Cleaning a microwave — here’s how often to do it and the 5 best hacks to use

A modern looking microwave on a counter top in a modern kitchen
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While having one of the best microwaves will do wonders for your cooking needs, in order to keep it functioning to the best of its ability, you’ll want to keep it clean. Keeping on top of the dirt and grease on a regular basis is the key to a longer lasting and nicer smelling microwave. There could well be 9 microwave mistakes you’re making that will have your microwave suffering from spillages and kitchen explosions. On top of that, you might not know some of the key cleaning tips to keep it clean.

In this best hacks and microwave cleaning guide, we’ll run through the tips and tricks to ensure your microwave is sparkling clean. Plus, if you’re really struggling to remove stubborn stains or bad odors, we’ve got some pointers for that too. 

Making sure you know how to clean every room in your home is great, but making sure the items within your home, especially ones you cook with, are clean is essential to eliminating bacteria and ridding your home of nasty smells.

How often should you clean your microwave?

Man buying a microwave

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It depends how much you use your microwave, but as a rule you should be cleaning it once a week to keep bacteria and bad odors at bay. If you use it more often, you might want to think about cleaning it twice a week. 

A wipe down with a sponge or damp cloth is sufficient for these weekly cleans and after any spillages. 

Whirlpool Over-the-Range Microwave: was $359 now $249 @ Best Buy

Whirlpool Over-the-Range Microwave: <a href="https://shop-links.co/link?skuId=5900311&publisher_slug=future&exclusive=1&u1=hawk-custom-tracking&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bestbuy.com%2Fsite%2Fwhirlpool-1-7-cu-ft-over-the-range-microwave-stainless-steel%2F5900311.p%3FskuId%3D5900311&article_name=hawk-article-name&article_url=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="bestbuy.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">was $359 now $249 @ Best Buy
This is a solid choice if you’re after an over the range microwave. It comes with a 1.7 cubic feet capacity and various presets to cook or defrost your food. Its turntable plate is also dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning up spills easier than ever. We also like its two-speed fan which helps get rid of cooking odors and its adjustable lighting, so you can see what's cooking.

For a deeper clean, you’ll want to target all the stains and odors in your microwave at least once a month, depending on how frequently you use your microwave. 

To carry out your cleaning process, follow our five best hacks below.

1. Baking soda

A spoonful of baking soda next to a spilled jar and a cork lid

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Baking soda is one of the most versatile natural cleaning products, efficiently used on a range of dirty spots in your home from a glass shower door to your bedroom mattress. Once again, it rises to the challenge of giving a deep clean to your microwave. 

There’s two ways to use baking soda in your microwave. You can create a paste using two parts baking soda and one part water, then apply the paste to the inside of your microwave, and finally, wipe away with a damp microfiber cloth. 

You can also microwave a baking soda solution. For this, mix two tablespoons with one cup of water in an uncovered bowl and place it in the microwave. Heat the solution in the microwave for three minutes and leave it to stand with the door closed for 15 minutes. The solution will heat up and dislodge dirt from around your microwave.

After 15 minutes, remove the bowl using a towel or oven mitts and dampen a microfiber cloth or sponge to wipe around the interior of your microwave. If you’re concerned that the turntable and support ring are especially dirty, you can wash these in the sink with dish soap. Leave the microwave to air dry with the door open or wipe down with a towel.

2. Lemon juice

Slices of lemon in water inside a microwave

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There’s 9 things you didn’t know you could clean with a lemon and a microwave is one of them. If you prefer to microwave a simple solution, that also smells lovely, to clean your microwave then purchasing a lemon is a great idea.

For this hack, simply fill a microwaveable bowl or cup with water and squeeze the juice from two halves of a lemon into it. Similarly to our baking soda hack, you microwave the solution for three minutes and let it stand. This time you’ll only need five minutes. Make sure the door remains shut for this time as the steam from the lemon juice will help release the dirt and grease from the interior of your microwave.

Once the time is up, remove the bowl with a tea towel or oven mitts as it will still be hot and wipe away all the grime with a damp sponge or microfiber cloth. If you prefer not to squeeze the juice from the lemon, you can also slice it up and place the slices in the water for the same effect.

3. White vinegar

Someone with a gloved hand reaching for a corked jug of distilled white vinegaar next to a sponge and baking soda

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White vinegar is another natural staple cleaning product you may have in your cupboards. For this, mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with two cups of water in a microwaveable bowl. Heat the solution, uncovered, in the microwave for five minutes and allow it to stand with the door closed for 15 minutes. This should loosen any dirt and grease to wipe away. 

If you find you have particularly stubborn stains, you can dip a sponge into the solution and wipe the stain directly. Alternatively, you can use apple cider vinegar instead of distilled white vinegar if you find you have this in your cupboards instead. While this product is great for cleaning your microwave, there’s 7 things you should never clean with white vinegar.

4. Washing up liquid

Cleaning supplies and washing up liquid

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Washing up liquid is great for getting your dishes clean, but it’s also a perfect solution for cleaning your microwave from the inside out. Simply pour some washing up liquid in a microwaveable bowl and run warm water into it to create suds. Dip a sponge into the bubbly solution and wipe around the interior of your microwave; sides, bottom, roof, glass plate, and support ring. You can clean the glass plate and support ring separately in the sink if there’s stains you really need to target. 

Wipe away with clean warm water and dry with a paper towel or soft cloth. If you find there’s spots that won’t budge, dab your sponge with the washing up liquid solution onto these and leave it to soak for five minutes then wipe away. You can also heat the solution in the microwave for a minute before using it to allow steam to spread across your microwave to help lift the stains even more.

5. Eliminate bad odors

Woman cleaning a microwave

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If you’ve followed the hacks above to clean your microwave and your microwave is still giving off a bad odor, then there’s some extra things you can do to eliminate the smell. Firstly, you can leave baking soda in an uncovered bowl in the microwave overnight. Secondly, you apply some rubbing alcohol to a cloth to wipe around the interior of your microwave. This should only be left for a few minutes and then wiped away with a clean damp sponge and some soap and water.

Lastly, if you’ve got some charcoal lying around from using the best grills, you can place a lump in the microwave overnight and remove it in the morning. These options are great at absorbing and eliminating odors in your microwave and should leave it smelling fresh.

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Grace Dean

Grace is a freelance journalist working across homes, lifestyle, gaming and entertainment. You'll find her writing for Tom's Guide, TechRadar, Space.com, and other sites. If she's not rearranging her furniture, decluttering her home, or relaxing in front of the latest streaming series, she'll be typing fervently about any of her much-loved hobbies and interests. To aid her writing, she loves to head down internet rabbit holes for an unprecedented amount of time.