Microwave Smelling Like Fish: 5 Simple Cleaning Methods


Are you wondering how to get the fish smell out of your microwave?

You’re not alone! There’s nothing more annoying than having a microwave that smells like fish.

The good news is that in this article, you’ll learn different ways to eliminate the unpleasant odor.

To get rid of the fish smell in your microwave, you’ll need to wipe down the interior, combine half a cup of water with white vinegar, and microwave it for 5 minutes on high. Then, remove the bowl and wipe down any remaining fishy residue.

Read on to learn other useful microwave deodorizing tips!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016. James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

In case you prefer to listen, here’s a clip from our podcast where we discuss why your microwave smells like fish and what to do about it.

5 Ways to Clean a Microwave That Smells Like Fish

If you leave the microwave door shut after cooking fish, the smell is likely to linger for a couple of days due to the effective insulation inside your microwave.

However, there are different natural methods available to eliminate microwave smells, including fish. These are:

#1 Use A Vinegar Solution

In my experience, using vinegar is one of the most effective ways to get the fish smell out of your microwave.

Vinegar is used to deodorize because it contains an acetic acid that bonds quickly with volatile molecules. Even a light mist can banish the fishy smell from your microwave. What’s more, the vinegar smell doesn’t linger for long.

To remove the fish smell from your microwave, you’ll need these materials:

  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Toothpick
  • A microwavable bowl
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A drop of lemon essential oil (optional)
Use vinegar to get rid of the fish smell in your microwave
Using vinegar in your microwave is one of the easiest ways to get rid of the fish smell.

Once you’ve gathered the materials, please follow these simple steps to deodorize your microwave:

#1 Clean the Microwave with Plain Water

The first step in getting rid of the fish smell in your microwave is wiping 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.

Please 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.

#2 Steam the Microwave with Vinegar Solution

In my experience, the fish smell in your microwave won’t disappear even after such thorough cleaning, hence the need for the next step.

Please combine half a cup of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar in the bowl.

I also recommend adding a drop of the essential oil to mask the smell of vinegar and dropping a toothpick in the bowl to keep the water from boiling out over the edges.

Then, place the bowl in the microwave and shut the door. Run it for 3-5 minutes at the highest setting.

#3 Allow the Space to Steam for a Few Minutes

Once the timer goes off, avoid opening the door right away. Instead, leave the bowl for a few minutes to let it eliminate the fish smell from your microwave.

Then, remove the bowl and turntable tray to wash it. Take a sponge and wipe the interior.

For better results, I recommend soking the sponge in white vinegar and sprinkling baking soda on it. Then, place the sponge at the center of the microwave and heat it for 20-30 seconds.

Once the timer stops, remove the sponge and use it to clean the inside of the microwave. Don’t forget to wipe down the interior thoroughly.

#2 Use Baking Soda

If your microwave still smells like fish, I recommend using 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 box of baking soda in the microwave and allow it to sit for 12 hours or until it fully absorbs the fishy smell from your microwave.

If you’re in a hurry, you can mix two tablespoons of baking soda with ½ a cup of water in a heat-safe bowl and microwave the solution for three minutes. Then, wipe down the interior.

#3 Use Coffee Grounds

If you currently don’t have baking soda, you can use coffee grounds to get the fish smell out of your microwave.

Coffee grounds are excellent substitutes for baking soda as they have proved to remove odor too. Caffeine contains nitrogen, which enhances the ability to remove foul odor through a process called adsorption.

Follow these simple steps to stop your microwave from smelling like fish:

  1. Pour 1/2 a cup of water and two tablespoons of coffee grounds from your morning coffee into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave the solution for 2-10 minutes, but please make sure it doesn’t boil over. Alternatively, place a toothpick at the center of the bowl.
  3. Remove the bowl after 10 minutes.
  4. If the fish smell doesn’t tape off, add some water and repeat the process until it’s gone.

Tip: You can also mix equal parts of coffee grounds and baking soda in a bowl and leave it inside your microwave overnight. In my experience, the combination of these ingredients is very effective at eliminating the fish smell.

#4 Use Lemon

If you’re wondering how to get a fish smell out of a microwave while leave it smelling great – try using a lemon!

Start by slicing the lemon in half and placing the slices in a bowl of water. Microwave the bowl for 4 minutes, taking care to prevent the lemon peels from burning.

Once microwaved, leave the bowl in the microwave with the door closed for 12 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can opt to let the bowl sit for half an hour.

Personally, I enjoy using lemon or orange when my microwave smells like fish because citrus fruits can effectively remove unpleasant odors. They are also famous for their anti-bacterial properties.

#5 Use Vanilla Extracts

Believe it or not, you can also get rid of the fish smell in your microwave with vanilla extracts.

You see, vanilla extract releases a sweet fragrant aroma that eliminates the unpleasant fishy odor.

To use vanilla to deodorize your microwave, please follow these simple instructions:

  1. Pour four teaspoons of vanilla extract into a bowl and mix with two cups of water.
  2. Heat the mixture for a few minutes until it boils.
  3. Turn off your microwave and leave the bowl inside for at least 30 minutes.

How to Avoid Getting the Fish Smell in Your Microwave?

Now that you know how to get the fish smell out of your microwave, I’m sure you’ll want to learn different ways to prevent it.

In my experience, the best way to keep unpleasant odors at bay is by cleaning your microwave once a week or after microwaving particularly strong-smelling foods, such as fish.

Covering your food with a microwave-safe lid and using a deodorizer after cooking fish is also important. Don’t forget to avoid leaving cooked food inside your microwave for too long, as the unit’s interior compartments can absorb it.


Hopefully, now you’ll be able to get the fish smell out of your microwave.

Remember that vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and vanilla extract are natural deodorizers that easily help you fix the problem.

Don’t forget to clean your microwave to prevent the fishy smell from reappearing.

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Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more