You're Probably Forgetting To Clean Your Microwave Filter

If you're like most Americans, the microwave is an essential part of your kitchen. From heating leftovers to quickening the cooking process, the microwave has a lot of perks. While you're probably familiar with how to use your microwave, you might not be as aware of how to clean it properly. But as with any machine, you need to.

According to a survey done by Oliver's Kitchen, 82% of people surveyed admitted to never cleaning their microwaves. If you can relate, it might mean the microwave is the dirtiest thing in your kitchen. You should be wiping this machine down at least once a week, or more if it needs it. But one spot we're almost sure you're missing out on is your microwave's grease filter. 

If you've never heard of it before, you aren't alone. These important filters sit on the bottom of all over-the-range microwaves and are essential to the cooking process. While the flimsy metal sheets don't look like much, they have the important job of collecting all of the grease and other food debris from entering your microwave, preventing it from collecting in the appliance's exhaust fan. And that's not the only filter your microwave may have, as many contain an additional charcoal filter that needs to be taken care of separately.

How to clean your microwave's grease filter

You should be cleaning your microwave's grease filter out at least once a month according to the manufacturer's instructions.For most appliances, submerging the filter in warm, soapy water in your kitchen sink is the ideal way to clean it. To do this, you should be able to gently slide the filter out from under your microwave without the help of any tools. Place the filter in your sink and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. After it has this time to soak, gently scrub off any remaining grime until the filter looks clean. If it's especially dirty and the grime won't scrub off, you can try adding some baking soda to the water and restarting the cleaning process. After the filter is totally clean, dry it with a towel and insert back into its rightful place. 

The charcoal filter sits on top of your microwave and exists to trap microwave odors. Unfortunately, unlike the grease filter, you can only ever replace these, not clean them. You should change your microwave's charcoal filter about every six months or when you start to notice food smells lingering in your kitchen.

A few other microwave cleaning tips

Most over-the-range microwaves last between four and 10 years, but that of course depends on how well you take care of it. If you use your microwave often, you should be performing regular maintenance on the appliance to make ensure it stays in proper working order.

First, make sure to clean up spills as soon as they happen. If you find that the inside of your microwave is looking a little worse for wear, fill a microwave-safe bowl with some water and a few lemon slices, and then stick the bowl in your microwave and let it cook until the mixture boils and steam fills the inside of the appliance. (This usually only takes a few minutes.) Leave the bowl inside your microwave after it's done steaming for a few more minutes, then remove it. Wipe everything down inside the machine and voila! Your microwave should be left with fewer stains and smelling new. You can also easily clean your microwave's turntable by sticking it in the dishwasher. 

If you want to avoid shelling out more money for repairs, avoid dangerous habits like microwaving nothing or slamming the door. It's also important you use the fan when cooking on the stovetop to prevent moisture from gathering on the surface. And, of course, never forget to clean that grease filter to help your microwave cook food effortlessly.