M&M Plumbing

Family Owned & Operated in Olympia, Washington

Boiling lemons in the microwave can help remove old food smells. Photo: Yasser Abusen (flic.kr/p/f3v6xw)Boiling lemons in the microwave can help remove old food smells. Photo: Yasser Abusen (flic.kr/p/f3v6xw)We've all had it: a stinky microwave.

You know that smell: the spaghetti you reheated two weeks ago. Or the plate of salmon that now has your microwave smelling like a fish hatchery. But why does this happen, and more importantly, how do you fix it?

Microwave ovens have fans that dissipate heat from the motor and carry away steam from the cooking chamber. In the case of rangetop overhead microwaves, the fans also serve double-duty as the ventilation system for the rangetop. When you cook items in the microwave, the steam created carries the odor through these systems and makes it coat all of these systems. Once the smell is in there, it continues to be blown around by the fans. While most odors get weaker over time, oil-based odors (like fish) can stick around for weeks.

Here's a simple fix suggested by the website The Snug:

  1. Fill a coffee cup or glass cooking container with water and a few slices of lemon.

  2. Cook the lemon water for at least three minutes. You might need more time depending on the wattage of your microwave. As long as there is enough water, cooking longer won't hurt anything.

  3. Once the cooking is completed, let the lemon water sit in the closed microwave for at least another three minutes.

  4. Remove the cooking container and then scrub down the inside of the microwave with warm, soapy water, and then dry with a clean cloth.

The cooking lemon water creates steam that will be carried everywhere the smelly items permeated. This steam contains lemon oils, which will break down and destroys the offending odors.

Give this home remedy a try, and let us know how it works for you in the comments below.

M and M Plumbing of Olympia is always looking for home tips to help people with common household problems like this. If you have a home cleaning tip that you'd like to share, contact us and we may feature it in our blog.

Contact Info.

M&M Plumbing

Serving Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County

Business Hours
M-F 8am - 6pm

Emergency Services Available 24/7


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