We use microwaves more often than we think, and it’s easy for them to become splattered with bits of leftovers or permanently smell like burnt popcorn.
Microwaves may seem like a pain to clean, but they're actually a quick-and-easy clean that makes a major difference in your kitchen’s cleanliness and the safety of your next leftover meal or bag of popcorn.
How to Clean a Microwave
It’s important to clean your entire microwave. That means removing the turntable and washing it separately and scrubbing all the crevices and corners of your microwave. You can clean the turntable in your dishwasher or hand wash it with dish soap and warm water.
It’s easy to use a damp rag and wipe off the outside and most of the inside of your microwave. One nice thing about microwaves: cleaning is extremely simple. With the right tools, you can have your microwave clean itself. There are many things you can microwave for a few minutes that will leave it sparkly clean.
- Sponge: Soak the sponge in water, adding soap if you want, and microwave the sponge on the turntable for two to three minutes. After microwaving, wipe down the inside with the sponge.
- Wet towel: Soak a small towel and microwave it for one to two minutes. Once the towel is cool, use it to wipe down the inside of the microwave.
- Lemon: Fill a glass bowl with 3–4 cups of hot water. Add in a cut of lemon. Microwave for three to four minutes or until the water is boiling. Use a wet cleaning cloth to wipe down the inside.
- Dish Soap: Fill a bowl with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap and microwave for two minutes or until you’ve created steam. After letting the water sit for a few minutes, wipe down the inside with paper towels or a dry cloth.
Disinfecting Your Microwave
After you’ve cleaned your microwave and removed any hardened food, it’s just as important to disinfect and remove any lingering bacteria. Put 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar into a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave for a few minutes or until the liquid is boiling. You want to produce steam. Leave the bowl in the microwave for five minutes after you’ve finished heating it and then you can wipe down the inside of your microwave.
Another sanitizing option for cleaning your turntable in your microwave is to use PhoneSoap’s larger sanitizer, HomeSoap. Since the average microwave turntable is 16 inches in diameter, HomeSoap will most likely only be able to fit smaller microwave turntables with its inner dimensions being 13 inches long and 9 inches tall. For smaller microwaves, you can put your turntable into HomeSoap to kill 99.99% of harmful bacteria in 10 minutes.
Cleaning with Chemicals
Avoid cleaning the inside of your microwave with chemical cleaning sprays. These will often leave lingering smells that will transfer to whatever food you place in your microwave. Glass cleaner can be used to wipe off the outside of your microwave.
Cleaning a Microwave with Lemon
Cleaning your microwave with lemons is a great natural way to clean and will leave your microwave smelling fresh. Most methods that use lemons involve cutting the lemon and placing it in a bowl and microwaving on high for a few minutes.
As mentioned above, you can cut a lemon and place it in a bowl of water, or you can completely squeeze the lemon into a bowl, add in the rinds, and microwave it till the liquid begins to boil.
Adding water will dilute the lemon and avoid a strong smell if you aren’t a huge citrus fan or want a more odorless smell. Regardless of what you decide, let the liquid remain in the microwave for at least five minutes after and remember to wipe down the entire interior and exterior.
Cleaning Your Microwave with Baking Soda
Combining baking soda and water creates a paste that’s perfect for removing hard food bits and cleaning up large spills. Put the paste onto the leftover food and leave it for five minutes. Once the time is up, you can just wipe it off with a wet sponge or towel and hopefully avoid scrubbing.
How to Remove Stains
You can use any of the above cleaning methods to remove stains. The important thing to make sure you have is steam. That’s why you need to boil whatever liquid you put into your microwave and let it sit for a few minutes afterward, so the steam builds up.
If your stains don’t easily wipe off after microwaving whatever liquid combination you choose, then create a paste of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and water and let it sit on the stains for at least four minutes then wipe it off with a damp rag or sponge.
How to Make Your Microwave Less Smelly
There are three good things to use to remove bad, lingering smells from your microwave.
- Vinegar: Microwave a bowl of a 1/2 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar for about five minutes and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes after with the door shut. Wipe off the interior after.
- Baking Soda: Microwave a bowl of 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda for about four minutes and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe down the interior after.
- Citrus: Place orange peels or lemon slices into a bowl filled with 1 or 2 cups of water. Microwave the bowl for four minutes and leave the bowl in your microwave for a few hours. If you don’t have that much time, 30 minutes should be fine.
As with many kitchen appliances, it’s important to consistently and frequently clean your microwave. If your leftovers explode or spillover, clean it immediately to avoid hard-to-clean stains. Using the methods above, you can save money through easy home remedies and keep your microwave clean, sanitized, and looking as good as new.