How to Deodorize Your Microwave

The microwave is your best friend when it comes to reheating food or popping popcorn for a quick snack. But it can also harbor nasty food smells long after you finish off your microwaved meal. With a little scrubbing and some items you have in your home, you can deodorize a microwave to banish those overpowering odors.

Woman's Hands pressing button on black microwave for cooking
credit: Vudhikul Ocharoen/iStock/GettyImages
Your microwave can harbor nasty food smells long after you finish off your microwaved meal.

Air Out the Microwave

If your microwave smells like fish or another strong-smelling food that you just microwaved, airing it out can help get rid of the smell. Leave the door of the microwave open to let the odor escape. Run your hood vent to help pull the odor out of the kitchen. Airing out your microwave in this way periodically helps prevent smell buildup.

Wipe Off the Splatters

Food splatters on the inner microwave surfaces can cause the odors to remain. Wiping the microwave immediately when food splatters is the easiest way to remove the debris. The food gets hard quickly and can be difficult to wipe off once it does.

Wash the microwave surfaces with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water or vinegar diluted in water. Baking soda on the cloth can also help scrub away the debris. Don't forget the door and the gaskets when cleaning the microwave. Wipe the microwave surfaces with a clean cloth once you remove the food to get rid of the soap, vinegar or baking soda.

Deodorize the Microwave

Natural cleaning staples vinegar and baking soda can help deodorize your microwave. This trick can also help loosen any food that you can't wipe off with a cloth.

Pour equal parts of water and vinegar into a microwave-safe container. Add a little baking soda to the bowl. Microwave the bowl for three to five minutes so it steams up the microwave. Wipe the steamed surfaces with a clean sponge to help remove food and odors from the surfaces.

You can also moisten a sponge with water, soak it in vinegar and sprinkle the baking soda on top of it. Microwave the sponge for up to 30 seconds. Then, use it to clean the inside of the microwave.

Use Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruits do an excellent job of deodorizing, which makes them a good option for your microwave. For an easy microwave lemon cleaning hack, add lemon juice and water to a microwave-safe bowl. You can also use fresh lemons, squeezing the juice into the water and adding the lemon halves to the bowl. Substitute limes or oranges if you don't have any lemons on hand.

Heat your choice of citrus fruit and water for two to three minutes. Leave the bowl in the microwave for a few hours to help soak up the odor. Dispose of the citrus fruit when you're done.

Add Vanilla or Spices

If you prefer spicy scents over citrus, try using vanilla extract or spices in your microwave. Add about 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract to a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for a few minutes just like the citrus fruit method. Leave the bowl sitting in the microwave for 30 minutes or more.

Cloves work well for absorbing microwave odors. Chop up whole cloves and put them in a bowl in your microwave. You don't need to heat them. Simply leave them in the microwave to soak up the stink.

You can try something similar with a box of baking soda. Leave the box open inside the microwave without running the appliance. Coffee grounds are also known for absorbing odors and can be used in the same way.


Shelley Frost

Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.