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How to change your microwave charcoal filter

Light gray microwave with a gold screen in front of a light green background that says "How to change your microwave charcoal filter" in turquoise and teal lettering

Has your over-the-range microwave been running less efficiently or emitting smells lately? You don’t have to go catch it, but it might be time to swap out its charcoal filter. What is a charcoal filter, you ask? It’s a small, but important component of your microwave that’s easily changed when you follow the instructions below.

Charcoal filter FAQ

This may be the first time you’ve heard of a charcoal filter, so before we begin any maintenance, let’s go over the basics.

  • Charcoal filters absorb odors from the air in your microwave that would otherwise linger after cooking.
  • They are typically found on the underside of over-the-range microwaves or above the cooking cavity.
  • Charcoal filters are usually rectangular pieces of metal with a flat sheet of charcoal under a honeycomb grate.
  • These filters are often part of a system that recirculates air into the kitchen.
  • Your microwave charcoal filter should be changed 2-4 times each year, depending on usage.  

Is it time for a filter swap?

Unlike a grease filter, charcoal filters cannot be properly cleaned; once it shows either of the signs below, it needs to be replaced.

  • A shiny surface (covered in grease)
  • Smells that get stronger when food is being heated that aren’t the food itself

Pro Tip: For proper filter sizing and best results, please refer to your owner’s manual.

Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s change that filter!

Charcoal filter replacement

Follow these steps and your owner’s manual instructions to make quick work of getting your microwave back to normal!

  • Step 1: Turn off electricity to/unplug your microwave.
  • Step 2: Open the vent panel and take out the used filter.
  • Step 3: If applicable, use mild soap and lukewarm water to safely clean any parts surrounding where the new filter will go.
  • Step 4: Wipe dry.
  • Step 5: Put the new filter in its place.

How easy is that?

Keeping your microwave clean

With a new microwave charcoal filter in place, everything should work like new! Don’t forget to extend the life of your charcoal filter and microwave with our easy maintenance guide.

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