How to remove burn stains from microwave

Yep, it is possible!

A microwave with white vinegar and lemons on a pink background.
(Image credit: Future / Getty / Beth Mahoney)

Accidentally let a pot of soup overflow in the microwave or caught a bag of popcorn on fire? We’ve all been there. Honestly, it's happened to me more times than I can count. Plus, it's even more annoying when you actually have a nice microwave that you tend to use often.

One minute everything looks fine, you step away from the microwave for just a few seconds, only to return and find that all hell's broke loose, and the inside of your microwave now looks like something’s exploded in there, leaving scorch marks and burn stains adorning every surface. 

When your microwave ends up getting burnt and you're left with scorch marks that seem impossible to remove, it's easy to assume that the best course of action is to replace the microwave. Isn't it? But the good news is that, in most cases, you can usually get it clean — it just takes a little elbow grease, that's all. 

Here's how to remove those unsightly burn stains from the inside of your microwave. 

Good to know

Time: 30 minutes (don't panic, that includes time for the products to sit)

Difficulty: Easy 

Helpful hint: Try to make a habit of cleaning your microwave often. This will prevent gross smells and the chance of burnt odors ruining your other dishes and snacks!

Here’s what you’ll need

How to remove burn stains from a microwave

Step 1: Make the cleaning solution  

For removing normal grease and grime from your microwave, a solution of one part white vinegar (like this Heinz white vinegar available from Amazon), one part water, and a few drops of dish soap (Dawn dish soap from Amazon is my go-to) should do the trick. Mix these together in a bowl, ready to use. 

Step 2: Wipe down the inside of the microwave  

Next, dip a sponge — like these Homexcel sponges from Amazon— into the mixture and begin to wipe away any areas of grease and grime that you can spot. 

Don’t worry if darker scorch or burn marks don’t seem to budge, I've got a hack for that a few steps down. 

Step 3: Fill a bowl with distilled vinegar 

If after wiping the microwave out there are still areas of caked-on stains or buildup, the next step is to fill a microwave-safe bowl with distilled vinegar and a slice of fresh lemon. 

Heat the solution for two to five minutes in the microwave, until it’s steaming hot. Allow the solution to sit in the microwave for a few minutes before removing it so the steam begins to loosen any debris. You can also clean your microwave with baking soda for extra cleaning power.

Step 4: Remove the bowl and wipe the interior of the microwave down 

Next, remove the bowl carefully from the microwave (remember it will be hot!) and pour the vinegar away. 

Then, use a sponge to wipe around the inside of the microwave, removing any loosened grease and grime, before wiping it dry with a piece of paper towel. 

Step 5: Use a CLR cleaner or acetone to remove discoloration and scorch marks 

For getting rid of any areas of discoloration or scorch marks, you can either use a CLR cleaner — like this highly recommended CLR cleaner from Amazon — or acetone. 

Put gloves on, spray the problem areas with CLR or acetone, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then scrub with a sponge. This should help to reduce the discoloration and remove the scorch marks. 

Step 6: Wipe out the interior of the microwave 

Once you’ve scrubbed the microwave and removed the discoloration and stains, the next step is to use a clean, damp sponge to wipe the microwave out, removing any cleaner residue. Then, use a paper towel to dry the interior.  


How do you clean a black burnt microwave?

For removing black burn stains from a microwave, a CLR cleaner or acetone tends to work quite well. Apply the cleaner to the stain, leave it to sit, and then use a clean damp sponge to wipe it away. Just make sure to wear gloves while using these formulas. 

How do I get the yellow burn out of my microwave?

Placing a bowl of distilled vinegar with lemon into the microwave and heating it up until it’s steaming, should help to loosen any stubborn yellow burn stains. You should then be able to wipe away any staining using a sponge. 

How do you clean a metal burn in the microwave?

Sprinkle liberal amounts of baking soda inside your microwave, focusing primarily on any heavily burnt areas, and use a warm damp cloth to gently buff the interior. The baking soda should help to gently lift the stains, removing the burn residue. 

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.