How to Clean Your Microwave Oven Without Trying

how to clean microwave ecokaren

Broken Microwave Oven

My microwave oven broke in the winter of 2010-2011, during one of the many intermittent power outages we had. Some were brown outs and some were multiple days of black outs. So when the microwave stopped working at some point, we thought the power surge killed its circuitry. So we unplugged it and didn’t use it. For almost a year.

It is a built in model so we didn’t take it out to replace it. We nixed the idea of buying a cheap portable one since, one day, we’d renovate the kitchen and replace the built in one. Why buy another?

Then, last year, our friends visited us over a weekend and their kids wanted to heat up something – can’t remember what – and they automatically went for the microwave, like they do in their home. They didn’t know that we unplugged it and haven’t been using it. When they yelled, it wasn’t working, we nonchalantly shrugged our shoulders and said, “We think it’s broken.” When they looked at me like I had two heads, I answered them, “Yes, we didn’t bother to replace it and no, we don’t miss it.” Baffled but challenged, they plugged it and turned it on.

Now, when I tell you we were laughing so hard that we almost peed in our pants is an understatement because the dang thing whirred and turned it on fine! The kids heated up whatever it was that they had, and left the kitchen, leaving us, the adults uncontrollably laughing, clutching our stomachs. My friends couldn’t believe that we didn’t bother to turn it on for over a year, thinking, it’s broken.

What can I say? We didn’t feel the need for it since I learned to cook without making leftovers to reheat! We didn’t eat foods that needed fast heating either, I guess.

I still smile when I think about us laughing that night. It was funny. You had to be there.

But this post is not about my broken microwave oven.

Now I have to clean it?

Yup. This is about how, now, I have to clean the stupid thing, since it’s working again. When it was broken, I didn’t have to clean it! But now that it’s working and my kids are using it again, it gets dirty, daily! Sometimes I don’t even know it’s dirty because I still forget to use it and I don’t see the mess.

Now, sometimes I think I’m really clever….like not turning on the microwave oven, thinking, it was broken. (Me: Microwave is clean! Yay!) And then, there are times when I have to laugh out loud because I’ve been so dumb for not thinking of an idea sooner….like not turning on the microwave oven, thinking, it was broken. (Me: It didn’t work yesterday so why would it work today? Besides, we don’t need it anyway.)

Not having a working microwave is not the worst thing in the world. But having some “unknown” food explode in it is pretty close being the worst.

And again, I had the dumbest laugh (at myself) for not realizing the obvious…like cleaning the microwave oven effortlessly. This ‘new’ – no, “Duh!” method, unequivocally falls under the category of, “Duhhhh….why didn’t I think of this before (WDITOTB)???” It’s added to the many *slapping my forehead* ideas that already reside in my WDITOTB file.

So here it goes.

How to clean your microwave oven effortlessly.

dirty microwave

Place a *Microwave Safe glass bowl (I’m using a Pyrex bowl) with one cup of water and juice from one lemon. Place it in the middle of the microwave and turn it on HIGH for 2 minutes. By the way, “Micro-Safe” ┬ámeans, just that. It’s safe to use in the microwave. It does NOT mean it’s safe for YOU. So never, NEVER heat plastic in the microwave, even if it says “Micro Safe”. Chemicals from the plastic still can leach into the food when heated in such high temperature. Always use micro safe GLASS in the microwave.

spraying vinegar in microwave

After 2 minutes, the microwave oven should be steamy and the walls moist. Spray all the surfaces with vinegar and wipe down with sponge. If the stain is stubborn, you can repeat the above steps for another 2 minutes and spray & wipe down again.

clean microwave

Now tell me this doesn’t look clean. And how stupid simple was this cleaning job? Forgive me if you already do this but as I said, discovering this method of cleaning was one of those “Duhhhh” moment revelations, like when I found out that my microwave oven was working just fine.

As you can see, I don’t put that much emphasis of my life on microwaving foods. And honestly? You shouldn’t either. Cook and eat fresh foods. Don’t use the microwave if you can help it.

But if you do and dirty up the box, now you know how to clean it, effortlessly.


  1. tanner1980 says

    It’s funny really – you spend your whole life buying chemical cleaners because that’s just “what you do” and then you read posts like this and everything changes… the simple things can be so good sometimes!

    Just wanted to say thanks – I’ve been doing my best to be far more frugal recently. The birth of my 2nd wasn’t half as scary as the first… I feel like I can be a good housewife as well as mamma – fingers crossed! One of the things I used to do was use professional oven cleaners. I can’t say a bad word about them to be honest, at my various houses over the years I’ve had them in every few months. I’d been using <a href=””>oven cleaner solihull</a> and I don’t mind recommending them, however I am ashamed to say that it’s only been recently that I even knew what the word frugal meant! So thanks again for posts like this to help me on my way to being a better stay at home mamma :) x

    • says

      Aww….you are welcome.

      And you are right; it’s the simplest things that we tend to overlook but are the best sometimes. I have a feeling you are already a great mama!

      Thanks for reading!

  2. says

    You had my at the title of this post! “without trying”…It’s always such a pain to clean our microwave! And we don’t use it often so when we do I always mess up and food splatter everywhere haha!

    • says


      I am all about maximizing results with least amount of effort. And when I discovered this method, “accidentally”, I really had a “Duh!” moment.

      Another trick I use is to put a wet, WET sponge in the microwave and turn it on HIGH for 3 minutes. The sponge gets disinfected and the microwave gets steamy enough for me to wipe! Two birds with one click…sort of speak! :)

    • says

      Oh, that’s true!

      I use my daughter’s pottery pieces in the microwave all the time. I know they don’t contain lead since she makes them and I know the source of paint. If you make your own and trust the paint source, that’s great but I don’t know about the store bought ones, especially from China.

      Thanks for the great tip!

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