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Some microwaves have filters (wait, what?). Here's how to clean yours

Honestly, we didn't even know that microwaves had filters.
Reheating / cooking food in the microwave oven
Does your microwave have a filter? Check out this quick cleaning hack.Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Every once in a while we come across a life-altering cleaning hack that really blows our mind and we just stumbled along one particularly intriguing trick while perusing our TikTok feed.

Until recently, we weren't even aware that some microwaves have filters that need to be changed every few months, but TikTok user @mamasknowbest set the record straight last month in an oddly mesmerizing video that shows her cleaning the filter while she waits for her replacement one to arrive in the mail.

In the video, the social media user explains that her microwave filter needs to be replaced every six months and shows her followers how to extend the life of their current filter by cleaning it.

First, she takes the protective cover off the top of the microwave and unveils a filter that has plenty of gunk on it. She then sprays the cover with cleaner and removes the dirty filter before submerging it in a sink full of soap and water and shaking it around multiple times.

Next, she scrubs the top of the microwave (near the vents) with a soapy sponge and does the same for the protective cover. Soon, she rinses everything off, puts everything back in its place and shows off the squeaky clean filter and microwave.

The social media user admitted that she "had forgotten all about" the cleaning hack in her caption, but we have to give her credit because we had no clue that we even had to replace microwave filters.

Looks like we're not the only ones who are fascinated by the oddly soothing video. Since it was posted in early October, it has amassed over 2.8 million views!

Expert tips for cleaning microwave filters

After watching the video, TODAY Food was curious to know if our own microwave might have a filter and if so, if good old soap and water works well enough to clean it. So we reached out to lifestyle expert Jill Bauer to get the inside scoop.

"Countertop style microwaves do not have filters that need to be cleaned. The type of microwaves that do need cleaning are the kind that are over your stovetop," she explained. "Only microwaves with a fan that recirculates air back to your kitchen have filters."

Over-the-range microwaves typically have both a grease filter and a charcoal filter and they should each be handled differently when it comes time to replace or clean them. Here are Bauer's top tips:

  • Grease filters: "This is often stainless steel and can simply be cleaned with hot, soapy water. Allow it to soak, if necessary. Let air dry and then reinstall. With regular cleaning and care, they rarely need replacing," she said.
  • Charcoal filters: "They're designed to help with odors, and should be replaced every six months. These really aren't designed to be 'washed' because getting them wet actually negates charcoal's ability to do its job. The charcoal has 'pores' that absorb odors and if you wash filters, it breaks down the pores and releases all of the particles that were trapped back into the air," Bauer explained.

The lifestyle expert also added that it's always a good idea to clean around the area where the filter is located.

"Wiping away the buildup of grease and dirt allows the filter and fan to do its job more efficiently. A good rule of thumb is to put 'microwave deep clean' on your spring and fall cleaning lists and that way you'll remember to change and clean the filter regularly," she said.

While you're at it, there are plenty of other DIY cleaning hacks you can use on your microwave to keep it running well. For instance, you can use a mix of water and white vinegar to clean your microwave out once a week (get all the details here).