All it takes is one leftover spaghetti dinner to turn a sparkling clean microwave into a war zone. If you avoid cleaning this appliance because you think it requires more elbow grease than you can muster up, we have good news: Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, has easy tips to help you tackle this on the regular.
But first, you'll need a few supplies. Many household essentials work very well at getting rid of all the gunk in your microwave. You can use baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar (white or apple cider) to get rid of all the gunk in your microwave — but steer clear of bleach.
There's really no need to use bleach on microwaves because the surfaces generally don't get stained like countertops or sinks do, according to Forte. Plus, General Electric actually cautions against using bleach on any part of the microwave because it makes the plastic parts brittle.
How to Clean the Inside of Microwaves
Place 1 cup of water and some lemon, lime, or orange slices (squeeze a little juice from the fruit slices into the water) or several tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl and set it inside your appliance. Turn it on high power for several minutes until the mixture boils and the window is steamy. Let it cool for 5 minutes before opening the door, then remove the bowl and wipe the inside clean with a sponge.
How to Clean Greasy Microwave Doors
Clean the rubber gasket around the door with a sponge dampened with water and dipped in a little baking soda. Wipe with a damp cloth or sponge to rinse. If the window is greasy, clean with a mixture of half vinegar and half water, then dry. You can also wipe your microwave door down with a good all-purpose, grease-cutting cleaner, like Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.
How to Clean Microwave Exteriors
Here's another place you can utilize your all-purpose cleaner (or even a sudsy mix of dish soap and water). Just make sure you apply the cleaner with a cloth or sponge — don’t spray directly on the appliance, or you’ll risk cleaner getting into the vent holes. "You don't want cleaner getting into the inner workings of the microwave," Forte says. "And don't spray the control panel directly either." When you're done applying the cleaner, rinse with a clean sponge or cloth and buff dry.
How to Clean Stubborn Spots
For super stuck-on ick, Forte recommends using Good Housekeeping Seal holder Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. You can wash most removable pieces (like the turntable) in the dishwasher or a sink full of sudsy water. Just make sure you read your manufacturer's manual beforehand.
How to Prevent Excess Microwave Grime
Want to make your cleaning experience easier next time? Forte recommends wiping down your appliance every couple of days, depending on how often you use it and, of course, right after something splatters so bits don't bake on. Be sure to cover any foods you reheat, even with just a paper plate, to prevent splatters in the first place. You'll thank yourself later.
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