Microwave Smelling Like Fish: 7 Simple Cleaning Methods


Is your microwave smelling fishier than an unsolved mystery?

Whether you use it to reheat or cook food, microwaves are a staple for almost every family.

However, with frequent use comes splatters, messes, and unpleasant odors that won’t budge even with regular cleaning. Luckily, there are many ways to remove the fishy smell, and you don’t need to purchase new products because home-based products are just as effective.

Below we’ve covered a whole bunch of ways to clear a fishy smell from a microwave. If you’re looking for a quick answer:

The quickest way to clean a fishy smell from a microwave is to first wipe down the microwave, combine half a cup of water with white vinegar – microwave it for 5 minutes on high – then let it sit for another 5. Carefully remove the bowl, and wipe down any remaining fishy residue from the microwave.

While that’s a quick answer, there’s a big more nuance to it than that. Let’s dive into the detailed step-by-step guides. 

1. Use A Vinegar Solution

Apart from being a powerful cleaning agent, vinegar can remove odor from a microwave. In fact it’s used to deodorize houses because it contains an acetic acid that bonds quickly with volatile molecules. Even a light mist can banish odor from the microwave. What’s more, its smell doesn’t linger for long.


  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Toothpick
  • A microwavable bowl
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A drop of lemon essential oil (optional)
Natural cleaners
Natural cleaning alternatives like vinegar are great for removing odor


Step 1: Clean the Microwave with Plain Water

The first defense against odors is to do some good cleaning. Wipe off the inside to remove loose burnt pieces or debris. Next, heat a cup of water in a microwave-safe container for 3-4 minutes to loosen up the grime.

Then wipe the interior using a soft cloth dipped in dishwashing soap and water. If the interior is made from stainless steel, be sure to clean it in the direction of the metal’s grain.

Lastly, rinse the microwave using clean water and a lint-free cloth and leave it open for 2-3 hours to let the air out.

Step 2: Steam the Microwave with Vinegar Solution

Some smells won’t disappear even after such thorough cleaning, hence the need for this next step. The first step after cleaning the appliance is to combine half a cup of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar in the bowl.

Also, add a drop of the essential oil to mask the smell of vinegar and drop a toothpick in the bowl to keep the water from boiling out over the edges.

Step 3: Microwave the Solution for Five Minutes

Place the bowl in the microwave and shut the door. Then run it for 3-5 minutes at the highest setting.

Step 4: Allow the Space to Steam a few minutes

Once the timer goes off, avoid opening the microwave right away; instead, leave the bowl for a few minutes to continue to work. The steam loosens up stuck bits of food while the vinegar solution removes the odor.

Step 5: Remove the Bowl

Be careful when removing the bowl from the microwave. Remove the turntable tray too and wash it.

Step 6: Wipe the Microwave

Next, take a sponge and wipe the interior. Any stuck food particles will come right off.

Step 7: Deodorize with Baking Soda

A characteristic pungent smell may linger after using vinegar. To remove it, pour a cup or two of vinegar in a bowl and leave it in the microwave overnight. The microwave should have a fresh and clean smell in the morning.

2. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is known to neutralize odor without adding more smells. It’s also an excellent replacement for chemical-based deodorizers. Place a new box or old box of baking soda in the microwave and allow it to sit for 12 hours. The product absorbs all the odor. If performing more detailed cleaning, here are steps to guide you:


  • Baking Soda
  • Heat-safe bowl
  • Spoon
  • Water
  • Paper towels


Step 1: Clean the microwave as explained in the first method

Step 2: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with ½ a cup of water in a heat-safe bowl.

Step 3: Microwave the solution for three minutes and allow it to stand for two minutes

Step 4: Repeat the process until the smell dissipates

3. Use Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are excellent substitutes for baking soda as they have proved to remove odor too. Caffeine, the main ingredient that gives coffee the energy-jolting property contains nitrogen. This gas enhances the ability to remove foul odor through a process called adsorption. The procedure is pretty simple:


  • Coffee Grounds
  • Microwave-safe bowl
  • Water
  • Spoon


Step 1: Pour two tablespoons of coffee grounds from your morning coffee in a microwave-safe bowl and ½ a cup of water.

Step 2: Microwave the solution for 2-10 minutes. Be sure to check the solution after 2-3 minutes to ensure it doesn’t boil over. Alternatively, place a toothpick at the centre of the bowl.

Step 3: Remove the bowl after 10 minutes.

Step 4: If the bad odor doesn’t tape off, add some water and repeat the process until it’s gone

4. Use Baking Soda

The two ingredients are the most common solutions used to fight bad smells.


  • Sponge
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda


Step 1: Soak the sponge in white vinegar solution and sprinkle baking soda

Step 2: Place the sponge at the center of the microwave and heat it for 20-30 seconds

Step 3: Once the timer stops, remove the sponge and use it to clean the inside of the microwave

Step 4: Rinse the interior with a solution of soap and water

Step 5: Use a paper towel or dishcloth to wipe it dry

5. Use Coffee AND Baking Soda

The two powerful ingredients provide an effective way of removing odor due to their absorbent properties. 


  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Microwave-safe bowl


Step 1: Clean the microwave as in the first method

Step 2: Take equal part of coffee grounds and baking soda and mix in the bowl

Step 3: Leave it to sit in the microwave overnight

Step 4: If the smell hasn’t dissipated, allow the mixture to sit for a few more hours

6. Use Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits remove kitchen smells and can have a significant effect on your microwave too. They are also famous for their anti-bacterial properties.


  • Citrus fruit (can be lemons or oranges)
  • Heat-safe bowl
  • Knife
  • Water


Step 1: Slice the lemon or orange in half

Step 2: Place the lemon slices in a bowl of water

Step 3: If using oranges, place the peels in the bowl

Step 4: Place the bowl in the microwave and heat it for 4 minutes

Step 5: Monitor is closely to ensure the citrus peels don’t burn

Step 6: Leave the bowl in the microwave for 12 hours with the door closed. If the 12-hour period is too long for you, allow the bowl to sit in the microwave for half an hour but if the smell persists, repeat the procedure using fresh fruit.

7. Use Vanilla Extracts

Do you prefer spicy scents to citrus ones? Try using vanilla extract. Apart from its regular baking use, it can deodorize a microwave. The extract releases a sweet fragrant aroma that eliminates the unpleasant fishy odor.


  • Vanilla extract
  • Heat-safe bowl
  • Water


Step 1: Pour four teaspoons of vanilla extract in the bowl and mix with two cups of water

Step 2: Heat the mixture for a few minutes until it boils

Step 3: Turn off the microwave and leave the bowl inside for at least 30 minutes


We hope these DIY techniques for removing fishy odor from the microwave will help you get it back into shape. It’s also essential to develop a cleaning schedule for your microwave. Regular cleaning keeps away odor even before it smells.

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Have a great day!


Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more