Microwaves are great appliances when you’re in a hurry or live in a home with limited kitchen space, but they can quickly accumulate grease and food splatter. Getting them clean can be a chore, especially if it’s been a while since your microwave was scrubbed down. But don’t worry. Our Pros know a thing or two about how to clean a microwave. Check out our top tips to keep your microwave gleaming.
How often should the microwave be cleaned?
Knowing how regularly to clean any appliance goes a long way toward keeping it clean — and making the task easier to complete! If your microwave is used frequently, it should be cleaned at least once a week as part of your usual routine. If a microwave is cleaned regularly, it shouldn’t be difficult to wipe away any food residue or grease.
You should also give the microwave a wipe down if you cook something very messy. Marinara sauce is a common culprit! Thick sauces tend to splatter inside microwaves, milk tends to boil over, and spills can happen at any time. Dealing with the mess immediately is much faster and easier than letting it dry.
How to clean the microwave
You can use any all-purpose or DIY cleaning solution to clean your microwave. Simply spray the inside of the appliance, wait a few minutes, and wipe all surfaces with a microfiber cloth. The removable glass turntable can be cleaned in the same way, or if it’s very grubby, wash it in the sink with some dish soap.
Don’t use cleaners that are too harsh inside your microwave — remember, you’re going to eat the food that’s cooked in there. Bleach can damage the microwave surfaces, or leave an unpleasant residue behind. If you use any commercial cleaner, it’s always a good idea to give the microwave a final clean with fresh water once the stains and dried food have been dealt with.
Don’t forget the microwave door! If the window is looking greasy, use dish soap to cut through the buildup and make your microwave look like new again.
How to clean the microwave with vinegar
White vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner that is gentle on your microwave but tough on dirt. Vinegar is also a powerful odor neutralizer, so if your kids burned a bag of popcorn in the microwave, vinegar can make the smell go away. Knowing how you clean a microwave with vinegar and water means you’ll always have a cleaning solution available when you need one.
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
Step 1: Mix the water and vinegar in the microwave-proof bowl. Place inside the microwave and heat on high until the water is boiling. You’ll know this has happened when you see steam condensing against the door.
Step 2: Turn the heat off and let the microwave steam for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Open the door and carefully remove the bowl. Wipe down the microwave with the microfiber cloth.
This method works because the hot water and vinegar break down and loosen stains, making them easy to wipe away. You can also clean a microwave with apple cider vinegar using the same method.
Pro Tip: Microwaves distribute heat unevenly — how many times has your food been cold in one spot and scorching in another? — and sometimes water can get superheated, creating a dangerous reaction when it’s disturbed. While this is very unlikely, you can make heating water in the microwave safer by:
- Always using a microwave-safe, uncovered bowl
- Placing a non-metal item like a wooden toothpick in the water
- Heat in bursts of 1-2 minutes, and stir the water in between
- Gently tap the side of the bowl before moving to disturb the water
How do you clean a microwave with lemon?
If you don’t have any white vinegar at hand, the old lemon in the back of your fridge just became a cleaning superstar. In fact, any citrus fruit will do the trick, because citrus fruits contain a natural solvent called D-limonene that can easily cut through grease.
1 cup water
1 citrus fruit (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange)
2 tablespoons white vinegar (optional)
Step 1: Cut up the citrus fruit and combine it with the water in a microwave-safe bowl. Squeeze the fruit a little to add the juice to the water. If you have white vinegar to hand, you can add a couple of tablespoons to the mixture as well, although it isn’t necessary for this solution to work.
Step 2: Heat the mixture in the microwave in bursts of 1-2 minutes, until the water boils and steams.
Step 3: Leave to steam with the door closed for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Wipe down the microwave with a microfiber cloth.
Now you know how to clean a microwave with lemons!
Related: Why not clean your other small appliances at the same time? Find out how to clean your iron now!
How to clean a microwave with baking soda
Baking soda is amazing. It can cut through grease and break up even the toughest dried-on foods. Here are our favorite baking soda microwave cleaning hacks.
How to clean a greasy microwave with baking soda
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 2-3 tablespoons water
Make a paste by adding water to the baking soda to achieve the desired consistency. Use a sponge to apply the paste to the door and interior surfaces of the microwave and scrub in circular motions to cut through grease and remove stains.
How to clean a microwave with vinegar and baking soda
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup white vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Microfiber cloth
This method is best for stubborn, dried-on stains. First sprinkle the baking soda generously across the stain. Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and apply to the baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz for 5-10 minutes, and then clean with a microfiber cloth.
Pro Tip: Vinegar can be corrosive, so make sure to wash out the spray bottle after use, and run clean water through the mechanism to prevent any damage.
How to clean a microwave with a bad smell using baking soda
- ½ cup baking soda
- Microwave-safe bowl
If your microwave needs freshening up, you can remove odors by placing half a cup of baking soda inside it between uses. Remove it once the smell has gone (1-2 days), or keep baking soda in your microwave as a general deodorizer. Just switch it out once a week so it remains effective at absorbing odors.
Pro Tip: You can also use baking soda to clean a glass top stove.
|How to clean a dirty microwave: Solutions to use|
|All-purpose cleaner||White vinegar and water||White vinegar and baking soda|
|Citrus fruit and water||Citrus fruit, water, and white vinegar||Water and dish soap|
How to clean microwave filters
Now you know how to clean inside the microwave, it’s time to consider other areas you should clean. Most over-the-range microwaves have two filters — a charcoal filter to reduce odors, and a grease filter to prevent buildup in the exhaust fan mechanism. Both should be cleaned and/or replaced on a regular schedule.
Charcoal filters are usually located under the top vent panel. You’ll probably need a screwdriver to remove the panel to get to the filter. These filters should typically be changed every 6 months, but consult your microwave owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Grease filters are located on the underside of the microwave, and are easier to access. These filters should be washed once a month to remove accumulated grease. It’s easy to remove a grease filter, just slide it out of its housing. Then submerge it in a sink full of hot water, dish soap, and ¼ cup baking soda. Let the filter soak for 10-15 minutes, and then clean with a scrubbing brush, taking care not to bend the metal. Dry the cleaned filter and slide it back into position.
How to clean a microwave vent
The vent is located at the top front of the microwave. If you look above the door, you’ll probably notice the air holes for the vent. To access it, you’ll have to unscrew the top plate. Turn off the microwave at the wall before you start, and check your owner’s manual for precise instructions. Clean the vent by spraying an all-purpose cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and cleaning the vent. Don’t spray cleaner directly into the vent itself! If some areas are hard to reach, use Q-Tips dampened with a little cleaning solution.
Related: Now your microwave is clean, it’s time to clean your granite counters too!
How to clean sponges in a microwave
Microwaves are great for zapping bacteria, and that means they can help keep your sponges clean and germ-free. Simply saturate your sponges with water and place in a microwave-safe dish. Heat on high for 1 minute (standard scrub sponges) or 2 minutes (cellulose sponges). Let them stand for a couple of minutes to cool, and then squeeze out the water.
Cleaning your microwave doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use any food-safe cleaner or DIY solution. And once you’re done, you can use your microwave to clean and sanitize your cleaning materials, ensuring your whole home is hygienically fresh.