No one wants to eat food that came out of a food-encrusted microwave, so when yours starts to look like a war zone splattered with sauce, cheese, and who knows what else, it’s time to get in there and give it a good clean.
You might be putting it off because it seems like a lot of work, but we’ve got a few different ways to make your microwave look sparkling new without too much effort.
Inside the Microwave
Cleaning a super dirty microwave interior is actually pretty simple, and it doesn’t even require any harsh cleaning products. One of the best and most effective ways to clean the stuck-on food is to steam it.
This works because the steam helps to soften and loosen the food particles, so you can wipe them away without a lot of scrubbing. You can use water alone, but it’s a lot more effective if you add something to it.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, you’ll need to gather some supplies. Grab a microwave-safe bowl or cup that’s big enough to hold 1 cup of water. You can use a sponge, paper towels, or a cloth to clean with.
Next, you’ll need something acidic to add to the water, like lemon juice, white or apple cider vinegar, or any kind of citrus fruit slices. Some dish soap will come in handy, too.
The Cleaning Process
- Fill the bowl or cup with 1 cup of water.
- Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice to the water. If you’re using fruit slices, squeeze the juice into the water.
- Place the mug or bowl in the microwave and set the time to several minutes on the highest power setting. Make sure it heats enough to boil and create a lot of steam, then turn it off and let the water cool for at least five minutes.
- Remove the bowl or mug from the microwave.
- Remove the turntable to give it a more thorough cleaning. Most of the stuck-on food should come off easily at this point, but you can wash it in the sink with hot water and dish soap for a more thorough clean if you want.
- Wipe all of the interior surfaces of the microwave with a damp cloth, sponge, or paper towels. Everything should come off easily, but if it doesn’t, you can repeat the steaming process and use a bit of hot water and dish soap to loosen any stubborn spots.
- Dry the microwave with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel if there’s any water left behind, and replace the clean turntable.
The Microwave Exterior
Now that you’ve got the inside taken care of, it’s time to work on the outside. Luckily, this is one of the easiest parts to clean. All you really need is a good all-purpose cleaner and a few soft cloths.
The Cleaning Process
- Spray the cloth with your cleaning product of choice. You should avoid spraying the microwave or control panel directly to prevent the cleaning solution from getting into the internal workings of the microwave.
- Wipe the outside of the microwave with the cloth. You might need to spray and wipe a few times to remove really tough spots, or you can try a magic eraser to make the process even quicker.
- Rinse the exterior of the microwave with a clean, damp cloth, then buff it dry.
If your microwave still looks a little faded or worn out even after a good cleaning, you can try one of these tricks to restore it to its former glory:
- Stainless steel – Put a small amount of mineral oil or baby oil on a soft cloth, and buff it following the direction of the grain to restore some shine and reduce the appearance of scratches.
- Plastic – A light application of Armor All on the plastic parts of your microwave can help boost its appearance and smooth out the look of abrasions or scratches.
Keeping it Clean
Now that you’ve got your microwave all shiny and clean, you want to keep it that way, right? Keeping your food covered while it cooks is one of the best ways to prevent splatters, but there’s more you can do.
Just wipe it down every few days, and clean up any splatters soon after they happen while they’re still warm. This works better since they’re less likely to stick until they cool.
A Final Word
Hopefully this guide helped you get your microwave back into good condition. After all, it’s much more appealing to eat food that came from a clean, odor-free microwave, as opposed to one that’s covered with last week’s leftovers.
Writer and Product Researcher
Spending the last 10 years researching and writing about various home, garden and electronics topics, Shelley is more than qualified to write for Meccano Home. Her work has been featured on eBay, Pottery Barn, SFGate, TheKnot, Williams-Sonoma and various other blogs and websites.