Whether it’s chicken, pasta, or fish — there’s no more convenient way to heat up yesterday’s leftovers than in the microwave. But between splatters, spills, and splashes, this appliance can get really dirty.
However, because microwave messes are really easy to hide (just close the door), the inside of our microwaves tend to build up and get really dirty. So cleaning them can be a challenge.
However, there are ways to make the cleaning process less frustrating. Here are six helpful microwave cleaning hacks, according to the experts.
1. Skip the chemicals and go au naturel
According to Catherine McCord, author of Meal Prep Magic, it’s not a smart idea to use chemical cleaners in a space where you will be heating up food. So she cleans the natural way. As a bonus, this hack saves money because it requires just white vinegar and baking soda, which are relatively inexpensive. Most of us already have these products on hand, so there's no need to run out and buy something if you suddenly have a mid-day mess.
“First, put one cup of water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a large bowl [just make sure it’s a microwave-safe material such as Pyrex] and place it in the microwave. Run it for two minutes on the high setting,” she says.
Then, allow the bowl to remain in the microwave with the door closed for an additional ten minutes. “Remove the bowl and the microwave plate and set aside. Then, using a clean, damp sponge, thoroughly wipe down the interior of the microwave. If the splattering and stains inside are heavy-duty, dampen your sponge with the vinegar solution, sprinkle one to two teaspoons of baking soda on it (don’t be surprised when the baking soda starts bubbling!), and scrub stains until they come off. Rinse the sponge out with water and give it a final wipe-down,” McCord explains.
2. Add some lemon to a stinky microwave
Microwaves something stinky like fish? Can’t get the smell out? Using lemon, baking soda, and water is a natural way to reduce and eliminate odors. “Take a glass Pyrex measuring cup filled with water, slice a lemon into quarters, squeeze it, and add to the water. Add a tablespoon of baking soda and a 1/3 cup of white vinegar,” says Hillary Thibodeau of OrganiClean.
Then microwave the mixture for two to three minutes and let it sit while you clean the rest of the kitchen. “While you are cleaning, the inside of the microwave is steaming and loosening all the build-up and spilled food. When you are ready, open the microwave, dip a cleaning cloth (be careful not to burn yourself) into the water, and wipe down the walls and ceiling. You can remove the tray, wash it in the sink, or put it in your dishwasher.”
3. Skip the bowl and just use a washcloth
You don’t even need a bowl of water or a Pyrex measuring cup to clean your microwave. According to Anne Ruozzi, the co-founder of plant-based cleaning brand Therapy Clean, just dampen a washcloth with water and vinegar mix. “Put in microwave and start for 30 to 45 seconds, allowing steam to break down greased-on debris. Then, wipe down with a clean cloth as needed.”
4. Deal with the plate first
The microwave plate can get messy. But trying to clean it while it’s still in the microwave isn't the best way to tackle this problem. McCord recommends taking it out first to clean it. “Depending on how dirty the microwave plate is, I either put it in the dishwasher or clean it by hand using dish soap and a sponge. Return the plate to the microwave and admire your sparkly clean and fresh-smelling interior.”
5. Just use dish soap
Don’t have a lemon, vinegar, or baking soda? At the very least, you probably have dish soap. Try Thibodeau’s idea. “Use a kitchen sponge and get it very wet with water and dish soap. Microwave for two minutes and again let sit. When it has cooled to the touch, wipe out the microwave with the sponge you just heated. It steams the debris, and you can wipe it away.”
6. Quickly eliminate stuck-on food in cracks and crevices
Have stuck-on messes in the cracks and crevices of your microwave such as on or behind the door? “Take a wooden skewer and wrap a damp cleaning cloth around the tip, and run along the dirty areas. This will clean and wipe as you go,” says Thibodeau.