5 Ways to Clean a Microwave

Cleaning a microwave of grease, stains, and odors is easy, and you probably already have all the supplies you need to get the job done. Here's how to get the workhorse appliance looking (and smelling) new again!

By Donna Boyle Schwartz and Phillip Tinner | Updated Feb 27, 2023 9:16 AM

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how to clean a microwave


Determining how to clean a microwave can seem daunting when there are many cleaning products marketed as the “best” way to clean a microwave.  Fortunately, there are several easy ways to clean a microwave using common household items you may already have in your pantry.

Try one of these five approaches for a thoroughly clean microwave, free of lingering odors and stuck-on grime.

5 Ways to Clean the Inside of a Microwave

No matter which DIY microwave cleaner you pick, the first step in cleaning a microwave of any type is to wipe down all of its interior surfaces with a clean, damp paper towel or soft sponge. Once you’ve given the interior a first pass, unplug the appliance from the wall for added safety. Odors may persist after cleaning. One easy method for how to get a burnt smell out of a microwave is to leave it open for 30 to 45 minutes afterward to let it fully air out.

How to Clean a Microwave With Lemon Juice

sliced lemons in bowl of water inside microwave


Lemons contain citric acid, which cuts through grease and grime and leaves behind a fresh aroma. These properties make for a simple microwave cleaning hack that leaves any size of microwave interior odor-free and squeaky clean.


Sponge, microfiber cloths, or paper towels
Microwave-safe bowl

  1. Cut two whole lemons into wedges, then squeeze the juice of each one into a small microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Pour 2 cups of water into the bowl and add the juiced lemon wedges.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it on high for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the water starts to vigorously boil.
  4. Let the bowl stand for about 10 minutes with the microwave door closed so the steam can penetrate baked-on food and grease.
  5. Open the microwave door, give the hot steam time to vent, and carefully remove the bowl with oven mitts—it will be hot. If your microwave has a turntable, cautiously remove it and the turntable support upon which it rotates. Soak these parts in hot, soapy water in the sink while you continue.
  6. Wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth or sponge to remove the lemon juice and any residue. If necessary, repeat the above process in full.
  7. Use a clean, dry cloth to fully dry the microwave interior.
  8. Thoroughly clean and dry the turntable and support before placing them back into the microwave.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Small Microwaves

How to Clean a Microwave With Vinegar and Baking Soda

 jar of baking soda in microwave to clean

Photo: istockphoto.com

Vinegar and baking soda, both natural cleaning agents and everyday kitchen staples, combine to create a strong microwave cleaner fit for regular units and combination microwaves alike. Similar to the lemon method, learning how to clean a microwave with baking soda and vinegar is satisfyingly simple.


Sponge, microfiber cloth, or paper towels
Baking soda
White vinegar
Microwave-safe bowl

  1. Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Stir well until the powder fully dissolves.
  2. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the mixture (repeat as necessary) and wipe down the entire interior.
  3. Mix together ½ cup of water and ½ cup of white vinegar in a small microwave-safe bowl.
  4. Place the bowl of vinegar and water in the microwave and run the appliance on high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the water comes to a full boil.
  5. Keep the microwave door closed and let the bowl stand for about 10 minutes while the steam works its magic.
  6. Open the microwave door, carefully allow the steam to vent, take out the hot bowl with oven mitts, and remove the turntable and rotating support. Soak the microwave parts in the sink in hot, soapy water.
  7. Prepare another 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water and use a clean cloth or sponge to wipe the microwave interior with it until no residue remains. Pay special attention to the inside of the microwave door if it’s particularly greasy.
  8. With a clean, damp cloth or sponge, thoroughly rinse the microwave interior.
  9. Dry the microwave interior with a dry cloth or paper towels.
  10. Scrub, rinse, and fully dry the turntable and turntable support before returning them to the microwave.

How to Clean a Microwave With a Commercial Cleaner

how to clean a microwave sal suds on marble counter with cleaning items

Photo: amazon.com

If cleaning your microwave with vinegar or lemons doesn’t sound appealing, you may already have a commercial multipurpose, kitchen, or microwave cleaner under your sink that can do the job instead. Consider using a non-abrasive cleaner with non-toxic ingredients to avoid unwanted fumes, and closely follow the instructions on the product label.


Sponge, microfiber cloths, or paper towels
Non-abrasive, nontoxic cleanser

  1. If using a microwave cleaner spray, article-paragraph skip to step 2. For powder and liquid gel cleaners that call for a wet cleaning surface, damp applicator, or water mixture, prepare as directed by the label instructions.
  2. Apply the cleaner to the microwave interior, door, and/or other surfaces according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid applying the cleaner directly on or near vent holes.
  3. Allow the cleaner to sit for the amount of time indicated (if there is an amount of time indicated) before vigorously wiping clean.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the microwave interior and any other cleaned surfaces with a wet cloth, sponge, or paper towels.
  5. Dry the clean, rinsed surfaces with a clean cloth or paper towels.

RELATED: Solved! 5 Reasons Why Your Microwave Fan Won’t Turn Off

How to Clean a Microwave With Dish Soap

person wearing yellow gloves using sponge and dish soap to wash microwave

Photo: istockphoto.com

As far as ready ingredients go, dish soap and water might just be the easiest way to clean a microwave. Liquid dish soap is particularly useful for removing grease from microwave interiors, including the inside of the door.


Microfiber cloth or sponge
Dish soap
Paper towels (optional)

  1. Add several drops of dish soap to a bowl of warm water and agitate until you have a sudsy mixture.
  2. Open the microwave door, remove the turntable and its support, and thoroughly wash them with soap and water in the kitchen sink. Rinse both and set them aside to dry.
  3. Return to the microwave with the bowl of soapy water and dip a clean cloth or sponge into it (repeating as you go). Wipe down the inside of the microwave and scrub away food buildup and grease.
  4. Use a damp cloth or paper towels to remove all leftover grime and soap residue.
  5. Thoroughly dry the microwave interior with a clean, dry cloth or paper towels.
  6. Retrieve the dry turntable and support ring (or dry it by hand if needed) and put it back inside the microwave.

RELATED: 15 Things You Should Never Put in the Microwave

How to Clean a Microwave With Melamine Sponges

person wearing red gloves wetting melamine sponge to clean

Photo: istockphoto.com

Melamine foam sponges, better known as Magic Erasers, are widely celebrated for their natural cleaning power, and they’re as effective as you might expect when it comes to how to clean microwave interiors’ toughest stains and food gunk.


Melamine sponges
Microfiber cloths or paper towels

  1. Open the microwave door and remove the turntable and its circular support. Wet a melamine sponge to activate it and vigorously clean the turntable glass and plastic support. Thoroughly rinse and set both aside to dry.
  2. Replace the sponge and wet a new one if needed (and repeat this as the sponges dissolve), and use it to clean the microwave interior. Pay special attention to stains and buildup, scrubbing until they disappear or break up.
  3. Wipe out any fallen food matter with a cloth or paper towel.
  4. Give the microwave interior a final pass with a wet melamine sponge, and use circular motions to clean the inside of the microwave door glass for a streak- and grease-free finish.
  5. Fully rinse the microwave interior with a damp cloth or paper towels to remove all residue.
  6. Dry the inside of the microwave with a clean, dry cloth or paper towels.
  7. Return the dry turntable and support (hand-dry them if required) to their place in the microwave.

How to Keep the Inside of a Microwave Clean

While the above methods are all great options for how to clean a microwave, the truly best way to clean a microwave is to clean it as you go. Wipe up any spills or spatters with a clean sponge, microfiber cloth, or paper towels after each use before they crust over. Consider also investing in a microwave cover to keep messes isolated to the removable turntable. This will make full microwave cleanings using our suggested homemade or store-bought formulas hassle-free, and you can work those to your microwave cleaning routine every week or two.