Dec 30

Remove Burned Smell From Microwave {Quick Tip}

Remove Burned Smell From Microwave

Burnt popcorn -- I don't think there's another odor that will linger on in the kitchen longer. I mean, why can't the delicious fragrance of freshly baked cookies hang around for days?

Unfortunately, the odor I'm dealing with today is even worse... burnt plastic and charred chocolate chip waffle, courtesy of one hungry seven-year-old boy setting the timer for five minutes instead of 15 seconds. I cleaned the microwave thoroughly, but that horrible, overpowering scent endured.

In a moment of desperation it occurred to me that coffee grounds work well at absorbing odors. So I mixed up approximately two tablespoons of ground coffee with one-half cup of water and popped it in the microwave for about three minutes. Voila -- no more burnt smell!

If it can tackle burnt plastic, burnt popcorn should be no match...

Check out these other quick tips to save you time and money in the kitchen.

by Tara | 53 comments

  • Michelle

    Love this tip! Thanks for posting it--I'm sure it will come in handy with my two boys (8 and 9) using the microwave all the time!

  • Amy

    Such a great tip, Tara!! I love it!

  • tlb

    You might also like to try a more inexpensive route (sky high coffee rates) with white vinegar or wiping out microwave with a bit of baking soda diluted with water. Works great on those lingering food odors!

    • That's a great point -- you could certainly try those methods as well. I used the contents of a free sample that I received in the mail since I'm not a fan of decaf coffee.

    • Melanie

      The vinegar (3 times) is not working on the awful burnt popcorn aroma in
      our microwave (in our whole house!). We don't drink coffee, but maybe can borrow some from neighbor.

  • Diana Adair

    Great tip and smart thinking. Love the smell of coffee.

  • Linda Wilson

    Thank You so much had given up getting the smell of burnt popcorn out of a nice new microwave what a blessing...

    • Brian Richards

      Yeah, I just found this and tried it, and it seems to have worked. Had some teens burn popcorn to the point that the microwave is permanently discolored inside and I thought I was going to have to replace it. Vinegar helped clena some of the coloring off, but for the smell, if anything, it made it worse. This seems to have made a dent in it. Will have to leave and come back and see if I just got used to it or what.

  • Katherine

    I CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH! seriously! I burn popcorn like every single day. (my roommate thanks you too!)

  • Melinda

    I had something similar happen. It involved a brand new microwave, a newborn I was breast feeding, a deployed spouse and going back to work. Lean cusine is not meant to cook for 50 minutes it will actually burst into flames...... just saying lol.
    That microwave was never quite right after that, and it took weeks and everything under the sun to get the smell out. I never tried coffee.


  • Lisa

    Just wanted you to know that setting out about 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar will work as a deodorizer as well. Not to mention all of its other health benefits.

    • Vicki

      My son's girl friend put a cup of noodles in my microwave the other day and she almost caught it on fire, the odor is so BAD. I have tried every thing. But I have a question do you have to heat up the apple cider and if so for how long? Thank you. Vicki Hammond

  • Vlenrriques

    Great tip!

  • Katherine: Unemployed

    would this work with coffee that I brewed? like could I take my coffee filter from this AM with the washed out grounds and still remove the smell?

    • I have not tried it personally, but I'd think it should still be effective enough to work.

  • Jen Lanam

    Tara, as the mother of five I think you'll appreciate this story.

    My husband and I were sleeping late one blissful Saturday morning - very rare - when the oldest of our four kids burst into the room and said, "Mom, Dad - you might smell smoke, but I put the fire out, and everything's okay." (Not what I want to hear first thing in the morning.)

    When questioned further, he explained that one of our five-year-old twins wanted to make himself some instant oatmeal, and his seven-year-old sister helpfully instructed him to set the microwave for "two-oh-oh-oh" (twenty minutes instead of two). He followed her directions perfectly, which eventually resulted in a microwave fire - yes, oatmeal will BURN - which the oldest (nine) bravely put out.

    We still have a scorch mark on the back of the microwave, which makes me laugh AND thank God for the safety of all of our kids every time I see it. I'll use your coffee remedy for the smell next time.

    • LOL! Never a dull moment, huh?

    • JimBob

      It seems you are to lucky/blessed to still have all your family belongings, family photos, important papers, heirlooms, other things that could never be replaced.

      Allowing your 5, 7 & 9's unattended in the kitchen? You must have GREAT fire insurance. And allow your youngin's to practice regularly with your home fire extinguishers "just in case".

      Yes, I know you said you enjoyed a "very rare" sleep-in when all this happened. Hope multiple lessons were learned.

      Leaving small children alone around major appliances fueled by electricity and gas? That's hysterical!! Hahaha!

      And "scorch mark on the back of the microwave, which makes me laugh . . ."? Potential Darwin Award recipient alert!!

      FYI - I found this web page because my teenage son in a momentary brain-fart put a frozen breakfast item in the MW oven for 5:00 NOT :50. Now my house smells like a fire happened.

      • Jenn

        Calm down Jim Bob, everyone is ok. Things happen, you go to the bathroom, take the trash out, get to sleep in, and things just happen. You have two choices, either freak out and be an ass, or laugh and be grateful that everything is ok. It'll be ok Jim Bob. Choose laughter.

  • Sara

    My brother and me have been fighting the smell of burnt "something" in the microwave. It's been there so long forgot what it was :) I tried the coffee thing and it works good. Thanks

    "GOD Bless Georgia"

  • David Poole

    This tip was great. We removed the smell of burnt plastic that just wouldn't go before. Thank You!!!

  • Jean Grosso


  • Monica Oglesby

    My son burnt ramen noodles in one of those plastic pots from pampered chef...don't ask me how he did that. The burnt smell of plastic and popcorn has been lingering in my house for three days!! I am trying this NOW!!!

  • Phoebe

    I just tried this coffee solution, it helped a lot. Thanks!

  • brooks

    My daughter (10) put a cup of soup in the wave and forgot the water. The smell is unbelievable. I am going to try this. Now if I could get the smell out of the house it wold be great!

  • Kathy

    I burned wax paper covered tortia boats in my microwave, left in too long. we had to leave the house because of the smoke. I took the burnt mess outside right away. I tried the coffee ground method twice but it still stinks. I will try it again tomorrow and see if it improves.

  • Marla

    My daughter cooks garlic eggs which smells horrible. The first time she cooked them I was blaming our poor dog for making no no on the floor. She said it's her eggs. I apologized to our pooch. I used the coffee idea for the burnt bacon she cooked the other day which left us all gagging, it worked. I will use it after she cooks her eggs. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the tip!! I had burn plastic and rice!! 15 min worth of cooking time. Even after a thorough vinegar/water steam cleaning it still smelled. I think I will go through and do the coffee one more time but that should do the trick!

  • Renee

    Well, our household wins the Darwin award. My son in law incinerated a bag of popcorn in the microwave 5 days ago. It was AWFUL! So, I tried the vinegar. I didn't let it sit for 24 hours, because we use our microwave a lot. This morning, I found this site and thought, "Great! We all love the smell of coffee!" I popped open 2 k-cups (that's all the coffee I had in my house), smartly put the coffee in a small dish and stuck it in the microwave. Well, the house filled with burned coffee smoke and the coffee was smouldering in the microwave. Do you see what I didn't do? I didn't add the water to the coffee. Now our house smells like burned popcorn AND burned coffee! We may never recover!

    • Oh NO! Sorry, that made me laugh just a little. Hope you can get rid of the stink!

    • jill


      That caused me to bust out laughing! That is so something I would do.
      My award-winning moment was placing a frozen chicken Patty on a plastic lid & cooking for 50 minutes, not Seconds! Thankfully I realized it was making weird noises & smelling putrid riiigght around 4 min into the cook time. Still too late, as smoke is wafting from microwave. Oh. The. Smell.
      I just tried the coffee trick. Unfortunately I put it in a mug, not a dish. So now I have a glass tray filled w/grounds and water lol. What is my issue?! Ha!

  • Jeffrey

    Uncle Ben's Rice Long Grain & Wild rice. Comes in a box. Destroys the odors of burnt popcorn totally and my own my mistake i microwaved a sponge to kill the bacteria but i left it in too long. My house smells like almost like a french onion soup smell. I totally recommend it.

  • Jeffrey

    Uncle Ben’s Rice Long Grain & Wild rice. Comes in a box. Destroys the odors of burnt popcorn totally and my own my mistake i microwaved a sponge to kill the bacteria but i left it in too long. My house smells like almost like a french onion soup smell. I totally recommend it.

  • monica

    Um....the coffee gounds in 1/2 cup water for 3 mintues doesn't work! It actually boiled over and I had to clean my microwave AGAIN! So, not a good tip. Might wanna warn people.

    • Vicki

      I agree with you Monica.The coffee did not work for me either and it did the same to me. I have tried everything to get the smell out of my microwave. I hate to say this but I just might have to trash mine and start over without a TEENAGER in the house

    • Becky McAllister

      Ditto.. burnt coffee smell.

      • For those of you having problems with the coffee mixture boiling over, it sounds like perhaps you just need to use a larger container.

    • Audrey Rose Muratore

      I realized this as well, but when I went to do this again I put the cup in a bowl so it wouldn't get all over my microwave. It worked for me. I had to do this a couple of time, but it worked for me.

  • Lorieann

    Few tablespoons of cinnamon in a one half cup of water works WONDERFUL my husband went to "heat up " taco shells ...for 3 minutes :( horrid MESS ! I used the coffee but could still smell the burnt taco shell smell so tried the cinnamon with a dash of vanilla extract for good measure WORKED GREAT !

    • Vicki

      I tried the cinnamon and it did not help me at all. I even put cinnamon on the stove to get the smell out of the house THAT DID NOT WORK EITHER. I will buy me a new microwave before I try any more of these tricks AGAIN.

  • Lorieann

    PS to the Cinnamon in the water DON'T LEAVE ON MORE THAN 45 SECONDS TO A MINUTE it WILL BOIL OVER !!!!! And we are trying very hard to clean a mess NOT make one ! LOL, :) Hope this helps someone that the coffee trick didn't work for like myself.

  • Chay

    Wow JimBob - HARSH!!!
    I'm so glad you found a way to always have an eye on your children to watch every move they made and ensure your home's safety. That is a tip you should share with the rest of us. Well meaning children do try to please us by showing their independance. Little mishaps like these are lessons well learned and hopefully they will be able to make decisions without us some day. I have a burn smell of my own doing and I welcome any suggestions. I'll give this a try.

  • Joe

    The coffee worked for me. My 16 year old put her (non-microwavable) meat alternative in the microwave for 9 minutes with our plastic slotted microwave lid. She opened the door and saw the lid melting into the food and actually said "I don't think I should eat this".

    Thorough cleaning with detergent. Bowl of baking soda. Vinegar treatment. Nothing worked.

    Tried the coffee method....Unbelievable. I needed to do it twice, but that scorch is GONE! thanks!

  • Adrienne

    A co-worker of mine microwaved fish & stunk up the whole office. I used your tip & it worked great! Thanks!

  • Cathy

    What worked for me was wiping it out with a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rinse and repeat. The smell is almost completely gone. I'll do one more wipe down in the morning.

  • how do u get rid of burned chocolate microwave smells

  • shadowfax

    Can you use instant coffee?

    • I haven't actually tried instant coffee, but I don't see why it wouldn't work!

      • shadowfax

        Thanks. Will give it a try.
        I've tried lemon 1/2s in a bowl of water (2xs),wiping interior down with vinegar and there's still a lingering smell from my burning popcorn by following the length of time listed in directions. Big mistake. It really is an awful lingering smell.

  • Audrey Rose Muratore

    I am so going to try this! Today, my nephew forgot to put water in with his ramen noodles while cooking them for almost 4 minutes in the microwave! Completely burnt the ramen and the bowl was melted. Microwave smells so bad!

    • Oh my goodness -- I bet that smells awful. Hope it works for you!

      • Audrey Rose Muratore

        Oh it was awful, and smells like it over and over again after using the microwave. But this coffee thing helped a bit

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