The microwave oven is such a staple kitchen convenience nowadays that there might not be a kitchen without one. They’re fast, simple to operate, and reliable, but they also get dirty easily. A dirty easily can brood all sorts of problems – bacteria infestation, contaminants, risk of fire, etc. – and at the same time, it is tough and demoralizing to clean. But no worries, in this article we have the microwave cleaning hacks than can make this tough task a walk in the park.
1. Cleaning a microwave quickly and easily
So before we dig into the juicier part, that is, the tips and tricks that will help you easily clean up that damn greasy, smelly mess inside your microwave, we are here tell you one thing: Diligent everyday maintenance is the biggest microwave cleaning hack there is. Here are our suggestions of what you should do during the process of cleaning and during your daily use of the appliance that will help you clean the microwave quicker and easier, not just once, but every time.
1.1 Use your microwave properly
A lot about cleaning a microwave quickly and easily has to do with not making a mess inside it in the first place. And in order to do that, the first thing you should do is learn how to use the microwave properly to avoid spillage, splattering, explosions, and all other mishaps that may turn your microwave into a mess. Here are some precautions to take when using your microwave to process food items.
- Set the microwave at low power levels when you warm up messy foods.
- Cover food in your microwave with a paper towel or plate to contain splatters.
- When heating soups and other watery items, put a plate under the bowl/container to catch the overflow.
- When there’s a spillage, clean up immediately.
- Reduce moisture and odors by leaving your microwave door open between uses.
- Never input containers and food items that are dangerous to the microwave.
- Follow strictly the cooking times and temperatures recommended for any specific food item.
- Avoid microwaving foods that leave lingering grease and/or smell, such as bacon or microwave popcorn. If it is unavoidable, you should clean up the microwave’s inside immediately after cooking using the method introduced in the later session.
1.2 Cleaning the microwave regularly
Even when used properly, a microwave can still build up grease, grime, and bacteria quite quickly, and the best practice is to clean them regularly. Cleaning a microwave regularly helps us get rid of any kind of buildup that we normally won’t realize or won’t take care of until they become a problem too big to ignore.
So, by doing a simple cleaning routine frequently, we prevent the microwave from building up into an uncleanable mess, thus helping ourselves to clean the microwave easily and quickly. And that also allows us to enjoy the service of the microwave much better and sustainably.
1.3 Refine your cleaning routine
In order to keep your microwave tidy all the time and relief the burden of deep cleaning, it is crucial that your cleaning routine is refined, so that it takes care of every part of the microwave and does so in the most efficient way. So here are our suggestions on what you should pay attention to cleaning and how to do so.
1.3.1 What you need to clean:
- The inside of the microwave
- The door of the microwave
- The number pad
- The outside of the microwave
1.3.2 How you should clean these parts:
a) Cleaning the inside of the microwave:
For the inside walls, the general principle is to cover the inside of the microwave with the cleaner, leave it for some time to break down the stains, then wipe it clean with a cloth. While spraying the cleanser with a spray bottle is a fair option, it can be difficult to do properly given how cramped of a place the inside of the microwave is. There are some microwave cleaning hacks, that can help you saturate the cleaner inside the microwave much quicker and more effectively, which we will discuss in later sessions.
The turntable can be removed from the microwave and can be cleaned by hand or in a dishwasher just like a normal dish.
b) Cleaning the door of the microwave
You can take care of most grease build-up and stuck-on splatters with a homemade cleanser using either baking soda, vinegar, or dish soap. Dip a sponge/cloth in the mixture and wipe the door clean. Make sure to clean parts that are often overlooked, like the edges of the door, and the area where the door seals the microwave when closed.
If the stains persist, try with a commercial cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Be as modest as possible with liquid/moisture to avoid letting some into the vent holes and electronic components.
c) Cleaning the electronic control:
The electronic control is probably the most delicate electronic component of the unit, so a scrubbing with a non-scratch scrubber (such as Scotch-Brite) might be ideal. Also, never spray electronic controls directly with the cleaner; you should spray it onto your scrubber first, then do the scrubbing, in order to limit the moisture and avoid damaging the control.
d) Cleaning the outside of the microwave
Ammonia is an excellent cleanser both for stainless steel and glass. Mix ammonia and water at a 1:2 ratio, and put in a spray bottle. A commercial cleaner is also an option. As you proceed with the cleaning, spray the cleanser mixture onto your cloth (damp it, not saturate it). Then use it to wipe the outsides of the microwave.
As a note, vinegar can corrode rubber components, so use baking soda or dish soap in presence of such components.
2. Microwave cleaning tricks
So now we’ll move on to the more exciting part of this article: The devilishly-magical microwave cleaning tricks, that can restore your heavily-soiled microwave into an almost brand new look. The greasy, gritty, grimy sight of an uncleaned microwave makes you want to give the cleaning attempt an infinite rain check: The burnt-in stains and splatters can feel moral-crushing to clean at all, let alone clean them quickly or easily. But some tricks can take care of all of those problems:
The vinegar method
There is one trick for cleaning the inside of the microwave, that has consistently shown up in almost every microwave cleaning guide on the Internet, most often cited as “the vinegar method”. The steps go as follows:
- Step 1: Combine 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl (fill up to half of the bowl). You can also replace the vinegar with apple cider or lemon juice.
- Step 2: Place the bowl in the microwave and turn it on high power for 7-10 minutes until the mixture boils and the window steams up.
- Step 3: Let the microwave cool for 5 minutes before opening the door. Then wipe the inside of the microwave clean using a sponge.
A lot of people may ask what is the point of this rather roundabout way to apply the vinegar cleanser which they could easily spray with a spray bottle. The point of this method is that it allows the vinegar cleanser to evaporate and saturate all over the inside of the microwave much better than spraying: With the microwave being such a cramped place, it would be difficult or nearly impossible to spray all the spots inside the microwave using the clunky spray bottle.
What’s more, the evaporation allows the vinegar cleanser to latch on the surface and the grime spots much better, and the steam also softens the caked-up grime and creates better ambient conditions for the grimes to chemically break down. Thus, while being heavier on the preparation, this method makes the later wipe cleaning so much easier and effortless.
As a note, some people have reported that their microwave exploded when using this method. However, the cause of this phenomenon has been figured out, and the method can be performed safely by instating some simple countermeasures.
The explosion happens when the surface of the water is too smooth, rendering the water unable to bubble when boiled: Water bubbles can only form around the irregularities in the water or the container, called “the nucleation sites”. As the water cannot bubble, the gas got trapped inside it until being released altogether as a steam explosion.
An easy countermeasure is to float a wooden toothpick or keep a wooden skewer in the bowl. This keeps the vinegar method perfectly safe for use. And, as we said, it is definitely a great microwave cleaning hack that you don’t want to miss out on.
Other tricks to clean your microwave
Apart from the staple vinegar method that takes care of the biggest compartment of the microwave, some other microwave cleaning tricks can help you take care of other microwave problems:
- For tough, baked-on grime and grease that the vinegar can’t take care of, try a 1:1 baking soda-water paste, or dish soap
- For mild burnt odor, try airing out the interior by leaving the door open for 30 to 45 minutes.
- To deodorize stronger odors, leave a plate/bowl of baking soda inside the microwave overnight or until the next use.
- For really bad odors, use the previously-mentioned vinegar method but with lemon juice instead of vinegar.
- To remove stuck food in the interior or baked-on burnt spills, try to break down and remove most of the debris using a plastic scraper, then use the lemon or vinegar method.
3. More microwave cleaning tips
In addition to the major shenanigans like the microwave cleaning tricks and hacks, we also have some simple microwave cleaning tips that can help improve your cleaning experience
- Make sure to turn off and unplug your microwave before cleaning to avoid electrical accidents.
- Never put any metallic object inside your microwave. Never use metallic brushes and similar tools to clean your microwave.
- Be careful when using water, as it may damage the electrical and electronic components.
- Takeout and clean your microwave’s turntable every now and then. In doing so, also give the interior of the microwave a good wipe. Leave the turntable to dry after washing, and put it back in before someone else uses the microwave.
- Always use lids when heating up food or drinks to minimize spatter.
- Always opt for a low power setting whenever possible, to reduce the risk of splattering, spillage, or burning.
- Avoid using strong chemicals when cleaning your microwave. The last thing you want is for chemical residuals to be in your food.
- Regular cleaning cannot fix mechanical issues of the microwave, but it can help prolong the unit’s function life cycle.
4. Stay tuned for more cleaning tips and professional cleaning services
Love these microwave cleaning tips and tricks? Sparkling & Beyond has even more cleaning tips and guides for you to explore in our library. And in case you are too busy to take care of your home, you can always contact us. We provide professional and affordable cleaning services for your kitchen and any other part of the house, for any degree of need. We’ll keep your home sparkling clean and healthy.