Why Does My Microwave Smell Bad?

Jul 29, 2023, 12:02pm

The microwave is used a lot on a daily basis, and sometimes bad odors persist. They can be caused by splashes of liquid or fat from food on the walls.

Fortunately, there are fairly simple methods to get rid of these bad smells, with classic products, which you will surely find at home, such as white vinegar and lemon juice.

It is important to clean it often to prevent the food from picking up bad odors. To remove any smell in your microwave, you can use white vinegar and lemon.

Have you ever noticed an unpleasant odor emanating from your microwave? This common household problem can be both puzzling and off-putting, and understanding the underlying causes can help you address and prevent it. Here are some reasons why your microwave might smell bad and what you can do about it.

Why Does My Microwave Smell Bad?

Food Spills and Splatters

The most common reason for a foul-smelling microwave is leftover food residues. When food heats up in the microwave, it sometimes splatters onto the walls and ceiling of the appliance. If these residues are not cleaned up immediately, they can decay over time, causing a foul smell. In addition, if you microwave strongly aromatic foods like garlic, onions, or fish, the smell can linger for a long time if not properly cleaned.

Solution: Regular Cleaning

Regularly clean your microwave to remove food residues. For a deep clean, use a microwave-safe bowl filled with one cup of water and a chopped-up lemon, lime, or orange or several tablespoons of vinegar. Heat this for several minutes until the window steams up, then let it cool for 5 minutes before opening the door. The steam will help loosen any hardened food residues, and the citrus or vinegar will help eliminate odors. Wipe the interior with a sponge or cloth.

Burnt Food or Materials

If something has burned inside the microwave — be it food or a piece of packaging — it can leave a lasting, unpleasant smell. A burnt smell can also occur if you accidentally microwave a non-microwave-safe dish or container.

Solution: Absorb the Odor

After cleaning the microwave, if the smell persists, you can use baking soda to absorb it. Place a bowl of baking soda inside the microwave, close the door, and leave it overnight. The baking soda should absorb any lingering odors.

Electrical Problems

A less common, but more serious, cause of a bad smell from your microwave could be an electrical issue. If the smell is a burning or electrical odor, it could indicate that the wiring, motor, or other electrical components of your microwave are overheating or burning.

Solution: Professional Help

If you suspect an electrical problem, stop using the microwave immediately and consult with a professional technician. Electrical issues can be dangerous if not handled properly.

Old Age and Wear

Like any appliance, microwaves can wear down over time. Old, worn-out components can start to smell, or past repairs might have left odors that have become trapped in the appliance.

Solution: Replacement

If your microwave is old and the bad smell persists despite your best cleaning efforts, it might be time to replace it.

Why Does My Microwave Smell Bad?


For this first method, we will use a very common product for cleaning: white vinegar. You will need vinegar, water and a container.

  • Fill a glass with water of any amount. Observe where the water level is in the glass, as you will need to add roughly the same amount of white vinegar next. Pour it into the container.
  • Take your glass and fill it with vinegar, about the same amount as the water. Then pour it into the container.
  • Insert the tray containing the water and vinegar mixture into the microwave. Heat for about 1 min 30. With the heat, the mixture will evaporate and help deodorize the microwave cavity.
  • You can now finish cleaning with a dry microfiber cloth. With evaporation, the tray and the cavity are still a little damp.


The second method is to use lemon and a new or clean microfiber cloth.

  • Soak the cloth with half the lemon juice. You can put the second half if this is not enough.
  • Place the cloth well soaked in lemon juice and heat it for a minute.
  • At the end of the time, take the cloth and clean the cavity of your microwave.

Remember, a clean microwave is a happy microwave. Regular cleaning can prevent odors and keep your microwave smelling fresh. However, if you notice persistent foul smells even after thorough cleaning, or if you smell burning or other unusual odors, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure there are no serious underlying issues.