Ever try to reheat food and have it go splat? Or maybe the curry bubbled over while it was cooking. Cleaning a microwave isn’t the most fun of chores, but it is necessary — and not just because someone made pasta sauce explode inside. (Whoops!)
As for how to clean a microwave, there are two easy methods: steam cleaning it using vinegar or lemon juice, and deep cleaning it with dish soap and water. The first method is great for a quick polish everyday. The second should be done weekly, or any time someone makes a mess. You can also use bicarb soda to get dried food gunk off the inside.
Cleaning a microwave is straightforward; it’s doing this regularly where things get tricky. But once you see how simple it is, you’ve got no excuse — so grab the vinegar and get heating!
Why Clean A Microwave
To put it bluntly, your microwave heats your food, so a clean microwave equals clean, healthy food. Leaving food gunk and other debris to build up inside your microwave makes it prime real estate for mould and bacteria — neither of which you want near your food.
Also, like many other appliances, regular cleaning helps maintain your microwave. It ensures your appliance is working efficiently, which in turn means your food is heated properly. It’ll also give your microwave a longer lifespan.
To minimise health risks and keep your appliance functional, make cleaning your microwave part of your kitchen tidy-up routine — alongside other appliances, like cleaning your stove top, or even cleaning your dishwasher!
(Or skip the effort and let a home cleaning service take care of all of that for you.)
How To Clean A Microwave
As mentioned, there are two ways to clean your microwave: steam cleaning and deep cleaning. Besides those, you can also use bicarb soda for microwave cleaning.
How to steam clean a microwave
Use this method to clean your microwave at the end of the day. It helps disinfect the interior and deter any health hazards from building up. There are two things you can use, and they’re right in your kitchen alongside the appliance!
Cleaning a microwave with lemon
To clean your microwave with a lemon, you’ll need:
- Half a lemon
- A microwave safe bowl (or plate)
- Some water
- Sponge or microfibre cloth
- Squeeze the lemon to soften it, then cut it in half. Save the half for something else, like cleaning your kettle.
- Place the lemon cut-side down on the bowl and add a tablespoon or two of water. Place the bowl in the microwave.
- Microwave on high for a 2–3 minutes, or until the lemon is hot and the interior is steamy. Let sit for another minute or two.
- Carefully remove the bowl and the lemon, then wipe down the inside with a sponge or microfibre cloth.
NOTE: Instead of a sponge or microfibre cloth, you can also use a paper towel!
Cleaning a microwave with vinegar
To clean a microwave with vinegar, you’ll need:
- White vinegar
- Microwave safe bowl or measuring cup
- Sponge or microfibre cloth
- Mix equal parts water and vinegar in the bowl — about one cup each.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and run on high for 2–3 minutes. Let the bowl sit for another minute or two inside.
- Carefully remove the bowl (it’ll be hot!), then wipe the inside with a sponge or microfibre cloth.
How to deep clean a microwave
Sometimes a quick steam clean isn’t enough, or maybe someone’s spilled sauce inside your microwave oven. Or maybe it’s time for a more thorough clean of your appliance. To deep clean a microwave, you’ll need:
- Bicarb soda
- White vinegar
- Microwave safe bowl
- Sponge, clean cloth, or paper towels
- Add four tablespoons of bicarb soda to a litre of water. Make sure you mix it well so the bicarb soda is completely dissolved.
- Dip a paper towel or sponge and wipe the inside of the microwave, making sure to get every nook and cranny.
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a microwave safe bowl — about a cup each.
- Place the bowl inside of the microwave and run on high for three minutes, or until the water starts to boil over. Let it sit inside for 10 minutes afterwards so the steam can do its work.
- Remove the bowl carefully, alongside the turntable and carousel. Set the bowl aside.
- Soak the turntable and carousel in hot, soapy water. You can also run them in the dishwasher if the manual says this is safe!
- Wipe the inside of your microwave using a sponge or clean cloth dipped in the remaining vinegar and water mixture. Make sure no bicarb soda residue remains.
- Replace the turntable and carousel, and your microwave is squeaky clean!
Cleaning a microwave exterior
The easiest way of cleaning your microwave exterior is with diluted window cleaner! Just mix two parts window cleaner with one part water. Dip a sponge in the mixture, then use it to wipe the outside of your microwave until it’s spotless. Then go over the surfaces with a clean cloth dipped in water to remove the scent.
How to remove dried food from inside a microwave
Did someone make a mess inside your microwave? Or maybe food debris has just built up over time. The easiest way to remove food stuck inside the microwave is with bicarb soda.
Make a paste out of bicarb soda and water, and use it on any hardened food in the interior. Let it sit for at least five minutes, then wipe off with a wet sponge. You can press a paper towel dampened with vinegar to the spot for added cleaning power. Repeat until all the debris is gone, then make sure to clean any remaining residue.
One way to prime your microwave before deep cleaning — or even just give it a quick clean between uses — is through wet paper towels. Just dampen a few paper towels and place them inside of your microwave. Run the appliance on high for a few minutes to release some steam. This helps loosen any stuck food on the interior, making it easier to scrub off.
Always remember to wipe down your microwave, whether it’s in between uses or after the day is done. If you don’t want to use vinegar or lemon, just put some dish soap and water in a microwave safe bowl. Place it inside and microwave on high for 3–5 minutes. Take out the bowl (carefully!) then use a sponge or microfibre cloth to wipe down the inside of the microwave.
Use lids when heating food as much as possible — just remember to not to cover completely! Heating sealed containers runs the risk of the contents exploding, which could lead to unwanted accidents. Keeping a lid (or even a paper towel) on a container reduces the chance of food splatter — less to clean up. And that means you can go longer between cleaning, ahem.
Avoid using harsh commercial and chemical cleaners on your microwave, since you do use it to cook and heat food. Vinegar, lemon, and bicarb soda are all capable of cleaning well enough. If you must resort to a commercial cleaner, choose one specifically for microwaves so it’s formulated properly.
Take the turntable out of your microwave from time to time and wash it. Check the manufacturer’s manual to see if your turntable is dishwasher safe; otherwise, you can wash it with dish soap and water just like a plate. Dry before use, and don’t forget to put it back — or the next person to use the microwave is going to be very confused!