How to Clean a Microwave in 5 Easy Steps

Lemon, Vinegar, and Baking Soda Can Tackle the Job

person wiping down a microwave door

​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $5

When food splatters on the inside of a microwave oven, it becomes more "baked" on every time the appliance is used, making the caked-on mess (and buildup of odors from cooked food) much more difficult to remove. A heavy buildup of food can even affect how efficiently the microwave works. But you can easily clean and deodorize your microwave thoroughly with safe products, such as lemon, baking soda, and vinegar.

How Often to Clean a Microwave

Ideally, you should check a microwave after every use for any splatters or spills and clean them up immediately. It's always best to use a clean microwave each time you prepare food. Read on for methods on how to clean a microwave fast, as well as deep cleaning techniques.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Microwaveable glass bowl or cup
  • Sponge or microfiber cloth
  • Dishwasher
  • Sink or large tub


  • Lemon, orange, or lime slices
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dishwashing liquid with grease-cutting ingredients
  • Melamine sponge (such as Mr. Clean Eraser)


materials for cleaning a microwave
The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Clean Your Microwave

  1. Steam Clean With Citrus Slices Solution

    Steam clean your microwave to deodorize it, too. Add one cup of water and several slices of lemon, orange, or lime to a microwave-safe glass bowl or large measuring cup. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high power until the mixture boils and the interior of the oven is coated with steam.

    Turn the oven off and wait five minutes before opening the door. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven with a sponge or microfiber cloth.

    steaming lemon slices in the microwave
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 


    If your microwave has a glass turntable plate, it can be washed in the sink or dishwasher. Load it into the dishwasher after meal preparation for easy cleaning.

  2. Steam Clean With Vinegar Solution

    Place one cup of water and one cup of distilled white vinegar in a microwaveable bowl. Put in the microwave and heat on high until the mixture boils and creates steam in the interior of the microwave.

    Turn the microwave off and wait five minutes before opening the door. Remove the bowl and dip a sponge into the solution. Wring the sponge until most of the solution is out and use it to wipe away any residue in the microwave.

    pouring vinegar into a measuring cup
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  3. Tackle Baked-on Food

    If the steaming action isn't enough to cut through baked-on food splatters and grease, it's time to use other methods and some elbow grease for a deeper clean.

    1. Using a spray bottle, mist the problem areas with distilled white vinegar. Sprinkle on some dry baking soda. There will be foaming! When the foaming stops, use a sponge to wipe away the food and stains.
    2. Dip a sponge in water and sprinkle it with some baking soda. Use the abrasive action of the baking soda to scrub problem areas.
    3. Dampen a melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) and use it to scrub away stuck-on food. Finish by wiping down the area with a dampened microfiber cloth to remove any residue.
    items for removing baked-on food
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Clean the Microwave Door

    The interior of the microwave door should be simple to clean with one of the steam methods. However, if there is a greasy buildup, mix one cup of hot water with one teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Dip a sponge in the solution and wring until just damp. Wipe down the door rinsing out the sponge frequently. Finish by wiping down the door with a cloth dipped in clean water to rinse.

    To clean the rubber gasket around the door, sprinkle a sponge dampened with water with a bit of baking soda making sure that all food splatters are removed. Finish by wiping down with a damp cloth or clean sponge to rinse away any residue.

    Clean the outside of the door, including the control panel or touchpad, and handle. Mix a solution of one part water and one part distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz on the outside and wipe clean with a microfiber cloth for a streak-free finish. For a quick touch-up throughout the day, use a disinfecting wipe. Allow the surface to dry and then buff to a shine.

    wiping the microwave door
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  5. Remove Burned Food Odor

    Burnt microwave popcorn odor has to be the worst and it often lingers. To get rid of that odor, or odors from spicy foods, clean any residue away and place a bowl of baking soda inside the microwave. Close the door and allow the baking soda to stay so it can absorb the smell. Remove the bowl next time you use the microwave.

    bowl of baking soda inside a microwave
    ​The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Tips to Keep Your Microwave Clean Longer

  • Even if you are only heating something for a few seconds, always cover it with a paper towel, paper plate, or microwave cover to reduce splatters.
  • Avoid microwaving foods that contain a high level of grease such as bacon.
  • Do a quick clean after cooking something smelly like curry or popcorn by microwaving a cup of water that has a few lemon slices inside.