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How to Clean a Microwave With Everyday Household Items

The Family Handyman 2/16/2023 Mark Hagen, Hannah Pugh

"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.

How to Clean a Microwave

Cleaning a microwave requires minimal supplies. It really only takes a few household items like lemon, baking soda and a dishcloth to get it looking (and smelling) up to par.

Tools and supplies

  • Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner: This 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 Angry Mama's head. It instantly clears up crusty messes, though it's smart to give the microwave a proper wipe down afterwards.
  • Swedish DishclothsSkip the paper towels and opt for these sustainable products. 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 one cup of vinegar and one 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 six to eight minutes. Then let it sit for an additional two 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. Voilá! You're done!

How to Clean a Microwave With Baking Soda

Step 1: Fill a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of baking soda and two cups of water.

Step 2: Heat the bowl in the microwave on high for five 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 rub each stain with a sponge until the microwave is clean.

How to Clean a Microwave With Lemon

© MarianVejcik/Getty Images

Step 1: Pour one 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 five minutes or until it boils. Then allow it to sit in the microwave for an additional five minutes. This lets 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 this 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 one cup of dried coffee grounds in an uncovered bowl. Leave it inside overnight (eight 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, the smell is likely trapped in the filters. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace or clean the filters.


How Do You Clean Gunk Out of the Microwave?

If food residue lingers, heat one cup of water mixed with two tablespoons of baking soda in the microwave for five minutes. This makes it easier to wipe the 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?

Follow the same steps as above and replace the baking soda with one 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 smart 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.

Additional reporting by Madi Koetting

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