Renovation & Design

Microwave vanilla to get rid of burnt popcorn smell


Get rid of those funky microwave smells by boiling vanilla extract and water, then wiping it down with vinegar.

Question: I read your suggestions on this some time ago and have totally forgotten what you recommended.

I let popcorn cook too long in my microwave oven and it burnt. The smell of scorched fake butter lingers and it’s nasty. I have tried vinegar, with only slight success. Please help, love your work. Thanks,

— Barb


Answer: Don’t worry, you are not alone, this happens all the time! Your best bet is to overpower the burnt smell with a pleasant aroma.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine water and a few teaspoons of vanilla for baking.

The more vanilla, the stronger the smell.

Put the bowl inside the microwave and set the microwave to cook until the vanilla boils over and flows into the cracks and corners of the microwave (where the foul odour is coming from).

When the microwave has stopped, let sit for a few hours. Wipe the microwave out with a generous amount of vinegar and a few drops of lemon juice. Dry the microwave and unplug it.

Stuff the microwave with LOTS of crumpled up newspaper. The ink in newspaper will absorb the remaining odour. Leave the newspaper for at least a few days.

Remove the newspaper. Store a bowl of baking soda in your microwave when not in use.


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Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at



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