11 Tried And True Ways To Clean Your Microwave

Cut the grease + grime from the carousel to the touchpad.

Ugh, the microwave. Such a blessing and a curse. The price we pay for such convenience is the utter hassle of having to clean it.

Has your microwave been overrun by food kablamo splatters, curious odors, and a thick coat of grime? Does the inside look like a Jackson Pollock painting of sauces and gravies? Does the touchpad resemble a greasy version of the FBI’s biometrics lab?

Okay, admit it. It’s time for a microwave deep clean.

There are many ways to go about cleaning your microwave, and the most successful techniques involve some form of steam. Creating steam helps to loosen stubborn bits of food and moisten sticky spots, making them easier to scrub off. Because steam equals heat, you may want to don a pair of kitchen gloves for this task to avoid burning your hands.

Check out our recommendations below of microwave cleaning tips, and feel free to combine multiple methods for especially disgusting splatters and stains. And be sure to clean both the inside and the outside of your microwave. Just because the inside is more visibly dirty than the exterior doesn’t mean that germs aren’t lingering on the handle, touchpad, and filter.

  1. Make Fresh Squeezed Lemonade (Then Microwave It!) Fill a measuring cup with a cup of water, cut a lemon in half, squeeze its juice into the measuring cup, then drop the two halves in. Microwave the water and lemon for a few minutes, or until you see the water start to boil. Let that sit in your microwave for a few minutes to cool down so the steam can do its job. Then, remove the measuring cup and use a cloth to wipe down the inside of the microwave. The steam works to loosen food particles so they’re easy to wipe away.
  1. Steam Clean With Wet Paper Towels. For an even easier trick, get a few paper towels wet and microwave them for a few minutes — start with two and don’t exceed five. Then, let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle. Once they are, use them to wipe down the microwave and throw them away when you’re done.
  2. Nuke Your Sponge. Another steamy option is to get a sponge wet with water then microwave it for a few minutes. Once the sponge cools off a bit, dip it in a solution of warm water and Dawn Dish Soup, then use it to scrub away all those stuck-on food bits. Bonus: Microwaving your sponge for about two minutes should actually help kill bacteria hidden in its nooks and crannies.
  3. All Hail Vinegar: The Ultimate Neutralizer! Spray 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, wipe down with a sponge.
  1. Cast A Spell with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. For a really dirty microwave with caked-on food, it’s time to bust out a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. First, wet the Magic Eraser and squeeze the excess water out. Then, start scrubbing! Let the Magic Eraser do most of the work for you — you shouldn’t need to scrub too hard before food splatter and baked-on messes practically disappear. Once the microwave looks sparkling clean, go ahead and give a quick wipedown with just water so it’s ready to use when you need it.
  2. Get Scrubby Wit It (Baking Soda, That Is!) Make an abrasive paste with baking soda, let it sit on spots with hardened food residue for five minutes. Then use a sponge, cloth, or paper towels to scrub it off and watch those spots in your microwave disappear before your eyes.
  1. Leave Baking Soda In/On Overnight. If you’re worried about strong odors in your microwave, try putting a small bowl of baking soda in it overnight to soak up the smells.
  2. Seek Professional Help. And if it’s a really strong smell (like burnt popcorn) that just won’t seem to go away, step up your smell game by using an odor eliminator product — sometimes they come in gel form - to trap and remove the worst odors.
  3. Get Creative With Alternative Cleaning Products. A diluted window cleaning solution is gentle enough to clean both inside and outside your microwave. Mix two parts window cleaner with one part water, soak a sponge in the mixture, and use it to wipe down your microwave, removing the carousel and scrubbing it separately. You can soak stubborn stains with the solution for a few minutes before wiping. Then use a clean wet rag or paper towels to wipe down the interior with water to get rid of any residue from the cleaning mixture. Leave the microwave door open to air out any residual cleaner scent and/or wipe down with a dry rag.
  4. Oil Up Your Stains. As if they weren’t greasy enough. Really persistent stains will sometimes succumb to olive oil. Drizzle some olive oil on a sponge or paper towel and apply some elbow grease. Then, of course, you’ll have to clean the olive oil residue with vinegar or baking soda - but it’s worth twice the work to eradicate the original stain!
  1. ‘Round The Outside. As previously mentioned, don’t neglect the exterior of your microwave. The touchpad, handle and vents tend to accumulate grease and dirt, too. You can use any sort of (bleach-free) all-purpose cleaner, some Dawn dish soap and water, or any of the aforementioned mixtures of vinegar and/or baking soda with a sponge to clean the outside of your microwave. If your microwave is stainless steel, you can use a pinch of rubbing alcohol to wipe away fingerprints. Changing or cleaning your microwave’s filter can definitely help air out any lingering odors, too. Be sure to check the owner’s manual before messing with the filter, but most of them are removable and can be hand washed with regular dish soap and warm water. Be sure it’s totally dry before replacing.

Cleaning the microwave is similar to cleaning the stove, in a sense. It gets used so frequently that it’s just going to get dirty again right away. But don’t be discouraged! Now that you’ve committed all of these microwave cleaning tips to memory, you’ve got the tools and knowledge to steam clean and baking soda scrub all those stubborn splatters, burnt stains, and greasy fingerprints away again (and again, and again!).

Related Articles

The Right Way to Clean Your Refrigerator

Cleaning expert and Youtuber BitsofBri shares the right way to clean your refrigerator from top to bottom — with bonus product recommendations and organizational tips.

Learn How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances

Check out this roundup of ways to clean your stainless steel appliances so you can live your best, smudge-free life.

The Right Way To Clean Your Glass Stove Top

Read on (and watch the video) for a step-by-step tutorial on how to remove that stubborn, sloppy mess caked onto your electric stove top.

A Realistic Cleaning Schedule to Crush Your Cleaning Goals

A daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule so you know what to clean when.

Clean Your Stove Burners in Just 4 Steps

Learn how to get a sparkling clean electric, gas, and glass stovetop.

Spring Cleaning Checklist: 5 Rooms in 5 Days

Follow this printable checklist to get a fresh home within a week.

How to clean a stove top – A Simple Guide

Tips on how to clean glass stovetops, gas stove tops, electric stove tips, stove burners, stove grates, and more!

Best Ways to Clean All Types of Window Blinds

Clean That Up’s Brandon Pleshek shares the fastest, easiest way to clean fabric, wood, and plastic blinds — including his favorite product recommendations.