How to Clean a Microwave

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In this guide, we'll show you how to clean a microwave in under ten minutes with everyday household items.

“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 garbage looking for your son’s discarded retainer. (Read: not fun at all.) From last week’s scorched-on spaghetti sauce to the great chili explosion of 2009, microwave remnants are not for the weak-hearted. Toss in some elbow grease and a backbreaking stance described as a “chiropractor’s dream,” and you’ve got the perfect storm of kitchen chores.

But messy outcomes shouldn’t keep you from nuking your dinner. (Especially after considering these delicious microwave-ready recipes.) Follow along as we show you how to clean a microwave with minimal effort.

How to Clean a Microwave

There are a few different ways to clean a microwave, so check what you have in your cupboard or refrigerator, and get scrubbin’!

How to Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

Step 1: Pour 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl (or the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner).

Step 2: 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 bowl carefully with oven mitts. Dip a rag into the solution and gently wipe the inside and outside of your microwave. For stubborn residue, use a sponge. Voila! That is 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 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

Step 1: For a quick fix, clean a microwave with lemon. Simply pour a 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: Simply remove the bowl (be careful as it might be hot) and wipe the microwave clean with the solution.  With 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 smell 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 in overnight or for 8-12 hours to absorb the odor.

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

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

How Often to Clean a Microwave

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

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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 an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home. She focuses 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.