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That popcorn can wait a few minutes

Rebecca Firkser
February 07, 2018
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If you’ve ever pulled a bowl of leftover Pad Thai from the microwave to find that it smells vaguely of stale coffee, your roommate’s recently reheated pizza, or some combination of all three, you need to how to clean a microwave. We’re all aware of the distinctly not fun task of cleaning, but hear me out. Don’t you want the meal you’re about to scarf to taste as good as it possibly can? If this could be achieved in under 10 minutes, can you wait that long to zap your food? You know these questions are rhetorical. With that, get ready to scrub.

Lemons, baking soda, and vinegar are three acidic kitchen staples that when mixed with water and heated in the microwave effectively steam clean the machine’s interior while neutralizing any lingering food odors. The cleaning process is basically the same for each ingredient, though keep in mind that while lemon is the most pleasant is terms of fragrance, it’s less likely to deep-clean a truly disgusting microwave than the baking soda or vinegar. 

Use a Lemon

For the level of dirty a microwave gets when owned by a neat human who’s fairly cautious about spills, clean with lemon. Fill a heat-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup with ½ cup water. Slice open a large lemon, squeeze the juice into the bowl, then drop in the rinds. Microwave the lemon mixture on high for 3 minutes, then let stand for 2 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe the interior of the microwave with a dish towel or paper towels.

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Use Baking Soda

When your microwave is very gross, you need to clean it with baking soda. Mix 2 tablespoons with ½ cup water in a heat-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave the mixture on high for 3 minutes, then let stand for 2 minutes. Wipe away all the steamed-off grime with paper towels, then give the whole interior another wipe with a clean towel.

If your microwave is so dirty that steam cannot lift the caked-on gunk, make a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and four cups of water. Dip a sponge in the mixture and scrub the microwave. Follow this process with either aforementioned steam-cleaning methods if you’d like to go one step further.

Use White or Apple Cider Vinegar

The vinegar method should also be used on very gross microwaves. Fill a heat-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup with ½ cup water and ½ cup apple cider or white vinegar (the former has a less pungent smell). Heat the bowl on high for 3 minutes, then let stand for 2 minutes. Wipe away the filth with paper towels, followed by wiping with clean towels. 

To get rid of any stubborn stains left over from your steam-clean, rub the stains with half of a fresh lemon or apply a paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 tablespoon water, let sit for a few minutes, then wipe with a scrubby sponge. Once you’ve cleaned the interior of the microwave, picture dirty fingers touching all those buttons and give the outside of the machine a good wipe with a natural kitchen cleanser or a bit of water mixed with white vinegar.

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