How to Clean a Microwave: Home Tips for Cleaning Your Microwave Oven

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So you turned your squeaky clean microwave into an acrid-smelling mess thanks to that burnt popcorn bag. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. What’s important to know is how to clean a microwave oven and get it back to its fresh, spotless state. The answer is regular cleaning – after every few days or so – to maintain its clean look and smell.

There’s no quicker or better way to clean a microwave! One of the great things about cleaning a microwave is that you can use everyday household products for this purpose. White/apple vinegar, lemons, dish soap, or even baking soda should come to mind. However, keep bleach away from your microwave.

Before you start rifling through your cabinets to check whether you still have vinegar, let’s first talk a little bit about how these ovens work.

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How does a microwave work?

Within the microwave is an electron tube called a magnetron that produces microwaves. These waves are reflected by the oven’s interior metal walls and are absorbed by the food. Once absorbed, they cause the water molecules in the food matter to vibrate. This vibration results in the heat that cooks the food. It is because of this reason that foods with high water content tend to cook fast.

The waves pass through container materials and heat the outer layers of food. Heat is transferred from the outer layer to the insides of these foods via conduction. These wave-allowing container materials include plastic, ceramic, paper, glass, or as directed by the microwave’s instruction manual. Special care should be taken when using plastic containers. There’s a possibility of flimsy containers melting thanks to the heat of the food inside.

Tips to Clean a Dirty Microwave Oven

cleaning microwave oven using lemon

Now that we understand how a microwave oven works, we can move on to keeping it clean. Because of the way they work, it is especially important to avoid using harsh chemicals — especially if you don’t rinse it down really well. The last thing you want is to have those chemicals into your foods!

Tip 1: How to clean a microwave interior

Like you’d expect when dealing with a small contained cooking area, smells tend to remain localized, and messes look bigger. Cleaning the microwave’s interior is a step-by-step process that also involves cleaning the turntable.

  • Citrus fruits like lemon, lime and oranges not only are great to naturally clean your microwave, but they also make it smell great. Cut into slices and place into a microwave-compatible bowl and combine that with 1 cup of water. Alternatively, you could add into the microwave-safe bowl a couple of tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar and mix them with a cup of water.
  • Place this bowl on the turntable inside the microwave. Set it to high power for several minutes so that the mixture boils up and steam lines the oven’s interior walls and window.
  • Turn off the power and let it sit and cool for 5 minutes. You can then open the door and remove the bowl before wiping the inside clean using a sponge.

Tip 2: How to clean greasy Microwave doors

There’s nothing quite like handling a surface you didn’t know was oily, but it turns out it was. It’s gross, to say the least. There are actually a few various ways to clean your microwave, but vinegar is an effortless (and cheap) way to get the work done without any elbow grease. 

To effectively remove greasy thumbprints and smudges from the oven’s exterior, make sure to follow the following cleaning tips and steps.

  • Ensure to dampen your cleaning sponge with water, and then dab it onto a little baking soda. Use this sponge to then clean the gasket around the door. After which, you will rinse the rubber gasket using a sponge or a damp cloth.
  • Cleaning a greasy window is a matter of using a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar. Rinse the microwave
  • door using a damp sponge and wipe it down using a dry cloth.
  • If you were preparing a heavily greasy meal, like buffalo wings or tomato sauce, you may need the extra cleaning strength of a degreaser. Use a cloth or sponge to apply the grease cutter to prevent any dripping into vent holes.

Tip 3: How to get strong odors out of Microwave

We’re back to our burnt popcorn scenario. As you might have noticed, the thing about strong smells like that of burnt popcorn is that they come back when you turn your oven back on. To prevent this, you will need to clean the mess as soon as it happens. Strong smells like these entail cleaning out any residue still in your microwave, then leave a smell-absorbent gel inside until the next time you use your oven.

After cooking such smelly foods, you can use tip one, microwaving a bowl of water with sliced lemon, even if the oven isn’t dirty. This will refresh your oven with the smell of fresh citrus.

Lighter odors, on the other hand, are easy to get rid of. An example of such a smell is the aroma of spicy food, for instance. All you need to do is air the oven out by letting the door stay open.

Another way of eliminating such smells is by placing a bowl of absorbent baking soda into the oven and leaving it there in between uses. You could also use an Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Fridge-n-Freezer Odor Absorber box.

Tip 4: How to Prevent Messes Before They Happen

One of the easiest ways to keep your microwave clean is to do your best to prevent them in the first place. This means making sure your dishes are covered so foods don’t bubble up and splash on the microwave interior. Picking up a few microwave safe splatter covers is investment worth making.

How to clean your Microwave with Lemon | Courtesy of Dr. Oz Show


A dirty and messy microwave will not just affect you, but anyone else who uses it. To avoid potentially embarrassing cases when hosting your friends or family, ensure you get the stains and smells out as soon as they happen.

And if something does splash, wipe it up right away — before it dries and hardens!

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