Cleaning your microwave is one of those tedious tasks that nobody likes to do. But, you have to do it on a regular basis to help maintain the unit and ensure that your food tastes as it should.
Whether you’re using a countertop or built-in unit, here are eight different ways to thoroughly clean your microwave without risking damage to it.
Before you follow any of these cleaning techniques, make sure you unplug the power cord. In fact, this is a great time to inspect the cord for any dirt or damage, which can be a potential fire hazard. If it is in good shape, wipe off the accumulation of dust and dirt.
Next, examine the inside of your microwave oven to determine where the dirtiest areas are at. You also will want to figure out which, if any, parts are removable. This allows you to pretreat the worst items and will be helpful in the overall cleaning process.
1. A handful of Wet Paper Towels
The fastest method for cleaning your microwave oven is to place a handful of soaking wet paper towels inside and run it on high power for up to five minutes. The steam from the towels will soften and loosen caked-on grime. Once the towels cool down, you can use them to wipe the interior clean.
2. Baking Soda
To remove cooked-on spills from the floor or turntable of your microwave, make a paste by combining two parts baking soda to one part water. Apply it to the hardened mess and let it sit for about five minutes. Wipe up the baking soda with a wet sponge or cloth and remove any leftover residue with a paper towel.
3. Water and Vinegar
Fill a microwave-safe glass or bowl halfway with water. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar. Microwave on high for five minutes. This process will steam up the walls of the microwave and loosen the dried-on gunk. Carefully remove the glass container and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a clean rag or paper towel. Take out the turntable and wash it as you would a dish. You can even run it through the dishwasher.
4. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Both ingredients are inexpensive, and most people have them on hand. Add four tablespoons of baking soda to a quart of warm water. Make sure to mash and stir vigorously so that the powder completely dissolves. Dip a cloth or sponge into the mixture and wipe it over the whole inside of the microwave.
Next, pour equal parts of water and white vinegar into a microwave-safe bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it for three minutes on high power, or until the water boils vigorously. Keep the microwave door closed for 10 minutes so that the steam can work its magic. Open the microwave door and remove the bowl, the turntable, and the carousel. Soak the removable components in hot, soapy water while you wipe down the microwave interior with the vinegar and water solution.
Repeat until no baking soda residue remains.
5. Lemon Juice
Cut a lemon in half, and place both halves cut-side down on a microwaveable plate. Add a tablespoon of water. Microwave for one minute, or until the lemon is hot and the inside of the oven is steamy. Then just wipe down the inside with clean paper towels. As a bonus, the lemon makes an excellent natural, organic cleaner for your garbage disposal. All you have to do is separate the halves into smaller slices and run them through the machine with plenty of water.
6. Dish Soap
Fill a microwave-safe bowl with warm water. Add an ample amount of dishwashing soap. Put the bowl in the microwave for one minute, or until it begins to steam. Remove the bowl. Dampen a sponge and wipe the inside of the microwave. The steam will loosen all of the dried-on debris so that you can easily clean your microwave. You can also add baking soda to the bowl to serve as a deodorizer.
7. Diluted Window Cleaner Solution
In a bowl, mix two parts window cleaner with one part water. The diluted solution is sufficient to clean the inside and outside of the microwave. Soak a sponge in the mixture and wipe the interior of the microwave. Remove the carousel and rub-down the base of the microwave until you remove all the spots and stains. Clean the vents of the microwave from the inside to eliminate any debris. Soak tough stains and spots in the window cleaner solution for five minutes before scrubbing. Make sure to wipe down the upper shelf and ceiling, since food tends to splatter onto the top of the microwave.
After the interior is glistening, dip a fresh rag in clean water and wash it down once more. This will ensure that no residue remains from the solution because it does contain chemicals. If a few tough spots remain, use a cloth soaked in olive oil to clean them. Let the unit dry after wiping it out with a clean rag. Smell the inside to see if you detect a window cleaner scent. If you do, take a clean cloth soaked in freshwater and wipe it out again.
8. Commercial Cleansers
Several types of commercial cleaners can adequately clean just about any mess in your microwave, but typically they create heavy and often unpleasant fumes that remain in the microwave. The leftover residue from the cleaner can produce an odd taste to your food.
If you do opt for a commercial cleanser, try a fume-free product and leave the door open for a few hours after you finish cleaning. Use caution when using any commercial cleaning products inside of your microwave. You should never use pre-soaked scrubbing pads inside of your microwave because the loose particles will catch fire and explode.
As a final touch, wipe down the exterior of the microwave, beginning with the top, sides, back, and finally the front. Dry and replace the turning element and the turntable. Plug the microwave back in, and it is ready to do its job once again.
The more that you use your microwave oven, the more frequent cleanings it requires. However, on average cleaning it once every few weeks is an appropriate schedule if you want to keep it looking and smelling like new.