Microwave Hacks #3: Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell

Most people love popcorn and make it in the microwave. However, sometimes things get out of hand and you end up with burnt popcorn, which takes a while to leave your microwave. So, what should you do to remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave?

To get rid of the smell of burnt popcorn from the microwave, combine lemon and water and heat up the mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes. Wait for 5 minutes, then wipe the interior of the microwave with a damp cloth or sponge. Fully dry with a dry cloth or paper towel.

There are many things that you can do to remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave. To find out about them and the reasons why the smell of burnt popcorn stays in our microwave for so long, keep reading.

How to Get Rid of Burnt Popcorn Smell

To get rid of the burnt popcorn smell in your microwave, you can do a few things. There are 4 main ways to remove the burnt popcorn smell in your microwave, but there are other things that you can do if they don’t work or you don’t have a lot of time to spend cleaning your microwave. Let’s talk about them.

Lemon and Water

  1. Put 1/2 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cut a lemon or orange in half. You can use another citrus fruit if you want to, but most people use lemons or oranges.
  3. Squeeze the lemon or orange halves into the water.
  4. Place the entire fruit into the water, rinds, and all.
  5. Put the bowl into the microwave.
  6. Microwave mixture for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Wait for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Remove the bowl from the microwave. You may need to use an oven mitt, as the bowl will be hot.
  9. Wipe the inside of the microwave with a damp cloth or sponge. Don’t forget to wipe down the door.
  10. Remove any stubborn food residue from the microwave. If necessary, use a scrub brush.
  11. Dry the microwave with a dry cloth or paper towel. The burnt popcorn smell should be gone.

If you want to really concentrate the steam to ensure the smell of burnt popcorn goes away, use a steam-concentrating product like the Angry Mamma. Simply put the citrus-water mixture in the device and start the microwave.

If you use this microwave cleaning method, your microwave and kitchen will smell like the fruit you put in the water, overpowering and eliminating the smell of burnt popcorn.

Baking Soda and Water

  1. Put a spoonful of baking soda into a relatively shallow bowl of water (you should use less than 1 cup).
  2. Mix until they combine to make a thick liquid. If the mixture forms a paste, add more water.
  3. Microwave the mixture for 5 minutes.
  4. Let the mixture cool for 1 hour in the microwave.
  5. Remove the bowl from the microwave. It may be hot.
  6. Wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Coffee Grounds and Water

Surprisingly, coffee grounds are great at removing the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave. Luckily, most people prefer the smell of coffee over the smell of burnt popcorn. Here’s how to use coffee to remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave.

  1. Put about 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Mix.
  3. Microwave the mixture together for 3 minutes.
  4. Let the bowl sit in the microwave for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Take the bowl out of the microwave. It may be hot, so use oven mitts.
  6. Wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Vinegar and Water

Keep in mind that if you use vinegar to clean your microwave, it will smell like vinegar for at least a few hours to a few days. At least the smell of burnt popcorn will be gone or covered by the smell of vinegar.

  1. Mix together 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1/2 of water in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  3. Let sit for 5-15 minutes.
  4. Wipe down the interior of the microwave with a damp cloth or paper towel. Dry with a dry cloth or paper towel if needed.

Miscellaneous Methods

While all of the previously mentioned methods will likely remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave, they might not completely work. If any of these methods don’t work, try the following things.

If the coffee method doesn’t work, put a box of baking soda in your microwave. Leave it in the microwave overnight, then take it out when you wake up in the morning.

If you cook other things in the microwave, especially if they have a strong smell, the smell of burnt popcorn will go away or be covered by the smell of your new food. Just don’t microwave fish, as then you will be left to deal with the smell of old fish, which is never pleasant. Pizza is a good food to microwave if you want to cover or get rid of the smell of burnt popcorn, but cinnamon rolls, various pastries, bacon, and various types of soup also work well.

Why Does the Smell of Burnt Popcorn Last for so Long?

The smell of burnt popcorn seems to last forever because of the aroma found in popcorn and the various materials that are used to help you make popcorn.

Popcorn has an aroma compound called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. When the aroma is heated normally, it smells really good, which is one of the reasons why popcorn smells amazing, even before you have added butter and other flavorings. However, when this aroma is overheated like it is when you burn popcorn, it smells bad and overpowers all other smells that you might notice otherwise.

It usually takes at least a few days for this aroma to dissipate, and the smell might last even longer if you have a lot of food debris in your microwave, as food debris likes to absorb the aroma. When you use the microwave again, the food debris with the aroma in it is heated, causing it to release the aroma, making you smell burnt popcorn once more. This is one of the reasons why you need to clean your microwave thoroughly in order to get the smell of burnt popcorn out of it.

The smell of burnt popcorn also lingers because it is very easy for us to smell popcorn, as human noses are very sensitive to it. This is a good thing most of the time. However, with the ability to easily smell comes the ability to easily smell burnt popcorn. This means that when the smell of burnt popcorn has dissipated to the point where if it was another burned food item you wouldn’t be able to smell it, you will still be able to smell burnt popcorn.

Many people use other things to help them pop popcorn, especially so they don’t have leftover kernels that they can’t eat at the bottom of the container used to make the popcorn. This includes oil and butter. Many bags of microwavable popcorn have oil and butter already in the mixture. However, when this oil or butter heats up or is burned along with your popcorn, it vaporizes, making it very hard to clean from your microwave. These vapors will likely also get onto your clothing, which is why you may smell burnt popcorn when you do laundry a few days after you burn it, even if you aren’t anywhere close to your microwave.

These vapors also get into the crevices of your microwave. Since most people don’t clean their microwave’s vents when they clean the interior of their microwave, this means that you don’t clean away these burnt vapors, which makes you smell burnt popcorn days after you have made it.

This is one of the reasons why so many of the cleaning methods used to remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave involve heating various mixtures. When these cleaning mixtures are heated for a few minutes, the steam goes to the vents, causing them to remove or dilute the burnt popcorn vapors. This leaves your microwave smelling wonderful.

How Long Does it Typically Take for Burnt Popcorn Smell to go Away?

It typically takes a few days to a few weeks for the smell of burnt popcorn to go away completely. It will take a day or two for it to disappear from your kitchen, but you will likely notice the smell of it coming from your microwave for a few days after that, especially if you don’t microwave any strong-smelling foods.

Luckily, if you only slightly burned your popcorn, you likely won’t notice the smell after a few hours to a few days. However, if you burned your popcorn to the point where it was a brick of charcoal at the bottom of the bag, it will take at least a few weeks for the smell to go away completely.

If you clean your microwave using the previously mentioned cleaning methods, the burnt popcorn smell in your microwave will likely go away after a few days, but it may take up to a week. If the smell lasts longer than that, clean your microwave again and double-check to make sure that no small pieces of burnt popcorn got beneath your microwave. If necessary, clean the area behind and beneath your microwave, as the vents might be pushing the smell of burnt popcorn onto your counter and backsplash, making it last longer than you expect.

How to Avoid Burnt Popcorn Smell in Microwave

If you don’t want to thoroughly clean your microwave or deal with the smell of burnt popcorn for a few days to a few weeks, simply avoid burning popcorn when you make it. If you don’t burn your popcorn, the smell won’t get in your microwave or clothing. While it may seem hard to avoid burning your popcorn slightly, it is actually quite easy if you do a few things.

To avoid burning your popcorn, wait by your microwave while your popcorn is popping. That will allow you to open your microwave as soon as you think you start smelling burnt popcorn, which will prevent the smell from permeating your microwave. It will also allow you to get the popcorn out of the microwave before it starts to burn, as you will be able to clearly hear when the kernels start to pop slower, signaling they are done popping and are starting to burn.

If your microwave has high, medium, and low settings, make sure that it isn’t set to “high” when you are making popcorn, as it will increase the likelihood that you will burn your popcorn, even if you take precautions. Instead, use the medium or low settings and change them back to what they normally are after you are done making popcorn.

Only microwave your popcorn for 1-2 minute increments, no matter the setting of your microwave. You can always microwave it for longer, but you can’t save popcorn once it has been burned.

If you don’t want to burn your popcorn, never use the popcorn button that is found on most microwaves. Honestly, I don’t even know why that button exists, as most people know that they shouldn’t pop popcorn for the 8-9 minutes that the popcorn button sets the timer for unless they want to be eating charcoal rather than delicious, buttery popcorn.

When I was talking to someone about making popcorn, she mentioned that one of her friends used the popcorn button on the microwave once. It was definitely a mistake. When the timer went off, they took the bag of microwavable popcorn out, and opened the bag, they found a chunk of charcoal that was still slightly on fire. A billow of smoke also came out of the microwave when they opened the door. Even though they tried to clean it multiple times, they eventually had to throw the microwave away, as there was no saving it or getting rid of the smell.

Overall, there are many extremely easy things that you can do to remove the smell of burnt popcorn from your microwave. You will also likely have everything that you need already in your home, so you won’t have to go anywhere or buy anything in order to clean your microwave so you don’t have to hold your breath when you open and use your microwave anymore.