How to Clean a Microwave

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In this guide, we'll show you how to clean a microwave in under ten minutes with everyday household items.

“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

There are a few different ways to clean a microwave, and these tools ensure only minimal scrubbing is required.

Tools and Supplies

  • Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner: This fiery kitchen gadget 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 the Angry Mama’s head. It instantly clears up crusty messes (that’s why it made it onto our top picks of cool Amazon products), though it’s smart to give the microwave a proper wipe down post-use.
  • Swedish DishclothsSkip the paper towels and opt for these sustainable Swedish dishcloths. Simply wet one with water and get to wiping!
  • Miracle Wipes: Finish off your microwave cleaning with Miracle Wipes. These wipes 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 1 cup of vinegar and 1 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 6 to 8 minutes. Then, leave it to sit for an additional 2 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner or bowl carefully with oven mitts. Dip a rag into the solution and gently wipe the inside and outside of your microwave. For stubborn residue, use a sponge. Voila! That’s how to clean a microwave with vinegar.

How to Clean a Microwave with Baking Soda

Step 1: To clean a microwave with baking soda, fill a microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of water.

Step 2: Heat the bowl in the microwave on high for 5 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 manually rub each stain with a sponge until the microwave is clean.

How to Clean a Microwave with Lemon

Step 1: Pour 1 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. Pro tip: Swap vinegar for lemon juice and use the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner.

Step 2: Heat the solution (or Angry Mama cleaner) in the microwave on high for 5 minutes or until it boils. Then, allow it to sit in the microwave for an additional 5 minutes. This allows the acidity and steam to loosen dried-on food stains.

Step 3: Remove the bowl (or Angry Mama cleaner) 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 a burnt smell from a microwave is ultra-important. If the smell 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 1 cup of dried coffee grounds in an uncovered bowl. Leave it inside overnight or for 8-12 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 the smell persists after these steps, the smell is likely trapped in the microwave filters. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace or clean the filters in your microwave.

How Often to Clean a Microwave

Routinely cleaning your microwave prevents food from hardening and drying to the interior surface of your microwave and flavoring your food with old residue. It’s a good idea 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.

Speaking of tidying up, these handy kitchen cleaning tools will (almost) make cleaning fun!

Madi Koetting, Associate Shopping Editor, contributed to this article.

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Mark Hagen
The former owner of his own catering business, Mark’s been part of the Taste of Home team for the past 20 years. His work has also appeared in Quick Cooking, Light & Tasty and Country Woman magazines as well as in various Pillsbury and Betty Crocker cookbooks. When he’s not spending time in the kitchen with his Westie, Rocco, he’s working in his yard, doing stand-up comedy or devouring a platter of nachos. (Most likely the latter.)
Hannah Pugh
Hannah Pugh is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home. She focuses on writing affiliate content product reviews, newsletters and recipe collections. In her free time, she can be found sipping coffee at cafes, reading or rock climbing with her husband.