Eliminate the Burning Smell From Your Microwave

April 9, 2024
Microwave Repair

A burning smell in your microwave is a relatively common problem, but that doesn’t mean you need to put up with it! Whether the smell is caused by a food spill or an electrical issue, there are ways to clear up the smell and make sure it doesn’t come back. Let’s take a closer look at some common solutions!

Safety first

Before you start to work on your microwave, it’s important to be aware of the safety issues. Microwaves can be very dangerous to perform repairs on, particularly for the inexperienced. Microwaves contain a high voltage capacitor, which can store electrical charge and cause electric shocks—even when the microwave is disconnected from a power source! The shock can be strong enough to cause severe injury or even death. To avoid risk, don’t take apart your microwave and work with the interior components unless you’re an experienced electrician. 

Identify the source of the smell

To eliminate the burning smell, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing it.  With a systematic approach, you can identify exactly where the smell is coming from and remedy it. Here’s what to do. 

Inspect your microwave

The first step is to give your microwave a thorough visual inspection. Check for any spilled food, debris, or old containers. Make sure you check the walls, door, and underneath the turntable. Common culprits include:

  • Food spills—Leftover food particles and grease or spills are probably the most common cause of a burning smell in the microwave. If food spills or splatters, it will be heated every time the microwave runs, leading to eventual burning and unpleasant smells. 
  • Microwave containers—Using the wrong container in the microwave can lead to a lingering burning smell, even after the container has been removed from the microwave. Non-microwave-safe plastic and ceramics with metallic paint components are common causes of a burning smell, so carefully check that the containers you’re using in your microwave are officially microwave-safe. 
  • Electrical issues—If you’ve ruled out spills and incorrect containers as the cause for your microwave issues, an electrical problem is another possibility. In this case, we highly recommend either calling in a technician or replacing your microwave, due to the dangers of microwave repair that we stated earlier.

Deep clean your microwave

Deep cleaning your microwave’s interior is the best way to eliminate burning smells and ensure your microwave is clean and fresh. 

You’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Microwave safe container
  • Cleaning sponge or cloth
  • Mild detergent
  • Baking soda


The first step of a deep clean is to steam the microwave to soften any burnt-on stains. Here’s our favorite method:

  1. Fill your microwave-safe container with water and vinegar in a ratio of four parts water to one part vinegar. 
  2. Put the bold in your microwave and heat it on the highest setting for five minutes
  3. Don’t immediately open the door to your microwave—let it sit for a further five minutes so that the steam can soften the stains.
  4. After five minutes have elapsed, remove the hot bowl carefully, taking care not to spill. 
  5. Remove the turntable and the turntable mechanism and set them aside. 
  6. Wipe the entire interior with a damp cloth or sponge. The stains should be wiped away easily thanks to the steaming.
  7. Wash the turntable in your sink with warm water and mild detergent, then set aside to dry. 
  8. Check your microwave for any remaining stubborn stains. If there are any that won’t wipe away, you’ll need to use baking soda. 
  9. Make a paste from baking soda and water. 
  10. Spread the paste on the tough stains and let it sit for about ten minutes. 
  11. Use a sponge or cloth to remove the paste. If there are any that still need some work, repeat the process until the marks are gone. 
  12. Give the interior of the microwave one last wipe down and then leave it open to dry. 
  13. Once dry, replace the turntable. Your microwave should smell clean and fresh once more!

Preventing the burning smell from recurring

Now that your microwave is odor-free, you need to make sure that awful smell doesn’t come back! You can prevent the recurrence of the smell by adopting a few simple habits that keep your microwave clean and fresh. 

  • Always use microwave-safe containers: Check that all containers you use in your microwave are clearly labeled as being microwave-safe. Using non-microwave-safe materials can lead to sparks or plastic melting, which causes odors
  • Always cover your food—The most common cause of smells is food spills, and this can come from splatter. If you cover your food with a microwave-safe lid or a paper towel, you can reduce this issue.
  • Clean spills immediately—If your food does splatter or spill, always immediately clean it up. This prevents the food particles from burning with repeated use and prevents odors. 
  • Clean your microwave regularly—Keeping a regular cleaning schedule is a great way to ensure that tiny spills don’t turn into smells. The vinegar and water cleaning method is a great deodorizer and ensures your microwave stays smelling fresh. We recommend deep cleaning your microwave every few months, depending on how frequently you use it. 

Don’t overcook your food—Lastly, monitor your food’s cooking times so that nothing burns. Overcooked food is not only inedible, it can lead to the interior of your microwave smelling bad. It’s best to err on the side of caution; you can always put something on to cook for longer later, but you can’t unburn something!


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