how to clean a microwave

Kitchen 101: How to Clean a Microwave

Microwaves make quick work of a lunch or evening meal and are handy for cooking or warming through all sorts of different ingredients, but they can get extremely dirty. Unfortunately, splatters, exploding food or overflowing liquids are quite commonplace in your average household microwave, and occasionally, you need to do more than a quick wipe around to keep it clean and fresh smelling!

Don’t worry, though, as there is a wide range of different tricks and tips for ensuring that your microwave interior is clean and odour free, even if there are stubborn stains.

You can use many household items for cleaning a microwave, including vinegar, baking soda and a sponge or cloth. So, if you have been wondering how to clean a microwave, read on for our top microwave cleaning hacks.

Secret Ingredients

Some perhaps surprising ingredients can help you with how to clean the inside of a microwave. A great thing about these ingredients is that they are common household items that won’t cost you a lot of money to purchase and use but are very effective in solving the ‘how to clean a microwave’ question!


Using lemon juice to clean a microwave is such an accessible and inexpensive option. You simply need a microwave-safe bowl, one cup of water and one lemon. Lemon as a cleaning agent is also really effective at removing any lingering odours.

Roll the lemon until it has softened, and then cut it in half. Squeeze both halves into the water and then place them in the bowl with the lemon juice and water.

Heat the lemon and water solution on high for between five and ten minutes, depending on how dirty the inside of the microwave is. Leave the bowl with the lemon juice inside the microwave for a further five minutes before removing it.

The bowl may be hot, so be careful when taking it out. Use an oven mitt if you do find that it is too hot to hold.

Remove the turntable and wipe it down and do the same for the inside of the microwave. Replace the turntable when everything is completely dry.


Using vinegar is a very effective way of removing tough stains and leftover residue from your microwave. White vinegar works better than malt vinegar for cleaning tasks.

To use this method, you need a microwave-safe bowl to be filled with two cups of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar. If the microwave is very dirty, change the mixture to equal parts water to vinegar. Then place the white vinegar and water solution into the microwave and set it to run at high power for five minutes.

Once the five minutes is up, leave the microwave door closed for a further 15 minutes so that the steam and white vinegar can permeate the build-up of dirt.

After the time has passed, carefully remove the bowl of white vinegar and water from the microwave as it may still be hot to the touch. You also need to remove the turntable. Using a clean rag or cloth, wipe down the inside of the microwave and the turntable with a sponge until everything is completely clean.

You can leave the door open afterwards to release any vinegar smells, or if the smell of white vinegar bothers you, you can add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil to the white vinegar and water mix.

Dish Soap

Perhaps the most go-to solution for cleaning a dirty microwave is to use soapy water. Using a washing up bowl, mix warm water with dish soap until it is full of soapy suds.

Soak a clean cloth in the water until soapy, and then wipe both the inside of the microwave and the microwave door with it. Use some elbow grease to remove residue remains and for a squeaky clean microwave.

Wipe clean afterwards with just water and then dry with paper towels.

If you don’t like getting your hands dirty, you can fill a microwave-safe bowl with the water and soap mixture and then run it on a high setting for five minutes. Leave the bowl to stand with the door closed for a further five minutes for the steam to get to work before wiping the inside and out down with a damp cloth.

Another tip when using this method is to add a small amount of baking soda to the water, as this is a great way to resolve a smelly microwave. The baking soda absorbs the odours, leaving you with a fresher smelling microwave.

Cleaning Solutions

Window cleaner is an unconventional option, but it can get your dirty microwave nice and clean. In a microwave-safe bowl, add a cup of water and squirt about ten pumps of window cleaner into it. You can also spray around the inside of a microwave with window cleaner, as this will give it a deep clean and work on any stubborn food marks.

Place the bowl in the microwave oven and run for five minutes so that the steam and cleaning solution can get to work. Then remove the bowl, being careful as it may be hot. Using a damp sponge, clean your microwave and then dry with paper towels.

It is important to be aware that window cleaning solutions contain ammonia and should never be mixed with other household or commercial cleaners.

Keeping It Regularly Clean

As with any other kitchen item, you should regularly clean your microwave to keep it from becoming dirty and affecting your food tastes. As soon as any spills or splatters occur, clean your microwave oven with a wet sponge to carefully remove any food residue and wipe dry with a paper towel. Even a wipe down with wet paper towels should be sufficient to remove light food marks.

The outside of the microwave also needs a good clean from time to time as the steam and cleaning solutions don’t get to this part, so when you are cleaning kitchen appliances as part of your regular kitchen clean up, include your microwave too. You want the outside of your microwave to be sparkling and clean, as this is part that everyone sees.

Microwave Cleaning Hacks Recap

We hope that we have provided you with some great advice and tips on how to clean a microwave. There are many different ways you can do this, from wiping it down using nothing more than a paper towel for when there are only small amounts of splash marks to giving your microwave a deep clean with steam and a cleaning agent.

You’ll only need a sponge or cloth to wipe the microwave, a bowl for water, a paper towel to dry it afterwards and the cleaning agent of your choice. Keep always in mind the following tips for the cleanest of microwaves!

  • The white vinegar and water method works well, and if you don’t want the lingering odours of vinegar, add essential oils to the mix.
  • If you have been wondering how to clean a microwave that smells of stale food, adding baking soda to your water can really help by absorbing the scents that remain after cooking. You can also leave it overnight to thoroughly absorb any lingering scent. Leaving the microwave open once you have cleaned it will also allow the smells to dissipate.
  • Using vinegar or lemon juice is a great way to avoid harsh chemicals to clean your microwave and other appliances used in food preparation.
  • Remember to take the turntable out if your microwave has a removable one and clean down the sides, top, bottom and back when cleaning a microwave and ensure that it is thoroughly done. If you have particularly stubborn dirt, like burnt popcorn, it is best to soak the area for a while by wetting it with some hot water on a cloth. It should then come off easily when you go to clean the whole appliance.
  • A final tip is to let the unit dry thoroughly, as this way, no stale smells will develop.

Achieving a Clean Microwave

Keeping on top of the cleaning of your microwave is definitely the way to avoid large cleaning jobs that take you a while to do. The good news is, if your microwave does require a good clean, there are cheap and easy cleaning hacks that will get it back to shiny and new in no time!

Do you have more microwave cleaning tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

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