How to clean a microwave safely and correctly

From late-night leftovers to the occasional frozen burrito, our microwaves are always there for us. This small appliance is a one-stop shop for almost all of your kitchen needs. Heat food instantly, set timers, vent your stovetop, and much more. But, when is the last time you’ve cleaned your microwave?

If your microwave is emitting foul odors and is full of splattered food, then it’s time to give it a proper cleaning. We have consulted the experts and put together this step-by-step guide to safely and effectively clean your microwave. 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.

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 and use an abrasive sponge to remove stubborn, stuck-on foods. Avoid using Clorox wipes.

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

Step 7Clean 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 8Using 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!


  • You can use a lemon cut in half to replace dish soap or vinegar, if you don’t have any. Put the lemon half in a bowl of water and cook for five minutes. Many people like this option because it leaves a nice, fresh scent and is all natural. 
  • Heating a sponge in the microwave will disinfect it. 
  • Do not use harsh or dangerous chemicals to clean the inside of your microwave.
  • Covering food in the microwave can prevent spilling and keep your microwave clean.
  • 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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