Picture this: You’re in the middle of microwaving your leftover Kung Pao chicken, mug cake, or the tomato sauce for your spaghetti dinner when suddenly: BOOM. That didn’t sound good, you think, as you dash over to survey the damage.
Odds are, if you own a microwave you’ve had a microwave explosion at some point. This messy event is usually caused by water in the food heating rapidly and producing steam, and the steam having nowhere to escape. The result: Particles of food scatter everywhere inside the box, leaving ugly stains and icky smells. Luckily, it’s fairly simple to clean the inside of your microwave. We think you should do this as part of spring cleaning your kitchen anyway, with or without a spectacular explosion—there’s always crusty old food particles and stains somewhere inside the microwave if you’re not cleaning it on a weekly basis.
Here’s how to clean your microwave to ensure it’s stain-free and sparkling bright.
Step 1: Identify the Damage
To find out what you’ll need to clean the inside of your microwave, you’ll first need to peek inside. Are the stains you see fresh or old? Is there a funky odor going on? Once you know what you’re dealing with, it will be easier to figure out how best to get the area clean.
Step 2: Use the Right Tools
Microwave splatter will likely require a few tools to get off. Before you get started, locate some baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and a microwave-safe bowl. A deep clean brush and a scrub brush will also come in handy.
Step 3: Try Baking Soda
The same baking soda you use to help keep your fridge smelling good can also come in handy as a DIY cleaner for your microwave, especially if your microwave has a sketchy odor or if the stains are relatively fresh. To start, fill a microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of water. Then mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Place the bowl in the microwave and set the timer for five minutes on high heat. The baking soda/water combination will start to eliminate odors and steam off the stains. Remove the bowl and wipe off the surface with a clean dishcloth.
Step 4: Use Vinegar and Lemon
If the stains have been there for a while, or baking soda alone doesn’t do the trick, try the steam-cleaning method again, this time with vinegar and lemon. The mixture’s acidic properties may work better on tougher stains. Start by placing 1 cup of water, a few tablespoons vinegar, and a few slices of lemon in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 2 minutes (or until the water boils). Then keep the door shut and let it steam the inside of your microwave for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe down the inside with a clean dishcloth.
Step 5: Wash the Turntable
Step 6: Wipe It Down
Dry the turntable with a soft towel and return it to the microwave. Wipe down the door and outside of the box with a damp sponge. To prevent future explosions, be sure to pierce foods like potatoes and frozen meals that have a plastic film to allow moisture to escape. Cover sauces with a reusable microwave-safe cover, a paper towel or plastic wrap.