How to Clean Microwaves

Getting ready to prepare a meal and opening up the microwave to find spills, splatters and an unforgettable smell is enough to kill pretty much any appetite. You can avoid this situation by cleaning your microwave regularly. It is relatively quick and simple to do and requires only a few supplies.

You Will Need

  • A rag, dish towel or paper towels
  • Kitchen cleaner or vinegar
  • Glass cleaner or rubbing alcohol
  • Lemon juice
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Scouring sponge or steel wool pad

The Cleaning Process

Step one: Remove and wash the tray

Almost all newer microwaves have a removable revolving tray. The easiest way to wash the tray is to remove it, place it in the sink, and wash it with warm water and dish soap. You can use a steel wool pad, a sponge or even just your hands if it’s not that dirty. Be sure to dry the tray thoroughly with a dish towel or paper towel. Leave it out on the counter while you clean the rest of the microwave.

Step two: Get rid of any stray crumbs

Before you can start the heavy duty cleaning, you need to get rid of any stray food that is inside the microwave and will get in the way of your scrubbing. Sweep out the crumbs gently by using a wet paper towel or a damp rag. You can place a dust pan in front of the microwave and sweep the crumbs into it. Then you won’t have a mess on the floor to clean up later. There’s no reason to make more work for yourself.

Step three: Remove any stuck-on food

Any food that you weren’t able to sweep out with the rag or towel, you will have to physically scrape off of the microwave’s surface. In order to avoid scratching your microwave, you can try to scratch the food off with your fingernail. You can also use a steel wool pad or the rough side of a scouring sponge. Do not use a knife or other sharp utensil.

Step four: Wash off any food or grease stains

Once you’ve removed any food that was stuck on, it should be easy to simply wipe out the rest of the microwave by using your rag or paper towels and the kitchen cleaner or a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water. If you have a lot of grease inside the microwave that is difficult to remove with your cleaner or the vinegar solution, consider purchasing a cleaner designed specifically for this purpose, such as Simple Green microwave cleaner. Be sure to clean the inside of the roof and the inside of the door.

A note about cleaning the vents:

It is not advised that you attempt to clean the interior vents of the microwave beyond the immediately accessible surfaces, which can be cleaned with the cleaner and rag or paper towel. It is dangerous to attempt to disassemble your microwave and could result in electric shock. Please leave this task to a professional.

If you have a vent hood above your microwave, you can spray it with some WD-40.

Step five: Wipe the inside of the microwave dry

It’s important to dry the inside of the microwave thoroughly. Since it is an enclosed space, it can be prone to odor. Use a paper towel or dish towel to wipe the surface dry before closing the door. Now you can place the tray back inside the microwave.

Step six: Clean the outside of the window

In order to avoid a streaky appearance, you should clean the window of the microwave with a glass cleaner or a mixture of one part rubbing alcohol, one part vinegar and two parts water. Just apply some of the cleaner to your rag or paper towel and that should take care of it.

Step seven: Wipe down the rest of the outside

Use the vinegar and water mixture or surface cleaner that you used for the inside of the microwave to wipe the top and sides of the microwave. You can also wipe the bottom of the microwave, though that may be more of a hassle than it’s worth, unless your microwave is mounted above the stove. Be sure to dry it thoroughly.

Step eight: Deodorize the microwave

Your microwave is fairly easy to deodorize since it contains a built-in steamer. Just place a cup of water, two teaspoons of vinegar and two teaspoons of lemon juice in a small bowl and microwave it on high for about five minutes. As the water boils, it will fill the inside of the microwave with the steam from the solution and should take care of any odors. If any odor still remains, you can try scrubbing the microwave with a solution of water and baking soda.

Keeping your microwave clean

Keeping your microwave clean is fairly simple to do. Every time you use it, wipe it out using a rag or towel and kitchen cleaner or water and vinegar when you’re finished. You should be able to avoid the hassle of heavy cleanings in the future, and it only takes minutes. The hard part may be getting other household members to do the same.



  1. Alison says:

    Put one cup of water and 1/4 cup vinegar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave it on high for 2-5 minutes, or until the water boils. Then, remove the bowl and wipe the surface of the microwave clean. The steam from the mixture in the bowl cleans the stuck-on food and other substances from the surface of the microwave.

  2. Asmit says:

    Cleaning a microwave is a hectic job… if you clean it every fortnight, then you can enjoy a good microwaving. If we have serious dirt, then take a microwave safe bowl and add five tablespoons lemon juice, 300 ml water and one teaspoon of salt and set microwave at high. Wait until it boils and standby for two minutes. Remove the bowl (don’t throw it away, we’ll use it later), switch off the microwave and clean the surface with a rough cloth. Now take some gasoline, dip the small part of cloth in it and rub it on tough stains, being careful not to scratch the paint. After allowing some time for it to dry out, add some dishwasher solvent into 200 ml water and apply it with a cloth everywhere. Take a dry cloth and rub all the tough stains, then after a few minutes, start the microwave and boil 200 ml water or the solution which we heated in the first stage. Boil it again; this will remove all kinds of smells from your microwave and all of the stains will be removed. Its very effective… try it!

  3. Ketty says:

    Very easy to clean those dirty microwaves. Take a wash cloth and rinse it with cold water. Squeeze out just a little bit of water, leaving the rag saturated, then place the cloth in the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. Once complete, be careful – the rag will be hot, but take the same rag and clean the inside of microwave and viola; you have a clean microwave!

  4. Sue says:

    A microwave safe bowl about 3/4 full of water, a few drops of vanilla essence… put it in the microwave, set for about 4 minutes and hit the ‘go’ button. When the time is up, I usually let it sit for a minute or two to let the steam do it’s job, then just wipe down the inside with paper towels; the spills and cooked on splatters just wipe straight off. Dispose of the paper towels and the job is done. The vanilla leaves your microwave with a nice fresh smell.

    ***Be careful when you lift out the bowl of water because it will be very hot.

  5. Lorraine says:

    If your microwave really gets dirty, like dried spaghetti or any kind of dried gravies, just anything hard to clean, including grease, spray the inside with foam bathroom cleaner. It sounds really awkward, but it works. Spray and let it set there for a minute and just wipe it away. Also, if you have a Dollar Tree store in your area, they make a cleaning spray called Awesome. This will also do the job.

  6. Josh says:

    Making a paste out of baking soda and water will remove any of those nasty yellow stains without scratching or damaging the microwave itself.

  7. Donna says:

    I just squeeze a lemon in a small bowl and add some water. Microwave it until the water is boiling – for about 20 seconds or so. Remove the bowl, get a wash cloth, dip it in the hot lemon juice/water and wipe down the inside of the microwave. SO EASY!

  8. Kimberly says:

    I love heating things up in the microwave, but I always end up with a weeks worth of food splattered on the sides and on the roof. I hate it. However, I have found a way to make it easy as pie.

    You take a cup of water, stick it in the microwave, and turn it on for about two (2) minutes. Because the water heats up, it creates steam and that loosens all the gunk that is on the sides of the microwave. So what you get is an easily cleaned microwave and a nice hot cup of water that you can make your morning coffee or tea with!

  9. Manju says:

    Just a few days ago we bought a new microwave. After removing the sticker (about the features) in the front door, some sticker residue & adhesive was there in the major portion. Tried to remove it, but couldn’t. Most of the front door was smudged with the glue & sticker. There were a few scratches too. Please help, how to remove the scratches, glue smudge & residual part of the sticker?

  10. S says:

    My friend has a book that has natural cleaning solutions in it and I think one of the tips was to put a little white vinegar on a towel and microwave it for like 15 seconds (not sure) and then wipe clean? Makes sense to loosen splattered food.

  11. Josie says:

    To remove sticker residue without scratching, any kind of oil will work. Some faster than others. Laundry spray stain remover, WD-40, peanut butter, cooking oil, etc. will all work. The trick is to let it soak and do it’s job. The sticker will lift off without a trace or a scratch.

  12. P. Nelson says:

    We had a fire in our microwave. Repairman did not know how to remove the smoke stains. Anyone have a clue?

  13. Margaret says:

    I just bought a house; the microwave has old stains on the inside. The inside looks like stainless. What can I use to get the stains off?

  14. Chris says:

    Is it OK to use weak bleach solution to clean the microwave?

    I was worried it might damage the protective cover over the element/power source.

  15. Tabitha says:

    I put my microwave glass tray in the dishwasher. I then put one part vinegar to two parts water and microwaved on high for two minutes. I was able to just wipe out the inside of the microwave with a paper towel. I even used the mixture to wipe the door and front of the microwave.

  16. Gordon says:

    ALWAYS cover food with a paper towel or wax paper. This will reduce your need for cleaning by at least 75%. Lingering odors are minimized by leaving the door open for five minutes or so after removing food.

  17. Audrey says:

    Please help. A sponge used to clean the bathroom, including the outside/top of the toilet was put in the microwave to be “sanitized” for two minutes. Now, I’m concerned that the microwave is not safe to use. What steps do I take to sanitize the microwave?

  18. Carl says:

    I tried everything to remove stubborn fat stains on stainless steel microwave surface without success (vinegar, baking soda, 3m stainless foaming cleaner, baby oil, dish washing liquid, etc.). Every time the surface was dried the stain marks re-appeared. Eventually, I used smooth top powder (for cleaning ceramic or glass top stove surfaces), and bingo! It worked. All splatter stains gone and no scratching of surface. Hope this helps you avoid the two hours of frustration we endured before finding this solution.

  19. Jill says:

    10 minutes to a clean microwave:
    1. Wet a scrubber sponge thoroughly, add a few drops of liquid dish detergent, put it in the microwave and zap it on high for 1 minute.
    2. When the time’s up, let the sponge stay in for another 5 minutes so the steam created can loosen any food particles.
    3. Use the heated sponge to wipe down the tray, walls, top, and bottom of the microwave until clean; you’ll probably have to rinse the sponge a few times during the process if the oven’s really dirty.

  20. Laura says:

    Can anyone tell me how to clean the door on my microwave that has a metal grate on it and splatters have gotten through the grate and on the door? I can’t remove the metal grate. Now the door from outside looks splattered.

Leave a Comment