Clean Your Microwave in Just a Few Minutes

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Cleaning the microwave is one of those tasks we all put off until it’s too late. A stick of dynamite probably couldn’t penetrate the sheer thickness of crud that’s been left to build up in the microwave for months.

However, there is an easy, tried and true method that I use myself to keep my microwave looking brand new almost all of the time. And I have several other methods that work or varying degrees of built-up filth and grime.

Microwave cleaning ingredients:

Microwave safe container or bowl
Half a cup of distilled white vinegar
Half a cup of plain water
A microfiber cloth

See my complete guide on microfiber cloths here.

Prevention is the best method.

Obviously, I’m going to say that preventing the mess is easier than letting it get out of control, but I also live in the real world, and I know that once that microwave door is closed and empty, it won’t cross your mind until the next time you want to use it.

However, if you are an aspiring crud cutter, and you want to be clinically clean every day. Then giving the microwave a simple wipe out immediately after use is the best way to keep the microwave clean in the first place.

Because the microwave is still hot immediately after heating up some food, the grime slides off easily onto a cloth. It will literally take you 30 seconds.

Anyhoo, onto the “I didn’t clean my microwave for a month” method.

  • Place the vinegar and water in a bowl and pop into the microwave.
  • Give it a blast on high for 3-5 minutes.
  • The steam from the water penetrates and loosens the food particles, and the vinegar sanitizes and deodorizes the lingering smells.
  • Once the microwave has pinged, simply wipe it out with a microfiber cloth.
Bonus Tip: Use the remaining water and vinegar solution to clean the outside of the microwave, too; fingerprints and smudges will wipe away so easily, leaving a streak-free finish.
Safety Warning: Use a towel or oven mitt to remove the bowl of hot solution.

Like I’ve said in many posts before. Cleaning is just science, and if you reverse engineer the process, you can easily clean anything in your home.

Any hardened or burnt-on food mess can be easily cleaned by reheating and rehydrating the mess.

Microwave Cleaning With Lemon

To clean your microwave with lemon, you will need:

  • One lemon
  • Half a cup of plain water
  • A microwave-safe container or bowl

As with the previous method, the process is much the same.

Cut the lemon in half, squeeze its contents into the bowl, place both halves in the bowl and add the water.

Place the bowl and its contents inside the microwave and blast it on high for 3-5 minutes.

The steam and lemon will loosen the food particles, and you can easily wipe them away with a microfiber cloth.

You can also use the leftover solution to clean the outside of the microwave too.


Clean The Microwave with Dish Soap

There are two methods for cleaning the microwave with dish soap.

The first method is the old spray it on cold, leave it for a few minutes and scrub.

Or My Easier Method of:

  • Place a few teaspoons of dish soap and warm water into a microwave-safe bowl and give it a mix.
  • Place the mixture into the microwave and heat on high for 3-5 minutes.

This method is great because a lot of people don’t have distilled white vinegar or lemons lying around.

  • Once the microwave has pinged, you should have the same result as the lemon and vinegar.
  • The food will have softened with the steam, and the dish soap with its grease-cutting power will have lent a hand too. The dish soap (most brands) kill 99% of bacteria too. Win-win.

How To Clean a Really Really Dirty Microwave

Think student lets here. No cleaning for a full year!

In these situations, and I’ve been in lots like this in my cleaning company, you will need a combination of all 3 of the methods I mentioned above plus a bowl of boiled water and dish soap.

  • Combine the dish soap, lemon and vinegar.
  • Add the water.
  • Give it a good stir.
  • Place in the microwave on high for 5-10 minutes.
  • Use a non-scratch sponge to scrape away the layers of grime.
  • Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary.

This seems extreme; yes, student accommodation cleaning is an extreme job. Most students don’t clean the entire year they stay in a property. On rare occasions (like once in 7 years), I’ve seen a clean student let. That’s how bad these properties can be.

So repeat those steps as many times as needed until you can see the surface of the microwave again, and eventually, it will all come off.

This method can be used for ovens too but is very time-consuming. I recommend using a good oven cleaner on the oven like oven-off or pride.

Safety Warning:

Never use oven cleaner on anything other than the inside of an oven.
Never use oven cleaner on microwaves.
When using oven cleaners, ventilate the area well.

How Often Should I Clean My Microwave?

I mentioned earlier that prevention is the best method for maintaining your microwave. However, back in the real busy world, weekly should be your target.

Using one of my microwave cleaning methods above, you should clean your microwave once a week.

If you use a cleaning schedule, build it into your Friday cleaning tasks so that you don’t spend all weekend cleaning your house.

Join Keep It Clean Club, my home-keeping planner and course to get access to my done-for-you cleaning schedule, training and support group.

Microwave Care Tips

  • To reduce the build-up of smells in your microwave, always leave the door open to air out after every use.
  • Never cover the vents on the top or sides of the microwave.
  • Make sure the microwave has space for air to circulate behind it.
  • Cover your food with microwave plate covers.
  • Use microwave-safe containers.
  • Never put metal in the microwave.
  • Do not operate empty.
  • Do not use the microwave for anything other than food items. I’ve seen laundry hacks where people are drying clothes in the microwave. This is a BIG NO-NO and will probably cause a fire!
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners and sponges. These will damage the microwave.

Cleaning The Microwave Conclusion

Please take note of that last care tip. I know there is lots of advice out there that says using cream cleaners and scouring sponges are a safe way to clean, but they really aren’t. All abrasives leave micro-scratches on the surface you clean with them.

This causes damage to your surfaces and appliances. Not only does it look ugly after time. It can also reduce the performance of appliances like microwaves.

Using one of the methods we’ve talked about above, you can ensure you’ll get the best performance, the best-looking microwave and the longest life out of your microwave.

If you’re a visual learner like me, feel free to watch my YouTube video using the vinegar method below.

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Sarah Goldsmith

Sarah Jane Goldsmith is the owner of multiple award-winning cleaning company. Purple Cleaning. With 7 years of industry experience and working with some of the most exclusive clients the Northeast of England has, she's gained a wealth of knowledge in cleaning and home organization. Her company, Purple Cleaning Services have won multiple awards for service in the commercial and domestic sectors. They are corporate members of the British Institute of Cleaning Science, leading the way in safe, effective, and aesthetic cleaning. Sarah runs many social media channels including her successful YouTube channel where she teaches people how to clean and how to get the most from their homes. Her private community of raving fans love being part of her exclusive membership programme, Keep It Clean Club, which can be found at In her spare time, Sarah enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family, she has 2 young daughters and a teenage son. By day she is engrossed in helping many people stamp out the mess in their homes and live happier cleaner lives.

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