Ever opened your microwave to find a mini food explosion inside with red pasta sauce everywhere? Or perhaps the exterior of your trusty kitchen appliance is looking less white and more of a faded shade of yellow? Applying elbow grease, coupled with a sponge and liquid detergent (or some sort of chemical-free homemade alternative), is the only way to remove fat build-up, sauce splatters, dried coffee ring marks, and odd smells coming from your microwave. But, how often do you need to clean a microwave? And what’s the easiest way to do it? Because let’s be honest, we’d rather spend our time eating what we’re warming up.
To help you out, we’ve created a quick guide explaining why and when it’s important to clean your microwave. We also suggest a couple of ways you can do it using products like dishwashing liquid, vinegar, and lemon. One very important thing to remember is to double check your microwave is switched off and unplugged before you start cleaning.
What happens if you don’t clean a microwave?
There are several reasons why you should consistently clean your microwave. Like with any other appliance, not regularly maintaining your microwave can end up making it less efficient and potentially void your warranty if you need to send it back for a manufacturing fault. Fat and grease are also likely to become more difficult to scrub off as they dry and harden. Plus, ignoring splatters and spills, even superficial ones, may additionally cause bacteria to grow and produce bad odours. Fingerprints and discolouration on a fairly new model can also make the microwave appear more worn out.
How often should you clean a microwave?
Microwaves should be cleaned regularly, ideally once a week, depending on how frequently you use it. For regular maintenance, it’s good to give the cavity (the inside of the microwave) a wipe down with a cloth or paper towel after each use, or at least one big swipe at the end of each day. This helps prevent any lingering food odours and flavours from mixing and seeping into your meals. After all, no one wants to reheat a cup of coffee and have it smelling like last night’s lasagna.
What’s the easiest way to clean a microwave?
The easiest way to clean a dirty microwave is to wipe any splash or spill with a cloth or paper towel as soon as it happens, rather than leaving it until more mess builds up. You won’t need to use as much elbow grease when the spills are still ‘fresh’, compared to when they’re dried into the microwave.
For deeper cleans, you can scrub the cavity and door with a soft sponge or cloth and a bit of dishwashing liquid. Then, let it sit for about five minutes before going over everything with a sponge that’s dampened in hot water, and again with a dry cloth or paper towel. The same goes for the outside of the microwave. Avoid using scourers or any other type of abrasive sponge because this is likely to cause scratches.
How do you clean a microwave with vinegar?
Vinegar is one of the go-to ingredients for creating homemade cleaning solutions, even for appliances. The acetic acid in the vinegar can help to sanitise the microwave and remove food smells. Adding water additionally creates steam to help lift food residue off the sides of the microwave.
One method is to add a tablespoon of white vinegar into a small microwave-safe bowl filled with water and heat it up for approximately two minutes (or before it boils over). During this time, steam will start to rise. Once the first timer has finished, keep the door closed and let the steam work its way throughout the cavity. After a few minutes, carefully take out the hot bowl and use a paper towel or soft cloth to wipe the sides, top and door.
Lemon is another common ingredient in homemade cleaners and acts similarly to vinegar, but leaves a smell that’s probably a little more pleasant than vinegar. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour half a cup of water. Then, slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. Add the rest of the lemon and place the bowl into the microwave for around three minutes (or until it comes to boil).
Once the water has come to boil, leave the door closed for another five minutes to let the steam lift and loosen any residue. Finally, remove the bowl and wipe down the cavity and door with a soft cloth, sponge or paper towel.
What’s the easiest type of microwave to clean?
Compared to conventional microwaves, flatbed microwaves are designed to be easier to clean because they don’t have a bulky turntable that you need to wash separately. However, these tend to be more expensive to buy than models with a turntable. Many microwaves also come with features aimed to make cleaning up quicker and simpler. Certain LG models, for example, contain an Anti-Bacterial EasyClean interior coating that’s claimed to get rid of up to 99.99% of harmful bacteria on the surface. Several Panasonic microwaves, including the NN-CS89L (pictured), alternatively offer automatic cleaning programs that typically use steam to moisten any fat or grease inside the appliance, making it easier to wipe away.