How to Clean a Microwave

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Microwave handles several cooking tasks in our daily life – from cooking, baking, reheating to unfreezing foods. So, it gets smelly, dirty and greasy very often.

Cleaning regularly is the key to maintain an effective microwave. And the Good News: cleaning a microwave oven isn’t so hard.

With ingredients that are commonly available in any household, you can easily and efficiently clean the microwave. We have mentioned them clearly in this article for your reference.

Different Ways to Clean Interior of Microwave

Some of the common ingredients helpful to clean microwave are – paper towels, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, household vinegar, cleaning solution, dish soap or normal hand wash solution, and citrus or lime solution.

1. Using Paper Towels – Cheapest Trick

Cleaning a microwave with Paper Towels

Cleaning microwave with paper towels is the most common method. You can use a single paper towel roll or just a few paper towels. They are super-efficient in absorbing grease and other oil-based stains. This method is perfect for clearing out grease on the walls and the windows of the microwave oven.

  • Open the microwave oven door.
  • Place a couple of wet and soaked paper tissues or towels.
  • Now turn on the microwave to the highest power.
  • Let it be like that for about 5 minutes.
  • The steam from these towels will loosen the caked-on grease and other titbits.
  • After the towels have cooled down, you can use them to wipe off the interiors as well.

2. Using Baking Soda – Works Like Magic

Simple Baking Soda Method

This method is suitable for clearing any spills of cooked food. It can also be used for cleaning microwave after egg explosion.

  • Take a bowl and make a baking soda paste by adding two portions of baking soda and one portion of water.
  • Now apply this paste to the parts of the microwave interiors, especially where foods have spilled.
  • You do not need to turn on the microwave but all you need to do is to wipe off the baking soda cream with a wet sponge or a rag cloth.
  • You can also use a paper towel to remove the residue.
  • After this, place a small bowl of water in a microwave bowl and turn up the machine for about 5 minutes.
  • As the steam gets on the windows, turn off and use paper towels to wipe away everything.

3. Using Vinegar and Water – For Pesky Greasy Stains

Vinegar with water

This method is suitable for cleaning grease stains and dried food spills. So, in this process even the heating elements get cleaned properly. You can also use this to clean a microwave oven after butter explosion.

  • Take a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with water up to the halfway mark.
  • Now add about one or 2 tablespoons of white vinegar.
  • Place this bowl in the microwave and steam it at the highest power for about 5 minutes.
  • All of the internal walls will get steamed and this will loosen the caked gunk.
  • After you remove the bowl from the microwave, wipe down the slimy gunk with a paper towel or a cotton cloth.
  • Also, take out the turntable for a quick wash manually or through the dishwasher.

4. Using Baking Soda and Vinegar – To Remove Stubborn Gunk

baking soda with vinegar

This process is efficient for removing grease, food particles and tough stains. As it can also remove bad odors, this method can be used for cleaning after fire, burn or burning popcorn.

  • Take a bowl of lukewarm water and add about 4 tablespoons of baking soda to it.
  • Mash it up and stir vigorously until the baking soda powder dissolves completely.
  • Now dip a sponge or a rag cloth in the bowl and wipe it on the insides of the microwave.
  • After this, let the microwave sit for a while.
  • In the meanwhile, pour about 3 parts of water and 3 parts of white vinegar in a bowl (take a microwave-safe bowl).
  • Place it in the microwave and turn on the high power for 3 minutes (with the baking soda wiped interiors).
  • After the water has boiled to hot, let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the formed water steam will stick to the gunk and loosen everything.
  • Now open the door and remove the bowl along with the carousel and the turntable.
  • You may soak all the removable parts in a bowl of hot soapy water.
  • Let them sit while you wash away the interior of the microwave with vinegar and water solution.
  • Dry the interiors by blotting it with a dry paper towel. Repeat the process till all of the gunk is removed.

Important Tip – Instead of standard white vinegar, you can also use apple cider vinegar.

5. Citrus/Lemon – For Shiny Clean in a Jiff

Cleaning with Citrus or Lemon juice

Citrus contains vitamin C which is known to break down grease and oil stains. This method is suitable for cleaning a microwave after any food mishaps like burning popcorn, burning food, or burning plastic or others.

  • You can take a lemon or an orange or a lime fruit.
  • Cut it in half and place both of the halves with their side down on the turntable microwave plate.
  • Add about a tablespoon of water.
  • Set the microwave for medium for about 1 minute or till you observe that the lemon inside the device is hot whereas the interiors of the oven are steamy.
  • Take out the lemon and wipe off the insides with a bunch of paper towels. Don’t forget to clean the ceiling of the microwave oven.
  • Additionally, you can take the hot lemon and squeeze its juice onto the interior walls as you wipe down with a dry paper towel for greater and pristine glass.

6. Dishwash or Handwash Soap – Easy Peasy Hack!

Cleaning with Dishwash or Handwash Soap

  • Take a small bowl of water and add generous amounts of dishwashing or hand wash soap to it.
  • Transfer the contents into a microwave-safe bowl and set the microwave settings too high and the timer to one minute or until you can see that the water is in a hard boil and steam forming around the interiors of the microwave.
  • The steam shall loosen all of the dried gunk debris on the walls and on the window.
  • Now turn off the machine, take a bunch of paper towels or a rag cloth and start wiping the windows and the walls of the machine.
  • Alternatively, you can also add some baking soda to the water.
  • This will help in removing any bad odor that was sticking in the machine before.

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Window Cleaner Solution with water

This method is similar to the one mentioned above with the dishwasher soap. You can go for this one for more small or watery stain marks and most importantly, splash marks. It is not exactly ideal for dried up gunk but is good for greasy or oily marks.

  • Take a small bowl and mix 2 portions of window cleaner solution with 1 portion of water.
  • This will dilute the cleaner enough to clean not just the interiors but also the exteriors of the microwave.
  • Take a sponge and soak it in the mixture.
  • Start wiping off the interior of the microwave and also the windows.
  • You can also remove the carousel and then dub down the microwave base with it.
  • Take a cloth and try cleaning out the microwave vents with this mixture as well.
  • After scrubbing on the tough stains for about 5 minutes, dip a new rag in clean water.
  • Now clean off the soaped up areas neat and clean.
  • Repeat it till the splash stains are gone for good.

Note: If any stubborn stains remain, dab some olive oil on it or on the rag cloth and clean it with that. After the unit dries out, wipe it out further with dry cloth pieces. If you observe any smell of the cleaner inside, wipe it again with a fresh watered cloth and then wipe it down with a dry cloth.

How to Clean a Self-Cleaning Microwave?

Some modern microwave ovens come with self-cleaning option. If you are not sure whether your appliance has this option or not, then look at the knobs. Usually, there will be a setting for cleaning. This is the easiest way to clean a microwave oven as you don’t have to do much and everything is done by the appliance itself.

This process works by heating the oven really high and break the grease present inside the oven. During this self-cleaning process, the oven will emit pretty terrible smell so it is better stay from kitchen until the process is complete. It is also better to open the windows and doors to clear the smell quickly. If you are not sure how to start this process, then follow below steps.

  • Turn on the microwave oven.
  • Press the button or move the knob beside cleaning option.
  • Some ovens start the cleaning process as soon as you close the door. While some ovens lock the door and start the process.
  • In order to complete the cleaning process, it takes about 6 hours. The door will be unlocked once the process is completed.
  • We recommend to let it cool down for couple of hours. This will avoid any scalding grease.
  • Once you open the door, there will be a lot of grease and burned food scraps. Using a paper towel or clean cloth, wipe the interiors carefully to remove them.

How to Clean Microwave Filter?

Grease or exhaust filter present in the microwave should be cleaned regularly to make sure they work efficiently. You have to clean it once in a month or less depending on the usage of the appliance. For cleaning, you can follow this process.

  • Locate the grease or exhaust filter. If you are not aware, check out the instruction manual provided.
  • Carefully remove the filter. It is very easy to remove it and doesn’t require any tools.
  • Take a bowl and fill it with water and add some liquid soap into it.
  • Soak the filter in this solution for 10 minutes or longer if there is more grease.
  • After that, use a tooth brush to scrub the filters. Make sure you do this process with gentle pressure to avoid any breaks.
  • Once you have completed the scrubbing, rinse it under running water.
  • Let it air dry or pat dry before replacing it.
  • Don’t use microwave oven without exhaust or grease filter.

How Often Should I Clean the Microwave?

To prevent worst scenarios, it is better to clean a microwave oven once in a week or whenever any mishap occurs like during a butter explosion, burnt popcorn or others. Though this may seem like an overkill, cleaning regularly will prevent tiresome scrubbing process later. If microwave oven is left uncleaned for longer time, then it can become a breeding ground for germs. So, it is important to clean the microwave oven regularly – at least once in a week for a clean kitchen.

Tips and Precautions to Take While Cleaning Your Microwave

  • While cleaning the exteriors of the microwave oven, make sure you are not letting any water get into the backside of the microwave. This will damage the microwave.
  • Also, make sure you are unplugging the microwave if you are to clean the exterior with a wet cloth. Cleaning it with a wet cloth while it is plugged in could be dangerous.
  • Make sure you are also turning off the microwave while cleaning the insides of the microwave.
  • Only plug in the microwave when you are placing something inside it and microwaving it.
  • While doing any of the above-mentioned methods to clean your microwave, you may experience strong smell at the end of the cleaning. In that case, you can microwave a small bowl of water with a teaspoon of baking soda in it. This will remove the strong odors.
  • As a rule of thumb, wrap smelly foods before you microwave them. (like fish or eggs with shells or maybe processed meats) This will prevent any smelly occurrences or preserve the hygiene of your microwave.
  • In cases of internal splashes and spills, do not directly go ahead and rub off the spillage. Let the interiors cool down before using any wet cloth or paper towels to clean it.

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How can I clean the leftover spill particles on the glass part of the microwave door panel?

You can use a paper towel for removing the stains. Adding few drops of olive oil can also do the charm. Once the food particles are removed, you can wipe the door using soap water to remove the oil.

2. Is it ok to use oven cleaners to clean microwave?

We don’t recommend using them because the chemicals in the commercial cleaners can damage the coating present inside the microwave oven.

3. There are yellow stains present inside the microwave. How can I remove them?

Yellow stains occur due to oil accumulation or deposits. For removing them, you can place a bowl of vinegar water inside the appliance and run it for 1 to 2 minutes. The vinegar steam will soften them. Wipe them using a dishcloth. If you leave these yellow stains uncleaned for long time, then they become tough and permanent.

4. My microwave oven is emitting a weird smell. How can I get rid of bad smells from it?

For removing light odors, we recommend to air it out. Just leave the door open for couple of hours. Or else, you can place a bowl of baking soda in the oven for an hour. This will absorb smell and leave it refreshed. However, if there are strong odors like burnt food or popcorn, you have to first clean any leftover residue. Now you can place any odor absorbing items like salt, baking soda, activated charcoal or any other until you use the microwave oven again.

5. How can I clean the heating element or light present in the microwave?

Heating elements are usually present in the convection microwave ovens. You have to be very careful while cleaning them as a simple damage can affect the performance of the whole appliance. For cleaning heating elements, you can follow the steaming or lemon method provided in this article.

6. I purchased microwave oven recently. How can I clean it before using it first time?

You can place a small bowl of water. Add few drops of lemon juice into it. Close the door and turn it on for couple of minutes. Open the door and remove the bowl. Take few paper towels or a clean cloth and gently wipe off the steam. This process is enough to clean before you start using the appliance.

7. How to clean the control panel or buttons present on the microwave oven?

For cleaning the buttons or control panel, you can follow the process mentioned here. First take a bowl. Combine warm water and some mild liquid soap. Using a tooth brush (soft bristles), dip it into this solution and gently scrub it on the control panel. After cleaning them, you can wipe the area with wet cloth and again with a dry cloth. You can use the same process for cleaning the door latch of the microwave oven as well.


Apart from the above-mentioned home remedies, there are a lot of ready-made commercial oven cleaning solutions as well. Apart from being pricey, a lot of them also may leave a strong smell inside the oven after you clean it. While they may smell good at first, after you start using the microwave for heating some food or liquid, your food may end up having the taste or the smell of these cleaners.

If you have any further questions regarding cleaning your microwave or any other kitchen or home appliance (or furniture as well), feel free to write to us in the comments section below. Our team of experts will write back to you as soon as possible.

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