A microwave is an indispensable appliance for any cooking task. Whether you want to reheat your leftovers, turn corn kernels into a fluffy treat, or defrost a large portion of meat, a multi-purpose microwave works well enough to do it all.
But as versatile as it is, the most efficient microwave may be the one that is properly cleaned after each use. Neglecting cleaning duty can infuse an unpleasant flavor into your food while increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses via cross-contamination.
Forthemore, if cooking in a poorly-cleaned microwave, you run the risk of igniting the remnants of spills and splashes that still remain on the roof and sidewalls. That can produce smoke or, worse yet, start a fire! Needless to say, that’s a surefire way to ruin your day.
Routine cleanup can be tricky and time-consuming, of course, but at the very least it is the best way to keep your kitchen safe and bacteria-free.
Here are our tips on how to clean a microwave the right way after each use:
How to Clean a Microwave
1. Cleaning a Cavity with Vinegar
What You Need
- White/apple cider vinegar
- Microwave-safe container
- Soft clean cloth/sponge
- Fill a microwave-safe container with 1 cup (250ml) of warm water and 2–3 tablespoons (30–44 mL) of vinegar.
- Place the container on the microwave’s glass tray and heat it on maximum power for 5-10 minutes (proper time depends upon the power output of your microwave).
- When the time is up, check to see that the steam from the water and vinegar has loosened the dried-on gunk. If not, continue cooking.
- Allow the container to cool before removing it from the oven. To avoid burns, it’s a good idea to use pot holders.
- Unplug the oven and allow it to cool down entirely before you take out the roller ring and glass tray.
- Thoroughly clean the oven cavity with a soft damp cloth or sponge.
- Before cleaning, make sure to turn your oven off, and unplug the power cord.
- Do not attempt to clean a hot oven.
- Keep the electrical cord away from water.
- Do not stir the liquid halfway through heating or leave it unattended.
- Avoid using straight-sided containers with narrow necks. Superheated water can unexpectedly boil over in these containers, increasing your risk of injury.
2. Cleaning a Cavity with Lemon Juice
What You Need
- 2 lemons
- Spray bottle
- Microwave-safe dish
- Sprinkle salt into a spray bottle and fill it halfway with warm water
- Cut two lemons in half and squeeze each half into the spray bottle.
- Spray the solution directly on the oven cavity’s surfaces, including the roof, bottom, and sides.
- Dampen a sponge with warm water and place it on a microwave safe dish.
- Let the oven run on maximum power for 3-5 minutes or until you see steam and a little moisture build up on the door’s inner surface.
- Allow the oven to cool down before removing the sponge, roller ring, and glass tray.
- Unplug the oven.
- Wipe the solution away with the wet sponge.
- If you don’t have fresh lemons on hand, lemon essential oil may be used instead.
- Do not cook the sponge directly on the glass tray.
- Do not leave the oven unattended while in use.
- Do not put any part of your body or face directly above the heated sponge. Steam burns are painful!
3. Cleaning a Door
What you need
- Baking soda
- Soft clean cloth/sponge
- Clean towel
- Warm water
- Non-abrasive pad
- Glass/all-purpose cleaner
- Make a paste of ½ cup (260 g) baking soda and a few tablespoons of water.
- Use a non-abrasive pad to spread the paste onto the entire oven’s door, including the front face and the sealing surfaces.
- After 15-20 minutes, wipe away the paste with a sponge or damp cloth. Make sure you get it out of every crevice.
- Shine the door with a glass/all-purpose cleaner.
- Let the door air dry or dry it with a clean towel.
- To prevent possible exposure to excessive microwave energy, cleanser residue should not be allowed to accumulate on sealing surfaces.
- Do not use harsh detergents or abrasives.
- Do not remove any heat and vapor barrier film that your microwave door may have.
3. Cleaning the Control Panel & Other Exterior Surfaces
What You Need
- Soft clean cloths
- Rubbing alcohol/all-purpose cleaner
- Remove grease from the outside using a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol or all-purpose cleaner.
- Spray any particularly stubborn stains with a little vinegar. After 5-10 minutes, wipe them away with the damp cloth.
- If you notice small bubbles under the control panel’s protective film, gently remove it. Then clean the control panel with all-purpose cleaner.
- Wipe dry all surfaces, including vents and the control panel.
- Abrasive cleaners or scouring pads should not be used as they may leave scratch marks on the exterior surfaces.
- To prevent damage to internal components, water or cleaning solutions should not be allowed to drip into ventilation openings.
- Avoid cleaning the control panel with water since damage to the electrical components inside the oven may occur.
- Do not rub the control panel so hard that the lettering is damaged or rubbed off.
4. Cleaning the Accessories
What You Need
- Sponge/soft-bristled brush
- Soft clean cloth
- Dish soap
- Scrub out all racks, roller ring, and turntable glass tray using a sponge or soft-bristled brush dampened with hot, soapy water.
- Buff them dry with a clean cloth.
- Reinsert them once they are completely dry.
- For quicker cleaning, these accessories can usually be washed in the dishwasher instead. Check with the microwave’s owner’s manual to ensure they are dishwasher-safe.
- Make sure to reinsert the accessories in the proper position to avoid improper cooking or potential damage.
- To prevent excessive noise, the roller ring should be cleaned regularly.
Keeping your microwave clean is the most efficient way to prevent health and safety hazards. As such, after each use, food residue and condensation that may cause foodborne illness, rusting, or damage to the oven should be wiped away entirely.
Now that you know how to properly clean a microwave properly, you’re better equipped to keep your kitchen clean and free of bacteria. Now you can get back to the fun parts of cooking!
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.