Cleaning your microwave is one of those things that no one expects to be as tricky as it is. Especially when you go without noticing tiny spills for a long time, and they get baked in after weeks, months, or years of usage. Regular cleaning with techniques will save you from having to battle caked-in grime. That said, if your microwave looks like a warzone, don't despair! No matter how bad it looks, there are always methods that can clear up those food stains and get your microwave looking like new.
You can water down a gentle window cleaner and apply it with a rag to soften any stains and burnt food in your microwave. Since most households already have window cleaners, this mixture is an easy solution. A 1:1 ratio of water to window cleaner is ideal. Once you've scrubbed your microwave and let it sit for a while, it should be easy to take an abrasive sponge and get the job done. You can use hot water and a washcloth to get rid of the scent window cleaner leaves. If you can still smell the cleaner, scrub the interior of your microwave with hot water and let it dry as necessary.
If you're willing to buy one, there are purpose-designed microwave cleaners that are just right for the job. They're strong enough to break up grease and baked-on food, but gentle enough for use on microwaves. Many options are light on fumes, which makes for more convenient cleaning since there's no soapy aroma to clear out. There are also numerous chemical-free cleaning methods.
Do you want to avoid using cleaning products on your microwave? If you have a lemon on hand, then there's a simple, all-natural, and reasonably effective cleaning method you can try. First, cut a lemon into halves and place them face-down in a shallow microwavable bowl. Add just enough water to cover the exposed sides of the lemons: one or two tablespoons. If you run your microwave for a minute or so, the water will steam, and the natural acids of the lemons will soften any food residue. The softened stains and food should come off quite easily.
You can use the steam-based cleaning method with any dish-washing soap. First, fill a bowl with water and a few tablespoons of dish detergent. A teaspoon of baking soda is optional but recommended, as it helps to neutralize the scent of the soap. Next, put the bowl in your microwave, put the heat setting on high, and run it until the water is steaming. Dip a sponge in the hot water and wipe down the interior of the microwave, then leave it to sit for an hour or so. The steam will help the dish soap to penetrate and break up any built-up food residue. With that done, the abrasive side of any old sponge will have your microwave looking good.
Soaking wet paper towels are a good way to use prolonged heat exposure to break up grime inside your microwave. Get a few paper towels and dip them in a bowl of water, then place them in the microwave. After four or five minutes, the towels will start to dry: you want to keep the microwave going for two or three more minutes, though. This steam treatment method is easy, convenient, and chemical-free, which makes it an excellent first option.
Vinegar is a beloved tool of eco-friendly enthusiasts around the world. After a few minutes in the microwave, the steam from a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water will destroy all sorts of caked-in grime. Be warned, some people have reported the mixture can explode. When vinegar gets to an excessively high temperature, there is a risk of a violent chemical reaction. You can safeguard yourself against this risk by adding a wooden spoon to the bowl. The spoon will act as a heat sink and prevent the mixture from getting too hot in the course of a three-minute steam session.
You can clean the floor of your microwave with a baking soda-water mixture. A two to one ratio of baking soda and water will make a thick paste that you can smear over stubborn stains and food residue. After five minutes, it should have softened them enough to that you can wipe everything away with a sponge.
Microwaves can build up large amounts of dust and dirt on the cord and the body. While microwave cleaning tends to focus on the interior, the exterior is important too. Taking a warm, damp rag over the outside and leaving it to dry should be adequate, and an abrasive sponge and dish soap should get rid of any stubborn dirt.
Regardless of your chosen method, there are a few quality of life tricks you should keep in mind before you clean it. While many cleaning methods rely on running the microwave, you should unplug it afterward. If your chosen method does not require running the microwave, then you should unplug your microwave for the duration of cleaning. Additionally, you should consult your manual and see what parts are easy and safe to remove. Any piece that you remove will be easier to clean, not to mention that it will make it easier to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Microwaves are one of the more delicate electronics in your house. As such, you should avoid using harsh cleaners such as bleach. Foaming cleaners can do a great job of cleaning your microwave, but you'll need to make sure not to spray them over the vents. You also need to resist the temptation to break out the steel wool; bits of steel wool can chip off without you noticing them. Even trace amounts of steel are hazardous in a microwave oven, so it's best to avoid that risk altogether.