Did you know that the first microwave oven was 6 feet tall and cost around $5,000? Fortunately this pivotal piece of kitchen equipment is now available in a more convenient size and cost. It is such a handy amenity that most microwaves take more turns than Australia’s road system. In the interests of hygiene and a pleasant kitchen aroma, it’s therefore important to know how to keep your microwave sparkling clean.
Simple Methods To Clean Your Microwave
Cleaning your microwave is actually quite simple. All you need is a cup of water, a lemon and some paper towels. Or maybe a cup of water, some vinegar and some paper towels. Baking soda and dish soap are also often recommended… Then of course there’s commercial cleaning products, specifically designed to clear away the grease. And don’t forget to rinse… Suddenly things are murkier than your microwave after a spaghetti explosion! Take a breath, step back and look at the options.
Option 1- A Lemon that isn’t a dud
This is one of the simplest and best options for cleaning a microwave. Fill a microwave proof cup with water. Squeeze some juice from half a lemon into the water. Then pop the water and both halves of lemon (cut side down) into the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for a minute or two, so that it steams. Leave the door closed for 5 minutes so that the steam can do its work. This will make your microwave easy to wipe down. As an added bonus it creates a fresh scent for your kitchen.
You could turn up the juice by adding in or alternating with a lime or orange slices.
Option 2- Bubble and Brew with Baking Soda, Dish Soap or Vinegar (white or apple cider).
If fruit isn’t cutting it for you, use a few tablespoons of dish soap or vinegar to add to that cup of water instead. Heat up the cup on high for a couple of minutes so that it steams up the microwave. After 5 minutes you should be able to easily wipe down the microwave with some paper towels.
Tip: Adding baking soda to the mix helps to remove any unpleasant smells.
Option 3- Nothing but Wet Paper Towels
Usually you want to avoid wetting paper towels and leaving them sitting around. However, when it comes to cleaning your microwave they may be your cup of tea. Simply wet a bunch of paper towels and put them in your microwave. Microwave them for up to 5 minutes so that everything is steamy. Leave the doors closed while the steam does its work and the towels cool down. The steam will loosen the grime and you can then use the cooled towels to wipe everything clean.
Cleaning the Exterior of Your Microwave
A sparkling clean interior is great, but a clean exterior completes the show.
Option 1- Back to the Baking Soda and Vinegar.
Use a damp sponge dipped in baking soda to wipe clean the rubber connectors on the door. A damp cloth can be used to give it a final rinse. If the window is greasy then mix in half a cup of vinegar with half of cup of water to remove the grease.
Of course if things are really icky you may opt to use a commercial grease-cutter to bring back the shine.
Option 2- Dish Soap and Water
Once again a sudsy mix of water and dish soap may do the trick for a shiny exterior clean. Just mix and scrub, then rinse.
Alternatively you can use an all purpose cleaner. Just don’t spray it directly on the microwave as you don’t want to get cleaner into the vent holes. Either way, rinse off with a clean sponge and then dry.
For Those Stubborn Spots
Option 1- Baking Soda Is Magic
Create a paste of ⅔ baking soda and ⅓ water. This paste should be spread over any hard and stubborn spots and left to sit for around 5 minutes. Once the paste has done its job you can wipe it and the mess up with a wet cloth or sponge. Use a paper towel to dry it up and eliminate any residual bits and pieces.
Option 2- Water and Vinegar (and more baking soda) Helps the Elbow Grease
If your whole microwave needs a deeper clean then try this option. Dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda into warm water. Dip your sponge or cloth into the water and wipe this all over the interior of the microwave. Once you’ve done this, combine an equal amount of water and white vinegar in a bowl (make sure it’s microwave safe!). Put the bowl with the mixture into the microwave and let it spin on high power for three minutes, until the water is boiling. Once again steam is our hero here. Leave the door closed for 10 minutes while the steam does its thing. Remove the removable components and soak them in hot, soapy water while you wipe down the interior of the microwave with the water and vinegar mix. If there is still baking soda residue then wipe it down again. Repeat until the entire microwave is fresh and clear.
Option 3- Soak a Cloth in Olive Oil
For an alternative food friendly scrub, try soaking a cloth in olive oil. Apply some elbow grease and wipe, wipe, wipe. Don’t forget to rinse the oil off once the stubborn spots are removed.
Option 4- Scrub Away
If your stubborn spots need more work there are more options. Depending on your microwave (read the manual people!), you should be able to remove pieces like the turntable to give them a good scrub in the sink, or even in the dishwasher. For the non removable pieces you may need to turn to a commercial and some extra elbow grease.
While commercial cleansers are an option, and will usually do the job, you need to take precautions to avoid residue. If you leave any product behind it can get into your food or create an unpleasant smell. Don’t use pre-soaked scrubbing pads as loose particles can create a hazard. As with any wash option, rinse afterwards. You may just have to take extra care with ensuring there is a good rinse when chemicals are employed.
Option 5- Windows Are Clear, Try Some Diluted Window Cleaner
An alternative commercial product option is to use some diluted window cleaner. Using a solution of ⅔ window cleaner and ⅓ water, you can sponge both the interior and exterior of the microwave. Don’t forget to the clean the roof of the microwave, where food splatters often stick. Once everything is glistening use a fresh rag to wash it over again. Since you’re using chemicals to clean the microwave it is important that you rinse until there is no more residue. Keep rinsing until you can’t smell any of the window cleaner.
Option 6- Hire a Professional Cleaner
Of course, sometimes scrubbing away at those stubborn stains just isn’t appealing. That’s where you may want to book in a professional cleaner to help. They can clean your microwave as part of a regular or once off cleaning job.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Keep the job of cleaning your microwave easy by actively preventing those disasters. This means regular wiping every couple of days. The more often you use your microwave the more often you should give it a wipe down. This also means giving it an immediate wipe down when there has been an eruption. If you leave the splatter sitting around then it can start to bake on and make the cleaning work even harder.
To take prevention a step further think the cleaning through while you’re cooking. Always covering your food helps prevent these splatters from happening.
When you’re washing down your microwave make sure you unplug the power cord. This will protect you from any electrical danger. It also serves as a good opportunity to check the power cord for any damage or build up of dirt. Damaged cords can be a fire hazard, and accumulated dirt can cause damage.
Use Your Microwave to Rejuvenate Your Sponges
While we’ve been talking about cleaning your microwave, it is possible to use your microwave to keep something else clean. Throw your sponges into the microwave for a couple of minutes to kill off bacteria and extend their usable life!
While this article may help you clean off some chocolate splatter in your microwave, did you know there is one other connection between microwaves and chocolate? Dr Percy Spencer, the engineer who invented the microwave, accidentally melted a chocolate bar in his pocket while building radar sets. This led him to patent microwave ovens. Now next time you eat a chocolate bar I’ll bet you think about cleaning your microwave. Take the opportunity to get into those good cleaning habits and don’t delay!