While microwave popcorn may be the perfect treat for binge-watching your favorite series, burnt popcorn leaves a lingering stench that stinks up the microwave and even the kitchen. To rid the microwave of any type of burnt food odor, leave its door open for a while and clean the inside with vinegar. A steam-cleaning treatment or a bowl of baking soda can also help remove the odor.
Act Fast for Strong Odors
To remove a strong burnt smell, such as the odor of overcooked microwave popcorn, leave the microwave door open for a bit. Open windows and turn on nearby fans, as fresh circulating air helps dissipate the odor faster. Wet a clean sponge and pour a few drops of vinegar on it.
When the microwave is cool, wipe the inside down with a damp sponge and a little vinegar. Remove the glass tray inside the microwave and wipe it down with the sponge. Wipe down every surface in the microwave, including the inside of the door. The vinegar helps remove odors faster than they'd dissipate on their own. Leave the door open and allow it to air dry.
Harness the Power of Steam
Steam works wonders for cleaning surfaces like the inside of a microwave. When paired with vinegar or lemon juice, it also helps remove lingering odors.
To steam the inside of a microwave, pour 1 cup water into a microwave-safe glass bowl or food-storage container. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar, close the microwave door and heat the liquid for 2 to 4 minutes or just until the microwave window steams up. Don't leave it in long enough to boil. Once the window steams up, wait at least 5 minutes before opening the microwave door. Wipe down the inside of the microwave with the cooled liquid and a sponge or paper towels.
The smell of vinegar dissipates quickly, but if the odor bothers you, steam the microwave with a few tablespoons lemon juice or slices of lemon in the water in place of the vinegar. Citrus emits a pleasant fragrance when heated, plus the lemon helps cut grease, grime and films that may coat the inside of the microwave.
Freshen With Baking Soda
A box of baking soda can remove lingering odors from a microwave in much the same way it works in a refrigerator. Open the box and leave it in the microwave whenever the microwave isn't in use or pour 1/4 cup or so of baking soda into a shallow bowl and leave it in the microwave overnight. A bowl of coffee grounds or coffee beans also helps remove lingering odors. Discard the coffee after using it to absorb odors.
An Electrical Burning Odor
Sometimes, a brand-new microwave emits an odor that smells like an electrical fire. While this smell is a bit alarming, it's completely normal when using a microwave the first few times. This odor comes from the circuit board heating up. Once you've used the microwave a few more times, it should no longer smell.
If your microwave isn't brand new and you notice a burning electrical smell, it may be damaged. Don't use a microwave that sparks, smokes or that has a damaged electrical cord. Either contact the manufacturer's customer service department to ask about repairs or replace the appliance.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.