This Hidden Microwave Compartment Is Probably The Nastiest Thing In Your Kitchen

microwave filter
Have You Ever Cleaned Your Microwave Filter?@tera.nelli on TikTok; Andrii Atanov / iStock / Getty Images

A microwave can reheat leftovers in a snap, make a mess-free batch of bacon, and give you a fluffy baked potato without turning on the oven. But just like with all kitchen gadgets, your microwave requires regular maintenance. Stains and spills are obvious causes for cleaning, but there are always compartments that require extra TLC every once in a while.

You should always take the time to clean the water reservoir of your Keurig, wash the gunk off your dishwasher filter, and drain the drip tray hiding under your fridge. But did you know that your microwave has dirty parts, too?

A viral video by TikTok user @mamasknowbest reveals that microwaves installed over ranges have a filter that needs to be cleaned and replaced twice a year.

Wall-mounted microwaves are convenient, multipurpose appliances. Beyond freeing up valuable counter space, they also act as an exhaust fan for stovetop cooking. To prevent your entire kitchen from smelling like smoke, the microwave purifies the air through charcoal filters before pumping it back out.

But with dust, odors, and inevitable grease buildup, those filters get gross fast. And what's worse is that dirty filters put a strain on your appliance and risk it breaking down sooner.

TikTok users across the platform have filmed themselves hunting down those hidden filters and showing off the nasty buildup. Other users have sounded off in the comments section sharing how long they've gone before realizing they needed to clean their filter (for some people, it's been decades).

Sufficiently grossed out now? Us too. Thankfully, there's a solution. Here's how to keep your microwave filters fresh:

Check Your Manual

Every microwave is built differently, which means accessing those hidden filters will vary based on which one you have in your kitchen. The best resource will be your appliance's manual.

Threw away that manual years ago? Live in a rental? No sweat. Most, if not all, brands have PDF versions of their manuals online. Simply find the model number for your microwave (that's usually displayed on the inside of the door), plug it into Google, and voila!

From there, you can read your manual and find out exactly where the filters are. Some microwave models offer a convenient piece at the top that can be easily removed. Others may require unscrewing a built-in panel. But whatever you do, unplug the microwave first!

Some models may even have two types of filters: charcoal and grease, to be exact. The charcoal filters are typically located at the top of the microwave, while grease filters are at the bottom.

Once you check your appliance, you can typically pull the charcoal filters right out. Which leads us to step two:

Soak & Scrub

The first step to clean your microwave filters is to give them a good soak. For grease filters, you'll need to let them hang out in a hot, soapy water bath for at least 10 minutes. If they're looking especially grimy, you can boost the cleaning powder with a sprinkle of baking soda.

From there, you can use a sponge or dish brush to get into the nooks and crannies until the greasy residue is gone. You may need to repeat this process a few times if your appliance hasn't been cleaned for a while.

Charcoal filters require a bit more care. Just like with water and air purifiers, you can't keep cleaning and reusing the filter forever. But you can give the surrounding area a deep clean. The plastic or metal cover for the charcoal filter can be also be cleaned with hot water and dish soap.

Buy Replacement Filters

To round out your microwave deep clean, you'll need to replace your charcoal filter. This process should be done once every six months to make sure the appliance is at its best. Remember that handy model number you used to find the manual online? You can also use that number to search for replacement filters that perfectly fit your microwave.

Platforms like Amazon make it even easier to stay up to date with your cleaning routine. Their Subscribe and Save feature offers a discount if you set up recurring orders twice a year.

Microwave maintenance may add another step to your list of household chores, but it's a worthwhile effort that has a lasting impact on your food and your appliance.

Have you ever cleaned your microwave filter? Let us know in the comments below.

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