By now, you probably know that there are countless weird and wonderful ways to clean a microwave. Not to mention all manner of different products and preparations to banish grease and get rid of food gunk.
From baking soda to wine to white vinegar to dishwashing liquid and more, there’s no shortage of options for a squeaky-clean microwave.
But when it comes to the most effective way to clean a microwave, a little lemon juice is all it takes. Armed with just a lemon, a small microwave-safe bowl, and some water, you can clean your microwave naturally and effectively in a matter of minutes.
All without having to scrub frantically to loosen food gunk, and with the added benefit of a surprisingly satisfying smell left behind as a bonus. Speaking of bonuses, we also bring you reviews of best microwaves under 150 bucks, best microwaves under 200 dollars, and best retro microwave ovens, to boot.
Too Easy to Overlook
The fact that you probably keep your microwave door closed most of the time makes it easy to ignore the horrors within. It takes little to no time for a squeaky-clean microwave to become a dirty microwave that’s a genuine health hazard.
Baked on food gunk accumulates astonishingly fast, resulting in the kinds of stubborn spots and smells that are anything but pleasant. An exterior microwave wipe is an everyday staple in most households; the cleaning of the inside of the microwave tends to be put off indefinitely.
Cleaning Your Microwave with Just a Lemon
Lemon juice has the potential to be the ultimate cleaning hack around the home. As effective as dish soap and 100% natural, it’s fantastic for cleaning the kinds of things you’d expect to be uncleanable.
At this point, it’s worth noting that you can indeed use bottled lemon juice as an alternative to a whole lemon. However, the method works best when you place the lemon halves in the bowl with the water and the juice.
You can also use lime juice, but lemons tend to work better – in our own personal experience.
The approach taken by some is to whip up a batch of lemon water and scrub away food debris with a cloth or sponge. Which can work, but it is not the easiest way of cleaning a microwave.
Instead, what you’re looking to do is loosen the gunk and get to work on stubborn stains by releasing steam into the microwave cavity. The steam trapped inside the microwave naturally gets to work on tough stains and baked-on foods, making cleaning the whole thing as easy as giving it a quick wipe.
Best of all, you probably already have everything you need to get the job done lying around your kitchen right now.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- One whole lemon of a decent size (or a couple of limes if preferred)
- A microwave-safe bowl or tub, which you’ll be filling around halfway with tap water
- Damp cloth or paper towel to wipe out your steamy microwave
- Oven mitts or similar for careful removal of the bowl of hot water
Baking soda and white vinegar can be used to take the effectiveness of the method a step further if your microwave is in particularly poor condition. We’ll get to that part of the technique a little later.
How To Clean A Microwave With Lemon Juice
Steam the inside of your microwave:
1. First up, slice a large lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe bowl. Place enough warm tap water into the bowl to fill it around halfway and add the two halves of the lemon to the mixture.
2. Place the bowl inside the microwave, close the door and start it on high power. After a few minutes, steam will start to build up and fill the inside of your microwave in its entirety.
3. Once the mixture is boiling and the microwave is filling with steam, turn off the power and leave it for around 5 minutes to cool.
4. Open the door and carefully remove the bowl using oven mitts before discarding the water mixture.
Clean the Microwave with a Damp Cloth or Sponge:
- When it is safe (i.e., cool enough) to do so, take a damp cloth or sponge and give the interior of your microwave a good wipe.
- If the steam has done its job properly, even the most stubborn stains and baked-on food should be loose enough to remove with relative ease.
- If you cannot easily wipe away the stains and debris inside your microwave, you can repeat the steaming process once again.
- It is also at this point that baking soda can be used for extra cleaning power. Simply sprinkle a little baking soda on your damp cloth or sponge before giving the more stubborn food debris a gentle scrub.
- There’s also the option of making a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar – an extremely powerful stain remover for dealing with grease and grime that simply will not shift.
- If there are any difficult areas to reach, you can always give them a gentle scrub with a toothbrush.
- Use plenty of paper towels to wipe out the interior of your microwave once you have finished cleaning it.
Cleaning the Microwave Plate:
- This is usually a pretty heavy-duty part of the appliance, which can be washed in the sink with the dishes or tossed in the dishwasher. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure compatibility if going with the dishwasher option.
- Lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar can all be great for cleaning a microwave plate – as can a small amount of dish soap in the usual way. Just ensure that you give it a good rinse using dish soap or a commercial cleaning product in order to ensure all residue is removed.
Clean Your Microwave Door and Exterior:
- Last up, cleaning outside of a microwave is a far more flexible and forgiving process. You can clean your microwave externally using just about anything you would use on your other kitchen appliances.
- As the outside of your microwave does not come into contact with the food, you don’t need to worry too much about what goes into the cleaning product. However, the same mixture incorporating lemon juice (and baking soda if necessary) can be used to make a dirty microwave pristine.
How to Clean a Microwave – FAQs
Rounding things off, we’ll now be taking a look at a few frequently asked questions on how to clean a microwave using lemon juice and other everyday household basics:
Can I Use Bottled Lemon Juice?
Yes – you can use juice from a bottle, and it will get the job done just as well. Some juice in bottles is actually concentrated and can therefore be particularly effective in cleaning a microwave. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the best approach is to boil the lemon halves in with the mixture to clean your microwave effectively and leave behind a fantastically fresh smell.
Though for all intents and purposes, juice from a bottle is just as good.
How do I Deal with Baked-on Food That Will Not Shift?
Cleaning away the most stubborn stains and dirt is as easy as mixing some vinegar with a little baking soda to create a paste. You can then dip a damp sponge or cloth into the mixture and give the problematic area a good scrub. This is something that can be done before and/or after the steam technique, which will usually negate the need for using questionable chemicals on the inside of the microwave.
How Can I get the Burnt Smell Out of a Microwave?
This is another fantastic application for baking soda, which is a surprisingly effective odor absorber. All you need to do is take a small bowl or measuring cup of some kind and fill it with a generous quantity of baking soda. Place it centrally inside your microwave, close the door and leave it to do its thing. Overnight or over the course of 24 hours, it will gradually absorb the smells you are looking to get rid of. While your microwave is not in use, leave the door open to allow fresh air to circulate and get rid of the bad smells.
Are Commercial Cleaning Products Really Dangerous?
Yes and no, as it depends entirely on what goes into the mix. Some commercial cleaning products (such as all-natural dish soap) are perfectly safe to use to clean a microwave oven. By contrast, others contain the kinds of hazardous chemicals and compounds you really don’t want anywhere near your food. If planning on using commercial cleaning products, read the label carefully before doing so. However, the best approach is to avoid them entirely and clean your microwave naturally.
In a nutshell, cleaning a microwave oven with just a lemon and some water can be surprisingly simple. Lemons are pretty incredible when it comes to their versatility around the home, substituting for a wide variety of synthetic cleaning products and chemicals.
Combine with a little steam (and perhaps a dash of vinegar), and there really is nothing else you need to restore your microwave to showroom condition.