Microwaves can get quite filthy after extended use. You can avoid dealing with a dirty microwave oven by always wiping food splatter unto it with a wet cloth then a dry cloth. Practicing a bit of presence of mind or self-awareness can go a long way in order to maintain a pristine state of your microwave.
On that note, what’s the best cleaner for the microwave? After all, there will come a time when you’ll accidentally neglect your microwave or your wet cloth wipes won’t keep up with the regular heating and meal prep usage of your cooking device.
Buying and Cleaning Guide for the Best Cleaners for Microwaves
All it takes to turn your sparkling microwave into a greasy, stinky, and chaotic mess is a burnt bag of overcooked popcorn or a plate of leftover turkey that’s about a day old. With that in mind, here is what you need to do to keep your countertop microwave as clean as possible.
You need the right cleaners, the right products, and regular maintenance. Ideally, you should clean it every few days. Otherwise, clean it every week. If you can clean it after every microwaved meal or so then that’s even better.
How to Clean the Inside of a Microwave
In order to clean the inside of your microwave full of smells, splatters, and food bits, you need to wipe it down before any of the remnants can end up staining those metal walls. You don’t want their paint to chip and their insides to corrode or anything.
Citrus is the Way to Go
You can purchase a variety of lemon-scented or citrus-as-an-ingredient cleaners in the market to make cleaning your microwave a breeze. Or you can clean it in a Do-It-Yourself manner by combining a cup of water with lemon, lime, or orange slices.
To be more specific, get your microwave-safe bowl and squeeze the juice from the slices and mix it with a cup of water. You can also instead use a couple of tablespoons of apple cider or white vinegar with a cup of water in the bowl.
Heat and Steam the Microwave Interior
Place the bowl of citrus delight or acidic vinegar solution into the microwave and then heat it up at the highest power level for a couple of minutes until the mixture boils altogether.
Some cleaners can be used in the same manner. Just microwave it in a bowl of water and let its cleansing steam remove all the bits of food stuck inside the microwave oven interior so that you can use your Q-tip cleaner to pick at the corners safely.
Let It All Cool Down
Let the microwave cool down with all that citrus or acidic steam swirling inside of it for about 5 minutes. Afterwards, open the door. This will safeguard you from burning yourself from the hot steam.
Carefully remove the bowl then use a kitchen sponge to wipe the inside clean. Afterwards, use a dry rag or paper towels to wipe down the moisture for good measure.
Remove the Turntable and Wash It
Remove the turntable and the wheel that helps turn it so that you can wash them manually on your sink or through the dishwasher. Many turntables are dishwasher-safe as long as you keep them from bumping with other ceramics.
The plastic wheel is best hand-washed. The turntable mechanism should also be wiped clean but don’t let the cleaner get into its mechanism since damage could occur by doing so.
How to Clean the Exterior of a Microwave
A good wipe-down with a damp microfiber or terry cloth should usually be enough to clean out the dusty parts of your microwave. This is then followed by a dry rag or paper towels to get rid of the wetness from your damp wiping. Do this at least once a week.
As for removing the grease and smudges from the exterior of your microwave—particularly your microwave door—here’s what you need to do.
- Clean the Whole Door: Dampen a sponge with a proper cleaner or water dipped in baking soda in order to clean the entire microwave door. This includes both sides, the edges, and where it seals the oven. Use a fresh new sponge or damp cloth for rinsing.
- Clean the Greasy Window: If the window is greasy, clean it up with a recommended microwave cleaner with citrus ingredients or a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar. Even soap should help. Rinse away then wipe dry with towels or a dry rag.
- Cleaning Heavy Grease Buildup: A good all-purpose cleaner with grease-cutting capabilities should be used. A sudsy mix of water and dishwashing liquid should also work. Apply the solution to a sponge or cloth to prevent it from ending up in the vent holes.
Don’t spray the electronic controls with cleaner. Limit it on the grease buildup and carefully clean it, taking care not to soak the controls or the vents with the stuff.
You may like this video:
How to Get Rid of Smells in Your Microwave
You should also look into using odor-removing cleaners as well. The smell of burnt popcorn is particularly hard to get rid of. It lingers and reappears every time you heat leftovers. It’s particularly bad with water, since it could alter the liquid’s taste as well.
- Leave the Door Open and Air It Out: If you’re removing light odors like spicy food aroma, air it out. Leave the door open and let the smell leave on its own. Or you place a bowl of baking soda inside with the door closed for smell absorption purposes.
- Clean the Residue and Use Odor-Absorbing Gel: An odor-absorbing gel could also be used to remove strong odors like burnt popcorn or accidentally microwaving a spoiled tray of old turkey giblets or fish. Either that or use activated charcoal. Clean it up and then use the gel.
- Removing Stuck Food in the Interior: It’s imperative you remove rotting food bits in order to keep your microwave smelling fresh and perfectly clean (with zero bacteria). You can use something like a magic eraser product to get rid of dried-on food.
Alternately, you can also use a vinegar solution to soften the bits up with hot steam before wiping it off or picking it out with a toothpick or Q-tip cotton swab. If the food is stuck on the turntable, just clean the turntable in the sink by hand or use the dishwasher machine.
Further reading: Steps on How to Clean Microwave with Vinegar
As you can plainly see, there’s a multitude of ways to go about cleaning your microwave. You can use different products instead of a single all-purpose cleaner in order to deal with different scenarios, like a smelly microwave or a microwave interior full of dried-up food splatter.
The Top 6 Best Cleaners for Microwaves
Here are the top 6 best cleaners for microwaves we could find. Each offers their own pros and cons. They also fulfill different aspects of cleaning, from the interior of the oven to its exterior.
1. Best Lemon-Scented Disinfectant Multi-Surface Cleaner Available on Amazon
|What Is It?||Multi-surface disinfecting cleaner|
|Features||Disinfects and sanitizes nonporous surfaces like glass, chrome, plastic, vinyl, porcelain, ceramic tile, Plexiglas, and Formica.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||It serves as the lemon slice or citrus solution alternative you’re supposed to heat up and steam your microwave with.|
|Size||11.38 x 7.68 x 4.88 inches|
The Windex Disinfectant Cleaner claims itself to be America’s No. 1 glass and surface cleaner. It’s a great microwave cleaning product because it works perfectly in cleaning the glass surface of your microwave turntable and serves as an excellent multipurpose cleaner for the rest of the device.
It’s also great at removing the stains and crusted food splatters not only because of its citrus ingredients. It’s also because it kills 99.9% of bacteria and common germs. The food remnants are particularly teeming with bacteria as they rot inside your microwave.
In order to keep your oven from becoming a health hazard in and of itself, you can use the disinfectant cleaner to not only remove rotting food bits but also to kill all the bacteria feeding unto the remnants in the first place. The cleaner is effective and disinfects in 10 minutes to boot.
2. A Tough-on-Grease Degreaser Cleaner for Even the Greasiest of Microwaves
|What Is It?||All-purpose degreasing or grease-cutting cleaner|
|Features||It’s an all-purpose cleaner that cleans many surfaces with grease-cutting properties.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||If your microwave has grown grease inside and out, you can use this cleaner to easily remove all the grease.|
|Size||12.13 x 6.02 inches (height x length of each bottle)|
|Weight||4 1-gallon bottles (10 pounds overall)|
This Zep All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser package deal offers you 4 bottles for only $25. The only real drawback on this highly affordable package deal that you can even use outside of cleaning your microwave is the fact that the product is mainly a degreaser.
It lacks the disinfecting abilities of the (higher-rated) Windex Disinfectant Cleaner. However, like Windex, Zep is capable of cutting through grease, grime, and dirt across multiple surfaces. A 1-gallon bottle of concentrated cleaner can make up to 10 gallons of cleaning solution.
Aside from removing the tough grease stains and overall greasiness of your pizza-reheating machine, the all-purpose cleaner can also degrease and cleanup materials such as cabinets, porcelain, painted trim, tile, and stainless steel (among many other hard surfaces).
3. Topnotch Baking Powder is a Must When It Comes to Thorough Microwave Cleaning
|What Is It?||Pure baking soda or powder|
|Features||It serves as a leavening agent and baking assistant as well as a remarkably useful deodorizer, stain remover, and cleaner.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||Spread ¼ of a cup of baking soda inside the microwave with a damp cloth then use another cloth to rinse it away.|
|Size||2 x 2 x 2 inches|
|Weight||1 pound (16 ounces)|
The Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 16 oz (3 Pack) is a well-known cleaning powder that just happens to also be used for baking purposes as a leavening agent as well. It doesn’t clean up messes like a detergent but it’s effective in its own right as a dirt-catching paste.
This all-natural cleaner soda has been around for 155 years for good reason. It’s able to harmless clean dried splatters and rotting food bits in your microwave without harsh chemicals. It’s a gentle and all-natural cleaner.
If you’re going to buy baking powder or soda, you might as well go with a trusted brand instead of gluten-free leavening agents for the task of microwave deodorizing and cleanup. Of course, if you intend to use the baking powder for actual baking, then by all means get the gluten-free one.
4. A Tough-on-Grease Degreaser Cleaner for Even the Greasiest of Microwaves
|What Is It?||Odor-removing gel|
|Features||It removes strong odors by absorbing them within itself a la activated charcoal.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||Just put the product inside the microwave oven and leave the door open. Wait until the strong smell or stink is gone.|
|Size||3.62 x 3.62 x 5.04 inches|
|Weight||1.5 pounds or 22 ounces (15-ounce main product and 7-ounce freebie).|
For only about $15, you can get your hands on the 15-ounce Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel. This particular package even adds a 7-ounce Lavender Gel product for free. Obviously, it’s a collection of gels that absorb terrible smells or rotting food scents from within your microwave oven.
You can also use the free Lavender Gel in order to add a lavender scent to your device. You want your oven to smell delicious rather than smell like a trashcan full of thrown-away leftovers. It’s a “Climate Pledge Friendly” odor-absorbing material for sure.
It neutralizes the strongest odors or replaces them with something more pleasant or appetizing. The gel eliminates the odor like activated charcoal because it absorbs the smells as a sponge would water. It’s commonly used in bathrooms but it can also assist your cleaners in deodorizing a stinky microwave.
5. A Quality Dishwashing Soap for Washing Dishes and the Microwave Turntable
|What Is It?||Dishwashing fluid|
|Features||A cost-effective way to clean dishes without wasting a lot of soap and suds.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||It has three times more grease-cleaning power per drop so it serves as a degreaser alternative to Zep for turntable cleanup.|
|Size||7.69 x 4.88 x 10.13 inches|
Procter & Gamble’s Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap is a good soap as any, but we chose it for microwave-cleaning purposes because of its amazingly high user ratings and popularity on Amazon. Everyone (or at least every American) is familiar with Dawn Dish Soap.
This particular package is a combo pack with the original scent Dawn Liquid Dish Soap along with a non-scratch sponge. It also only costs $15. It’s much cheaper than Zep but Zep gives you more soapy goodness per ounce (up to 10 gallons of surface cleaner).
Dishwashing fluid is always a must for your dish-cleaning needs, whether you wash them manually or through a dishwashing machine. It comes with a sponge that has an absorbent side for cleanly wiping dishes with suds and a rough side that scrubs down grease and baked-on messes.
6. The Magic Eraser Erases Your Microwave Mistakes Stuck Food in the Interior
|What Is It?||Magic Eraser|
|Features||Extra-durable scrubber that’s four-times stronger than DuraFoam for dishwashing and multi-surface cleanup.|
|How Does It Clean Your Microwave?||You can use the Magic Eraser to erase or clean up dried-up food stuck in the interior like the roof or sides.|
|Size||5.12 x 5.2 x 4.96 inches|
The Mr. Clean Extra Durable Magic Eraser is available to you for about $12. It’s a special scrubber that gives you a power clean with water alone. In terms of microwaves, it allows you to easily wash the turntable like it’s a ceramic dish on dish soap. It also enables you to erase food remnants.
Any dried-out bit of residue or remnant of food on the edges or roof of your microwave interior can be “erased” by the food-absorbent Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean. It scrubs down and absorbs almost any mess like a kneaded eraser could pick up bits of graphite on paper.
Its micro-scrubbers are water-activated in order to reach unto surface grooves. From there, it yanks out any built-up soap scum, grime, and dirt when all is said and done. It’s a product that packs such a punch that it has become a must-buy for microwave-cleaning purposes.
Never Forget the Following
When it comes to cleaning microwaves, an ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure. You can also extend the lifespan of your device by regularly cleaning it after every meal or at least every week to prevent its sides or moving mechanism from gumming up.
However, if you have no choice but to do some heavy-duty cleaning with your microwave, you can always depend on our top cleaner picks such as Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap followed by Windex Disinfectant Cleaner and Zep All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser.
We’ve chosen these items due to their splatter-melting efficiency, even when the stain is quite old already.
- Amanda Garrity, “How to Clean a Microwave Quickly and Easily, According to a Cleaning Expert“, GoodHousekeeping.com, January 25, 2021
- Miriam Habtesellasie, “How to clean a microwave with lemon, washing-up liquid, baking soda and more“, IdealHome.co.uk, April 12, 2019