How to Clean a Microwave With Simple Ingredients You Already Have

By Alexa Erickson


A microwave is a go-to appliance for thawing, melting, cooking, and heating up food. But, the time-saving addition to the kitchen likes to make a mess. It’s not always a set-it-and-forget-it scenario, and that butter can burst all over the place as it melts, or that soup you reheat can splatter in every direction if not stirred between zaps. Even when you think you have the timing right, sometimes messes happen. Whatever mess your microwave has gotten itself into, this guide will help you clean your microwave to return it back to its original, sparkly state.

how to clean a microwave

Photo via Angela


When to Clean Your Microwave

There’s no definitive moment when the microwave must be scrubbed down, but there are some tips for when to clean it. First and foremost, if a big splatter happens, clean it right away. Otherwise, gunk will further solidify and be harder to clean as time goes on. Otherwise, plan to wipe down the microwave once a week to remove general buildup of small particles of food and grease. That way, you won’t have to worry about doing a long deep clean that will have you breaking a serious sweat and considering tossing out the microwave altogether! If you don’t use the microwave very often, plan to tackle it once a month. 


How to Clean a Microwave

There are various tips and tricks for cleaning the inside of a microwave, and each helps to soften the stuck-on food particles to make the process easier. Here, we’ve outlined a few methods using basic household ingredients, including lemon, vinegar, and dish soap.

how to clean a microwave with lemon

Photo via The Typical Mom


How to Clean a Microwave with Lemon

Lemon is an all-natural acidic cleaning agent. Not only will lemons get your microwave nice and clean, but they’ll deodorize the appliance in the process of cleaning. This method uses the power of steam to melt away microwave scum.


Tools and Materials Needed

  • Small microwave-safe measuring cup
  • 1 lemon
  • Oven mitts (optional)
  • Clean, dry dish towel


Step 1: Combine Water and Lemon

Add ½ cup of water to a measuring cup. Slice a lemon in half, then squeeze the juice into the water. Add both of the lemon halves to the bowl as well. 


Step 2: Microwave the Mixture

Microwave the bowl on high power for five minutes. The water will come to a boil. Allow it to stand in the microwave without opening the door for five more minutes after the timer is up. During this time, the steam from the mixture will accumulate and loosen up food particles.


Step 3: Open the Microwave Door

After five minutes of steaming, open the microwave door and remove the bowl. If it’s hot, wear oven mitts to remove.


Step 4: Clean the Microwave

Remove the turntable and wipe it clean with a dry cloth. Set aside. Wipe down the ceiling, sides, door, and bottom of the inside of the microwave. For any stubborn spots, dip the cloth in the lemon-water solution and scrub the spots until the food lifts away. Replace the turntable. 


How to Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is another highly effective and natural cleaner and sanitizer that’s safe to use in the microwave. This method also involves getting the microwave nice and steamy to make wiping away messes easier.


Tools and Materials Needed

  • Small microwave-safe measuring cup
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Clean, dry dish towel
  • Oven mitts (optional)


Step 1: Combine Vinegar and Water

In a microwave-safe measuring cup, combine two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar. 


Step 2: Microwave the Mixture

Microwave the bowl on high power for five minutes. Allow it to stand in the microwave for five more minutes after the timer goes off and before opening the door. 


Step 3: Open the Microwave Door, Clean Inside 

After five minutes of steaming, open the microwave door and remove the bowl with oven mitts if the bowl is still hot. Remove the turntable and wipe it clean with a dry cloth. Set aside. Wipe down the ceiling, sides, door, and bottom of the inside of the microwave. For any stubborn spots, dip the cloth in the vinegar-water solution and scrub the spots until the food lifts away. Replace the turntable. 


How to Deep Clean a Microwave with Soap

Sometimes you need to put in a little more time and cleaning power to get the microwave in sparkling clean condition. If you’ve already tried the above lemon and vinegar steaming methods but they didn’t get everything off, try this next method, which involves a little more scrubbing.


Tools and Materials Needed

  • Dish soap 
  • Sponge
  • Damp cloth
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Dry cloth


Step 1: Remove and Wash Removable Parts

Remove the turntable and its roller glide and wash by hand as you would any other dish with a sponge, dish soap, and hot water. 


Step 2: Tackle the Crumbs

Use a cloth dampened with warm, soapy water to wipe up big food particles or loose crumbs. 


Step 3: Wash the Microwave

Apply a squirt of soap to a bowl of warm water, then dip the sponge in. Use the sudsy sponge to wipe down the microwave’s interior using circular motions, avoiding the vents.  


Step 4: Wipe Clean

Use a slightly damp rag to wipe away the soap in the same circular motion until no suds remain. 


Step 6: Dry Surfaces

Use a dry cloth to dry all surfaces, including removable parts. Reassemble your microwave turntable and roller glide.


How to Clean the Outside of a Microwave

The outside of a microwave is subject to everyday smudges, grease, fingerprints, and spills. Since the microwave is, for the most part, a visible fixture in the kitchen, you want it to look good, right? Here’s how you can make it shine in no time. 


Tools and Materials Needed

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge 
  • Dry cloth
  • Glass cleaner (optional)
  • Melamine foam (optional)


Step 1: Turn On the Control Lock

To avoid activating buttons while you clean, check to see if your microwave has a control lock. If so, turn it on.


Step 2: Wipe and Dry Exterior

Use a damp sponge with dish soap on it to gently wipe down the exterior of the microwave. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. For glass controls and windows, you can use a glass cleaner instead. 


Step 3: Tackle Rust

For stainless steel areas that are showing rust, scrub down with a dampened melamine foam to remove the rusty spots, then wipe dry with a clean cloth. 

how to keep a microwave clean

Photo via The Typical Mom


Tips for Keeping Your Microwave Clean

Sometimes the convenience and quick work of a microwave can cause you to overlook spending time on keeping it clean. However, if you want to avoid deep cleans and shorten regular cleaning times, it’s important to know the tips for keeping your microwave clean.

  • Invest in a special cover to keep splatters contained, like this one. Or, consider placing a paper towel over items when you put them in the microwave. 
  • Wipe down food splatter immediately to avoid stuck-on grime. 
  • Avoid microwaving items that are prone to leaving behind a lot of residue and smell, such as bacon and eggs.


Do you have any tips for cleaning a microwave? Share them below!

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