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Cleaning a microwave with a sponge

How To Clean A Microwave

Cleaning a microwave

How to scrub your microwave from top to bottom

Since you've been old enough to stick a bowl in the microwave, you've probably also been spilling things there. Liquid explosions and sticky sauces end up coating the inside of the kitchen appliance at least once a month--and that's about as often as you should be cleaning it, too. If you've ever had to call and ask your mom how to clean a microwave, or spent hours chiseling away at stains to no end, we've got you covered. With our easy-to-follow instructions, you'll be back to nuking noodles in no time.

How to Clean A Microwave with Vinegar and Water

This is likely the same method your grandmother used to clean her own appliances. Time has passed and much has definitely changed, including where we keep our microwaves (whether they're countertop models or built into the wall). However, vinegar is still one of our most trusted, non-toxic ingredients, and it still works today. Tackle grimy stains and greasy films the way grandma did with the following ingredients:
  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • A wooden spoon or toothpick
  • Oven mitts
  • A microfiber cloth
  • A sponge suitable for scrubbing

How To Clean A Microwave: Step-by-Step

  1. Combine equal parts of white vinegar and water in your bowl. White vinegar's acidic makeup makes it a pro at powering through layered buildup. If you're not sure how much of the solution you'll need, stick with a cup or half a cup.
  2. Place a small wooden toothpick or spoon in the bowl, then heat your solution for ten minutes. The wooden spoon helps prevent the water from “superheating”, or exceeding its boiling point by redirecting heat into the wood. This is a rare issue, but the wood helps to eliminate the chance of any accidents. Heat for five to ten minutes, or even longer for tougher stains.
  3. Remove the solution (while wearing oven mitts). When the vinegar solution was heated, it released steam and acid inside to coat both the walls, floor, and plate. This hot steam helps to loosen up caked-on debris
  4. Wipe down the interior. Using your microfiber cloth, wipe the inside of the appliance thoroughly, making sure you reach the rear of the machine as well as any stubborn stains. The microfiber will help dry off any remaining steam as you wipe.
  5. Scrub those difficult spots away. The microfiber cloth might not be able to pull off your toughest stains. For these, dunk your scrubbing sponge into the vinegar-water solution and use some good old-fashioned elbow grease.
  6. Polish the exterior. Give the outside of your device a shine with a different mixture, since the vinegar and water won't do much for the exterior. To shine up the outside, combine gentle dish soap with water and wipe with a soft microfiber or dishcloth. Got a stainless steel appliance? Instead, opt for a stainless steel cleaner, glass cleaner, or ammonia. Make sure you never use any abrasive sponges, brushes, or scouring pads (especially steel wool) when cleaning stainless steel.
cleaning microwave wearing gloves

How Not To Clean A Microwave

  • Never use any metal cleaners like steel wool. This can scratch important coatings and damage elements inside the machine. Don't use any aluminum foil, either. That can reflect radiation back at the device itself.
  • Keep air fresheners out of your unit, too. They'll leave a lasting smell that can linger, and even change the way that foods taste. Never use an empty microwave. Some may think that using an empty microwave can help soften stains, but that's actually not the case.
  • Instead, you're just reflecting radiation back at the machine since there are no food particles to absorb it. That can damage your appliance, too.

Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Microwave Clean

Now that you know more about how to clean a microwave (and your granny would be proud of your vinegar/water method), it's important to learn how to keep your appliance clean. As a general rule, you should scrub your device down once a month, or at least once every two months. However, there are some easy ways to cut down on stains and grease.
First, make sure you cover foods you heat with a napkin or plate, especially soups and pasta sauces. Their high water content means they heat up quickly and unevenly, leading to bursts and stains. Just make sure there's enough space between the soup and the plate for steam to escape. The same applies to other food with high water content like potatoes, but the solution is different. With veggies like potatoes and spaghetti squash, remember to pierce with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Finally, you can use a lemon to steam the interior in between vinegar cleanses. To do this, microwave the juice from one lemon and half a cup of water for five minutes. Afterward, wipe with a cloth for a fresh scent. You may not get all of your big stains and stuck-on messes with this method, but you'll help keep your appliance and food smelling fresh.

New Microwave, New Me

If no amount of cleaning is going to save your micro-blaster, it's time to consider getting a replacement microwave. Check out our online microwave buying guide to discover more about the device that's best for you. Maybe you're hoping to replace a micro hood, or you're overhauling your kitchen and need all-new devices. Either way, the specialists at Abt are here to help you find the best device for your home.
Not sure which device is best for you? Give us a call at 800-860-3577 and we'll be happy to help you pick one out. Or come into the store and check out our floor models to see one for yourself. Your new, super-clean appliance is covered by a manufacturer warranty for a full year. After that, we'll continue to service the product throughout its lifetime.