5 No-Fail Methods for Cleaning Your Microwave

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated September 3, 2021
Microwave oven on counter
Pixel-Shot - stock.adobe.com

These tricks will help you scrub out even the toughest caked-on food

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Microwaves can be deceiving—with a door that typically remains shut, it’s easy to forget about the reality of the grimy interior, splattered marinara sauce dotting the walls, and burnt food gunk in the corners.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled five microwave cleaning tricks that are easy, inexpensive, and effective. The best part: Each method only requires a few items you probably already have in your pantry.

1. Make Vinegar Your Go-To

Vinegar is many homeowners’ go-to cleaner, and you can use it in your microwave, too.

Combine 1 to 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl or cup, and place it in the appliance. Set the microwave on high for five minutes—or until water is boiling—and leave the door closed for another 10 to 15 minutes to trap the steam and effectively loosen any hardened or burnt food. 

Remove the bowl, the glass turntable, and any other removable parts. Thoroughly rinse, wash, and dry the glass plate. Wipe down the interior walls and door, and use paper towels or a rag to dry the microwave. If there are persistent spots, use a sponge and scrub with the vinegar mixture.

2. Clean Your Microwave With Lemons

Sliced lemon in bowl going into microwave
Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com

Using lemons as a microwave cleaner is an effective solution—both for giving your microwave a refreshing citrus scent and for getting rid of mushy or unwanted lemons.

Pour half a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl, cut one lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into the bowl and drop in the lemons. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it on high for three minutes—or until boiling—and then leave the bowl to sit in the closed microwave.

When you take the bowl out, follow the same procedure outlined in the vinegar method: removing and cleaning the turntable, then cleaning and drying the microwave's entire interior. 

If there are remaining spots, dab a towel or sponge into the lemon water and scrub rigorously.

3. Break Out the Baking Soda

Cleaning with baking soda soaks up funky smells while loosening hardened food or gunk. 

In a microwave-safe bowl or cup, combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water. Place the mixture inside the microwave, set the timer for three to five minutes, and wait for the interior to become steamy. 

Remove the glass turntable and wipe down all walls and the door using the baking soda mixture. Dry the microwave with a cloth or paper towel.

4. Wet a Sponge (or Rag)

If you’re searching for the simplest cleaning hack ever, look no further. Simply take a sponge or rag and wet it thoroughly. Microwave it for a few minutes and then let it sit in the closed microwave. 

Remove the glass turntable and wipe it down. Wipe all other parts of the microwave, dry everything, and you should be all set. This trick also works with paper towels!

5. Use a Window Cleaner

Spray window cleaner in the interior of your microwave, being extra generous to the stains, spills, or baked-on foods. Pour about 10 to 12 pumps of the cleaner and 1 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.

Place the bowl inside of the microwave, set it on high for five to seven minutes, and run the microwave. When done, let the bowl sit with the door closed. Remove, clean, and dry the glass plate using damp and dry paper towels. Wipe the interior clean using either paper towels or a sponge, and finally dry the interior with paper towels.

Extra Tips for a Clean and Effective Microwave

  • Cover your dishes with paper towels or microwave covers to reduce food splatter

  • When cleaning the microwave, always unplug it to avoid incidents that might cause harm

  • Always check the microwave vents for stains or gunk when cleaning

  • Remove and clean the removable glass plate every couple of weeks

  • Use a low setting whenever you can to avoid burning food

  • If your microwave stops working, call a local microwave repair expert

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