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The quick and convenient microwave oven. For a lot of us, it’s one of the most go-to kitchen devices. It’s the burrito heater, the takeout warmer-upper and the fast track to your favorite frozen dinner.

But with all those quick meals, it seems that it often gets filled with mystery splatters that we don’t take notice of until we’ve got serious gunky buildup. If the inside of your microwave looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, it’s time to give it a thorough cleaning.

Fortunately, it’s not as hard as you think. With just a few kitchen products you probably already have and the power of steam, you can turn that culinary mess inside of the microwave into a clean slate once again. 

Here are seven simple ways to clean your microwave oven. 

The Wet Paper Towel Method

This is one of the quickest and easiest methods to clean your microwave, and you won’t need much elbow grease. Just wet a handful of paper towels and place them in the microwave. Next, run your microwave on high for several minutes.

When the cycle is finished, don’t open the door right away. The magic here is the steam from the wet paper towels. Leave the door closed for another five minutes, and the steam will help to loosen those burrito bits, tomato sauce splashes and other unrecognizable stains.

When the towels cool down, use them to wipe the interior clean. Presto-Clean-o! 

The Dish Soap Method

Woman squeezing dish soap onto sponge

A sponge and dish soap sounds like a laborious way to clean a microwave. But again, when you combine them with the power of steam, they work wonders.

To use this method, fill a microwave safe bowl with water and add a generous amount of dish soap. Now put it in the microwave and place it on high until the window steams up.

Again, once the cycle is finished, leave the door closed, so the steam has a chance to do its work. 

Open the door and carefully remove the bowl with gloves if necessary. You can dip a sponge into the warm soapy water and use it to wipe out the grime. Wah-Lah! 

Related: How Often Should You Replace Your Kitchen Appliances?

The Water and Vinegar Method

It seems there’s no end of uses for vinegar in your home, and cleaning your microwave is another great one.

To put this natural cleaner and sanitizer to work, put a cup of water into a microwave safe bowl and add ¼ cup of white vinegar. Put your microwave on high for several minutes and let it steam up.

Pro-tip: although it may not be necessary, you can throw a wooden spoon or skewer into the bowl to ensure the mixture doesn’t superheat and explode. 

When the cycle ends, leave the door closed, so the steam has a chance to work. Then carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with gloves if necessary and wipe out any grime with a paper towel or sponge. 

The Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

Someone putting a bowl in their microwave

This method combines two natural cleaning superpowers to tackle super dirty microwaves. First, completely dissolve a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into about 3 cups of warm water. Now dunk a sponge into the mixture and use it to wipe down the entire inside of your microwave.

Now you’re ready for phase two. Place a cup of water into a microwave safe bowl and add ¼ cup of white vinegar. Put your microwave on high for several minutes and let it steam up.

When the cycle ends, leave the door closed so the steam has a chance to work. Then carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with gloves if necessary.

Finally, wipe out the inside until there are no stains or baking soda residue.  

The Baking Soda Method

Baking soda on its own is also a fantastic cleaner and deodorizer. To get cooked-on gunk out of your microwave, make a paste consisting of two parts baking soda to one part water.

Now apply the paste to any stains and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Afterward, you can use a sponge or paper towel to wipe out the grime and any baking soda residue. 

Related: The 6 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

The Lemon Method

Lemon water in a bowl inside a microwave

The acidity of lemon juice makes it an excellent cleaner. All you have to do is slice one in half and put it on a microwave-safe plate. Then add a tablespoon of water.

Run your microwave for several minutes until it steams up. Again, when the cycle is finished, leave the door closed for five minutes so the steam can work. Then open, carefully remove the plate and wipe away the grime.

Alternatively, you can also throw lemon slices and water into a microwave safe bowl (after squeezing the juice into the water) and run your microwave until steamy. Then remove the bowl and wipe away.   

Commercial Cleaners

With so many natural ways to clean your microwave, commercial cleaners aren’t really necessary. But if you are going to use one, be sure to follow these tips:

1. Choose a fume-free product to avoid unpleasant odors

2. After wiping out all the cleaner, go over the inside again with water and a damp sponge to remove any extra residue. (Caution: that residue can make your food taste funny!) 

3. Smell check your microwave after you clean it with the sponge and water. If it still smells like the commercial cleaner, wipe it out again with the sponge and water. 

4. Finally, leave your microwave open for several hours after cleaning it.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Microwave

Person in a blue plaid shirt and jeans scrubbing their microwave in yellow latex glovese

Most of the spills happen on the inside of your microwave, but it’s also good to give the outside a good cleaning as well. 

The rubber gasket around the door can be cleaned with a mixture of baking soda and water. Dissolve a tablespoon of baking soda in warm water and then dip a sponge into the mix for a quick and effective scrubbing cleaner.

You can also use a warm, soapy paper towel for this area. 

Is your window looking greasy? You can clean with a mixture of one part water to one part vinegar. Then wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth. 

Alternatively, you can tackle a greasy window using a solution of one part window cleaner to one part water. Never spray cleaner directly onto the outside of your microwave as it can get in through the venting system. 

Instead, spray the diluted cleaner onto a paper towel or damp cloth and use it to wipe down the window and display panel.

Related: How to Clean a Dirty Coffee Maker (Safe & Natural)

A Few More Hacks 

Here a few more tips to make sure your microwave is squeaky clean:

1. Your microwave turntable is probably removable. If it’s especially dirty, take it out and soak it in warm, soapy water to remove stains.

2. The best way to manage spills is to prevent them. So cover any food you’re heating with a paper towel. 

3. Giving your microwave a quick wipe after every use will help prevent buildup and cut down on heavy-duty cleaning sessions.

A Clean Slate

Woman enjoying popcorn from her freshly cleaned microwave

Well, there you have it. Try any of these 7 methods, and you'll be well on your way to a clean microwave. No more procrastinating! 

With steam and a few natural cleaning products, you’ll no longer have to cringe when you open the microwave door. 

You can celebrate with a bag of popcorn. 

You might also be interested in: How to Clean a Dirty Dishwasher

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Posted 
Jul 21, 2020
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