June 9

How to Deep Clean a Microwave Using Household Ingredients

Written by: Nadia El-Yaouti


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A microwave is an essential appliance in any kitchen. And because it’s routinely used, it is one of the main appliances that need regular cleaning. There’s no shortage of microwave cleaning hacks out there, but here at Robust Kitchen, we're all about efficiency and simplicity when it comes to cleaning, especially when we're talking about important appliances like your microwave.

Today, we're going to share our favorite tricks on how to easily clean a microwave. The best part is, you probably have everything you need right in your kitchen. 

How to Easily Clean a Microwave

How to Deep Clean a Microwave Using Household Ingredients

There’s no one best way to clean a microwave because it really depends on how you use your microwave and what cleaning agents you have on hand.

Luckily, we've included steps to cleaning your microwave with...

1) Lemon method
2) Vinegar method
3) Baking soda method
4) Dish soap method (for tougher grease)

There's really no reason to go out and buy any cleaners because chances are, you've at least got one of these cleaners hanging around.  

Let’s start with the basics and take a look at some of the best home remedies for cleaning microwave ovens back to their original shine. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Lemon

Cleaning Microwave With Lemon

Ask any seasoned home chef and they’ll likely tell you that the best way to clean a microwave is by using the oldest trick in the book, some water and a lemon.

Lemon can be a powerful cleaning agent because of its acidic nature while the steam from the water will help loosen up food on your microwave’s walls. To clean your microwave using this method, here's what you need to do: 

Fill a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 cup of water. 

  1. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl of water. Once you have squeezed the lemon juice out, you can leave the sliced up lemon in the bowl of water.
  2. Place the bowl with the lemon in it into the microwave and set the microwave to run for about two minutes.
  3. Once the two minutes are up, let the mixture sit inside the microwave for an additional two minutes. Don't open the doors.
  4. After the two minutes are up, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe away food residue in the inside of the microwave.
  5. Start wiping from the top of the microwave's interior and work your way down the sides. Clean the base of the microwave along with the turntable plate last. 
Lemons cleaning microwave

This method works great for splattered on messes because the steam from your lemon water mixture allows the acidic lemon juice to break down stuck on food residue.

The lemon water stain also helps loosen away grease that has been sitting for a long time. It's important that you wipe down the inside of the microwave while the walls are still warm.

If you wait too long, it will be a little tougher to rub away the cooked-on food.

How to Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

Cleaning microwave with vinegar

Much like lemon juice, vinegar can be a great cleaning agent because of its acidic nature. Cleaning the inside of your microwave using vinegar is another quick way to clean microwave messes that have accumulated over time.

To clean with this method all you need is some vinegar, some water, and some paper towels.

  1. Start by mixing together 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a small bowl.
  2. Take a couple of sheets of paper towels and dip them into the bowl so that they are damp. You want the paper towels to almost be dripping.
  3. Lay the paper towels down flat in your microwave and run your microwave for about a minute and a half. If the mess in your microwave is really bad, you can let the microwave run for two minutes.
  4. After the two minute run time, allow the microwave to stay closed for another three minutes. You want to give the steam enough time to percolate through the grease stains and food splatter.
  5. Once the three minutes are up, use the same damp paper towels to wipe down the inside of your microwave. Remember to start at the top of the microwave and work your way down the walls.

Damp paper towel in microwave

For this method, you can remove the glass microwave turn tray and wash it in the dishwasher or by hand. Much like the lemon juice method, vinegar can be powerful in breaking down grease stains.

The only downside to this method is the odor is not as pleasant as the lemon juice method.

How to Clean a Microwave with Baking Soda

Cleaning microwave with baking soda

Baking soda is another great cleaner to use in your microwave oven. Along with helping lift up stains, baking soda can deodorize ovens that have lingering stenches in them.

To clean your microwave using this method, here’s what you’ll need to do: 

  1. Start by filling a microwave safe bowl with about 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Add in one tablespoon of baking soda and mix it into the water.
  3. Microwave the solution for about two minutes and then let the microwave stay closed for an additional two minutes after the mixture is done cooking.
  4. After two minutes, use a damp cloth to wipe down the top of the microwave and then the sides. 

How to Clean a Microwave with Dish Soap

Cleaning microwave with dish soap

For the most part, you will rarely need to use dish soap to clean the inside of your microwave.

However, if you have stubborn stains that have built up over time, then dish soap might be your best bet for removing the stuck on food.

Before you start cleaning with dish soap, make sure to use either the lemon water, the vinegar, or the baking soda method of cleaning the inside of your microwave.

If you've tried all three methods and are still left with stuck on food, a degreasing soap will be your next step in making your microwave look like new again. Here’s what to do: 

  1. When you are cleaning with dish soap, use a modest amount of degreasing soap on a double sided scrub brush or sponge.  
  2. Dip the sponge in some water and work at the stubborn stains. You want to make sure that the microwave is still warm while you are cleaning because the warmth will help lift up the stain.
  3. After you have removed the stain, spray down the inside of the microwave with water and use a dry paper towel to make sure that you removed any remaining soap residue.

How to Clean a Burnt Microwave

If you have ever caught something on fire while you were using your microwave, then chances are you have scorched either the top or the sides of your microwave.

Cleaning out a scorched microwave is no fun, but in most instances, you can still scrub the scorch marks out and get rid of the burn mark discoloration.

Be warned though, this method does require some elbow grease.  

  1. Start by cleaning out any stuck on food by using the lemon water, vinegar, or baking soda cleaning method listed above. This will help soften up any burnt food and will allow you to get rid of the easier stains so that you can focus on the burn mark discoloration and tougher stains.
  2. Next, generously sprinkle baking soda on any areas that have discoloration. Use the baking soda as an abrasive scrubber and scrub it into the microwave using a damp scrubbing sponge.
  3. For tougher stains, you can use a nail polish remover that contains acetone and dribble it on a microfiber cloth. Rub the nail polish remover into the microwave to help lift away the discoloration. You can also use a mixture of the nail polish remover and the baking soda to work out the tough stains.
  4. Once you have removed the discoloration, spray the stain with water and wipe away all the nail polish and baking soda residue. You may need to repeat this last step several times in order to make sure you have removed all of the chemical residues. 

How to Clean Microwave Filter

If you have a microwave that hangs over your oven range, then you need to pay special attention to your microwave filter. Over time, your microwave filter will collect dust, grease, and even food particles.

It can be very cumbersome cleaning out your filter by hand, so your best bet is to throw it on the top rack of your dishwasher.

If you don't have a dishwasher, you can still get your microwave filter looking like new. The process is simple and straightforward, here's what you'll need to do:

  1. Start by removing the filter. In most cases, all you need to do is slide the filter out.  
  2. Use a small tray or oven pan and fill it up with water.
  3. Place your filter inside the tray or pan and sprinkle in a generous amount of baking soda over the filter.
  4. Next, add in about ¼ cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes. You can let it sit longer if it is heavily coated with grease stains.
  5. After the filter has had enough time to sit in the mixture, you can rinse the filter out and it should be like new.
  6. Allow your filter to dry out completely before you slide it back into your microwave. 

When you reinstall your filter, this would be a good time to do a wipedown of your microwave's base. All you need is a microfiber cloth soaked in some vinegar water.

Cleaning microwave filter

Cleaning the microwave filter should be a routine part of your microwave's maintenance. Check your microwave's owner manual to see how often you should clean your filter out and if there are additional steps you should follow.

In most cases, microwave filters need to be cleaned out about once every three months.

How to Clean Microwave Vent Cover

Cleaning microwave vent cover

With many over the range microwaves, the vent cover on the top of the microwave will accumulate grease stains over time. These grease stains are not only unsightly, but if left uncleaned, they can have an impact on your fan's performance and even produce foul grease odors every time you run your vent's fan.

Cleaning out your microwave vent is perhaps the most challenging part of cleaning out a microwave because to efficiently clean it you will need to remove the cover. Although the removal is cumbersome, the steps to cleaning the vent cover are pretty simple and straightforward.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Start by screwing off the cover, there are typically two screws on the front or the sides that will allow you to easily remove the cover.
  2. Once the cover is removed, use a dry paper towel to gently remove any grease stains or food particles that have stuck on to the inner workings of the microwave.
  3. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the vent cover so that you completely cover up any visible grease stains.
  4. Next, spray a generous amount of vinegar over the baking soda. Allow the vent cover to sit for about 10 minutes so that the baking soda and vinegar mixture can loosen up the grease.
  5. Using a combination of paper towels, a microfiber cloth, and a thin nylon sponge, work your way in between your vent ports to remove all the grease.
  6. Once you have cleaned away all the grease do a final water rinse of your vent cover. Make sure to use a dry paper towel to clean up any leftover water spots. 

Do not screw your vent cover back on until it has completely dried. 

Dirty microwave vent cover

Keep in mind that you need to be gentle as you clean in between the vent openings. Many microwave vent covers are very fragile and the plastic cover can easily crack or scratch up.

If your vent cover is made out of stainless steel make sure to do a thorough job of cleaning all crevices so that no leftover moisture remains. Make sure that you have cleaned both the front of the vent opening and the back.

 After it has been cleaned, you can snap the cover back onto your microwave and screw the hardware back in. 

Wipe Down the Exterior

Cleaning microwave exterior

Once you have done a thorough job of cleaning out your oven’s interior, filter, and vent covering, it’s time to give a little love to the outside of your microwave.

The finishing touches 🙂

Cleaning the outside is just as simple and straightforward as cleaning out the other parts of it.

All you need to do is mix one part water and one part vinegar for an all natural cleaning solution. Spray the solution onto the exterior of your microwave, and use a damp cotton cloth to rub out any grease splatter or finger stains.

If you have a stainless steel microwave, use a microfiber cloth to buff out any additional imperfections.

As a general rule, you should get into the habit of cleaning the outside of your microwave once a week. 


The key to a long lasting microwave really starts with routine maintenance. Depending on how often you use your microwave, you should try to do a deep clean of the inside about once a month.

The vent cover can be cleaned out once every six months, depending on how frequently you run your vent's fan.

Do you have any handy ways of cleaning out your microwave? Let us know your tricks and what food stains you find to be the most cumbersome to get rid of in the comments section below!




About the author

Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and three kids. When she's not exploring new and improved ways of cleaning and organizing the kitchen on a budget, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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