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How To Clean a Microwave

Updated Nov 21, 2022

Updated Nov 21, 2022

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > How To Clean a Microwave

Over 90% of Americans have microwaves. After all, what’s not to love about a time-saving, easy-to-use kitchen appliance that makes it a snap to reheat leftovers and melt butter for delicious baking?

Unfortunately, microwaves also get filthy quickly, and food splatters can promptly lead to hardened buildup that is a pain to clean. To help, consider our tips for cleaning a microwave efficiently.

Before Cleaning Your Microwave

inside look at a very dirty microwave
Image Source: Canva

There are a few things you should do before cleaning your microwave:

  • Always check the manufacturer’s use and care manual for personalized advice on cleaning your microwave.
  • Unplug the microwave oven to minimize the risk of electric shock.
  • Combine 6 tablespoons of baking soda or ½ a cup of lemon juice with 1 cup of water and microwave in a microwave safe bowl until the mixture boils. This mixture helps remove odor, and the steam loosens hardened food residue and gunk. For deep cleaning, microwave this mixture for three minutes, then leave the door closed for an additional 15 minutes to allow the mixture to steam clean your microwave.

How To Clean a Dirty Microwave Door

A greasy microwave door with smudges and food residue is an eyesore in an otherwise clean kitchen. Use these simple steps to clean your microwave door and remove the grease:

  1. Grab a damp cloth or sponge and dip it in a little baking soda. Then, wipe the entire door down, including the sides, seal, and edges of the microwave oven. Follow up with a damp, clean cloth to rinse. If your microwave is stainless steel, clean the microwave first, then follow up with a stainless steel cleaner for extra shine.
  2. If the microwave window is greasy, create a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Use a damp cloth and this cleaning solution to wipe grease and smudge marks from the microwave window, then wipe down with a dry cloth.
  3. If you have heavy grease buildup or stubborn food splatters, wipe your microwave door with an all-purpose cleaning product designed to target grease, or use a combination of dish soap and water. Carefully apply the cleaner so it doesn’t get into the vent holes, and scrub with a non-scratch pad for extra leverage.

How To Clean the Microwave’s Interior

photo of a turntable from the inside of the microwave
Image Source: Canva

The microwave’s interior is often home to an unfortunate burnt smell and caked-on, dried food residue. Here’s how to take care of both of these issues:

  • Remove the microwave’s turntable from the inside of the microwave. Check your manufacturer’s care guide to see if the turntable can be put in a dishwasher. If not, hand wash with a non-scratch scrub sponge and sudsy water.
  • Spray the inside of the microwave with an all-purpose cleaner or a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Let this cleaning solution sit for 10 minutes to allow it to work away at those stubborn stains. Take a soft cloth or microfiber cloth and scrub away at any remaining tough stains and food residue. Wipe the inside of the microwave with a paper towel and warm water to rinse away the cleaning solution and any remaining food residue and grime.
  • If stubborn stains remain, scrape them off with a plastic credit card or non-scratch scrub sponge.
  • Be careful not to scratch the microwave’s protective mesh inside the door if it’s exposed in your model. This protective mesh keeps microwaves from escaping the appliance and zapping you.

Generally, it’s best to wipe down food spills as soon as they happen to avoid tough stains, unpleasant odors, and caked-on food residue. If possible, quickly wipe the bottom and walls of the microwave oven with a damp cloth as soon as a spill happens to save yourself time later.

How to Remove Burnt Smells from the Microwave

Did you burn your popcorn? We’ve all done it, and the smell can linger for weeks if not addressed. Use these DIY cleaning tips to tackle unpleasant odors in your microwave:

  • For burnt smells, deep clean your microwave and remove leftover food residue. Then, place an odor-absorbing gel product in your microwave and remove it before you run it again. Another option is to leave a small dish filled with baking soda or vinegar in the microwave. Baking soda or vinegar will absorb the odor over time, freshening the smell of your microwave once more.
  • For lighter odors, such as the smell of spicy food, leave the microwave oven door open to air out the microwave. Alternatively, place a bowl of baking soda or vinegar in the microwave with the door closed to absorb the smell.

Final Thoughts

We hope these microwave cleaning hacks help with regular cleaning and deep cleaning tasks. Steam cleaning your microwave first with baking soda or lemon juice and water will definitely speed up the cleaning process, so we recommend this step regardless of how dirty your microwave is.

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