Saturday, June 30, 2012

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.

clean 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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244 thoughts on “How To Clean and *SHINE* Your Microwave Without Cleaner!

  1. vicki dutcher

    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!

  2. Shelley

    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!

    1. Jillee Post author

      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

    2. shell_belle

      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) :)

    1. PJ

      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.

    2. CAthy

      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.

  3. ~joanne

    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

  4. Jaye

    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.

    1. Jillee Post author

      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!!!!

      1. Noyna

        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!!

    2. Faith

      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.

  5. *Paula*

    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.

      1. Hayley

        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.

  6. Kay Chambers

    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.

  7. Jamie

    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!


    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!

    1. Jillee Post author

      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. :-)

      1. Darlene in North GA

        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!)

        1. Tam

          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

  9. Becky

    You are my hero. YOU SHOWED YOUR DIRT!!! I really REALLY appreciate your… realness. It’s so good to get great tips from someone who has the same real issues I do, and doesn’t sugar coat things! Thank you!!

    1. Jillee Post author

      Thanks Becky! I think I needed to hear that. lol. Cuz I was just looking at the pictures thinking… GROSS! Did I really just show that to everyone????? :-) Ahhh well…..isn’t the first time I’ve humiliated myself in the name of household science…and I’m sure it won’t be the last! (Much to the hubster’s dismay!) ;-)

  10. Billie

    Here is a tip I learned in my business class ( I know a hell of a place to learn this )!! Take a large spray bottle and pour in have a bottle of rubbing alcohol 1-2 tsp of Dawn and fill with water…. you now have your own “Windex”. I use it on everything….. and it does give you that “SHINE” you are wanting!!!! Hope this helps!!

  11. Loui♥

    I’ve always used a cut lemon in a shallow dish of water to clean the inside of my microwave.
    same principle as the vinegar..
    it is the steam which loosens the cooking splatters/crud…
    simply wipe and toss..
    plus the smell is NICE!

  12. Ayshela

    And here’s one for baking soda – I always used a tablespoon of baking soda in hot water enough to dissolve it (I measure so carefully when I’m in a hurry… LOL) and boil that in the microwave. Leave it sit for a few minutes, wipe clean, and enjoy a clean/deodorized microwave. =) Many options – since it’s the steam that’s really doing the job you can tailor the “add-in” to do what you need. Though I admit that since my kids no longer live at home I have to do this much less often. :D

  13. Deanna

    A quick tip on the rubbing alcohol – some drugstores have a mint rubbing alcohol and it smells so much better. Only store purchase window cleaner that even comes close to rubbing alcohol is Sparkle.

  14. Alayna

    I just boil about a cup of water in the microwave and let it sit for 5 minutes. And then I make jello jigglers for the kids with the hot water.

  15. Kath

    To get the same results, with a heavenly smell, replace the vinegar with lemon juice.
    And my cleaner of choice for years and years (learned from someone who cleaned at the Hotel Utah) is equal parts water, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol. Cleans and shines!

  16. Wendy

    I just tried cleaning my microwave with your tip and recipe. I don’t know, but it made a mess. I had the 2cups of liquid in the measuring cup to start. When I was done there was only about 1/2cup and a pool of liquid in my microwave I had to mop up. Is this normal?

    1. Misti

      I just had the exact same problem!!! It was a complete mess though I have to admit that it did clean the inside really well. lol I’m wondering if maybe our microwaves are on a higher voltage and we need to put it in for less time?

      1. Melissa

        The same thing just happened to me!! I used a 2 cup measure and put it if for 10 minutes after 7:30 the door popped open and my kitchen is covered in vinegar and water :( It did clean the microwave but of course this was the last thing I did in the kitchen. Now off to clean down the range and floor…again!! UGH!

        1. Beth

          I did 5 minutes but when it went off I was busy cleaning my counters and let it sit so I thought “I’ll just turn it back on for 2 minutes” and a minute it, pop! Door flew open, water/vinegar went everywhere! Even worse was that I have an over the oven microwave and I was standing there in front of it cleaning the range. I got showered with hot water all down my head, back, arms and kitchen! Be very careful. On a positive note, I was the easiest darn microwave to clean, hehe!!!

        2. MRM

          OMG – I did the same thing. Set it for 10 minutes & went upstairs to bring my twins down for snack time. Hubby & I just walked downstairs with the boys and BLAM!!! The microwave door flew open and the water and vinegar went flying all over my stove and kitchen floor. The kitchen smelled like dirty feet, I had a mess to clean up, and my husband swore that I blew up the whole microwave! One I convinced my husband that the microwave still works, he said “there are 2 minutes left on the microwave – it blew open at 8 minutes, so, next time set it for 7 minutes”LOL

          1. Susan

            Ouch. Same thing just happened to me, only I was standing right in front of the microwave. I am now nursing some painful burns on my arms. ): I’m just grateful my face was turned the other way and the kids weren’t in the room. Please be careful!!!

  17. Jody

    I have never heard of using alcohol to shine anything. My microwave is an above-the-range style with a exhaust fan built in and so it gets a lot of grease on the front/top/sides of it. Even with a good cleaning, it still seems smudgy. I’m hoping the alcohol shiner works for me!


  18. Amanda

    I found your blog a few weeks ago! I’m already well on my way to making homemade detergent. I felt compelled to comment on this post. I’m a science teacher. I just wanted to tell everyone to put a wooden skewer in that water before hitting the “ON” button. Water boiling needs some sort of rough surface to attach to. Ever notice those tiny little bubbles at the bottom of your pot of water? They are adhering to the rough surface. If the water cannot form bubbles, it will wait for you to disrupt the chain. Causing hot, boiling water to burn your skin. So please, all it takes is a wooden skewer. Thanks for all your lovely ideas!

    1. Ashley

      Thank you for pointing this out! My best friend took a mug of boiling water out of her microwave and it exploded on her face, giving her 2nd degree burns. Please everyone, be very cautious with this and use the wooded skewer :)

    2. Kimberley

      Amanda, I am so glad you said this. I was going to say the same thing. That is a warning that should be placed prominently within the blog entry itself. You might end up saving someone a bad burn or even blindness. I like this blog and I’ll be back!

  19. Peta

    Thank you for all your great ideas. I read them with avid anticipation. I have a suggestion. I have found a cup of water with a slice of lemon will always do the job of cleaning a microwave, plus you get a fresh smell of lemon. Microwave for 3 minutes & leave to stand, sometimes till you forget. Remove bowl, wipe out. Voila, every time.

  20. Carla

    I bought my daughter one of those steam cleaners for Christmas and it was the best cleaning investment I have ever made. She has three kids 4 mos. 2 and 9 so she is a busy mom and having this steam cleaner has made a big difference in the time spent cleaning. It works on everything! You can even clean your toilet or your stove top as well as floors, windows, blinds and steams your clothes! She never has to buy any type of chemical cleaners and the steam sanitizes. I loved it so much that I bought myself one too and used it on the granite in the kitchen it was awesome.
    So, if anyone has ever wondered about the steam cleaners they advertise we love ours. I bought the H20 brand but I am not sure if it is any better or worse then any other all I know is I love it. The one I bought came with all attachments too.

  21. Kathy

    Wow! What a great tip for cleaning the microwave! I have a Jen Air microwave/convection with a stainless interior. The interior back has holes – and, duh, I thought it was rust……… but it’s stainless as well and what I was seeing was grease – was being the key word. I was so embarrassed but so happy to have found your cleaning tip! Just found your site a couple of months ago and have already incorporated many of your tips into my house cleaning! Thanks so much! Keep those tips coming Jillee :)

    1. Lynn


      I was so glad to see someone else has a Jenn Air microwave with a stainless steel inside. I’ve had it less than 2 years and within a few months of purchasing it the sides had grease stains, and still do. I have always used just a wet towel and microwaved it for a minute or 2 and it wiped completely clean. However, that is not working with the stainless steel in my Jenn Air microwave. I will try the vinegar and water and see if that helps. I tried baking soda and vinegar and made a paste out of it and I guess I got the mixture insided the holes on the sides and it was blowing out baking soda for quite a long time…months actually, and didn’t get the stains off to boot.

      Do you have any of their other appliances? We have the whole set, microwave, diswasher, stove and fridge. They are very pretty but a big pain to keep clean. I was trying to get the grates on the oven clean and tried just about everything, probably left the soft soap one on for too long and looks like it really discolored it, so….I got out the olive oil and with just a few drops, they are now looking good as new. The grates are made of cast iron with porcelain, I think, my husband says they are just cast iron, which would explain why the olive oil worked so well.

  22. Debbie

    Hi Jillee, I have never heard of alcohol for cleaning before. OMG I am so going to be trying this. I love things to shine as well. Cleaning the microwave is easy, but am hoping this will work on my flattop stove. I just found your site and I know I will be checking in on it at least onece a day a day now. You are amazing.

  23. Jessi

    I actually take a cheap wash rag and soak it in hot water and vinegar and then microwave it for about a minute and then let it sit until it is just cool enough to touch. Then, wipe out the microwave with the rag. Saves a step and a dish. I’ve never had to scrub, either.

  24. Frenchie

    Hi, I’m wondering if you’ve done a post on ovens…i hate doing them b/c i cough so much spraying the oven cleaner in there. Thanks for the tip of the alcohol to create a shine. I love the look on our black appliances too :)

  25. Paige Anselment

    I’ve been using this for a while but I just wanted to throw out a warning. Putting in just the container, especially if it’s a pyrex or other smooth bottom glass container (smooth on the inside) could cause a superheated solution and a resulting (small) explosion. I could put on my teacher hat and get technical, but basically it’s because the surface tension on the surface is too great for the bubbles to escape out the top of the liquid. This risk is greater if you just sit the container in the microwave not on the turntable (and therefore the liquid is not being agitated), and/or if your microwave heats the solution up quickly. It is rare, however, it’s enough of a possibility that I have heard a loud BANG and walked into my kitchen to find my pyrex container cracked on the ground and vinegar all over my kitchen =) (and I knew better, I can be such a dunce sometimes). The best way to avoid this is by putting something that floats in the container, to help agitate the solution and break the surface tension. You could also put a little bit of salt in the container. Something as small as a piece of plastic straw cut to just short of the diameter of your container should do the trick!

    1. Sally

      I just had an explosion in my microwave following this tutorial! Wish I had read this first. I was very lucky that no one was injured. I will be more observant, careful, and try his trick next time.

      My microwave is clean….my pants are not.

      1. Kathleen

        I also had an explosion after using this tutorial. I was standing by the sink washing some dishes and the microwave oven door flew open, and the pyrex cup shot out and landed on the floor. Luckily, no one else was around. My microwave was very clean, but I would definitely use the safety tip if I were to repeat the process!

        1. Cindy

          I just cleaned my microwave with this method. But I was concerned about leaving the water/vinegar boiling for 10 minutes because of the threat of explosion. So I left it in for about 4 minutes, then turned it off and left the water/vinegar sit in the microwave for 5 or so minutes. The stuck on food wiped right out.

      1. Joy

        Sometimes microwaves “over heat” when set for to long (particularly if no adequate air flow around it). Give it time to cool down..and make sure to pull it away from the wall to let air circulate around it, then try turning it on again. My daughter has issues like this with her microwave sometimes.

      2. Beth

        My microwave is broken as a result of this cleaning method as well. The explosion blew the door open and now the connections that tell the microwave that the door is secure are not lining up correctly so I have a (not even clean!!!) microwave that will have to be thrown out and replaced. Brand new $500 appliance, too! Thanks so much!!!

  26. Kimberly

    Thank you for letting your microwave get dirty so we could see the difference. ;) Now, you won’t have to see how bad mine is with this new great tip you just shared. :) Thank you!

  27. Amy T

    I use method to clean my microwave and love it. I only put the power on for 2-5 minutes, 10 minutes seems so long, but the less time is just as effective.

    Question on the shine method. Have you tested this on stainless appliances, or anyone?

  28. sally O

    I love you and all your wonderful ideas. You’re the Best! 2 things I would enjoy some of your insight on are: Cleaning / de-staining my kitchen sink; you know the one that is in all the design magazines; the big white porcelan with the bib front. The other area I need help with is my car; making it shine and any great ideas on the carpet / seats / tires….etc.
    Thank you for all your inspiration!

  29. Naemi

    Do you know the best- smelling- microwave- cleaning- tip ever? :)

    Just slice some lemons, put them with water in a microwave-safe bowl and put that for 2 minutes in your microwave. Smells great and loosens all fat and dirt in it, you just have to wipe it clean. I love it!

  30. kim

    Don’t feel bad, I just learned this trick a few months ago. And to be extra frugal, use the vinegar in the dishwasher after you’ve cleaned the micro… (or use straight vinegar and use it to make the magic tub cleaner) No need to pour perfectly good hot vinegar down the drain.

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  32. Tamsyn

    I heat a shallow dish with water and vanilla extract for 2 minutes in the microwave, and use a cloth or sponge in the solution for the tougher bits. It makes my house smell like cookies! :)

  33. Elizabeth Bell

    I just did the microwave trick as I read it on Pinterest and it really worked! Thanks because I HATE scrubbing the microwave!

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  35. Rachel

    Ten minutes is waaay too long! I tried it and it blew the microwave door open and splashed me with boiling liquid. Now that the left side of my face and shoulder are burned, I will never be doing this again.

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  37. Ashley

    YIKES! I followed these steps and my microwave door blew open and exploded everywhere, what a mess to clean up!! I dont know why I got such dif. results!? :(

  38. Chelsea

    I just tried this trick and it only cleaned the roof of my microwave from the condensation. How do I get it to clean the rest of the microwave?

  39. Michelle

    Please watch and moderate this – my oven door blew open and scalding water blew everywhere I’m glad I wasn’t standing there or that the glass didn’t shatter. Maybe just watch until the solution boils a bit then see if it will wipe off. It did steam but it was too much and I’m now scared I ruined my microwave. The concept works I’m just suggesting caution.

    1. alittleaboutalot

      this just happened to me and i am scared i ruined my microwave. i’ve googled everything and have read many incidents of blow ups but no one wrote what happened with their microwave after. i tried turning it on and there was a lot of crackling so i stopped and decided to let it dry out completely. was your microwave ok? i will be so upset if i wrecked my microwave!

    2. alisha

      My door blew open on My microwave trowing Boiling Hot water all over my kitchen LUCKILY no one was in the kitchen at the moment, But needless to say I will not be using this again, Back to the Lemon and water

  40. Cris

    Pinterest brought me here. The greatest thing about pinterest is that it helps someone like me find hidden treasures that are bloggers. Thanks for the hint and I appreciate your photos because they inspired me to try it out. And to think I was only steaming with plain water.


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