How to clean a microwave safely and correctly

Is your microwave gross? Here's how to deep clean the appliance safely

Microwaves are nearly ubiquitous in American households. That’s because they’re so convenient; you can use it for everything from steaming broccoli to reheating leftovers (which are perhaps the most common foods to toss in the microwave).

When it comes to using a microwave, there’s nothing worse than heating up a piece of pizza and tasting this morning’s oatmeal or last night’s Chinese food. You’ve probably had that experience at some point, and it can quickly make your leftovers go from yum to yuck. If you open your microwave door and smell pork roast from two days ago, it’s time to give that appliance a nice and thorough cleaning. A paper towel with warm water isn’t going to cut it this time.

The inside of your microwave should be sparkling, and if it isn’t, don’t worry: The process is incredibly easy and will only take about five minutes. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to safely and effectively get your appliance sparkling clean in no time.

And while you’re on a cleaning kick, you can also check out our posts on how to clean a dishwasher and how to clean a washing machine.

appliance trends kbis 2017 frigidaire gallery black stainless steel microwave
Frigidaire Gallery Black Stainless Steel Microwave Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

What you’ll need

  • A medium-sized microwave-safe bowl (one that fits about 4-cups of liquid)
  • Vinegar or dish soap
  • A pot holder
  • Paper towels or a clean rag
  • An abrasive sponge
  • Disinfectant cleaner (like Lysol)

How to Clean Your Microwave

AmazonBasics Microwave Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Step 1 – Fill a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and 1/4-cup of white vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar handy, you can substitute one teaspoon of dish soap.

Step 2 – Let the solution cook in your microwave for about one to two minutes depending on your microwave’s wattage. For instance, if you have a 1,200-watt or higher microwave, one to one and a half minutes will probably be sufficient. However, if you have a 700-watt microwave, you’ll need to heat the solution for longer (about two minutes). You want it to get nice and steamy but not boil over or spill out of the bowl. By microwaving first, you’re letting the steam do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Step 3 – Once the time is finished, keep the door closed for about three minutes, and let the steam heat up the bottom, sides, and roof of your microwave.

Step 4 – After the three minutes are up, carefully remove the bowl. You will probably need a pot holder to avoid burning yourself, as it’s going to be hot.

Step 5 – Wipe off all the sides with a paper towel or cloth, use an abrasive sponge to remove stubborn, stuck-on foods.

Step 6 – Hand-wash the rotating plate with soap and water. You can run the rotating plate through the dishwasher if needed.

Step 7 – Clean your microwave’s exterior, buttons, and display panel with a paper towel or cloth covered in disinfectant cleaner or soap and water. Do not spray the cleaner directly onto the microwave because it can get into the venting system. Spray the cleaner onto the paper towel, and then wipe the microwave’s exterior, buttons, and display panel.

Step 8 – Using a wet, soapy paper towel, clean the gasket around the microwave door (if applicable), and clean the roller wheel inside of the microwave that turns the rotating plate. After wiping those areas with a soapy paper towel, go back and wipe them again with a wet paper towel (without soap) to remove any soap residue.

Step 9 – Replace the clean roller wheel and rotating plate back in your microwave.

Step 10 – Enjoy your beautiful, clean microwave!

Tips

  • If you don’t have dish soap or vinegar, you can cut a lemon in half, put it in a bowl full of water, and cook it for five minutes. This option is the most natural, and the warm lemon makes your kitchen smell nice for a few hours.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals inside your microwave.
  • Cover foods when you reheat them to prevent excess food from spilling over.
  • To prolong the amount of time in between deep cleans, try adjusting your microwave to a lower power setting, particularly when heating up foods that are prone to splattering.
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