How to Easily Clean a Microwave With Vinegar

using vinegar to clean a microwave

The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Are you tired of battling all of the baked-on food in your microwave? You can finally put away all of those expensive cleaners and ease up on the elbow grease because an easy solution is available: vinegar.

Heating vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl steams all of the food spatter off, while the acetic acid in the vinegar sanitizes and deodorizes your microwave. You've heard of steam cleaning a carpet; this process is steam cleaning for your microwave. It's so effective, you may just find yourself cleaning your microwave more often.

There are many benefits of cleaning your microwave—or many other household appliances—with vinegar, including that vinegar:

  • Is inexpensive
  • Has no harsh chemicals or fumes
  • Is an effective sanitizer
  • Removes odors, rather than covering them up
  • Is environmentally friendly

Before You Begin

Before you begin, here are a few warnings and tips.

  • The vinegar-water solution will be very hot after heating. Wear gloves or use an oven mitt to protect your hands during this process.
  • If you still have vinegar left over after cleaning your microwave, use it to cut through the grease on your stovetop and kitchen cabinets or even to clean the oily fingerprints on your stainless steel appliances.
  • Once you're done with the microwave, don't put that vinegar bottle away just yet. Use it to clean your kitchen and bathrooms from top to bottom. Then, use it to clean and freshen your drains, wash your laundry, and deep clean your carpet. Once you discover vinegar's hidden cleaning power, you'll find that you have very little use for all of those pricey store-bought cleaners. It really is versatile stuff. No household should be without a bottle (or two).

How Often Should You Clean Your Microwave?

The answer to this question, like most cleaning-related questions, will undoubtedly vary. How often do you use your microwave? What do you use it for? If you're a frequent microwave user and can't get enough of those stinky (but very tasty) bags of buttered popcorn, you'll likely need to clean your microwave at least once a week.

However, if you don't use it as frequently, a nice deep clean biweekly or even once a month should do the trick. Cleaning your microwave with vinegar is gentle, so cleaning it often will not harm your machine. Do what works best for your schedule and fits your needs.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Cleaning Tools

  • 1 microwave-safe bowl
  • 1 sponge
  • 1 microfiber towel or rag

Materials

Cleaning Supplies

  • 1 bottle white vinegar
  • Citrus peels, lavender, roses, or other natural scented items
  • Water

Instructions

How to Clean a Microwave Using Vinegar

  1. Add Your Favorite Scent to Your Vinegar

    If you don't like the scent of vinegar, don't worry—you can give vinegar a more pleasant smell by making scented vinegar. Making scented vinegar is easy and usually doesn't even require you buying anything new.  Choose your favorite scent—think of roses, lavender, rosemary, mint, lemon peels, orange peels, lime peels, and cinnamon sticks.

    Add your chosen accent to a microwave-safe bowl of half vinegar and half water. Just be careful of choosing darker herbs, as this can change the color of your vinegar and potentially stain your microwave during cleaning.

  2. Heat It Up

    Place your bowl of vinegar, water, and optional scented accents into the microwave and heat it on high for two minutes. This will steam clean the inside of your microwave and bring out the scent you added to the bowl. Once it's done, carefully remove the bowl.

    Warning

    The solution will be extremely hot, so use gloves or an oven mitt to protect your hands from any accidental splashing.

    lemons and vinegar in the microwave

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Wipe Down the Microwave

    With your glove or mitt on, dip a sponge into the solution and carefully wipe down the inside of the microwave. If your microwave has a removable turning plate, be sure to take that out, wipe it down, wipe under it, and replace. Because of the earlier steam clean, you shouldn't have to use too much elbow grease.

  4. Wipe the Inside Dry

    Once you've got every speck of grease and grime off the inside of your microwave, grab a microfiber towel (or really any rag will do if you don't have a microfiber at the ready) and wipe the inside dry.

  5. Don't Forget About the Outside

    You want your microwave to look as good on the outside as it does on the inside, right? Luckily, you can use the same vinegar solution to do just that! Repeat the steps above for the outside of your microwave to get it spic and span.

    using vinegar to clean a microwave

    The Spruce / Jenelle Botts

Tips for Keeping Your Microwave Clean Longer

  • Invest in a microwave plate cover, as this will help reduce splash and splatter that gets stuck on the walls of your microwave.
  • No plate cover? A paper towel will do the trick. You can cover bowls and cups with a paper towel to reduce splatter, or wrap solid items to avoid melting and sticking all over your microwave.
  • Remember, regular maintenance is key. The more often you clean your microwave, the less of a hassle it will be when it's time to get it sparkling.
Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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