How to steam-clean your microwave with just water, lemon, and vinegar
- You can utilize the heat from a
microwaveto steam off baked-on grime.
- Pre-cleaning loosens food stains, making it easy to wipe them away with a towel.
- Microwave water, lemon juice, and vinegar, let it steam, and wipe away stains.
While it's easy to shut the door and forget about the mess, we all need to clean our microwaves now and then. Luckily, there are simple, quick ways to clean a microwave without scrubbing. Here's how.
What you need
- Mug or bowl
- Lemon juice
- Baking soda (optional)
- Multipurpose cleaner
- Damp towel or sponge
How to pre-clean your microwave
To clean a microwave, you can use the appliance itself to your advantage, says Alex Varela, General Manager of Dallas Maids, a
"Because a microwave is an appliance that is capable of generating heat, you can use that in your favor," he says. "The key cleaning agent here is steam."
Steam kills the most common bacteria and softens up grime, making it easy to wipe away.
To generate steam in your microwave, fill a large mug or measuring cup with about one cup of water. Heat the water for about five minutes, or until the liquid comes to a rolling boil. Once the microwave beeps, leave the door closed for another five minutes so that the steam can permeate any stuck-on food stains.
Varela recommends adding a splash of white vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice into the water that you heat up. Vinegar will remove any lingering odor, while the lemon will add a fresh scent, he says. Vinegar and lemon supplement the steam, which is a powerful cleaning agent on its own.
After that, you can simply wipe the inside clean with a kitchen towel or paper towel.
"Any food and grease residues will be soft by now and you'll be able to wipe them down using a microfiber towel, or a clean kitchen sponge," Varela says.
If you have any stubborn stains, treat them with a paste made from baking soda and water, says Shirley Langridge, manager of Maggie's Oven Services, an appliance-cleaning service based in London. Simply mix up the paste and cover the stain or food. Leave it for five minutes, then wipe away with a wet cloth.
"There will be no need for any scrubbing," Langridge says.
If your microwave still smells funky, you can repeat the steam cleaning with additional materials. Here's what Langridge recommends:
- Coffee grounds: Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of coffee grounds to a ½ cup of water. Microwave the cup for ten minutes. "Coffee aroma neutralizes bad odours and contributes to a pleasant scent," Langridge says.
- Vanilla extract: Put 4 to 5 tablespoons of vanilla extract in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat it until boiling. Then, leave the microwave closed for 30 seconds, allowing the steam to fill the microwave.
How to clean your microwave
- Pre-clean the inside. Heat a cup of water with a splash of lemon and/or vinegar for five minutes in your microwave. Let it sit for another five minutes to steam the inside. Wipe the inner walls and inside of the door clean with a wet cloth.
- Treat stubborn stains. For stuck-on stains, combine water and baking soda into a paste and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for five minutes, then wipe it off with a wet cloth.
- Remove the turntable. Take out the plate at the bottom of the microwave and wash it by hand or in the dishwasher.
- Wipe down the inside. Be sure to wipe down the area that is normally covered by the turntable, and the top of the microwave.
- Wipe down the outside. Use a multipurpose cleaner to wipe the entire outside of the microwave, paying close attention to the buttons that are frequently touched.
- Reassemble. Put the turntable back in the microwave.
Quick tip: If you have a stainless steel finish on the exterior of your microwave, use a stainless steel cleaner and wipe with the grain, not against it.
A messy microwave is pretty much inevitable. Cleaning your microwave isn't just about aesthetics; it can also help the appliance last longer.
"Keeping your microwave clean is really necessary to prevent damage to the interior, caused by burned food," says Langridge.
It's easy to forget about a dirty microwave in between uses, but it will make you cringe when you open the door. Next time you notice a mess, remember that it's a quick and easy ten-minute process to get a sparkling microwave. The heat and steam do most of the work for you, making it easy to wipe away grime and get back to heating up your meal.
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