Microwave Cleaning & Maintenance 101 – How to Clean a Microwave

Microwaves are the unsung heroes in every kitchen because they cut down on cooking time, allowing you to serve delectable meals in minutes. But what is often left behind is the dirt and grime from the food spilling out of the containers you cook or heat them in. With time, this dirt becomes only more stubborn to clean and even starts to smell. Obviously, you don't want to spoil your midnight snacks with the sight of a nasty microwave. To avoid this nightmare, cleaning your microwave at least once a week is a must. This might sound like a tedious job but relax. This article will reveal some of the easy-peasy hacks to make cleaning your microwave effortless, no matter what model, make, or capacity of microwave you have. 

In this article, we’ll cover:  

  • How often do you need to clean your microwave? 
  • How to clean a microwave – 5 different ways:
  • How to clean a microwave with cleaning products
  • How to clean a microwave with dish soap
  • How to clean a microwave with baking soda
  • How to clean a microwave with vinegar
  • How to clean a microwave with lemon 
  • Microwave cleaning checklist 
  • FAQs about microwave maintenance 

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Microwave? 

Honestly, there is no rule or fixed cleaning schedule for microwaves. You have to decide when you need to clean your microwave depending on the condition of your microwave, the size of your family, and how often it’s used. While it’s generally said you should clean it once a week, you can clean your microwave more or less frequently depending on your personal needs. Remember to clean it as soon as you notice ugly splatters after microwaving something. This not only makes removing the gunk easier, but your microwave will remain squeaky clean every time you open the door.  

A dirty microwave will not just make your food smell foul but can also cause serious health issues. The grime and dirt can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria, which will be transferred to the meal that is being cooked. The dirt and spills can prevent the microwave from working optimally, leading to more power consumption. If the vent in the microwave gets clogged due to heavy build-up, it can even become a fire hazard. So, cleaning your microwave is crucial to safeguard your family in every way. 

How to Clean a Microwave – 5 Different Ways 

Just like microwaves can cook fast so you can serve meals in minutes, they also get dirty quickly through spillage and splatter. Luckily, microwaves can be cleaned quickly, too, and it’s not that complicated, either. All you need are supplies like cleaning solution, a sponge, a microfiber cloth, etc. 

There are several ways to clean a microwave, depending on what type of cleaning solution you prefer. If the smell doesn't bother you, then a vinegar and water solution can do wonders for your microwave. Another option can be lemon juice and peels. Yes, those often discarded lemon peels can give you a fresh-smelling, clean microwave for life. If you want more handy cleaning options, baking soda or good old dishwashing liquid can help. We have broken down the cleaning process with each option below, have a look. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Cleaning Products 

Cleaning products are the cleaning supplies mentioned earlier in this article. These are tools that will make the process a breeze for you, saving you lots of time and energy. The list of cleaning products basically includes supplies that you often use for home cleaning. The list comprises a quarter-size microwaveable bowl, a spray bottle, a clean paper towel, a microfiber cloth, a cleaning sponge, and a cleaning solution. You can either prepare the solution from ingredients in your kitchen or save time and effort by using regular dishwashing soap.  

Here is a step-by-step process of using these tools to clean the microwave:  

  • The microwaveable bowl is used to heat the cleaning solution (as per your preference) inside the microwave. This will help loosen the gunk that’s been sitting on the walls of your microwave for weeks or even months.  
  • The microfiber cloth is used to wipe away all the dirt from inside the microwave. For stubborn build-up, you need a sponge to gently scrub it away.  
  • The paper towel is used to wipe away the moisture to help the microwave dry out faster. You can also use a soft clean cloth instead.  
  • The spray bottle can be used to clean the outer part of the microwave, like the door handle and buttons that you come in frequent contact with. These parts are prone to getting greasy. All you need to do is to spray some cleaning solution on those parts and wipe off all the dirt and grime. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Dish Soap 

This is the most popular way of cleaning a microwave. Dishwashing soap is always available and is specially formulated to dissolve grease and gunk. You can also skip the hassle of preparing a homemade cleaning solution. With dishwashing soap, you can follow the steps mentioned above for cleaning the microwave by mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid soap with 1 cup of water or following the method below.  

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning a microwave using dishwashing soap without turning on the appliance:  

  • Prepare a solution by mixing 1 cup of warm water with 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Now fill it up in a spray bottle and spray over the walls, bottom, and ceiling inside the microwave cavity.  
  • Let it sit for a while so the dirt and grime start loosening up. Now take the microfiber cloth and wipe off the dirt from the walls and ceiling. Don't forget to remove the turntable and the glass plate to clean them separately.  
  • There may still be some gunk that refuses to be cleaned, so soak the scrubber in the cleaning solution of water and dish soap and gently scrub it off.  
  • Now focus on the outer side of the microwave by spraying the solution and then wiping off all the accumulated dirt.  
  • Finally, wipe everything with a clean paper towel or cloth.  
  • Replace the turntable and the glass plate, and your microwave is ready to cook meals hygienically. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Baking Soda 

The sodium bicarbonate present in baking soda is a great cleaning and deodorizing ingredient. You can use it to clean up that gunk on the inside of the microwave and remove any odors that might have developed due to the build-up of grease and food.  

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning a microwave using baking soda: 

  • Start by mixing two tablespoons of baking soda in a cup of water in a microwaveable bowl. Heat this cleaning solution on high for about 5 to 10 minutes until you see steam.  
  • Now turn off the microwave and let the bowl sit there for another 5 minutes.  
  • Carefully take out the bowl and start wiping down the walls, glass plate, and turntable with a microfiber cloth. Don’t clog the vent in the process, as this can cause a mechanical fault in the appliance.  
  • Scrub off stubborn gunk using a sponge soaked in the cleaning solution. Use the same sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe off the dirt from the door, buttons, and door handle on the outside.  
  • Wipe it off with a clean paper town and then replace the turntable and glass plate.  

How to Clean a Microwave with Vinegar 

White vinegar is a great cleaning agent as it dissolves all the grime instantly. It is inexpensive, environment-friendly, and effectively removes any smells in a microwave. If the pungent smell of vinegar doesn’t bother you, then you can change your microwave cleaning game with this ingredient.  

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning a microwave using white vinegar:  

  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a microwaveable bowl and heat it on high for about 5 minutes.  
  • Switch off the microwave and let the bowl sit for 3 minutes. The steam will weaken the built-up grime for easy cleaning.  
  • Take out the bowl, glass plate, and turntable wearing gloves. Now start cleaning with the microfiber cloth.  
  • Scrub away all the stubborn build-up from the walls, ceiling, bottom, glass plate, and turntable.  
  • Then, simply wipe up the outer part of the microwave with the microfiber cloth dipped in the same solution.  
  • After a final wipe with a clean paper towel, replace the turntable and glass plate. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Lemon 

Lemon is a natural cleanser and disinfectant that can keep your microwave fresh and spotless for a long time. Cleaning a microwave with lemon is perhaps the easiest of all, and the fact that you can also use the peels that would have otherwise been discarded makes it all the more amazing.  

Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning a microwave with lemon:  

  • Take 1 cup of water and squeeze in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Leave the peels in the water. You can also add a tablespoon of vinegar to the solution to make it stronger.  
  • Now heat the solution on high in the microwave for 2 minutes or until you see steam inside.  
  • Turn off the microwave and let the bowl sit inside for another couple of minutes.  
  • Take out the bowl, glass plate, and turntable.  
  • Wipe off all the dirt with a microfiber cloth and use the same cloth to clean the outer surface of the microwave.  
  • Scrub away any stubborn debris or spots from the inside walls of the microwave using the sponge.  
  • Use a clean paper towel to wipe the microwave dry, especially the inside, and you are ready to cook your next meal in a clean microwave. 

Microwave Cleaning Checklist 

Now that we’ve reviewed 5 different ways of cleaning your microwave, we want to put it all together and create a brief “checklist” as your go-to cleaning guide for your microwave. The list will include all the components of a microwave that should be cleaned, along with how often they should be cleaned. The list will also include the necessary tools you need to ace cleaning your microwave like a pro.  

Check out the table below, and you will never need to search the web for another microwave cleaning guide.

Frequency of cleaning Parts to be cleaned Tools needed

at least once a week, depending on the usage 

walls, bottom, and ceiling of the cavity 

cleaning liquid, microfiber cloth, sponge, and paper towel

after every cooking session 

glass plate and turn table 

cleaning liquid, microfiber cloth, sponge, and paper towel

once or twice a month 

door, door handle, and buttons on the control panel 

cleaning liquid and microfiber cloth 

once a month 

exterior top and sides 

cleaning liquid and microfiber cloth 

FAQs About Microwave Maintenance

What is the easiest way to clean a microwave? 

The easiest way to clean a microwave is to use a mix of water and vinegar or water and baking soda. Both vinegar and baking soda are excellent cleaning ingredients that are also capable of removing any foul smells, leaving your microwave fresh and spotless. Heat the cleaning solution in a bowl until it steams. Then take it out and wipe off all the dirt with a cloth. Remove the glass plate and turntable to clean them too. That's all you need to do to keep your microwave clean. 

What is the best way to clean a microwave? 

The most popular microwave cleaning solution is a mix of dish wash soap and water. As the dish wash soap is already formulated with active cleaning ingredients that melt away dirt and grease, it works perfectly to remove grime and stains from the microwave cavity. Mix a cup of water with a spoon of dish soap, heat it, and then wipe the microwave clean. Don't forget to clean the glass plate, turntable, and the outer part of the appliance the same way. 

What should you not use to clean a microwave? 

Never use harsh or abrasive chemicals that can stay behind even after being wiped away. These chemicals can spoil your food. Also, don't use a harsh scrubber to remove stubborn stains, as it can damage the interior of the microwave cavity. To prevent spillage, cover your food while heating. If you notice any spills, clean your microwave right away before it sits there and becomes a stubborn mark.   

How do you clean a badly stained microwave? 

A mix of 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and a cup of water is the best cleanser for a badly stained microwave. Heat this solution in a microwave-safe bowl for about 2 minutes until it forms steam inside. Let the steam stay in for a couple of minutes, and then wipe away all stains using a damp cloth. You can then remove the glass plate and the turntable to clean them separately and replace them. This solution is also effective in cleaning the external parts like the door, handle, buttons, top, and sides of the microwave. 

Can I bleach my microwave? 

Bleaching can be dangerous in any kind of appliance as its harsh chemicals can damage plastic and other materials, making them brittle. To disinfect a microwave, the best idea would be to use disinfectant wipes specifically formulated to clean microwaves. 

Final Thoughts 

Microwaves can transform your cooking experience, preparing perfectly cooked meals in half the time and without too much intervention. Modern microwaves are loaded with features that can help you pull off any recipe you find online. If you are planning to invest in a microwave or upgrade an existing one, check out our impressive collection at Coast Appliances. You can find the best option for you from countertop microwaves to built-in microwaves and even over-the-range microwaves. You can also go through our microwave buying guide to nail down the model that perfectly meets your requirements and budget.