How to Clean a Microwave Safely and Correctly

From late-night leftovers to the occasional frozen burrito, our microwaves are always there for us. This small appliance is a one-stop shop for almost all of your kitchen needs. Heat food instantly, set timers, vent your stovetop, and much more. But, when is the last time you’ve cleaned your microwave?

If your microwave is emitting foul odors and is full of splattered food, then it’s time to give it a proper cleaning. We have consulted the experts and put together this step-by-step guide to safely and effectively clean your microwave. And, while you’re on a cleaning kick, you can also check out our posts on how to clean a dishwasher and how to clean a washing machine.

Frigidaire Gallery Black Stainless Steel Microwave Jenny McGrath / Digital Trends

What you’ll need

  • A medium-sized microwave-safe bowl (one that fits about 4 cups of liquid)
  • Vinegar or dish soap
  • A pot holder
  • Paper towels or a clean rag
  • An abrasive sponge
  • Disinfectant cleaner (like Lysol)

How to Clean Your Microwave

AmazonBasics Microwave Review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Step 1 – Fill a microwave-safe bowl with one cup of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar handy, you can substitute one teaspoon of dish soap.

Step 2 – Let the solution cook in your microwave for about one to two minutes depending on your microwave’s wattage. For instance, if you have a 1,200-watt or higher microwave, one to one and a half minutes will probably be sufficient. However, if you have a 700-watt microwave, you’ll need to heat the solution for longer (about two minutes). You want it to get nice and steamy but not boil over or spill out of the bowl. By microwaving first, you’re letting the steam do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Step 3 – Once the time is finished, keep the door closed for about three minutes, and let the steam heat up the bottom, sides, and roof of your microwave.

Step 4 – After the three minutes are up, carefully remove the bowl. You will probably need a pot holder to avoid burning yourself, as it’s going to be hot.

Step 5 – Wipe off all the sides with a paper towel or cloth and use an abrasive sponge to remove stubborn, stuck-on foods. Avoid using Clorox wipes.

Step 6 – Hand-wash the rotating plate with soap and water. You can run the rotating plate through the dishwasher if needed.

Step 7 – Wet a paper towel or cloth with soap and water or disinfectant cleaner and use it to clean the exterior and control panel of your microwave. To avoid getting cleaner in the vents, don’t spray it directly onto the microwave.

Step 8 – Use the wet paper towel or cloth to wipe down the microwave door’s seal or gasket, if applicable. Remember as well to clean the roller wheel, either with your towel or with a scrubbing sponge. Use a dry paper towel to take off any soap residue from the microwave’s interior.

Step 9 – After cleaning them, put the roller wheel and rotating plate back together inside the microwave.

Step 10 – Use your sparkling clean microwave for all your cooking needs.


  • If you don’t have dish soap or vinegar, you can place half a lemon in a bowl of water and cook it for five minutes. This all-natural option has the added benefit of a fresh, clean scent.
  • Heating a sponge inside the microwave will clean it.
  • Avoid harsh or abrasive chemicals when cleaning your microwave.
  • Keep your microwave clean and prevent spills by covering food while it’s heating inside.
  • When heating splatter-prone foods, use a low power setting and clean any spills right away.

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