How to Efficiently Clean a Microwave

Using Baking Soda, Fruit Juice, or Vinegar

Built-in microwave oven
Gunay Mutlu/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

If you haven't kept on top of cleaning your microwave, you're likely to develop a buildup of caked, dried on food. And if it's been coagulating for some time, the tidbits may have hardened, making it that much more difficult to remove. Messy food spatters are unattractive, they smell bad, and they actually decrease the efficiency of your microwave. Here are some options to clean up the mess.

How to Clean a Microwave

Baking Soda Solution

Baking soda is a good general cleaning solution for the microwave.

Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water and use it to wash down the inside of the microwave oven.

To deal with baked on food, mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with water in a microwave safe cup. Boil in the microwave for a few minutes. The insides of the microwave will become damp and easy to clean with a paper towel or dishcloth. This method has the added benefit of removing odors that may be clinging to your microwave oven.

In addition, just as you store baking soda in the refrigerator to control odor, you can keep a box of baking soda in the microwave in between uses.

Fruit Juice Solution

Here's an easy way to eliminate grime in the microwave, recommended by Goodhouskeeping.com:

  1. Put 1 cup of water and a chopped-up lemon, lime or orange inside a microwave-safe bowl that holds 4 cups.
  2. Place it in the microwave and turn it on high for a few minutes or until you see that the solution is boiling and the window gets steamy.
  1. Let it sit to and cool for 15 minutes. Then remove the bowl and wipe the microwave inside.
  2. Use a sponge dampened only with water only to clean the gasket around the door. If the window looks greasy, clean with a mixture comprised of half water mixed with half vinegar.

Vinegar Solution

  1. Pour equal parts water and vinegar a bowl. Using half a cup of each is generally fine, but if your appliance requires a deeper and longer cleaning, then use one cup of vinegar and one cup water.
  1. Place a toothpick or another small wooden object into the mixture which will minimize the potential for an explosion. It's a preventive step and a good one to take to stay on the safe side, though not necessary. How does it work? Bubbles will form on the toothpick or wooden object, letting it boil without exploding if the bowl is suddenly moved. 
  2. Heat the mixture for five to 10 minutes; the dirtier the microwave, the longer the cleaning time. When the time is complete, leave the bowl inside for a minute or two for additional steam to build up.
  3. Use oven mitts to remove the bowl due to its high temperature. Next, dip a sponge into the mixture and scrub the microwave. Stuck on food should come off easily with minimal effort and just a few swipes.