We love our microwaves; they steam our frozen vegetables, warm up our hot chocolate, and reheat leftovers in seconds flat. They are one of those appliances that you don't realize your dependence on until you don't have one. When my old roommate moved out and took her microwave with her, I pulled my leftover lasagna out of the fridge and just stared blankly at the empty spot on the counter where the microwave used to be. What… but how do I… huh?
A favorite appliance of many home cooks, a microwave does require a bit of upkeep: namely, cleaning. No matter how fastidious you are (Didn't I clean the microwave last year?) these quick-cookers always manage to collect an alarming amount of messy gunk and weird Hot Pocket smells — even if you don't eat Hot Pockets.
Obviously, the best way to keep your microwave clean is to wipe it down after each spill or pasta sauce explosion, but that's not always feasible, especially when you share it with family or roommates. Here's a simple, step-by-step guide to cleaning and deodorizing your microwave, and no, it doesn't involve dynamite.
Take a wet sponge or rag and wipe out any loose crumbs.
Add two tablespoons of baking soda to a microwave-safe bowl and then mix in a cup of water.
Microwave the bowl on high for four minutes. As the water comes to a soft boil, the steam will loosen the gook on the walls and the baking soda will put the kibosh on any odors reminiscent of unfortunate, mouth-scalding, late-night food choices. You can also substitute lemon juice for the baking soda if you want a citrusy deodorizing effect. Both options are eco-friendly and much safer than using harsh chemicals to clean the areas where you cook your food. No one wants that.
Let the bowl sit in the microwave and steam for two minutes after the timer stops to really loosen up that cooked-on mess.
Pop the door open and carefully remove the hot bowl along with the turntable plate and roller element, if your microwave has them. Take your moist sponge and wipe the inside of the microwave; you'll be surprised how easy it is to clean. Use the sponge's scrubbing side if there are any remaining stubborn spots.
If you have a turntable tray, wash it with warm, soapy water like you would a normal dish. Go ahead and wash the plastic roller piece while you're at it. Then, dry them completely and place them back in the microwave.
Lastly, wipe down the exterior. Use a glass cleaner for a streak-free shine on the door and don't forget the keypad.
What other super easy tips do you have for cleaning around the kitchen?
Sarah Kellner writes for Home Depot on a range of DIY topics, from organizing your home to unique ways to clean your appliances, including her tips on microwaves. You can find a selection of microwaves available online at Home Depot here.