girl finished cleaning a microwave looking happy

How to Steam Clean a Microwave (Vinegar & Baking Soda Hacks)

Stubborn stains in your microwave? No problem. I’m going to show you how to steam clean a microwave using water and vinegar. I have two kids and when they’re done with the microwave, it’s usually dirty, messy and full of stains.

Most steam cleaning tasks need a steam cleaner, but cleaning a microwave doesn’t need one. Both countertop and inbuilt microwaves can accumulate germs, dirt and grime. To get rid of them, use steam to clean and disinfect them.

How to Clean a Microwave with Steam + Vinegar

Steam is the best natural solution because it does not use any chemicals. You only need water and vinegar. Vinegar acts as a disinfectant. It also breaks down gunk and other stubborn stains.

You also need a toothpick and a small bowl that’s safe to place in your microwave. A sponge or microfiber towel will come in handy in when the time for wiping comes.

Ready with your ingredients, here’s how to steam clean your microwave:

  1. Mix water and vinegar in equal parts and pour the solution into the bowl.
  2. Put a toothpick into the solution to reduce the risk of explosion while in the microwave.*
  3. Put the bowl in the microwave and set to heat for 8-10 minutes until it produces steam.
  4. Allow the hot solution to sit in the microwave for a few minutes for the steam to act.
  5. Remove the remaining hot water and vinegar solution using heavy duty kitchen mitts.
  6. Wipe off the loosened dirt using a microfiber towel. You can also use a sponge or paper towels if you do not need to scrub off tough stains.

If the turntable is removable, take it out first before following the procedure above. Hold it with a towel or kitchen mitts, then dip a sponge in the vinegar solution and wipe off any dirt. Scrub the interiors of the microwave with a sponge or towel soaked warm or hot vinegar solution. Ensure you clean and dry the roof of the interior as well. It is easily forgotten.

*Why put a toothpick in the liquid? Liquids superheat in the microwave. If the surface of the container is too smooth, they explode. Such explosions are part of the reason why your microwave gets dirty and messy most of the time.

Bubbles form on the toothpick when the vinegar solution heats to boiling point. Instead of an explosion, steam builds up and breaks down dirt in your microwave.

Another way of preventing explosions and steaming effectively is by using the Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner. When placed in the microwave, it builds pressure and releases steam furiously. This loosens caked-on food particles for easy wiping.

Cleaning Microwave Doors

Once you’ve cleaned the interior with steam, it is time to do the doors. Remember the door was open, so you will have to start from the inside part before cleaning the exterior part.

Here’s how to clean the doors of your microwave:

  1. Dip a sponge in a vinegar solution and squeeze to get rid of excess liquid.
  2. Wipe around the rubber gasket that’s on the door.
  3. Scrub any spots of grime and dirt stuck on the door’s surface.
  4. Wipe the microwave’s door with a piece of cloth dampened with clean water.
  5. Dry with a paper towel.

Sometimes I find the doors to be greasy especially on the inside. That grease is sometimes hard to get rid of. But when cleaning a microwave with steam, the heat usually melts that grease. If you find it stubborn, use grease-cutting cleaning agents for the job.

Cleaning the Outside of Your Microwave

The exteriors of your microwave can have fingerprints, grease, oil, and food stains. So, this is another part I like to concentrate on when cleaning my microwave on steam.

You might need a handheld steam cleaning machine for this part of the job. If you do not have one, you can still clean with dish soap and warm water.

CAUTION: Do not put any cleaning solutions or steam in the inner parts of your microwave. You risk damaging the system. Also, avoid wetting the control panel of your microwave.

If you choose to steam clean the microwave with a steamer, run the steam accross the exterior surface. This will break down the dirt, grease and grime. Wipe it with a microfiber towel.

If you’re using dish soap and water, dip a sponge in this mixture and apply it on the microwave’s external surface. Avoid the vents to prevent the solution from entering the system through the holes. Wipe dry with a microfiber piece of cloth or towel.

steam clean a microwave (hacks, tips and tricks)

Benefits of Steam-Cleaning a Microwave

As you already know, my preference is not even to use soap to clean my microwave. I prefer steam. When the microwave is not so messy, I clean with steam alone.

Using steam to clean a microwave and generally your kitchen and house has its benefits. They include the following:

  • Steam is a natural deep cleaning method. It does not have any side effects.
  • Using steam to clean is a safe for kids and pets. Microwaves warm food and we need them to be as safe as possible.
  • Cleaning with steam is cost-effective. I mean, you only need tap water and no chemicals.
  • Steam at high temperatures kills germs and disinfects your microwave.
  • There’s less scrubbing. This method is fast and takes less effort.

Yes, some microwaves come with an antibacterial on the turntable. But, I still prefer using steam to clean and disinfect the interior.

Other Methods of Cleaning a Microwave

Well, before I discovered the microwave steam cleaning hack, there were other effective methods I used. Baking soda is one of those hacks I really liked. Dish soap and vinegar are also great ingredients for this hack. Let’s start with the basic one.

Cleaning with Dish Soap

There are times when dish soap is all we can get in the kitchen. It gets the cleaning job done and it works well for a microwave too. So here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Pour some dish soap and water into a small microwave-safe bowl and place it in the microwave.
  2. Put it in for one minute on the high setting.
  3. Remove the dish and wipe the inside with a damp sponge.

Clean Microwave with Lemon

When there isn’t much to scrub off and remove, you can use lemon juice and a few slices to get rid of bad odor. Lemon is a natural cleaner and disinfectant with a great smell. It has a low pH and antibacterial properties which make it a great cleaning agent. Here is how to make a microwave smell fresh with lemon:

  1. Pour half a cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Squeeze lemon juice into the water and drop in the sliced halves.
  3. Place the bowl with lemon water in the microwave and turn on high power for about three minutes.
  4. Wait for a few minutes before opening the microwave door. Trapping the lemon juice steam inside will help loosen the hard stains.
  5. Open the door and carefully remove the bowl.
  6. Wipe the microwave clean and wash the turntable tray in the sink.

Remember to also clean the outside of your microwave by wiping it down with a regular cleaning spray.

Baking Soda Method

Baking soda is a natural scourer and deodorizer that can be used in place of harsh chemicals. It gets good results when it comes to cleaning and deodorizing a dirty microwave.

  1. Place two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl
  2. Add in a cup of water
  3. Microwave the solution for 3 minutes
  4.  Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave with a piece of cloth of paper towel.

The baking soda will absorb the odor while the steam loosens the hardened foods. It also removes oil stains from the wall of the microwave.

Alternatively, you can make a solution with one-quarter of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Dip a sponge in the solution and use it to scrub the interior of the microwave.

How to Clean Microwave Vents and Filter

Most of the time we clean the interior and outside of the microwave and forget the vents. Heating greasy foods and oily liquids can cause the exhaust vents to clog. This reduces the efficiency of your microwave, making regular cleaning very necessary.

  1. Wipe off any surface grease with a clean cloth
  2. Dampen a cloth with white vinegar and wring out the excess
  3. Use the soaked cloth to wipe surface grease and poke the edges of the cloth between the vent spaces until clean
  4. Use a clean cloth dampened with warm water to wipe any vinegar residue

Simple Hacks to Keep a Microwave Clean

Cleaning your microwave is easy. But, you can make it even easier by following these simple hacks that prevent the buildup of dirt.

  • Cover food loosely when heating it in a microwave to prevent spills.
  • Wipe down your microwave daily. This tip prevents the buildup of dirt.
  • It is best to clean up spills in your microwave right away.
  • Clean your microwave at least twice a month.
  • Always leave the microwave door open for a few minutes to allow it to air dry.
  • Leave a dish of vinegar in the microwave overnight to get rid of stubborn odors.

Over to you. How often do you clean your microwave? Daily? Once a week? Or once a month? From my experience, you should do daily wiping and then deep clean with steam and vinegar at least once a week.

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One Comment

  1. Hi there, great post! I did have a question though I think you could answer. Do you have a favorite cleaner for granite countertops? I just purchased a old house and the kitchen is filthy! Any help you could provide is greatly appreciated!

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