How To

How to clean a microwave

Ditch the chemicals and use common pantry ingredients to clean a microwave.
baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background

A dirty microwave is not only an eyesore, but it can also be a health hazard. And did you know that it can interfere with cooking times, as the microwave rays are diverted to food splashes?

What can I use to clean a microwave?

Banish chemical cleaners and instead use common pantry ingredients, like lemon, bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar for the job. It is also wise to avoid abrasive cleaning pads as these will damage the microwave potentially reducing the lifespan. Select sponges, micro-fibre clothes and paper towels as your grease-busting tools.

How to get a microwave clean with lemon

Want to clean microwave with vinegar or lemon? Fill a medium microwave-safe bowl one third-full with water, then add either two slices of lemon or ¼ cup (60ml) white vinegar. Place the bowl in the microwave; microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes or until the water boils. Don’t open the door; leave the bowl inside to steam for 5 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the bowl of water and the microwave turntable. Wash the turntable in hot soapy water then dry. The steam should have loosened any baked-on food residue inside the microwave, so all you need do is wipe the inside surfaces with a microfibre cloth or paper towels. For stubborn built-up food or heavy grease, make a paste with ¼ cup bicarbonate of soda and 2-3 tablespoons water, then work into the area with a microfibre cloth or old toothbrush and rinse off.

How to clean a microwave using a bowl of water and lemon slices

Cleaning microwave doors and exterior

Check the inside rim of the door and the operating panel, both areas prone to trapping food residue. To loosen grime here, gently run a wooden toothpick along crevices and wipe clean. Next, turn your attention to the microwave exterior. Wipe the top and sides with a damp soapy cloth as the top of a microwave, especially in a tight-fitting location can be forgotten and become a magnet for dust and grime. Lastly check the vent at the back of the microwave for dust and give it a gentle wipe with a clean pastry brush.

If you’re tackling a burnt smell, bicarb is your friend.

How frequently should you clean a microwave?

It goes without saying that cleaning up as you go is the best practice if you want to avoid tackling more-time consuming clean-ups of burnt and built up food residue. When spills occur, carefully remove the glass turntable to rinse then wash in hot soapy water and dry. Next, quickly run a hot soapy sponge over interior surfaces: base, top and sides, and don’t forget the inside of the door. Return the glass turntable to position, checking it has been replaced correctly so it can rotate. Easy!

Tips for microwaving to avoid less mess

  • Prick the skins of tomatoes, potatoes and sausages, and the skin of meats and fish, to prevent explosion, from air-pockets that can form between the flesh and skin.
  • Stir porridge, pasta sauces and thick soups, intermittently since food cooked in the microwave does not always heat uniformly. Cook or reheat on 70% power.
  • Cover drier food with a sheet of paper towel to prevent splatters.
  • Cover wet food with a brand of plastic wrap designed for microwave use, and avoid the plastic coming in direct contact with food. Leave a gap in between the food and plastic wrap for steam. Prick a few holes in the plastic with a skewer to prevent pressure building up for the steam to escape. Avoid high heating settings which can cause plastic to soften and melt.
  • Select oval or round containers for cooking and reheating. These shapes cooks more evenly than square or rectangular shapes which can trap microwave energy in the corner and cause food to overcook there.
  • Invest in purpose-made microwave containers. These containers have vented lids and dome-shaped food covers to allow steam, but not mess, to escape.

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