How To Clean and *SHINE* Your Microwave Without Cleaner!


This is one of those ideas I have gone back and forth on whether I should post.

First of all….I feel like EVERYONE already knows this “trick” to cleaning the microwave. I’ve been doing it for YEARS.

However, I didn’t discover it until I had been married for several years and had cleaned the microwave COUNTLESS times the “hard way”. And it really IS a super EASY and EFFECTIVE way to accomplish one of my LEAST favorite kitchen cleaning duties!

So….I would HATE for anyone to suffer needlessly because they just happened to have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard of this! ;-)

And then there’s the ADDITIONAL concern that ONCE AGAIN I must display my dirt to the world. I fear you’ll all think I’m a TERRIBLE housekeeper!

This, my friends, is the type of “mental torture” I put myself through for you people! lol.

Well, obviously I decided that showing you my dirty microwave “served the greater good”….because there you are, looking at it on your computer (or phone, or whatever) right now. *sigh*

I do feel compelled to tell you though, my microwave rarely looks THIS bad. I let it go extra long between cleanings so if I DID decide to do a post on it….you could see a marked difference. I think I succeeded. ;-)

clean your microwave

Wow. Good thing my microwave sits on a counter and I don’t normally SEE the “roof” of it. YIKES!

OK…now that I’m committed to posting this…here we go.

How to clean your microwave in 3 SUPER EASY steps:

clean your microwave
clean your microwave

  • Pour one cup vinegar (into a 2-cup measuring cup or bowl) then add one cup of hot water to that.
  • Place measuring cup (or bowl) in the microwave, set your timer for approximately 10 minutes and turn it on.
  • After 5-10 minutes (this will depend on how powerful your microwave is)…CAREFULLY remove the cup with the HOT liquid (use an oven mitt!) and wipe out the inside with a wet rag.

A Caution:  If you’re worried about explosions over superheated liquid, you can virtually eliminate the possibility of it happening to you by simply leaving some non-metallic object (such as a wooden spoon or stir stick) in the cup or bowl when you boil liquids in your microwave. It may not be necessary, but it won’t hurt anything either.  Safety first!  Thanks Owen! :-)

You have effectively just “steam cleaned” the inside of your microwave.

But that’s not all!

(HELP! I’m turning into an infomercial!) I have a BONUS cleaning tip for you today…that goes hand-in-hand with the “cleaning the microwave trick”.

Earlier this week I posted a homemade granite cleaner recipe that contained rubbing alcohol. In the comments section of the post…Deb said she’s been using JUST rubbing alcohol for years to clean pretty much EVERYTHING in her kitchen AND bathrooms. As a matter of fact, she just attaches a spray nozzle to the rubbing alcohol bottle itself and goes to town. I had never heard of this before…so I, of course, had to try it out.

To be honest, after trying it on several surfaces in my kitchen, I was less than thrilled with its’ ability to “clean” (I’m still a firm believer in 1/2 water, 1/2 ammonia)…but what I WAS thrilled with was the SHINE it gave everything! It had been so long since I had actually seen my appliances SHINE…I kind of forgot they originally WERE shiny!

So today after I CLEANED the microwave…I gave it the “shine treatment” with just a few sprays of some rubbing alcohol and a clean, dry cloth.

WOW! Look at that baby SHINE! Our microwave hasn’t shined like that in a VERY long time. It literally looks like new.

clean your microwave

clean your microwave

How about that?? A CLEAN and SHINY microwave without having to bust out a single bottle of “cleaner”.  I guess this was worth posting about afterall. :-)

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  1. says

    I’ve been using this method forever but I must point out that since the steam comes from just the surface of the boiling water/vinegar, there is no need to use that much. A flatter bowl with about a half-cup total liquid is plenty–Bring it to a good boil and leave it for five-ten minutes, then just wipe out the microwave. For a quick clean-up, I saturate my kitchen sponge and microwave that for about two minutes (which sterilizes it!) and then after a few more minutes, wipe down the insides. No reason to ever have either a dirty microwave OR a germy sponge. I also usually stick the glass microwave tray into the dishwasher when I run it, so it is always clean. Happy one-year blogiversary and thanks for your steady stream of tips and good cheer!

    • says

      Good tips jenny! thx!

      If my boys are home when I do this…I usually leave the vinegar out altogether and just use water because they COMPLAIN SO MUCH about the smell! Wimps! ;-) I would be hard-pressed to be able to tell the difference.

      thanks for the well wishes. :-)

      • says

        As “punishment” for not using a cover nor wiping up after making a mess, I vote that they get to smell the vinegar. Enough times and they might “remember” to use cover/wipe up. And when they complain about the smell, I would let them know WHY they got to smell the vinegar. It might make a good reminder to them that there are no “house-elves” living at your house and that they need to be considerate of you – so that they will then also be considerate of their future spouse. lol

        I know, I’m a mean mom. When my kids would “forget” and drop paper wrappers on the FLOOR, they got to run through the house TEN TIMES from different rooms, pretending to throw away trash. Didn’t take too many times for them to realize it just wasn’t “worth it” to drop the wrappers on the floor. Leave the front door open? 10 times through the house opening and closing the door. (GA heat and humidity = very high electric bill when you’re cooling the great out-of-doors!)

      • Tam says

        Darlene…your my hero! lol I am with ya all the way…wish I would have thought of it when my son was young, but now I can do it with my grandson…but have to say….he is much neater than his dad ever was lmao

      • Ana Ng says

        Awesome on let them smell vinegar till they figure it out. Too many parents bowing to the young’uns. Take The Lead!

      • Louise Awalt says

        Actually the steam off the vinegar smell also helps headaches. I use it all the time instead of pills.

      • Shelby says

        To eliminate the nasty vinegar smell use lemon juice instead. It works just as well and smells sooo much better.

  2. Jamie says

    I “accidentally” discovered this trick while making the “Shower Magic” cleaner! Save some time and clean your microwave while you make shower cleaner! Thanks for all of your super creative tips! You are awesome!

  3. Kay Chambers says

    I didn’t know this! I must have been living under a rock! Lol!! I will be trying this the next time I clean my microwave! And I didn’t know that about the alcohol either. I will have to try that too.

  4. says

    I did not know this trick either! Also, I’m curious to see if this will work with my toaster oven, because that is gross too! Thanks for the tips! ~Amanda

  5. *Paula* says

    I have been using my homemade glass cleaner to shine my appliances after a thorough cleaning. It has both ammonia and alcohol and works great. Recipe: 1/2 gallon water, 1/2 t. dishwashing liquid, 1/4 c. ammonia, 1/2 pint alcohol. (optional blue food coloring if you want it to look like Windex) Pour in spray bottle and you have glass cleaner for a fraction of the cost of regular glass cleaner.

      • Hayley says

        After you use the spray, do you just wipe it off with a dry rag/microfiber cloth or do you use a moist one? I’m still new to this sort of stuff, so I’m not quite sure how it all works yet. I should start a “cleaning tips” binder like another reader had mentioned.

      • Nikki Clark says

        I clean houses for a living and I have been looking through all of your posts for some new ideas (it’s a sickness!)…..when I clean a REALLY bad microwave, I wet a rag and then put it in the micro for one minute, this softens the debris to be wiped right out. Then after I get it all cleaned, I shine it up with a moist sponge dabbed with lemon oil. Then I use a dry soft cloth and buff to shiny perfection. It’s kind of labor intensive, but the results are optimal. I polish everything in the kitchen with lemon oil ! you always have to go back over everything with a dry cloth to remove any excess oil, but it leaves appliances and even countertops smooth and shiny!

  6. Jaye says

    Jillee – My big question is…why do people use my microwave without covering what they are heating or wipe up the spills after the fact?????? I just don’t understand! If they did, I wouldn’t even have to worry about how to clean my microwave….or counters…..or cabinets….or oven…..
    Okay, enough ranting. Obviously I have issues with my kids. :-)

    Love, love, love your posts and tips. I have a friend who uses an alcohol mixture to clean her laminate flooring. She says it’s the only thing that cleans and doesn’t leave a nasty film.

    • says

      Jaye! I completely agree! If I could find a way to get my kids (and the hubster) to do that……well… can dream. ;-)

      I posted a picture on Instagram the other day of all the used q-tips laying on the bathroom floor RIGHT NEXT TO THE TRASH CAN with the caption “I don’t get it.” It was funny how many WOMEN responded to that! LOL! We are not alone!!!!

      • says

        And here I thought it was just my kids who leave the q-tips on the floor next to the garbage can. I am sure when they get their own house the q-tips will end up in the garbage can.

      • Noyna says

        Thanks for the microwave cleaning tip and I just had to reply because I have two boys and a hubby and I do the same things….I sit there and ponder…with that same phrase all the time “I don’t get it” lol….I keep telling myself one day the will know what we suffered when they have to clean up after themselves!!! Thanks again!!

    • Faith says

      My dumb family does it all the time inspite of my telling them,put signs up. If I could stand on my head and they do it, I would…lol. Just plain lazy because they don’t clean.

    • Madeline says

      I agree, my microwave rarely gets dirty, because after every use I take a wet dishcloth and wipe it down. I also cover most everything so it does not splatter. Of course, occasionally someone forgets to do that!

  7. ~joanne says

    1st of all…I didn’t know of that trick…so thanks for posting!
    2nd… last time I cleaned my microwave, I used my dusting rag to put a thin layer of polish on the interior. (I did not spray any directly on the walls…I only used what was on the rag already!)

    Just a thought

  8. Shelley says

    Also, why not just put alcohol into the amonia and water for clean AND shine. Let me know if that would work!

    • PJ says

      I would be very careful with ammonia and any other cleaner because of chemical reactions. You cannot mix bleach and ammonia because it gives off harmful fumes.

      • Tracey says

        My daughters Mother-in-law got her asthma this way you really need to be careful and always ventilate well.

      • says

        Years ago I did that to clean my floors mix bleach with ammonia bad No idea the fumes where so harmful had to open my windows for air . since that day I’ve lost my sense of smell and cant smell nothing notv even a dead skunk.. so never mix ammonia with any other dangerous…

    • Ivorie says

      I would not dare advise that, that’s dangerous! Ammonia can’t be mixed with things like that

    • CAthy says

      This works VERY well and is completely safe. I use this mixture often to clean grease and shine in my kitchen. In fact, I always have a spray bottle with it. I have safely used this recipe for years:

      1 (16 ounce) bottle rubbing alcohol
      1/2 cup sudsy ammonia
      1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, like dawn or joy

      Do not use on wood. Can be safely used on just about anything and everything else. Cuts grease and leaves everything shining and clean.

  9. Shelley says

    Do you just set the timer and leave the hot water and vinegar sit there? Or do you turn the microwave on high for 10 minutes? Seems like that step may be missing as the hot water sitting in there wouldn’t require a mitt to remove. Anyway, thanks for another great tip!

    • says

      Oooops….sorry about that Shelley. Yes, you put the water/vinegar in the microwave and TURN IT ON for 10ish minutes. :-) Sometimes the most obvious things just escape me! lol

    • shell_belle says

      That’s what I was reading through everything trying to figure out, lol — just set the “timer” for 10 mins, or actually heat up for 10 mins, lol — glad I wasn’t the only one! (the oven mitt comment gave me the same idea that you do actually turn it on, but I wanted to make sure) :)

  10. says

    Another “job” well done! Yep, off to clean my nasty looking microwave today~

    BTW – Congrats on your 1 year birthday. You have done an amazing job growing your blog in that short of time! On the other hand -I am glad I FOUND your blog and all your awesome tips and tricks! Thanks for what you do!