If you’re tired of wiping down your microwave, try these tricks to keep it cleaner, longer.

By Kelsey Ogletree
November 11, 2019
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You won’t need heavy-duty cleaners when you’re armed with these simple microwave cleaning hacks. Whether you’re trying to clean that toxic waste zone known as the office microwave (finally learning how to clean a Keurig is another story) or getting rid of the piled-on bacon grease and sauce splatters covering your own appliance, there are ways to learn how to clean a microwave that don’t require scrubbing with a sponge until your hands are raw.

When it comes to microwave cleaning tricks, there’s a simple phrase to remember: Steam is your best friend. With that in mind, here are seven hacks to make cleaning this near-essential appliance a breeze. (Need to learn how to clean an oven? We’ve got you covered there, too.)

1
The lemon method

Becky Rapinchuk of the Clean Mama homekeeping blog follows this tried-and-true method: Fill a glass bowl or measuring cup with three or four cups of hot tap water, then cut a lemon into chunks and add to the water. Put the bowl of water and lemon/lemon juice in the microwave and run it until the water boils, about three to five minutes. “Let the steam do its job—don’t open the door for at least five minutes,” Rapinchuk says. If the microwave isn’t steamy after that time, microwave the water for another minute and let it sit, then use a wet microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe it clean.

2
The vinegar method

When those marinara splatters are extra stubborn, spray the interior of the microwave with white vinegar, Rapinchuk says. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then use a microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe clean, rinsing and wringing it as you’re wiping. Remove, wash, and dry the glass plate and replace.

3
The dish soap method

Fill a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and one teaspoon of dish soap, says Harriet Jones, cleaning and maintenance supervisor for Go Cleaners London cleaning services. Heat the mixture in the microwave for about two minutes to create steam, being careful to not let it boil over. Let it sit for three minutes before opening the microwave, removing the bowl using oven mitts, and wiping down the inside with paper towels.

4
The sponge method

No, you’re not going to use it to scrub. Instead, saturate the sponge thoroughly in water, adding a drop of Dawn dish soap if you wish, says Zeynep Mehmetoglu, a cleaning expert with Maid Bright cleaning services near Washington, D.C. Spray the inside of your microwave with a mixture of one to three ounces of water and three to five drops of essential oil (orange or lemon are good choices). Microwave the sponge on the turntable for two or three minutes, then let it sit a few more minutes before wiping off stuck food with the sponge.

5
The wet towel method

For an extra-simple cleaning process that involves only one item, thoroughly wet a small towel (ensure it doesn’t contain any metal tags or elements), then microwave it for a minute or two, says Shirley Langridge, a kitchen cleaning expert with Maggie’s Oven Services. The towel will soften the stuck-on bits, and once it cools down enough to handle, you can use it to wipe down the microwave’s interior.

6
The baking soda method

To handle serious spills without resorting to harsh chemicals, take a small bowl and make a paste out of baking soda and water, Langridge says. Apply it to the hardened food and let it sit for five minutes, then wipe it up with a wet sponge. “There will be no need for any scrubbing,” says Langridge.

RELATED: How to Clean Stainless Steel

7
The funny gadget method

Fill this hilarious little steamer called Angry Mama with water and vinegar and microwave on high for seven minutes, advises Joanne Archer, an editor with Expert Home Tips. Let it cool for two minutes, open the door, and wipe clean.

8
More tricks for keeping your microwave clean

The easiest microwave cleaning hack of all is to not let your microwave get filled with crusted pieces of food in the first place. Once you’ve followed the above tips and gotten it back to mint condition, here’s some advice for keeping your appliance looking fresh and clean all the time:

  • Always cover whatever you’re heating up, even if it’s just for 10 seconds, with a paper towel or a perforated microwave cover. (Ever had a stick of butter explode when you were just nuking it? A cover will prevent that.)
  • Wipe down the inside of your microwave whenever you clean the kitchen counters.
  • Avoid microwaving items that leave lingering grease and/or smells, such as bacon or microwave popcorn. If that’s not an option, do a quick clean immediately following cooking by adding water and lemon to a small bowl, microwaving for a few minutes, letting it stand for five minutes, and then wiping the inside clean.
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