How to Clean a Microwave Safely and Correctly


  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners, such as ammonia or bleach, and don’t use oven cleaners or steel wool on your microwave.

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What you need to clean a microwave properly

(Hint: Most of it can be found in your pantry.)

How to Clean a Microwave with Lemon

Obviously, lemons can make every kitchen smell bet

Obviously, lemons can make every kitchen smell better. Their cleaning power lies in citric acid, making it one of our favorite everyday cleaning products in our pantry. 

Step #2: Break out the Citrus

Cut a fresh lemon into 6-8 wedges. Place in a microwave-safe bowl with water and microwave on high until it boils (approximately 2-4 minutes). Turn off your microwave but keep the door closed for at least 10 minutes to let the steam cut through stains. 

Step #3: Wipe Everything Down

Remove the bowl with oven mitts, then use a clean, folded microfiber cloth to wipe down the interior. If you still spot grease and stains, you can repeat the process with the same bowl of lemons. Or speed up the process with our multi-surface cleaner!

Prevent Burnt Smell in Microwave

The most effective way to resolve the funky odors is to address the issue right away. Peak your head inside the microwave compartment and locate any food mess, splatters, spills or baked on grime after each use.Inspect the ceiling, vents and also underneath the turntable. Wipe down the inside with a damp, but not soaking, cleaning rag or sponge. This will prevent funky odors from accumulating before the next time you go to use the appliance. Furthermore, it’s recommended to leave the microwave door open for a few minutes after each use. This will avert the build of odors by allowing the food steam to escape instead of being trapped inside.

How do I use the self-clean function?

Some premium microwaves actually come with a self-clean setting. If yours does, simply follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to use and how often. These typically involve a very similar method to the below where the microwave will heat a bowl of water to steam clean itself.  

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Warnings and Tips

The vinegar-water solution will be very hot after heating. Wear gloves or use an oven mitt to protect your hands.

If you still have vinegar left over after cleaning your microwave, use it to cut through the grease on your stovetop and kitchen cabinets and even to clean the oily fingerprints on your stainless steel appliances. Vinegar is an excellent degreaser. Hot vinegar is even better.

But don’t put that vinegar bottle away just yet. Use it to clean your kitchen and bathrooms from top to bottom, dust your furniture, and wash your windows. Then use it to clean and freshen your drains, wash your laundry, and deep clean your carpet. Once you discover vinegar’s hidden cleaning power, you’ll find that you have very little use for all of those pricey store-bought cleaners. In addition to its cleaning ability, there are many other uses for vinegar. It really is versatile stuff. No household should be without a bottle (or two).

How To Clean A Stinky Microwave Details

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Cleaning your microwave

Now that you know the tools that will help you cle

Now that you know the tools that will help you clean your microwave, here are some of the things you need to know when it comes to cleaning your device:

Wet Paper Towel Method

If your microwave doesn’t look like a nuclear expl

If your microwave doesn’t look like a nuclear explosion happened inside it, then using a bunch of wet paper towels would be more than sufficient to clean it. Just place the wet paper towels inside your microwave and run your microwave on high for around 5 minutes. This trick will create steam which will help you remove unwanted dirt and contaminants in your microwave. It also serves as a primer for tougher issues like stuck food.

Using dish soap

This method works almost the same as the Wet Paper

This method works almost the same as the Wet Paper Towel Method. Fill a non-metallic microwave-safe bowl with parts of water and dish soap and place it in the microwave. Let it run for just 1 minute on a high temperature or until it steams. Remove the bowl and use a sponge to wipe the inside of your microwave. Don’t forget to clean the microwave door whilst you’re at it.

The power of baking soda

Baking soda is the go-to cleaner for stuck food in

Baking soda is the go-to cleaner for stuck food in your microwave, amongst other things. Simply make a paste out of baking soda and water and place it on whatever hardened food is stuck in your microwave. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes then just wipe it off with a wet sponge or towel. You may repeat the process until you can completely and easily remove the unwanted burnt food inside.

Vinegar and water solution

The process for using this solution is just like t

The process for using this solution is just like the dish soap method. Grab a microwave-safe bowl and mix in one cup of water and vinegar in equal parts.

Place it in the microwave and allow it to steam for quite a bit. Make sure to wipe the unit dry before using it again so that there won’t be any traces of vinegar left inside your microwave.

Vinegar water is a timeless, versatile, natural cleaning product that assists with the removal of stubborn stains and grime. A match made in heaven for an extra dirty microwave.

Using lemon to freshen up your microwave

Like vinegar, lemon is another great, natural disi

Like vinegar, lemon is another great, natural disinfectant for a microwave oven, Just cut one lemon in half and place the cut side down on a microwavable plate. Add a few teaspoons of water and put the plate in the microwave until it produces steam. Remove the plate and wipe off the excess liquid inside the microwave, that’s it, it’s really that simple. Again, be sure to wipe down the inside and outside of your microwave door.

Diluted window cleaner for microwave doors

Although you may not notice this enough, your micr

Although you may not notice this enough, your microwave’s door also needs some tender loving care. Good thing that a diluted window cleaner will work wonders for both the inside and the outside of the microwave. Use a rag or a sponge and dip it in the solution and start scrubbing the interior and exterior of your unit. Repeat the process to make sure that the microwave is thoroughly clean. If the smell of the window cleaner bothers you, just use a clean cloth dipped in water and scrub it for one more round.

Commercial Cleaners

If you don’t want to risk using other disinfectant

If you don’t want to risk using other disinfectants to clean your microwave and using lemon, baking soda or vinegar just won’t do the trick, then it’s time to buy readily available commercial microwave cleaners.

One thing you must remember though is to choose a commercial cleaner that won’t leave a bad smell or fumes in your unit that can affect the smell and taste of the food your cooking.

Easy Off Microwave Cleaner is a good choice for a fume-free cleaner but there are other products out there. Just go to your local grocery or hardware store and ask for microwave specific products.  Always be sure to read the instructions and air out your microwave for at least 30 minutes before cooking again.

How to Get Rid of Microwave Smells

Our microwave cleaning hacks above usually elimina

Our microwave cleaning hacks above usually eliminate smells by removing the stuck-on food that’s creating them. But for particularly strong odors (we’re looking at you, burned popcorn), try one of these microwave cleaning hacks:

  • For milder odors, leave the door open for a few hours. 
  • Add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to the lemon/water method.
  • Use orange slices instead of lemons (or both).
  • Soak a sponge in white vinegar. Sprinkle the sponge with baking soda. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then thoroughly wipe down the inside with it.
  • Leave an open box of baking soda or a bowl of used coffee grounds inside the closed microwave for at least 8 hours. 

How to get a bad smell out of the microwave

If you’re struggling to shift a bad smell from a microwave, such as burnt popcorn or fish, then place a small bowl of baking soda in the center. Shut the door and leave it to sit overnight to absorb the smell. Leave the microwave door open afterwards to air.  

How to clean the microwave with vinegar

Like lemon, vinegar is also one of the best ways to clean microwave stains. Once you know how to clean microwave spills with lemon-infused steam, doing the same with vinegar is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar to around 150 ml of water.
  2. As before, set the microwave to high and let it run for five minutes.
  3. Wipe away the loosened food from the microwave interior with a moistened sheet of Plenty paper towel.
  4. If you’d like a double-pronged approach and you want to know how to clean the microwave with lemon and vinegar, it’s easy. Just add half a lemon to the tablespoon of vinegar and follow the same steps as above.


Instead of recycling empty bottles and sprays, why not repurpose them for your homemade cleaning solutions instead? Reduce, reuse and recycle to live sustainably every day.

Additional Tips for Microwave Maintenance

Preventing a mess is the best way to keep your microwave clean, but how can you do that? Here are a few additional tips to help you keep it clean:

  • Cover the food: Covering the food you’re heating is the best and easiest way to avoid a mess. So if a slight sauce-explosion were to happen, the cover will help to prevent a mess.
  • Wipe it regularly: This is also an easy way to keep your microwave clean. After using the appliance, take a damp cloth and wipe down the sides, ceiling and turntable. Doing this regularly will help to prevent a nasty buildup of germs and gunk.
  • Go slow: If you’re heating liquid food, such as a sauce or soup, go slow. Set the time and heat to a reasonable setting and repeat if necessary. Spills and minor food explosions are more likely to happen when food overheats.

Ways to Clean Your Microwave

Apple Cider Vinegar

Thanks to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar is an effective way to cut through old buildup inside your microwave. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a Bowl. Combine equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Avoid filling it all the way to prevent any accidental spills.
  2. Heat. Set the microwave to a high heat and heat the vinegar solution for four minutes. As it heats, the steam will help to loosen the buildup within your microwave.
  3. Wipe. When the time is up, remove the bowl carefully in case it’s hot. Take a damp cloth and wipe the entire inside of the microwave. Make sure you get into the corners, top and underneath the turntable.

Baking Soda

If you’re noticing an unpleasant odor in your microwave, it’s time to deodorize. But how? We prefer to use baking soda since it effectively absorbs odors and creates a neutral environment. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Create a Mixture. Start by mixing three tablespoons of baking soda with a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix it well to combine.
  2. Turn Up the Heat. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for three minutes. As the baking soda heats, it will effectively loosen buildup and other splatters inside the microwave. It will also absorb bad odors, so you can enjoy a clean-smelling microwave.
  3. Wipe Clean. Remove the bowl carefully so you don’t burn yourself. Then use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the microwave. Take the turntable out and give it a good wipe as well as underneath it.

Vinegar and Lemon

Vinegar is one of the most popular natural cleaning products you can find — it’s also one of our favorites. What you may not know about vinegar is that it also neutralizes odors and disinfects. It’s the perfect solution for a microwave. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Make a Solution. Mix one cup of vinegar, one cup of water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl. The lemon juice will provide additional grease-cutting power while toning down the strong scent of the vinegar.
  2. Wipe the Exterior. Use a small amount of the solution on a cloth to wipe down the exterior of the microwave, especially the handle. The vinegar and lemon will disinfect and remove any greasy marks on the outside of the appliance.
  3. Heat. Place the bowl in the middle of your microwave and heat for two minutes. The vinegar will release steam and quickly loosen buildup and kill bacteria.
  4. Remove. Take the bowl out of the microwave taking care not to burn yourself. Next, use a damp cloth to wipe the inside of the microwave. Then, remove the turntable to wipe underneath and around it.

Dish Soap

Dish soap is something we all have in our homes. It’s easy to use and can add a fresh scent to your microwave. Here’s how to clean your microwave using dish soap:

  1. Fill a Bowl. In a microwave-safe bowl, add two cups of warm water and one tablespoon of dish soap. Give it a good mix to incorporate.
  2. Heat in Microwave. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for two minutes. If the water isn’t steaming, give it another minute or two.
  3. Wipe to Clean. Remove the bowl carefully from the microwave and wipe the inside with a damp cloth. Pay close attention to the corners and underneath the turntable.


Steam is a natural and effective way to clean and sanitize your microwave. For this method, all you need is warm water. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill a Bowl. Add two cups of warm water to a microwave-safe bowl. Make sure the water is on the warmer side, this will help to create steam quicker.
  2. Create Steam. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for two to four minutes. Check to see if the water is steaming. Once it’s steaming, close the microwave and allow the bowl to sit for a couple of minutes. Because we’re only using water, it needs to sit for a little while to really work its magic.
  3. Remove and Clean After carefully removing the bowl from the microwave, take a damp cloth and wipe the inside. Remove the turntable as well to clean thoroughly underneath.


Lemon works effectively at cutting through greasy spills within a microwave. It’s also super easy to do and you’re likely to have everything you need right in your kitchen. Here’s how to clean microwaves with lemon:

  1. Add Water. Add one cup of warm water to a microwave-safe bowl. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Add both halves of the lemon to the water.
  2. Heat. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for three minutes. Once it’s done, leave the bowl in the closed microwave for five minutes. This will give it a little extra time to work, giving you a better result.
  3. Clean. Take the bowl out of the microwave and use a damp cloth to wipe the inside. Remove the turntable as well and give it a thorough wipe.

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.


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