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What Is the Best Way to Clean a Microwave?

This guide covers the best way to clean a microwave to get rid of serious gunk on the interior and dirt and grime on the exterior. Reference the step-by-step guide below to learn how to clean your microwave using a water and vinegar mixture.

Before You Begin

As one of the kitchen's hardest workers and most underrated appliances, the microwave bears the brunt of all sorts of messes every day. As a result, it's one of the kitchen appliances that needs the most serious and frequent attention, and regular wipe-downs are crucial. Despite that, we all despise the chore—those baked-on spills and hardened leaks are enough to trigger serious fright and chronic chore avoidance. Today, we're looking to answer the question what is the best way to clean a microwave? so that you can face this task with minimal fear the next time it gets to a grimy state.

GE Profile Stainless Steel Countertop Microwave

What You'll Need

Prepare by donning your rubber gloves and gathering your necessary supplies.

  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • A wooden spoon or toothpick
  • Oven mitts
  • A microfiber cloth
  • A scrubby sponge
interior view of microwave cleaning

A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Microwave

  1. Mix Your CleanerWe've chosen vinegar as the cleaner of choice for this method. The fact of the matter is that vinegar is a pro at dissolving tough stuff, wielding its acidic makeup to get rid of serious buildup. It's also pretty amazing at getting rid of stains and tough odors. To prepare your vinegar-based microwave cleaner, add equal parts white vinegar and water to a microwave-safe bowl (a cup or a half cup of each is fine).
  2. Microwave Your CleanerPlace a small wooden spoon or toothpick into the bowl. This prevents it from overheating or exploding. More than likely, this won't be a problem, but the wooden spoon will help prevent it just in case. Microwave your mixture for five or 10 minutes, heating it for longer if your microwave is extra-dirty. When you're done heating it, use oven mitts to carefully remove the mixture from the microwave.
  3. Wipe Down the Interior—When the microwave heated up the vinegar-water mixture, it released steam and acid into the interior, loosening up stubborn, caked-on debris, and leaving the interior ready to be wiped clean. Using your microfiber cloth, thoroughly wipe the inside, getting rid of any stains and messes while simultaneously absorbing the steam. If you see any stubborn hard spots, dip your scrubby sponge in the mixture and scrub away.
  4. Clean the Exterior—While the microwaved vinegar method won't do much for the exterior of your microwave, there's an easy way to spiff up the exterior, too. We recommend mixing gentle dish soap with warm water and wiping away with a soft microfiber cloth or the non-abrasive side of a sponge. If you have a stainless steel microwave, you can always wipe down the exterior using your favorite stainless steel cleaner or even by using glass cleaner or ammonia. Never use any abrasive brushes or sponges, including steel wool, when cleaning your stainless steel appliances.
cleaning microwave wearing gloves

How Often Should You Clean Your Microwave?

In general, you want to give your microwave attention once a month or once every two months, depending on how often you use it. Whether you have an over-the-range microwave or a built-in one, cleaning your microwave can be done fairly quickly. The aforementioned method is ideal for your monthly or bi-monthly deep cleanings, but you're going to want to punctuate these sessions with daily wipe-downs, especially if you tend to use the microwave more than many of your other kitchen appliances. After each use, wipe down the microwave using a damp cloth and dish soap.

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