A Safer, Better-Smelling Way To Clean Your Microwave

Several months ago I did a post on How To Clean and Shine Your Microwave. This is how I have been cleaning my microwave for years!

However, there were some readers that were concerned about superheated liquid causing explosions in the microwave (something that is completely avoidable if you follow the directions in the post!), while others simply didn’t like the smell of vinegar.

Well, recently my friend Natali told me how she cleans her microwave, and I, of course, had to give it a try! Guess what? It worked every bit as well as my original method, eliminated any risk of superheated liquid, AND it smelled better too. :-) I was immediately converted to “The Natali Method” and couldn’t wait to share it with all of you.

A few other “pros” of using this method…it’s simple…and completely non-toxic.

Here is what you will need:

Start by getting your sponge wet. You want it completely saturated.

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Place it in the microwave.

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Then fill your spray bottle with a couple of ounces of water and approximately 3-5 drops of lemon essential oil. The ratio is completely up to you. If you want a stronger smell of lemon use more…or less if you want a subtler scent.

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Spray the inside of your microwave with the lemon water. Make sure you spray it all over. Top, bottom, sides. Get it really wet! Then set the timer on the microwave for approximately 2 minutes (this will depend on how powerful your microwave is…2 minutes was just right for mine) and turn it on.

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After the microwave turns off, leave the sponge inside with the door closed until it’s cool enough to handle and then use it to wipe out the inside. You have effectively just “steam-cleaned” your microwave.

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You can also use the same sponge to wipe down the outside of the microwave as well…and anything else in the general vicinity that could use a little touch-up.

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Now your microwave is clean AND fresh-smelling!


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  1. says

    Question for you Jillee or Natali, could real lemon juice be used in the spray bottle with the water instead of the essential oil?

  2. Jesa says

    When I was visiting my family in Wisconsin I noticed every house I went to had a little cover for stuff they microwave.
    When I got back to Oregon I bought 2, one for my mom and one for me.
    I LOVE them, and it keeps my microwave from getting yucky in the first place.

    • Robyn says

      Where did you buy the covers? Can you use them over and over? We use paper towels to cover things in the microwave, but I’m trying to reduce our use of paper towels!

      • CTY says

        I use a pyrex pie plate as my cover; I own two & rarely make two pies at the same time. I find it cleans up well in the dishwasher, plus I already had it. I personally try to avoid plastic anything.

      • kathryn krach says

        I fill a microwave safe bowl about 3/4 full with water, place it in the microwave and cook on high until boiling. This usually takes around three minutes or so. I then let the water cool and wipe out the inside of the oven with papertowels. Voila! Clean as a whistle! The steam from the boiling water loosens all the gunk so all you need to do is wipe it out.

      • Tamsyn says

        I fill a bowl 3/4 with water and add either a dash of vanilla or a dash of lemon juice and cook on high for 2 minutes. The steam cleans the microwave and the vanilla (smells like cookies) or lemon juice (smells like citrus cleaner) makes the kitchen smell nice. For anything that doesn’t easily wipe off my microwave with the first steam clean, I dip a cloth or sponge in the cooked water (carefully) and use that to wipe down the rest of the microwave.

      • Janis says

        I found pyrex lids (8″ and 12″) at the local thrift store for about $1.00 each. The larger one is great for a dinner plate!

      • Wendi says

        I found microwave covers at the local Rite Aid. I’m sure they also have them at the dollar store. And yes, they are great and awfully convenient.

  3. danielle says

    Sharon, I use real lemon juice to clean my microwave. I just dump some on the sponge with water. I’ve also never sprayed down the inside before nuking the sponge. I’ve also done it with the heated water method- a bowl of lemon juice and water. :-)

  4. janice says

    You can microwave a mug of water for 2 minutes. Do not open the the microwave…but let the mug remain in there for 5 to 10 minutes. The condensation that forms inside the oven makes it easy to just wipe it clean.

    • Vicki says

      Yes, I have always just done the microwave a cup of water for 2 minutes and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes way. It works very well, and I could never understand needing vinegar in the water. I also can’t imagine boiling something in my microwave for 10 minutes and then trying to move it right away. By just microwaving it for 2 minutes, then letting it sit, you are not trying to move a boiling cup of water.

    • Kimmy says

      YES! The mug-full-of-water method is by far the best thing I have ever tried. I grew up in a house where EVERYTHING that got microwaved had to have a cover over it. And then you would need to wash the cover, because you wouldn’t want the nasty stuff that got on it the previous time to fall in what you were microwaving. Anyways, it seemed silly to me. I would rather scrub a microwave once a week than wash the cover several times a day. Enter college. Main method of cooking, so as to avoid the nasty cafeteria food, was the microwave. My mom gave me my very own cover! WOOHOO! Not. Donated that thing to the thrift store right away. I would scrub the microwave once a week. I tried many different methods of cleaning it. My favorite was to spray it with diluted vinegar, turn it on for about 30 seconds, then let it sit for a while and wipe it down. My senior year of college, I got a job as an office wench, and of course, it was my responsibility to clean the microwave. One day, my boss came in and was like, “You know what’s easier? Microwave a mug full of water. Let it sit a couple minutes, and wipe it off.” Can I just say, it worked AMAZINGLY well. Everything wipes right off. There’s no “nasty” smell. (I clean everything with vinegar anyways, so I don’t mind it.) No chemicals. No worrying if what you’re putting in there might make you sick. It’s PERFECT. Why try anything else?

  5. Sharon says

    I used to fill a glass bowl with water add 3 squeezed lemons and turned on the microwave for 15 minutes. It worked as well. I then threw the lemons down the garbage disposal to freshen that up as well. i will try this method and use lemon grass EO since that is what I have. Splendid idea!

  6. says

    We have the cover your food in the microwave rule too; it helps to keep it cleaner. That and my dear husband cleans ours, but I’m going to try this. Great post.

  7. Mar says

    I put a mug of cold water with a quirt of lemon juice (the kind in the bottle) in my microwave for 4 minutes.
    Then when it beeps I leave it.
    For a looong time!lol! (Often get occupied doing something else!)
    Then I go back and just wipe it right out.
    The sides etc are damp from the condensation? Evaporation? Whichever And everything just wiped right off.
    I don’t run right away and grab the mug out, because then yes, you could get burned.

  8. Mar says

    I also suppose I should have read the other responses first! Sorry!
    Curious though…could you not use any essential oil that you prefer the smell of?

  9. Judy says

    I too wondered if you could use another oil. I like the smell of lavender better than lemon and would prefer to use it unless it may taint the food taste for awhile after cleaning. Do not want any taste of lavender in my food. I too also cover my food when nuking it, so it does not get very dirty, but this is a splendid idea for cleaning and sanitizing both the micro and the sponge. Thank you.