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How to Clean a Microwave

Remove stains & odours from the microwave with this handy guide! Discover information on how to clean your microwave, leaving it safe & hygienic to use.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

Learn how to clean a microwave

We all know how important it is to keep a high standard of hygiene around food. While cleaning a microwave oven can seem like a chore, it is something that should be done on a regular basis to keep appliances energy-efficient and germ-free. With microwaves, it’s easy to just close the door and forget about stains and smells, but burnt-on food can cause electrical sparking and affect the microwave’s performance. Here’s how to clean the microwave oven and keep it in great condition.

To remove grease and grime from the outside of your microwave, use a multipurpose cleaner like Cif – it lifts dirt without the need for scrubbing!

How to Clean a Microwave Oven the Traditional Way

When it comes to cleaning your own machine, it’s a good idea to check what the manual says before attempting any of the methods below. Most manufacturers recommend a method similar to the following steps for cleaning a microwave:

  • Prevent splatter by loosely covering food with microwavable plastic film or other items like a lid or paper towel when using the microwave.

  • Avoid explosions by ensuring covered containers allow steam to escape, and are made of microwavable materials.

  • Never put metal, wood or certain plastics into a microwave.

  • Clean up any spills straight away.

  • Clean regularly with water, an anti-bacterial spray, and a soft, non-abrasive cloth. Check labels to choose a product that is suitable for the microwave, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the best results and avoid damaging your appliance.

  • Consult the manual for specific care instructions.

How to Clean a Microwave: A Guide to Easy Methods

There are three different ways you can steam clean your microwave. Each ‘cooks’ a different item containing water for a specific length of time, so steam is produced. It’s vital when cleaning a microwave with this method that you watch the process, as continuing to heat your cloth or bowl once the water has evaporated can be unsafe.

1) A paper towel

  • Soak a folded paper towel in water.

  • Lay it on the glass turntable.

  • Microwave on ‘high’ for 60 seconds until steam is produced. Pay attention to this process – do not walk away from the microwave.

  • Leave for 5-10 minutes to cool.

  • Use the paper towel to wipe down the inside of the microwave.

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2) A cotton dishcloth

  • Be sure that your dishcloth is made of cotton and remains wet throughout the process or it could melt or catch fire.

  • Soak the cloth in water and place it on the glass turntable

  • Microwave on ‘high’ for 3 to 4 minutes

  • Pay attention to this process – do not walk away from the microwave.

  • Wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the dishcloth to cool down and be careful removing it from the inside of the machine.

  • Use the dishcloth to wipe down the inside of the microwave.

3) A cup or bowl of water

  • Fill a small microwavable cup or dish halfway with water.

  • Place it in the centre of the glass turntable.

  • Microwave on ‘high’ until the water reaches a rolling boil (2 to 3 minutes on most machines).

  • Pay attention to this process – do not walk away from the microwave.

  • Wait for 5 to 10 minutes while the water cools down.

  • Carefully remove the cup or bowl from the machine and use a cloth or paper towel to wipe down the interior.

With a range of methods available, you’ll be sure to find one that works for you. After the job is done, sit back and admire your hygienic and perfectly clean microwave oven!

  • Fill a bowl with water halfway.

  • Cut a lemon in half. Then squeeze the lemon juice into the water and drop the halves into the bowl.

  • Put the bowl in the microwave and heat for 3-5 minutes, or until boiling. Keep an eye on the microwave during this process.

  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Keep the microwave door shut, as the steam inside will help to loosen food particles.

  • Carefully remove the bowl and use a warm, damp sponge, or cloth to wipe the insides of the microwave ­– don’t forget the door! Any food stains should now wipe off easily.

Frequently asked questions on cleaning a microwave

How do you get rid of smells in a microwave oven?

When used frequently you may find your microwave collecting odors from every piece of food cooked in it, so, how do you get rid of smells in microwave ovens? Vinegar is a brilliant go-to for at home cleaning. Mix 2-4 teaspoons of white vinegar with 250ml of water in a microwaveable bowl. Heat this in the microwave for 2 minutes and then leave for a further 15 minutes with the door closed fully. For a fresher smell, you may also try cutting a lemon in half and placing it in a microwavable bowl of water. Heat that for 2-3 minutes, making sure not to boil the water or burn the lemon. Leave it in for a few hours with the microwave door closed for a nice and zesty smelling microwave.

How do you clean a burned microwave?

Despite how easy it is to cook in a microwave, there is a chance something could burn and leave you asking how to clean a burned microwave. If you notice burnt marks in your microwave you should try and clean them straight away as leaving them may make them harder to get rid of later. Using a mix of dish soap and water, rub at the burnt stains with a sponge. If the stains have dried and will not come off after using the soap and water mix, it is time to get yourself some baking soda. Baking soda has been a go-to for many people looking to do some deep cleaning at home. Mix 3-parts baking soda with 1-part of water into a paste. Apply the paste onto the troublesome stains and let it sit for about 5 minutes before wiping clean.

How do you disinfect a microwave?

We've given tips about how to get rid of unsightly stains and funky odors, but what about disinfecting your microwave? Rather than lifting stains and bacteria, disinfection kills most germs outright, making your microwave a more sanitary place to put your food. Whether cleaning the inside or the buttons on the outside (which are more likely to be "germy" from human touch), use an antibacterial spray and a microfibre cloth to wipe down the surfaces and buttons regularly.

Originally published