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The microwave is one of the most commonly used appliances in the kitchen. With its frequency of use, this kitchen appliance can become a goldmine for food splatters, spills, and strong odors. 

Because we are constantly in and out of microwave reheating food, it’s easy to overlook the food build-up and caked-on splatters happening over time.

However, neglecting to clean the microwave oven reduces its efficiency and can become a  breeding ground for germs.

Therefore, regularly cleaning the microwave is important to help control small messes that can turn into big ones and eliminate food, grease, and grime build-up on its surfaces.

Follow along as I share four easy ways to quickly and effectively clean your microwave using products you already have at home. 

stainless steel microwave

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Best Ways to Clean Inside of the Microwave

Method 1 – Use Lemon or Lime to Clean the Microwave

As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, you must clean with it. While lemon and lime are known for being key ingredients in many recipes, they can also be a natural yet effective cleaning agent. 

  1. First, fill a microwave-safe bowl with a half cup of water.
  2. Then cut 1-2 lemons or limes in halves and squeeze them into the water. Add the remaining lemon halves to the water and place it in the microwave.
lime in a bowl

3. Turn on the microwave for about 3 minutes and let the mixture heat. 

lime in bowl in microwave

4. Allow the mixture to stay inside your microwave oven for another 3-5 minutes to help soften the caked-on food with its steam.

5. Remove the mixture and wipe the microwave with a damp cloth.  

wiping down microwave
inside clean microwave

This microwave cleaning hack is my favorite because the lime leaves a beautiful aroma that helps to eliminate bad smells and lingering odors.

Method 2 – Clean the Microwave with Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent. It is safe, non-toxic, and chemical-free, making it the perfect cleaning solution for households that prefer a more organic cleaning approach.

With its high acidity, and ability to kill germs, it is the perfect cleaning agent to clean a dirty microwave. The vinegar solution will cut through some of the most stubborn stains and dirt.

vinegar with spray bottle
  1. Start by combining a cup of water and 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar in a microwave-safe cup of choice.
  2. Put the cup in the microwave and let it run for 5 minutes. The vinegar mixture should boil and let off a significant amount of steam. 
  3. Leave the cup in the microwave for about five minutes after microwaving it, and try to avoid opening the microwave door immediately. The steam will help to soften the built-on food and eliminate existing odors. 
  4. Remove the cup from the microwave along with the turntable plate. Use a damp rag, sponge, or wet paper towel and wipe down the insides of the microwave. Be sure to get every nook and cranny of the microwave, including the walls, ceiling, inside of the glass door, and the outside of the microwave. For a more caked-on mess, use a spray bottle with vinegar and spray the areas that need a little more elbow grease.
  5. Clean the microwave turntable separately by wiping it down or washing it just like a regular dirty plate.
  6. Place the glass plate back into the microwave, and your microwave should now be sparkingly clean. 

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Method 3 – The Power of Dawn Dish Soap to Clean a Microwave

There’s nothing that Dawn dish soap can’t do. Dawn dish soap is one of the best dish detergents on the market, as it has a natural built-in degreaser that can cut through tough stains and caked-on gunk. Wet a clean cloth and add a few drops of dish soap to create soapy water. Once you start to see a little bit of sud, rub and wipe down the inside of the microwave.

Rinse and wring oir?t=thethriftyapa 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B01H7DFM32ut the rag occasionally so you’re not just smearing the food back onto the surfaces of the microwave. Repeat this process until the microwave is clean. q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B01H7DFM32&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thethriftyapa 20&language=en US

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Method 4 – Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to the Rescue

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is an excellent cleaning tool. It can effectively clean and erase anything – like magic. Simply wet the Mr. Clean Magic eraser to activate its cleaning power. Take the eraser and rub the surfaces of the microwave.  Repeat the process until the microir?t=thethriftyapa 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B0050O9214wave is clean. And don’t forget to clean the outside of the microwave to remove any greasy fingerprints and dirt that may have formed.q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0050O9214&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=thethriftyapa 20&language=en USBuy on Amazon

Tips for Keeping the Microwave Clean Longer

  • Use a microwave cover – When heating your food in the microwave, try to use a microwave-safe cover or splatter guard to prevent food particles and liquids from splattering all over the microwave’s wall. I like to use this magnetic microwave cover because you can easily stow it on the microwave’s ceiling when not in use.
  • Alternatively, if you do not have a microwave cover, cover your food with a paper towel upon each use. 
  • Clean after each use  – Wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth, sponge, or paper after each use. It could be a quick wipe to eliminate any splashes and splatters of food that were recently created. This will require very minimal effort and will reduce the need to thoroughly clean the microwave often. 
  • Clean up spills – If you notice any food residue or spills inside the microwave, clean it up immediately. This will prevent the food debris from drying up, becoming harder to remove later on from the baked-on messes.
  • Use microwave-friendly containers – microwave-safe containers will help you avoid materials that can melt or release harmful chemicals when exposed to heat.
  • Wipe down the outside of your microwave after each clean. This helps to maintain a clean microwave inside and out. 
door of microwave

How often should you clean the microwave?

The frequency at which you clean inside your microwave greatly depends on how often it is used and the type of food that gets reheated. In an active household, it is recommended to clean your microwave weekly for the best results. 

Can you clean your microwave with bleach?

Bleach and bleach-containing cleaners are not recommended for cleaning a microwave. Bleach is a strong chemical that can leave behind its harmful residue and potentially release toxic fumes when combined with heat. This is especially true if the microwave has a stainless steel or heat-resistant plastic interior, which may not react well to bleach.

The four cleaning methods mentioned above are safer and more effective for removing food stains without the risks associated with bleach.

Can you clean a microwave with Clorox wipes?

Like bleach, you should avoid cleaning your microwave with Clorox wipes. Clorox wipes can leave behind a residue that can be harmful when heated up. This chemical can make your microwave unhealthy to use. 

Overall, harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and disinfecting wipes can cause damage and corrosion to the interior of the microwave.

How do you get rid of bad smells in the microwave?

If there is a lingering smell in the microwave from last night’s meal, a burnt bag of popcorn, or the fish dinner you just had, then deodorizing the microwave with vinegar should do the trick.

Alternatively, you can also use the lemon or lime method. Both methods naturally deodorize and can eliminate any lingering odors in the microwave. 

stainless steel microwave with title

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Tamara White is the creator and founder of The Thrifty Apartment, a home decor and DIY blog that focuses on affordable and budget-friendly home decorating ideas and projects. Tamara documents her home improvement journey, love of thrifting, tips for space optimization, and creating beautiful spaces.

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