Microwaves are considered a necessary appliance in most kitchens for quickly heating water, warming up leftovers, or making snacks. But whether you just use a microwave for quick tasks or for full-blown meal preparation, it is going to need to be cleaned. Because microwaves cause food molecules to heat so quickly, the dishes tend to splatter and boil over very quickly.
Fortunately, cleaning a microwave is simple because you can let the appliance do most of the work. Just grab some lemons from the fruit bowl and some baking soda from the pantry for a fresh, clean microwave.
How Often to Clean a Microwave
Cleaning frequency depends on how careful you are about covering foods that you are heating in the microwave and how often you use it. For most households, weekly cleaning is appropriate. However, if you have some careless users, it is a good idea to check the microwave after each use for splatters and spills. Once the food splatters go through several heating cycles, they are much more difficult to remove. Too much food build-up inside the appliance can interfere with how efficiently it performs.
The control panel and handles should be wiped down often, at least daily, with a disinfecting wipe to remove bacteria transferred from hands.
Equipment / Tools
- Microwaveable dish
- Microfiber cloths
- Sink or large tub
- Baking soda
- Dishwashing liquid
- Melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Magic Eraser)
Create a Cleaning Solution
Pour one cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl or large cup. Slice one lemon and add it to the cup.
If you don't have a fresh lemon, you can add three tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. Don't have either? Use lime slices, lime juice, grapefruit peels, or orange peels instead.
Another substitute that doesn't smell quite so nice is distilled white vinegar. Add one-half cup to the water.
Place the water and lemon mixture in the microwave. Set the controls on high so that the water comes to a full boil long enough to create steam to coat the interior of the microwave.
Let the Steam Do the Work
Once the interior of the microwave is coated with steam, do not open the door for at least five minutes. The steam is working to soften and loosen all the splattered bits of food.
Remove the Cleaning Solution
After about five minutes, open the microwave and remove the bowl containing the water and lemon slices. It should still be warm but not hot.
If you have a turntable in the microwave, remove all of the components and set them to one side. This will make cleaning the interior much more simple.
Wipe Away the Interior Grime
Dip a clean kitchen sponge or microfiber cloth in the lemon water solution and squeeze out most of the water. Use the damp sponge to wipe down the sides, top, and bottom of the microwave interior. Rinse out the sponge often.
If the food particles still won't budge, dip the damp sponge or cloth in a bit of dry baking soda. The baking soda will act as a gentle abrasive to loosen the food. For food that just will not budge, dampen a melamine sponge (or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser) and scrub gently. Always finish by wiping down the area with a clean damp sponge.
Clean the Door
Use the same lemon water to clean the interior of the microwave door. Don't forget to clean the rubber gasket around the door to maintain a tight seal.
If the door interior or gasket feels greasy, add one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to one cup of hot water. Dip a sponge in the solution and wipe down the door. Rinse the sponge well and wipe again to remove any soapy residue.
The outside of the door can also be cleaned with the lemon and water solution. After wiping down the exterior, paying close attention to the control panel and door handles, use a dry microfiber cloth to buff the surface to a shine.
Clean the Microwave Turntable
Fill a sink or large tub with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to wash the turntable components. Use a sponge to loosen food particles and then rinse well. Dry with a lint-free microfiber cloth and reassemble in the microwave.
Most microwave turntables can be safely washed in the dishwasher. Check your manufacturer's guidelines.
Tips to Keep Your Microwave Clean
- Other than plain water, always cover foods when microwaving to prevent splatters.
- Only use microwaveable containers when heating foods and liquids. Do not use Styrofoam cups, take-out containers, or paper bags.
- Avoid certain foods like hot peppers, whole fruits, or whole eggs in their shell that may explode.
"When and How to Wash Your Hands." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.