How to clean your microwave with a few pantry staples

When life gives you lemons, use them to clean your microwave. When you boil lemon juice inside your microwave, the lemon-steam cuts grease and clears out old-food odors. Sounds intimidating? Think again—it’s actually one of the easiest things to do in your kitchen.

pink rubber glove wiping down white microwave on blue background

Table of contents

What You’ll Need:A quick internal clean in 3 easy stepsFor stuck-on greaseRemoving odorWhat to avoid

What You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar (distilled white vinegar or apple cider)

  • Dish soap

  • Citrus (lemons, limes, or oranges)

  • Sponge or cloth

  • Oven mitt

A quick internal clean in 3 easy steps

Step 1

Halve a few of the citrus fruits of your choice and squeeze them into about half a cup of water, in a microwave-safe bowl. Drop the citrus halves into the water and place the bowl in the microwave.

Alternatively, if you have vinegar or dish soap on hand, combine 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar or one teaspoon of dish soap with one cup of water. 

Step 2 

Microwave the lemon water solution or mixture of choice for a few minutes on high power  until the mixture begins to boil and the window fogs up (2-10 minutes). Stop, but leave the door closed.

Step 3 

Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes before opening the door. Carefully remove the bowl or container (and turntable if applicable) using oven mitts. Wipe down the interior of the microwave with a clean sponge.

For stuck-on grease

For a simple microwave window cleaning, make a cleaning solution of equal parts vinegar and water and tackle problem areas. 

For a deeper clean, scrub with dish soap and water.  

When food still won’t come off, make a paste of baking soda and water and spread over the stain. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then use a damp cloth to wipe off. Be sure to avoid getting any liquid in the vents.

Removing odor

On a daily basis, it helps to get in the habit of leaving the door open after heating up food. When simple ventilation is not enough, fill a bowl with baking soda and close the door when not in use. A deep internal clean is key to minimizing odor-causing residue. An odor-absorbing gel can help with stronger odors between uses. 

Another option is heating a sponge saturated with water, a drop of soap, and a drop of the essential oil of your choice for two minutes. Carefully wipe down with the sponge after.

What to avoid

Bleach is a big no-no when cleaning a microwave. It can break down the plastics and other materials that comprise the appliance. 

Cleaning a microwave may actually be one of simplest kitchen cleaning tasks to take on. It requires minimal products that you likely already have—no heavy-duty chemicals here. For everyday upkeep, wipe away splatters after heating and to avoid stuck-on residue. Don’t be intimidated: but the sooner you clean, the easier it will be. 

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