How To Clean Your Microwave With Vinegar

Three easy steps to make the inside of a dirty microwave shiny and clean.

Most of the time, you're in a rush when you use the microwave. Whether you're boiling water for hot coffee or tea, defrosting a solid brick of frozen chicken, reheating cold pizza (actually, the oven is better for that job), cooking potatoes, or popping a bag of popcorn for a quick snack, time is usually limited. As soon as the timer goes off, you grab whatever is inside, slam the door shut, and move on with your life. Which is why the inside of the microwave looks like a mess. And the longer you leave those food splatters, drips, and stains inside there, the harder they are to remove—until you learn this method.

You don't need fancy cleaners or any special equipment to clean a microwave. And you don't need to spend an hour scrubbing it either. This simple method only requires a few minutes, materials you already have in your kitchen, and very little effort.

How Often to Clean Your Microwave

You should clean your microwave regularly unless you happen to enjoy scrubbing stuck-on food or getting a strong whiff of whatever you've been reheating every time you open the microwave door. Once a week is a good rule of thumb, but make certain to wipe up spills before they harden or turn to goo, which makes this chore that much more difficult. Regular cleaning also prevents your appliance from harboring bacteria and stinky smells (see our additional tips on how to get the smell out of your microwave).

Vinegar with Cleaning Supplies
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What You Need

  • Microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup
  • Sponge
  • White vinegar (apple cider will work in a pinch, too)

How to Clean Your Microwave With Vinegar

  1. Fill the bowl or cup with 1 cup of tap water and stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
  2. Place the bowl inside the microwave. Heat the water-vinegar mixture on HIGH for one to two minutes, or until the liquid is boiling and steaming.
  3. When the timer goes off, don't open the door immediately. Leave it shut for about five minutes. This will allow the hot steam to stay trapped inside the microwave, which will help degrease the microwave and loosen stuck food and baked-on spills.
  4. Open the door, remove the bowl, and dampen a sponge in the vinegar solution. Use the sponge to wipe the top, bottom, sides, and tray inside of the microwave.
  5. If any stubborn spots remain, microwave the water-vinegar mixture again and follow the same steps until you are able to clean it completely.
Food Will Taste Better if You Clean Your Microwave
Photo by SasinParaksa via Getty Images

Tips to Keep Your Microwave Clean Longer

Your microwave will be both easier to clean and stay clean longer if you wipe up spills, splatters, and grease spots as soon as they occur. You can also keep the microwave cleaner by using a splatter cover over your food. To avoid lingering smells, leave the door open for a few minutes after each use to allow odors to dissipate.

A quick wipe with a soapy sponge after each use will suffice for most messes. If you have a dishwasher-safe turntable, throw it in the dishwasher along with your dirty dishes to remove grease and grime.

Now that your microwave is sparkling clean, you're ready to tackle the next project. Next up: steaming off the grease and grime in your oven.

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