All it takes is one round of leftovers or burnt bag of popcorn to turn a sparkling clean microwave into a grimy, smelly mess. The key to keeping a clean over-the-range, built-in or countertop microwave is regular maintenance — every few days, at the very least. When you notice splatters on your microwave’s interior, greasy fingerprints on the controls or stuck-on food, turn to this foolproof guide on how to clean a microwave by Carolyn Forte, Executive Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.
Fortunately, you can clean a microwave with the everyday cleaning products you already have in your house, including all-purpose cleaner, baking soda, dish soap or vinegar (white or apple cider). Just be sure to stay away from bleach because appliance manufacturers, like General Electric, warn it can actually weaken the plastic interior and damage the appliance in the long run. Unless you let tomato sauce splatters sit for too long, microwaves don’t usually stain like countertops and sinks, so the whitening cleaner is unnecessary to begin with.
Follow this expert-tested guide to clean your microwave from the outside in — door, turntable and all.
How to Clean the Inside of a Microwave
A combination of splatters and smells can leave your microwave looking, well, sad. To target your microwave’s interior – turntable included — follow this step-by-step:
- Combine 1 cup water and lemon, lime or orange slices (squeeze juice from the fruit slices into the water) in a microwave-safe bowl. Or, if you have white or apple cider vinegar on hand, combine a few tablespoons and 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and turn it on high power for several minutes until the mixture boils and the window steams up.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before opening the door, then remove the bowl and wipe the inside clean with a sponge.
How to Clean Greasy Microwave Doors
It’s not just the inside that counts: Remove smudges and grease from the microwave’s exterior with these tips and tricks.
- Clean the entire door — edges, both sides and where it seals the oven — with a sponge dampened with water and dipped in a little baking soda. Wipe with a damp cloth or sponge to rinse.
- For a greasy window, clean with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Rinse and wipe dry.
- For heavy grease build-up and stuck-on splatters, wipe your microwave door down with an all-purpose, grease-cutting cleaner (like Mr. Clean Clean Freak Mist) or a sudsy mix of dish soap and water. Apply the cleaner with a cloth or sponge to prevent cleaner from getting into the vent holes. Scrub with a non-scratch pad (such as Scotch-Brite), if needed. Similarly, never spray electronic controls directly with cleaner to avoid damage. Always apply the cleaner to a cloth first, then wipe the controls.
How to Get a Burnt Smell (and All Smells, Really) Out of the Microwave
When you cooking something smelly in the microwave, the smell comes back as soon as you turn the oven back on. That means it’s best to get rid of the stench right away.
- For light odors (spicy food with a strong aroma, for example), air out the oven by leaving the door open, or place a bowl of baking soda inside with the door closed to absorb smells.
- For strong odors (think: burnt popcorn), clean any leftover residue and place an odor-absorbing gel, like Fresh Wave, inside until you run it again.
How to Remove Stuck-on Food from the Microwave’s Interior
To get rid of dried-on food, use Good Housekeeping Seal Star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. For the turntable, just place it in the dishwasher or wash by hand with sudsy water and a non-scratch scrub sponge.
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