Trying to figure out how to get rid of a burnt popcorn smell in your microwave, but none of the regular methods are getting the job done? If so, go directly here to my instructions for more extreme burnt popcorn smell removal.
How to Get Burnt Popcorn Smell Out of the Microwave
When I hear light popping noises, sometimes I zone out and wake up crouching under the kitchen table in terror, pre-emptively covering my nose.
I suffer from a condition known as PBPSD (Post-Burnt-Popcorn Stress Disorder).
Popcorn burns SO QUICKLY, even if you’re not easily distracted. Even when you try really, really hard to pay attention, it only takes a second.
So if you are highly distractible (me!) and love popcorn (also me!), burnt popcorn is a given. It’s not long before you’re an expert on how to get the burnt popcorn smell out of your microwave.
Not only am I a master at the art of removing the typical burnt microwave popcorn smell, I’ve recently graduated to the next level. I learned how to get rid of the burnt popcorn smell from a microwave I thought for sure was dumpster-bound.
Yes, it was that bad.
If you find yourself ready to pitch your microwave into the nearest trash pile because you’ve already tried basic burnt popcorn smell removal methods, go directly to my extreme edition instructions here. I’ll tell you exactly what I did to save my microwave.
If it’s just a bad odor you’re dealing with sans major smoke and soot, try level 1 (below) first.
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How to Remove the Burnt Popcorn Smell from Your Microwave ~ Level 1
To Get Rid of Regular, Garden-Variety Burnt Popcorn Smell
aka The Method For Those Who Aren’t Total Distractos, Leaving Popcorn In the Microwave Until It Turns Black and Smokes Up the Entire House
When you slightly burn popcorn, getting rid of the burnt popcorn smell from the microwave isn’t that hard. It just takes a little bit of effort.
Here’s how you get the burnt popcorn smell out of the microwave (and your house) when you’ve only burned it like a regular, everyday, mostly-careful-but-occasionally-slightly-distracted person does:
- First, turn on any nearby fans and open the windows.
- Remove the rotating tray assembly and glass plate from the microwave. Put them aside to wash separately.
- Dampen a cloth with straight vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar but white works fine for this).
- Wipe down the inside of the microwave with the vinegar.
- Fill a shallow dish or bowl with more vinegar.
- Microwave it for a minute or two – just enough so it starts boiling.
- Leave the vinegar inside the closed microwave overnight.
- The next day, wipe it down one more time with vinegar and replace the rotating tray.
- Allow everything to dry naturally before using.
This will remove the burnt popcorn smell from your microwave pretty quickly.
For extra credit, remove the burnt popcorn smell from the rest of your house with a couple more bowls of vinegar placed around your kitchen. No need to microwave them first.
Hate That Vinegar Smell?
If you despise the smell of vinegar, you can use soapy water to wipe it out. Afterward, put a bowl or open box of baking soda inside the microwave to get rid of the burnt popcorn smell overnight.
Don’t worry, though, the vinegar smell doesn’t linger. It’s way too busy grabbing stinky burnt popcorn smells out of the air and eating them.
At least that’s how I assume it works. Sorry, I’m not even close to being a scientist.
Although I did tutor college chemistry in another lifetime. Not sure how that happened, but I like to say it because it makes me sound smarter than I am.
How to Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell In Microwave ~ Extreme Edition
But what if you are a popcorn-burning superstar? What if you’ve managed to create the mother of all burnt popcorn smells in your microwave? And kitchen? And entire house?
What if you – and this is completely hypothetical and totally didn’t happen to me about three weeks ago and totally didn’t inspire this post – microwave a new style of popcorn with teeny tiny seeds in your Weight Watchers silicone popcorn popper thingie (which, by the way, I highly recommend and immediately replaced after this incident).
And right when it gets to the point (much more quickly than usual due to the crazy-tiny seeds) where the pops slow down, something very important happens to Tyrion on Game of Thrones, commanding your complete attention.
It’s rare that anything gets my complete attention, but this was Tyrion.
I know, right?
Next thing you know, the burnt popcorn smell smacks you in the face and you manage to slam open the microwave just in time to avoid a fire. But not in time to avoid a little bit of popcorn smoke.
This is regular-level burnt popcorn as seen above.
But, Alas, We’re Not Done Yet…
Then let’s say, just for fun, that since you can’t live without popcorn while watching GOT, you decide to whip up another, non-burnt-tasting batch.
And because you’re a slow learner and because even more stuff happens to Tyrion – yada yada yada – this time, there’s actual popcorn fire. Not just smoke. Fire.
I’m not sure my compost pile really needed a blackened, rock hard mass of foul-smelling popcorn, but it got one that night.
(OMG, I just realized if my daughter-in-law reads this, I may never get to babysit my grandsons ever again. She doesn’t need unflaking, though, so I’m probably safe.)
Anyway, my microwave is like three years old. I really didn’t want to cough up money for a new one.
I Googled like crazy “how to get a burnt popcorn smell out of the microwave” but nothing addressed the level of burnt popcorn smell I had achieved. (Maybe I’ll get a badge or something)
After a lot of trial and error, trying different techniques and combining several burnt popcorn smell removal methods, here’s how I finally got rid of the burnt popcorn smell from my microwave once and for all.
How to Get an Extremely-Burnt-Popcorn Smell Out of Your Microwave Using Several Methods Combined
- To get rid of the burnt popcorn smell from your microwave, you’ll need:
- Apple cider vinegar (or white if that’s all you have, but apple cider works better)
- Several boxes of baking soda (if you only have a little, that will work for now.But you’ll need to go buy more)
- A magic eraser
- Some clean cloths, paper towels, and possibly Q-tips
- Once again, turn on any nearby fans and open the windows. If your house was anything like mine that night, I’m sure you’ve already checked this one off.
- Immediately place bowls of vinegar around the kitchen to jump start the burnt popcorn smell removal in the rest of your house.
Wipe Down the Inside
- Dampen a cloth with straight vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar but white works fine for this)
- Remove the rotating tray assembly and glass plate from your microwave.
- Put the glass dish aside to wash separately. Wipe the plastic assembly thoroughly with the vinegar.
- In a coffee cup or microwave-safe bowl, boil straight vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar, and allow the steam to cover the inside of the microwave. Let this sit inside without opening the door for 15 minutes.
- Next, remove the waveguide cover (that weird little piece of cardboard – and yes, I had to search online for the name of it).
- Wipe it down completely with the apple cider vinegar and dry it off.
- Using the vinegar-dampened cloth, carefully go over the entire inside surface plus the rubber door seals and the door frame. Most likely, this won’t budge a lot of the gunk (soot) you’re trying to get rid of. If it doesn’t, go to the next step.
- Using a damp magic eraser, thoroughly and carefully scrub the entire inside of your microwave. According to Mr. Clean’s website, it’s safe to use inside the microwave, even though it’s abrasive.
- Keep going until all the soot is gone. As you go, use the damp cloth to clear away the magic eraser debris.
- With a damp, white paper towel check the surface to make sure all of the brown soot is gone. This soot is responsible for most of the burnt popcorn smell. If it’s not completely gone, work on it some more with the magic eraser and the vinegar.
- Do one final wipe with the vinegar. Don’t dry it.
- Replace the cardboard waveguide cover.
After the Wipe-Down
- Place an open box of baking soda or a large bowl of it inside the microwave and close the door.
- In 2-3 hours, remove the baking soda and sniff it to see how strong the burnt popcorn smell is. If it’s very, very strong, toss that baking soda and replace it with fresh baking soda.
- Continue checking and replacing the baking soda every 2-3 hours.
- If the burnt popcorn smell in the microwave hangs on for more than two days, re-steam it with vinegar and wipe it down again, making sure you hit every nook and cranny. Q-tip the edges and any recesses, as well. Make sure to clean the rubber door seals.
- Once the smell is mostly gone, you can start using the microwave again. Replace the rotating tray and allow everything to dry naturally before using it. Don’t wipe away the vinegar.
- The burnt popcorn smell will continue to lessen over the next few days. You can speed this along by leaving a fresh box or bowl of baking soda in the microwave each night.
- Oh yeah – this may go without saying but make sure you get rid of the actual trash bag containing the burnt popcorn and any container that smells burnt immediately. It would suck to keep cleaning and cleaning the microwave, only to find out the odor is actually coming from the trash or the popcorn popper.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience. Like I said, slow learner…
And yes, that’s why I had to replace the popper (it’s much harder to get the smell out of silicone and for $12, I decided to move on with my life).
By the way, this is my extremely realistic and accurate Photoshop re-enactment of what occurred that night.
Recap: Removing the Burnt Popcorn Smell from Your Microwave
To quickly recap the two methods:
If it’s not that bad, you can get rid of that burnt popcorn smell from your microwave with these steps:
- Remove the tray
- Wipe inside the microwave with vinegar
- Place a bowl or vinegar or baking soda inside overnight and close the door
If you’re a next-level destroyer of popcorn, use this more extreme method:
- Remove the tray
- Steam the inside with straight vinegar
- Thoroughly wipe down the inside and door seals, first with a cloth and then with a magic eraser
- Continue wiping it down until no soot remains
- Place a series of open baking soda boxes inside, replacing each box when it has a strong, smoky odor.
- Continue renewing the baking soda until the burnt popcorn smell is mostly gone.
- Re-clean the inside of the microwave with vinegar
The next time (when, not if) you burn popcorn in the microwave, remember – vinegar and baking soda used separately are the best way to get that burnt popcorn smell out of your microwave.
And used together, they make super cool volcanoes.
Looking for More Help?
Need more cleaning advice? You’re in luck. I have lots of these little gems. Luckily for you, my own distraction and natural messiness has lead me to uncover solutions to lots of unfortunate issues.
To dig out of your overwhelmingly messy house, follow these step-by-step instructions.
If you’re just having cleaning motivation or focus issues, I’ve got you covered:
- This post will motivate you to get started cleaning when you don’t feel like it
- This one provides tips so you can stay focused and get the job done, and
- Here’s a post I wrote to give you hope when you’re depressed and struggling to stay on top of things
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