When you’re in a hurry to cook up or reheat a meal, your microwave comes through every time! And while the appliance may be a handy way to heat up food, its fast cooking time often results in messy splatters and spills that can be hard to remove. And if you’re in a rush to cook your food, you’re likely in a rush to clean the appliance. To the rescue: Simple microwave cleaning hack options for removing caked-on stains, deodorizing and warding off future food splatters in no time.
Why it’s important to regularly clean a microwave
Leftovers, frozen meals and more can lead to a messy microwave over time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to the appliance? Going too long between cleanings.
“You want to make this part of your regular cleaning routine because baked-on food can cause hot spots on the inside,” shares Karen Morales, star cleaner for CompanyClean in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. “Hot spots lead to flaking paint, or worse yet they can cause sparks. If it gets too bad, you’ll need a new microwave.” Getting the appliance squeaky clean is the key to extending its life!
Best microwave cleaning hack for a quick clean: A lemon
“An effective cleaning hack for microwaves is a lemon steam clean,” shares Morales. “It’s quick, effective and cheap.”
To do: Add half a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl. Then cut a lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into the water. Add the lemon halves into the bowl, then microwave for three to five minutes until the liquid boils and the window steams up.
“The steam clean will have loosened the food particles, making it easy to wipe down the inside of the microwave with a microfiber cloth or sponge,” she explains.
Let the bowl cool for a few minutes before opening the door, then take out the bowl (Note: you might want to use oven mitts protect your hands from the heat). Remove the turntable if your microwave has one, and then go to town with your cleaning cloth or sponge. Wipe the turntable and the entire interior of the microwave, including the door. If your turntable is still dirty, that can be run through a dishwasher cycle.
See how well this works below in the TikTok from @neat.caroline below:
No lemons handy? “Try putting several pieces of wet paper towels in the microwave on high for five minutes,” advises Rhonda Wilson, cleaning pro for Super Cleaning Service Louisville. “Afterward, let the wet paper towels cool down, then use them to wipe down your microwave.” Finish by wiping down with a dry cloth.
To remove baked-on stains: Baking soda
After the lemon steam clean, you may notice there are still some burnt food particles and stuck-on stains inside your microwave. The best way to remove them is with baking soda.
“Use about two tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of water until it’s spreadable,” shares Wilson. “Use your fingers or a sponge to spread the paste, making sure to cover any dirty spots. Leave it for at least 10 minutes, then take a damp cloth or sponge and wipe away the paste.” The alkaline, mildly abrasive baking soda will cut through the mess so your appliance is left spotless. Just finish up with a dry cloth after you’ve wiped away the paste with a sponge.
Best microwave cleaning hack for a dirty seal: Wipe *this* way
Another reason to give your microwave frequent cleaning? A build-up of gunk can potentially cause the appliance to not turn on or shut off before the cooking time is up. “If your microwave won’t turn on or shuts off before the cooking time is up, gunk is likely the culprit,” reveals Jeff Campbell of Kitchen Appliance HQ. “Food particles often build up on the door or hinges, creating a tiny fraction-of-an-inch gap that triggers the microwave’s door-open sensor, shutting it off.”
The fix: “Sprinkle a moist sponge with baking soda and rub the door frame and hinges,” Campbell advises. “This will help create a tight seal again.”
To remove odors: Vanilla
We’ve all been there: you microwave a bag of popcorn, it overcooks and burns and leaves behind a stench in your microwave even if there’s no mess to wipe up. And every time you use it thereafter, that odor wafts through your kitchen. The fast fix for the stink: Fill a cereal bowl with water and 5 drops of vanilla extract, then microwave for one minute. When heated, the vanilla extract will emit a scent that masks the popcorn odor, leaving your microwave smelling sweet.
If this doesn’t seem to nix the smell, try placing a bowl of unused coffee grounds in the appliance. Then close the door and leave overnight. The granules absorb odors so your microwave smells good as new in the morning.
What *not* to use when cleaning a microwave
Although a microwave is incredibly easy to keep clean with the right tools, the pros say it’s best to skip abrasive scrubbers like steel wool dish scrubbers when wiping down the interior. “These can scratch the inside, which have important coatings,” explains Morales. “Just like the flaking paint, this can lead to sparks, resulting in further damage to your microwave.” Stick to a sponge or microfiber cloth instead! Once the grime is loosened by any of the above tricks, it’ll be easy to wipe it away.
The microwave hack that prevents splatters: A coffee filter
When heating up saucy dishes, it’s common to end up with a big mess since the liquid splashes all over the inside of the appliance when it heats up. If you don’t have a plate cover handy, you can still outsmart splatters while the food cooks. The key: Just loosely cover the dish with a paper coffee filter. The filter acts as a lid to keep the sauce from splashing out and it’s porous enough to allow steam to escape so the dish doesn’t overheat.
For more helpful kitchen cleaning tricks, keep reading!