How to Clean a Microwave With Everyday Household Items

Learn how to clean a microwave in less than 10 minutes. It's easy, we promise!

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“Hooray! It’s time to clean the microwave,” said no one…ever.

Even if you’re the King or Queen of Clean, scrubbing out a microwave ranks up there with trying on bathing suits, deep-cleaning the oven and sifting through the garbage for your child’s discarded retainer. (Read: not fun at all.) From last week’s scorched-on spaghetti sauce to massive chili explosions, microwave remnants are not for the weak-hearted. But messy outcomes shouldn’t keep you from nuking your dinner. Here’s how to clean a microwave with minimal effort.

Wondering how to clean other kitchen appliances? We have cleaning guides for the oven, dishwasher, air fryer and Keurig, too.

What should you clean a microwave with?

Cleaning a microwave requires minimal supplies. In fact, it really only takes a few household items like lemon, baking soda and a dishcloth to get it looking (and smelling) up to par. Pro tip: Keep hands clean by wearing a pair of dishwashing gloves.

How to Clean a Microwave

Tools and Supplies

  • Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner: This editor-loved gadget is the secret to cleaning a microwave with minimal scrubbing. Pour a dash of water and vinegar in the device, heat it in the microwave and watch as steam releases from the Angry Mama’s head. It instantly clears up crusty messes (that’s why it made it on our top picks of cool Amazon products), though it’s smart to give the microwave a proper wipe down post-use.
  • Swedish DishclothsSkip the paper towels and opt for these sustainable Swedish dishcloths. Simply wet one with water and get to wiping!
  • Miracle Wipes: Finish off your microwave cleaning with Miracle Wipes. They remove interior and exterior grime from appliances while leaving a streak-free shine.
  • Pantry Ingredients: Depending on your microwave cleaning method of choice, make sure you have vinegar, baking soda and a lemon on hand.

How to Clean a Microwave With Vinegar

Step 1: Pour in a dash of water and vinegar to the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner’s fill line. Or, pour 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.

Step 2: Microwave the Angry Mama on high for two minutes. If using the bowl method, heat the solution in your microwave for 6 to 8 minutes. Then, leave it to sit for an additional 2 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner or bowl carefully with oven mitts. Dip a rag (or microfiber towel) into the solution and gently wipe the inside and outside of your microwave. For stubborn residue, use a dish sponge. Voila! That’s how to clean a microwave with vinegar.

How to Clean a Microwave With Baking Soda

Step 1: To clean a microwave with baking soda, fill a microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of water.

Step 2: Heat the bowl in the microwave on high for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the bowl with oven mitts.

Step 3: Dip a sponge (we love any Scrub Daddy product, especially the original sponge) into the solution to wipe the microwave inside and out. For stubborn stains, use the solution as a paste and manually rub each stain with a sponge until the microwave is clean.

How to Clean a Microwave With Lemon

a small bowl of water and lemon In a microwave for cleaning MarianVejcik/Getty Images

Step 1: Pour 1 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl. Slice a lemon in half and squeeze its juice into the bowl. Then, drop both lemon halves into the bowl.

Step 2: Heat the solution in the microwave on high for 5 minutes or until it boils. Then, allow it to sit in the microwave for an additional 5 minutes. This allows the acidity and steam to loosen dried-on food stains.

Step 3: Remove the bowl with oven mitts and wipe the microwave clean with the solution. For any lingering stains, soak a sponge in the solution and rub until the stains dissipate. Your microwave will be good as new and have a clean lemony scent.

How to Remove a Burnt Smell From a Microwave

Knowing how to remove a burnt smell from a microwave is ultra-important. If the stench persists after following the cleaning instructions above, try this:

Step 1: Place a deodorizer inside your microwave, like an open box of baking soda or 1 cup of dried coffee grounds in an uncovered bowl. Leave it inside overnight or for 8 to 12 hours to absorb the odor.

Step 2: Remove the deodorizer from the microwave and discard. Apply vanilla extract, lemon juice or your favorite essential oil to a damp rag and wipe the microwave inside and out.

If it still stinks after following these steps, the smell is likely trapped in the filters. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace or clean the filters in your microwave.

FAQs

How do you clean gunk out of the microwave?

If food residue has been lingering in the microwave, heat 1 cup of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the microwave for 5 minutes. This makes it easier to wipe the food remains away while deodorizing the microwave. Mix lemon juice with the baking soda and water solution to leave it smelling extra fresh.

How do you clean a microwave with white vinegar?

If using white vinegar, follow the same steps as above and replace the baking soda with 1 cup of white vinegar.

How often to clean a microwave

Routinely cleaning your microwave prevents food from hardening and drying to the interior surface and flavoring your food with old residue. It’s a smart idea to give your microwave a quick clean once a week by wiping it out with a damp rag (though you should wipe down big messes immediately). Do a deep clean once a month following the steps above to prevent stains from settling in.

Speaking of tidying up, these handy kitchen cleaning products (almost) make cleaning enjoyable! Plus, these fun kitchen tools are guaranteed to cook up a smile and make chores a bit easier.

Additional reporting by Madi Koetting

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Mark Hagen
The former owner of his own catering business, Mark’s been part of the Taste of Home team for the past 20 years. His work has also appeared in Quick Cooking, Light & Tasty and Country Woman magazines as well as in various Pillsbury and Betty Crocker cookbooks. When he’s not spending time in the kitchen with his Westie, Rocco, he’s working in his yard, doing stand-up comedy or devouring a platter of nachos. (Most likely the latter.)
Hannah Pugh
Hannah Pugh is a former assistant editor for Taste of Home. She focused on writing affiliate content product reviews, newsletters and recipe collections. In her free time, she can be found sipping coffee at cafes, reading or rock climbing with her husband.