How to clean a microwave

Melanie Whitehouse / 14 July 2016

Read our microwave cleaning tips to find out how to clean your microwave inside and out.



Is your microwave covered with welded-on splashes of food? It isn’t hygienic, makes the oven smell and although they may not look easy to remove, all you need is a little know-how.

Most methods of removing stuck-on gunk from a microwave involve some kind of steaming and are very similar. Although you can use certain chemical cleaners, remember that this is a gadget that comes into close contact with your food, so natural is best.

Read our tips for an eco-friendly home

Cleaning a microwave with lemons

Method 1

Put about half a cupful of water in a microwave-safe bowl.

Slice a lemon in two and squeeze the juice into the water, then add the lemon halves.

Place the bowl in the microwave and turn onto high for three minutes, until the liquid comes to the boil.

Leave to stand for five minutes but keep the microwave door shut – the steam inside is what’s loosening those stuck-on bits of food.

Open the door and remove the bowl containing the lemons.

If your microwave has a removable turntable, lift it out and wipe it. Wipe down the inside of the microwave – first the top, then the sides and finally the base and door. Then do the outside. Pop the removable plate in the dishwasher or wash in hot, soapy water.

If there are any splashes that won’t wipe away, rub with a paper towel dipped in the lemon water until the spot comes away.

Method 2

Cut a lemon in half.

Place both halves cut-side down on a microwaveable plate and add a tablespoon of water. Microwave for about a minute, until the lemon is hot and the inside of the microwave is steamy.

Wipe the inside of the microwave with kitchen towel, then wash the plate.

Cleaning a microwave with vinegar

Fill a microwave-safe glass or bowl half full of water.

Add a tablespoon of white vinegar, put in the microwave and turn on for five minutes, until the water boils. As before, this will steam up the walls of the microwave and loosen the dried-on food splashes.

Proceed as for lemons Method 1, above.

You can replace the lemons or vinegar with a squirt of washing-up liquid, following the method above.

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Cleaning a microwave with washing up liquid

In a microwaveable bowl, mix the washing up liquid with some warm water.

Turn on the microwave and heat for about one minute, or until the water starts steaming.

Dip a clean sponge in the solution and wipe the inside of the microwave.

Get rid of stuck-on stains by letting the solution soak into them for five minutes, then scrub off. Pay particular attention to the roof of the microwave.

Wipe down all surfaces with a clean cloth, then go over them all again with clean water.

Dry with a clean, dry paper towel or soft cloth.

Finally, clean the outside of the microwave – door, handle, controls, top and sides. Again, wipe clean with water and dry off.

Top tips for fresh microwaves

If your oven is a bit niffy add a tablespoonful of baking soda to the lemon/vinegar/washing-up liquid mix as a deodoriser.

Remove tough stains by soaking with olive oil. The exterior of stainless steel ovens also comes up shiny after a buff with a cloth soaked in olive oil.

Always wipe up food splashes immediately, so they don’t stick to the microwave walls.

To keep your microwave clean, cover food (loosely) when heating it, with a lid or with microwave-safe clingfilm, which should cover but not touch the food while it is being cooked.

After use, leave the microwave door open for a few minutes so it dries out.

Clean your microwave regularly – about once or twice a month.

Visit our how to section for more cleaning tips

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.