How to Clean Soot From a Microwave

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There are several things you can do to clean soot from a microwave.
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Despite what you may have been led to believe, using a microwave isn't totally foolproof. From time to time, an item can spend too long inside and end up a smoldering mess. Also, if you accidentally use a non-microwavable container, you can end up with similar smoky results.

After a small microwave fire, you may also end up with a sooty residue inside your machine. This can be rather oily and thick, making it difficult to remove with your usual microwave cleaner. Luckily, there are a variety of things that can be done at home to clean out a microwave filled with soot and a burnt odor.

Safety Precautions for Smoke-Filled Microwave

If your microwave is still smoking, the first thing you need to do is switch it off and unplug it. You don't want it to still be producing heat while something inside is smoking. You should also open any windows in the room to properly ventilate. As Healthline explains, any smoke inhalation can be inherently dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

After you've ensured the microwave has stopped producing smoke, you should leave it to cool before attempting to clean it. Microwaves can get very hot, and you don't want to burn your hands on the inside. Glotech Repairs recommends leaving it to cool for an hour before attempting to clean out your microwave.

Clean Out Microwave with Soot Inside

Your first step when cleaning burn spots in a microwave is to remove the majority of the soot. As it tends to have a slightly oily residue, using something like dish soap can help shift the bulk of the soot. Make sure you use a nonabrasive scrubber to avoid damaging the plastic on your microwave's inside.

After you've done this initial clean, you may wish to do a steam clean to remove any extra sooty traces. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with white vinegar and run your microwave on high heat for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool with the vinegar steam inside for 15 minutes. Wipe out the inside of your microwave with a damp cloth. This steam will cut through any greasy soot remaining in your appliance.

If you've tried the vinegar method and you're still struggling with soot in your microwave, you can go in with a harsher chemical cleaner. Reader's Digest and GE Appliances recommend diluted ammonia for removing burn spots in a microwave or oven. Make sure you thoroughly clean your microwave after using any harsher chemicals to ensure they don't end up causing issues with your food.

Remove Burnt Smell in Microwave

Even after you've removed the visible sooty residue, your microwave can still have a lingering burned odor. This can reappear every time you use your microwave and can be very unpleasant and irritating. To clear a smoky smell in a microwave, you should first fill a bowl with water and add rinds of citrus fruits. Microwave this bowl for 10 minutes, then leave to steam for a further 15 minutes.

If you've tried this and the scent is presenting, Good Housekeeping recommends deodorizing your microwave using baking soda. Simply fill a bowl full of baking soda, then leave it in your microwave for a few days. This will help absorb the burnt smell rather than simply masking it.


Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.

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