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Someone reheated a stick of barbecued pork on too high a setting and/or for far too long. Now the inside of my microwave oven smells like burnt something. It gets worse when I actually try to cook something in it. How do I get the smell out? I've already tried washing the inside with a little soap and water.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Working in restaurants similar things to this happened a lot. Our quick fix that usually did the trick was 50/50 vinegar and water and boil it off as mentioned above. Lemon juice or even orange should work instead of vinegar for a better scent. At a guess, the more acidy fluids help break down any splatter that may have gone into the vents.

Hint: this is also great to do just before cleaning the microwave, even baked on splatter comes off easily after the steam.

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Sometimes the smoke and vapours make their way into the guts of the microwave via the vents (as Ashkan noted). So regardless of how clean the chamber is, the smell still comes out.

  • Try soaking a stick of cinnamon in a bowl of water and then boiling it in the microwave on medium for 10-15 minutes.

This should generate a decent amount of steam that should follow the same path as the BBQ smell. You may get lucky and have the water vapour and cinnamon grab onto the smelly stuff and displace them out of the microwave.

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10 - 15 minutes? Depending on how much water, and how strong the microwave is, you risk boiling off the water and burning the cinnamon. –  Joe Apr 12 '13 at 19:38
@Joe, yes, that does need to be monitored (and please, never stick your face to the door of a running MW). However, turning water into steam takes a lot more energy than defrosting the same amount of ice. I went by defrosting numbers to be on the safe side. –  MandoMando Apr 12 '13 at 19:48

After cleaning with a degreaser, the food particles and oils should be taken care of. Residual moisture can cause recurrent odor though. I would recommend unplugging the microwave and leaving it open for a considerable amount of time, maybe a day. If the smell persists then it's possible that food scraps have splattered into the vents of the microwave. I don't actually know a for-sure safe way to clean those components.

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I had this happen when my son cooked a pasta dish that required water in the dish but he forgot to put the water in prior to putting it in the microwave. :) I cleaned the microwave interior with a mixture of baking soda and vingegar and let it air out and then I boiled lemon juice in a coffee mug and let it sit for awhile. It helped tremendously!

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