Do Countertop Microwaves Have Filters? The Short Answer

If you own a countertop microwave, you might have found yourself wondering about mysterious filters. Do you need to clean them? Replace them? The short answer is a resounding no! Countertop microwaves do not have the same type of filters you’ll find in over-the-range microwave models.

Wait, Why Don’t Countertop Microwaves Have Filters?

The reason lies in how these two types of microwaves work. Let’s break it down:

Countertop Microwaves: A Focused Task

Countertop microwaves have a single, straightforward purpose: to heat and cook food. They operate in a self-contained environment, not directly interacting with the fumes, grease, and odors produced by your stovetop during cooking. This dedicated function means there’s no need for a filtering system within a countertop microwave.

Over-the-Range Microwaves: Multitasking with Ventilation

Over-the-range microwaves play a dual role. Not only do they heat and cook food, but they also act as your stove’s ventilation system. They are equipped with powerful fans that capture and remove the smoke, grease, and cooking odors rising from the stovetop. This is where filters become essential – they prevent buildup in the appliance and help improve your kitchen’s air quality.

Filters 101: What You’ll Find in Over-the-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range microwaves typically have two types of filters:

  • Grease Filter: This is usually a metal mesh filter located on the underside of the microwave. It’s designed to trap grease particles from cooking fumes. These filters are usually dishwasher safe and need regular cleaning.
  • Charcoal Filter: This filter is responsible for odor control. Charcoal is naturally absorbent, trapping cooking smells. Charcoal filters are not washable and need to be replaced periodically (often every 6 months).

So, Does My Countertop Microwave Need Any Cleaning?

Definitely! While the absence of filters simplifies maintenance, regular cleaning is still key to keep your countertop microwave working well and looking its best. Here’s what you should focus on:

Inside Cleaning: Preventing Splatter and Grime

Food splatter is the main culprit inside your microwave. Wipe down the interior walls, ceiling, and floor regularly using a mild dish soap and water solution. A damp microfiber cloth is great for this. Don’t forget to pay extra attention to the door seal – crumbs and dried spills can compromise its effectiveness.

The Turntable: Easy and Essential

Most countertop microwaves come with a removable glass turntable, making cleaning a breeze. Simply remove it and wash it with regular dish soap and water in your sink, or place it in the dishwasher for a deeper clean.

The Exterior: Maintain a Polished Look

While it doesn’t impact cooking power, keeping the exterior of your microwave clean makes your whole kitchen feel tidier. Wiping down the front, sides, and top with a damp cloth will prevent dust accumulation and greasy fingerprints. Make sure to target the handle and control panel where smudges are common.

Pros and Cons of Countertop Microwaves (Filter-wise)

Let’s sum up the advantages and disadvantages of the filter-free life of countertop microwaves:


  • Low Maintenance: One of the biggest benefits of countertop microwaves is their simplicity. Not having to deal with filters means one less thing to clean and replace. This translates to both time and money saved in the long run.

  • Cost-Effective: The lack of a filtration system, along with their generally more compact design, usually makes countertop microwaves a more budget-friendly option compared to over-the-range models. This makes them a great choice for those looking for a no-frills, affordable appliance.


  • No Ventilation: The most significant drawback of a countertop microwave is that it won’t help clear the air in your kitchen. If strong cooking odors, smoke, and grease are frequent issues, you’ll likely need a dedicated range hood or an over-the-range microwave to handle proper ventilation.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a fuss-free, straightforward microwave, the countertop variety is an excellent choice. No filters mean less maintenance and lower costs. However, if you need ventilation to tackle cooking odors and grease, an over-the-range microwave with its filter system is the way to go.

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Nyla Rose

Say hello to Nyla Rose, a special person who helps people make their homes pretty and comfortable. Mary went to the University of Creativity to learn all about making spaces beautiful.

For more than 10 years, she’s been sharing her smart and fun ideas about home decorating with people all around the world. Mary loves to talk about cool DIY projects, how to decorate on a budget, and choosing the perfect items for your home. Her friendly tips and stories are loved by many because she makes home decorating easy and joyful!

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