4 Surefire Methods for Cleaning the Crud Out of Your Microwave

by Matt Schmitz
cleaning inside of microwave

Let us start by saying that the best way to keep the inside of your microwave clean is to keep the food you're heating or reheating covered, and to do a quick wipedown with a damp sponge after each use — and let us follow up by saying, Ha! Yeah, we know as well as you do that such clean-as-you-go initiative is uncommon to nonexistent, especially if you have kids. But what you can do is know the best ways to remove (without a hammer and chisel) all those burnt-to-cinder splotches of spaghetti sauce and exploded bits of ground beef left over from Taco Tuesday when you absolutely must clean the inside of your microwave because company's coming over.

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But beyond your fear of being clean shamed by your dinner guests, proper maintenance is key to a long and useful life for any household appliance, including your microwave — and, let's face it, you cook with it more than you do your stove. To that end, here are four tried-and-true methods for deep cleaning your microwave:

1. The Vinegar Method

  • Add 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and one drop of lemon essential oil to a bowl.
  • Microwave it for 5 minutes.
  • Leave it closed up inside for 3 minutes before opening the door.
  • The dirt and grime will be steam-softened and should wipe away easily with a paper towel, sponge or rag.

2. The Lemon Method

  • Squeeze two lemon halves into half a cup of water, and drop the whole lemon halves into the water, too.
  • Microwave it for 3 minutes, then let it sit closed up for 5 minutes.
  • Voila! Wipe everything down — easy peasy lemon squeezy.

3. The Sponge Method

This one comes courtesy of the makers of Simple Green all-purpose cleaner:

  • Soak a clean sponge with fresh water, making sure it's as saturated as possible.
  • Place the sponge in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it on high for 2 minutes, and the steam created by heating the sponge will soften and loosen caked-on grime.
  • Let the sponge sit in the microwave for a couple more minutes after that, until the warm water is cool enough to handle.
  • Carefully remove the bowl and rinse the sponge, squeeze out some of the water and wipe down the microwave surfaces.

4. The Mr. Clean Method

Actually, you can name this one after whatever your household's all-purpose cleaner of choice is: The Simple Green Method, The Fantastik Method … The Method Method. Anyway, if there are still stubborn spots, you can use an all-purpose cleaner to cut through the grease and grime. Just be sure to go back over it with a clean, damp sponge or cloth afterwards, and again with a dry cloth or paper towel.

More Tips

  • Simple Green recommends removing the tray inside your microwave and, if possible, the rotating rack it sits on.
  • Wash those pieces as you would normally, rinse them and allow them to dry.
  • Place the clean, dry rack and tray back inside the microwave.
  • Let everything air dry completely by leaving the microwave door open for an hour after you finish cleaning.
  • Clean the outside of the microwave by generously spraying your cleaning solution onto a sponge and wiping down the exterior surfaces; follow up with a clean, damp cloth, then dry with a dry cloth or paper towels, or let air dry.

To see our microwave-cleaning advice in action, watch the instructional video below.

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