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The Quick and Easy Way to Clean a Microwave

Whether popping popcorn, reheating pizza slices, softening butter or melting chocolate, your microwave does heavy-duty work day in and day out. And that also means heavy-duty grime and food odors. Over time, all that exploded food mess can make your microwave less efficient. The good news is that we have a fast and easy way to get your microwave back to just-out-of-the-box clean, or almost there. Here’s how to clean a microwave.

Start With a Little Prevention

Your first line of defense is to prevent the problem in the first place, according to Evelyn Carpenter at the Whirlpool Institute of Home Science. Covering what you’re microwaving goes a long way toward preventing most spots and splatters.

Wipe It Clean on a Daily Basis

Carpenter also suggests cleaning the inside of your microwave as part of your daily kitchen routine. Using a soft cloth, sponge or paper towel, wipe down the inside ceiling, floor, sides and tray. This removes any spatters that might have escaped containment before they have a chance to harden.
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Steam-Clean the Stubborn Stains

If the splatters are caked on, try steam before you apply elbow grease. Using a microwave-safe container, heat about 1 cup of water on high for two to three minutes. Let it sit for up to five minutes, then carefully remove the water (it will be hot) and the turntable. Wipe down all the surfaces with a soft cloth, sponge or paper towel.

Stock up on household cleaning supplies

You can remove odors and disinfect during this process as well, according to Meg Roberts, president of the housekeeping service Molly Maid. Start by adding half a fresh lemon to your cup of water while it’s heating up. The lemon half will be hot when removed, but once it cools down a bit, run it through the garbage disposal to freshen that as well.

Follow up by using white vinegar as a natural disinfectant. Dip a microfiber cloth in a 50-50 water-vinegar solution, wring it out until it is slightly damp and use it to wipe down the surfaces. In most cases, this will be enough to leave your microwave’s interior sparkling. If there are still some splatters, just repeat the process.

Finishing Up

Clean the turntable you removed earlier. Almost all turntables are dishwasher-safe, but if you’re not sure about yours or you doubt your microwave could be out of commission for the length of a dishwasher run, you can clean it with warm water and dish soap.

Wipe the rubber gaskets with a damp cloth too. A damp cloth is also a good choice for wiping down the glass door, but if the door is very greasy, use a 50-50 water-and-white-vinegar solution or glass cleaner. For a polished look, wipe everything dry with a soft, dry cloth.

Finally, wipe down the outer surfaces, including the instrument panel, with a soft, damp cloth. If things are particularly greasy or covered in fingerprints, go over them again with the water-vinegar solution. You can dry the surface with a soft cloth for an even more polished look.

Carpenter recommends steam-cleaning the microwave’s interior once every week or so, but this method works even if you go longer between cleanings. And if you’re vacuuming your refrigerator vents, do your microwave vents at the same time. Your microwave will appreciate it.