The Best Way to Clean a Microwave


Your microwave gets super dirty, but it can be easy to ignore since you just kind of shut the door when you’re not using it, hiding all the grease, splatter, and crumbs left in there. Out of sight might be out of mind, but it doesn’t translate to being out of the woods. Dirt can attract pests or make your microwave (and food) smelly and gross. It’s time to clean your microwave part by part.

Step one: Steam your microwave

To start, you should steam your microwave. That bad boy has all kinds of splatter caked and crusted on the interior and steam is going to loosen it up. Steam is a powerful tool for cleaning, as is citric acid, so this one is a no-brainer. Around the internet and “CleanTok,” you’ll find suggestions ranging from doing this with a half cup of water to a full cup, a half lemon to a whole one, and for three minutes to five minutes, with five minutes or 15 minutes left over for the steaming. Let’s make this simple. Here’s what I do:

  1. Cut a lemon into quarters and put two of them in a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water

  2. Microwave on high for three minutes, checking to see if steam is forming toward the end

  3. If you don’t see any steam, give it another minute (my steam is visible on the cupboard above the microwave, which is how I know it’s working)

  4. Let it sit with the door closed for five minutes

When you open the microwave, you should see that what was once crusted onto the walls and ceiling of the machine is now kind of soggy and super easy to wipe up with a sponge. Plus, it smells nice and lemony. Be warned, though, that I’ve noticed the crust and splatter near the top is much easier to remove than anything on the bottom, since the steam travels up. If your turntable is removable, take it out and soak it in warm water, then scrub it with a sponge.

Step two: Clean the exterior of the microwave

The way you clean the exterior of your microwave depends on what’s stuck on there. If it’s greasy, use a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water to gently scrub. If it’s just splattery, but not greasy, try a mix of one part rubbing alcohol and one part water. You can also use a damp sponge dipped in baking soda for heavier-duty messes, but be sure to follow that up with plain water.

I do this part in multiple steps. First, I use the mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to remove any easy stains or residue, then reevaluate to determine if anything left over is super stuck on. Using a soft cloth, I buff some baking soda over that (which is streaky and messy!) and then use plain water to remove it. If there are still streaks, then I go in with my vinegar and water, which is a streak-killing combo.

You don’t need specialty products beyond what you have around the house already to get the inside and outside of your microwave gleaming, but you do need the know-how and a bit of time.

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