit: Future / Real Homes)

We’ve all been there. You accidentally read the label wrong and overcook something or forget to check on your go-to snack and end up with a scorched smell in your microwave that just won’t leave. 

I can totally relate to your pain. I once caught a bag of microwave popcorn on fire and the smell really lingered. I went to clean the microwave a few days later and was shocked by how smoky it still smelled. It didn’t seem to matter how long I let the inside of the microwave air out or how many times I wiped it down, I couldn’t seem to shift the smell. And, worse still, it ended up clinging to everything I cooked in there.

After a lot of trial and error and quite a few hours spent scrolling #CleanTok, I found the answer to getting that hellish burnt smell out of your microwave. And, get this, it’s actually super easy to do. 

Good to know

Time: 15 minutes 

Difficulty: Easy 

Helpful hints: Don’t rush the cleaning process. Take your time and make sure that you get into every nook and cranny of the microwave, and try to clean it more often. Otherwise, you may find that the smell continues to linger. 

Here’s what you’ll need

How to get the burnt smell out of the microwave

Step 1: Wipe out your microwave 

Admittedly, a rather basic step but an essential one. Start by filling a mixing bowl with hot water and add a squirt or two of dish soap (make sure to opt for a grease-cutting soap like this one from Dawn) to it. You can then use this mixture to give your microwave a good scrub with a sponge or dishcloth — I personally prefer to use a Minky cleaning pad. The anti-grease formula of the dish soap should help to cut through any burned-on residue inside of your microwave, removing the associated odor.

Step 2: Steam the inside of your microwave 

Once your microwave has been fully wiped out, the next step is to fill a bowl with hot water and add a few drops of lemon juice and white vinegar (I always recommend this one from Heinz, which you can buy at Amazon). Place the bowl inside the microwave and zap it for five minutes. Afterward, leave the mixture to sit with the microwave doors shut for a further 10 minutes. Then, once you’ve removed the bowl, you can wipe down your microwave again. You should find that removing any tough burnt residue becomes far easier. 

Step 3: Remove and wash the microwave plate  

Next, remove the glass microwave plate and either wash it by hand or place it in the dishwasher to be cleaned. This should help to remove any leftover burnt-on smell. Dry the plate and then put it back inside the microwave. 

Step 4: Deodorize the microwave overnight 

To remove any remaining odor from the inside of the microwave, place a bowl of baking soda (I usually use this one from Arm & Hammer that you can grab from Amazon) inside the microwave, shut the door, and leave overnight. In the morning, remove the baking soda and the interior should smell nice and fresh. 

Once you're done, it might be worth spraying some air freshener around your home to banish any odors that might still be lingering.


Will the burnt smell in the microwave go away?

Yes, it is possible to remove the burnt smell from a microwave oven. However, it can take some careful cleaning to get rid of the smell for good. Don’t panic, because the tips above have got you covered.

How long does it take to get the burnt smell out of a microwave?

Getting rid of the burnt smell from inside a microwave can take a little time. But if you utilize the steps above, you should be able to get rid of the smell within a few hours.

How do you get smoke out of a microwave?

If your microwave is smoky, the best thing to do is to leave the door to the appliance open and allow the smoke to naturally disperse. FYI, if there’s a lot of smoke, you might want to open the window or door to get some fresh air inside. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.