How Often to Replace a Charcoal Filter in a Microwave?

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Updated August 17, 2022

A charcoal filter for a microwave is a good way to prevent odors from seeping into your food and extend the life of your appliance and can improve the performance of even the best models but a common question is how often to replace a charcoal filter on a microwave.


  • Replacing your charcoal filter every 6-8 months, depending on use, is essential to keeping food odors from affecting the flavor of food cooked in your microwave.
  • Cooking frequently with strong and aromatic spices and oils can increase the frequency of how often you need to replace your filter.
  • Cleaning a charcoal filter is generally not recommended but is possible and can sometimes add a little more time to the life of a filter.

What Does a Charcoal Filter Do for a Microwave?

The answer depends on a few factors and, to a certain degree, your preferences. Before moving on, if you have other issues with your microwave, you might be interested in our helpful guides covering replacing a fuse in a microwave, why microwave buttons aren’t working, and what to do when the microwave turns on after opening the door.

Microwave ovens can face many issues with their performance and each issue could have multiple culprits- house lights dimming while the microwave is in use can be caused by six or seven different failures along an electrical path. A failed capacitor can be troubleshot in several different ways, but only two are reliable relatively easy to do.

A microwave charcoal filter helps to get rid of bad odors in the circulation of air in your oven, preventing them from affecting the flavor of your food. Some can help the microwave cook more efficiently and extend its operational life. While they’re effective at their job, they do need replacing intermittently- how often depends on certain factors.

Insider Tip

You may be able to extend the life of a charcoal filter by cleaning in soap and warm water, but replacement is still recommended.

When to Replace Your Charcoal Filter

How often you should be replacing your filter depends on how often you use your microwave, and secondarily how often you cook in general- especially if your microwave is installed over your conventional oven as range microwaves are.

If you’re cooking five days a week or so, you should be replacing your charcoal filters every six months. If you’re cooking more often than that, and/or frequently cook with strong spices and oils, you may want to replace your filter as often as every three months. Lastly, if you cook less frequently, you can probably safely go seven or eight months without replacing your filter.

Cleaning Charcoal Filters

While it’s completely optional if you’re looking to squeeze a little more life out of your charcoal filter before replacing it, you can try the following:

  1. Fill sink or medium-sized bowl with hot water and dish soap.
  2. Place the filter in the water and let soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn the filter over and let soak another 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from water and rinse thoroughly until no soapy residue is left.
  5. Dry completely before reinstalling in the microwave

More than one or two cleanings will probably produce diminishing returns, so you will have to replace your filter eventually, but if it’s worth the trouble to you, you can get a few more months out of a charcoal filter this way.


Not replacing your charcoal filter after 6-8 months depending on use will cause it to stop keeping odors from affecting your food, and can decrease its efficiency and cooking effectiveness.


Can I clean my microwave filters in the dishwasher?

While you should be able to safely put a stainless steel microwave grease filter in your dishwasher, charcoal filters would most likely be ruined in a dishwasher, so it’s not recommended.

What type of microwave filters are there?

The two most common microwave filters are stainless steel/aluminum mesh filters- which are reusable and good at capturing grease and dirt but less so dealing with odors, and semi-disposable charcoal filters, which excel at dealing with food odors and are good for grease and dirt but need to be replaced even if cleaned.

Where can I get replacement filters?

You can find microwave filter replacements at most home improvement stores, the manufacturer’s site, or large online vendors like Amazon. Consult your owner’s manual to ensure you purchase the correct kind for your oven.

STAT: Some manufacturers say a charcoal filter can last up to 12 months before replacement is necessary, though 6 months is the standard (source)

STAT: Heavy use of a microwave can result in significantly reduced efficiency if its filter isn’t cleaned or replaced per recommendations (source)

STAT: The reset filter indicator doesn’t signal when your filter is too dirty, but simply indicates when a filter has been used for 6 months (source)

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