All kitchens in our new community’s houses in Lewes, Delaware, have an above range microwave. Like most people, I wasn’t aware that my microwave has a charcoal filter in addition to grease filters. I know that maintaining the filters clean is critical to your food quality and how long your microwave lasts. I also know that I can and should clean the grease filters. But I was wondering, can you clean a microwave charcoal filter?
While some internet sources say that you can clean your microwave charcoal filters, the overwhelming majority of manufacturers say they cannot be cleaned and reused. At an average price of about $5 per filter, it is not worth the time or risk of using a defective filter after cleaning it.
First, It’s important to understand that there are two different types of filters in your above range microwave.
An Important Distinction: Grease Filters vs. Charcoal Filters
Most people don’t realize that if you have a microwave oven above your range, you probably have two different types of filters to maintain:
Grease filters: Located underneath the microwave. These filters help purify the air while you cook and are likely made out of aluminum, which is washable. You can use one of the techniques listed in this article to clean grease filters.
Charcoal filters: Located on top of the microwave behind the grill. Charcoal filters are used when the oven cannot be vented to the outside, like in my case. The charcoal in the filter absorbs odors and prevents them from recirculating into other meals. It also helps the microwave run efficiently.
If you received a new microwave with your house, be aware that it may not have a charcoal filter inside. At least that was the case with my GE microwave. No one told me that my microwave didn’t have a filter. I only found out when I was researching the topic and took a look at the microwave inside. It turns out that it is available at extra cost from a GE supplier. It would have been nice if the builder had told me.
Can You Clean a Microwave Charcoal Filter
Some sources out there say that you can clean your charcoal filter, and yet essentially all manufacturers recommend you not to do that; instead, they advise replacing them every 6 months or sooner for heavy use.
Some websites say that you can clean your microwave charcoal filter using a can of compressed air. I find this suggestion useless and counterproductive.
By suggesting that you can clean it, people may use methods that can eliminate most of the charcoal or just partially clean the filter, making it useless.
It is just not worth your time to clean it. For $12, I can buy two filters for my microwave, which is all I need for 1 year. I don’t even have a compressed air can, which would cost me around $8.
How to Access and Replace Your Microwave Charcoal Filter
It is usually easy to locate and detach the grease filters because they are typically visible below the microwave. Charcoal filters are not as straightforward. You will have to first disconnect power to the microwave and get a screwdriver to detach the top vent area cover.
The video below demonstrates how to locate and replace a typical charcoal filter.