Microwaves are a hard-working appliance in most kitchens, and they often make life incredibly convenient. From reheating leftovers to making entire meals, they are highly versatile appliances. So, you may be wondering how often you should clean your microwave.
You should clean your microwave after each use and give it a thorough cleaning once a week. The weekly clean takes around ten minutes, while light cleaning after use typically consists of a quick wipe-down. Keeping your microwave clean and germ-free makes food preparation more hygienic.
Many people aren’t aware that they should clean their microwaves regularly. However, if you give it a quick wipe-down after each use, you make things easier for yourself when the time comes to give it its weekly clean.
Cleaning your microwave after each use is essential because it can remove newly-splattered food. This prevents the residue from potentially flavoring or falling into your food the next time you use the microwave. Thankfully, all that’s needed is a quick wipe down with a soft cloth and some gentle cleaner (if you’re in a rush, you can use an antibacterial wipe instead).
This weekly microwave clean helps keep the appliance sanitary and working efficiently. If you allow food splatters to build up, it can block essential parts, making it take longer to heat up food. In fact, some microwave manufacturers won’t honor your warranty if you haven’t kept it reasonably clean.
The best way to clean your microwave thoroughly is to steam a bowl of water and vinegar for a few minutes to loosen any food splatters. You can then give it a quick clean with some antibacterial cleaner and put the glass turntable and its underlying parts into the dishwasher.
In this article, I’ll explain why you need to clean your microwave. I’ll also discuss how often you should do so, and the dangers of not cleaning the appliance frequently enough.
Do I Need To Clean My Microwave?
You need to clean your microwave because you use it to prepare food. Dirty microwaves can contain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which can enter your food and make you ill. Failing to clean your microwave might make it smell and affect the taste of the food you microwave later on.
Foodborne germs (such as Norovirus, Salmonella, and E.Coli) can cause serious food poisoning. This can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases, food poisoning can even put you in the hospital. By keeping kitchen appliances like microwaves clean and sanitary, you can avoid contracting such illnesses.
The inside of a microwave is the area that gets the dirtiest, but its exterior can also look grimy. A dirty microwave can be an eyesore and create embarrassment in your kitchen when you have houseguests.
As you microwave food, condensation forms. This condensation can loosen old food that has been caked onto the inner walls of the microwave. If the food you’re microwaving isn’t covered, the old food can fall off and drop onto your food, which is a disgusting prospect.
The good news is that cleaning your microwave is not time-consuming or complicated. A light clean after each use typically only takes about a minute, while your weekly clean should take around ten minutes (luckily, your microwave does most of the work—more about this below).
Dangers of Not Cleaning My Microwave
Failing to clean a microwave is not ideal, but it will just be dirty, right? Wrong!
The dangers of not cleaning your microwave include dirt, grease, and food build-up, making future cleaning challenging. These factors also increase the risk of the appliance catching fire. Your microwave may also become less efficient, start to smell, or begin to harbor bacteria, fungi, and viruses, making it a health hazard. It can also void your warranty.
I’ll discuss the dangers of not cleaning your microwave in more detail below:
- Makes it challenging to clean your microwave in the future. If you don’t cover your food when microwaving it, it can splatter the walls and harden when it cools. The longer you leave your microwave without cleaning it, the more challenging future cleaning will be. It makes sense to save time by cleaning your microwave regularly!
- Fire hazard. In extreme circumstances, dirt build-up in your microwave can cause the appliance to catch fire. This risk is more common if you have many grease splatters inside the microwave.
- Germ build-up. Each time you microwave something, you leave traces of bacteria, viruses, or fungi from the microwaved food or its container. If left unchecked, these microorganisms can multiply and become a health hazard. Regular cleaning can prevent this.
- Smelly microwave. Food and germ build-up can make your microwave smell, making microwaving food an unpleasant task. For example, if you’ve recently microwaved fish and haven’t cleaned your microwave, you might feel disgusted when you have to microwave a pudding or sweet treat, as it can take on the fish smell.
- Less-efficient microwave. Dirty microwaves can become less efficient and take longer to warm food, making them less convenient. They might also use more power, causing your electricity bill to increase.
- Void your warranty. If your microwave is still under warranty, but you don’t regularly clean it, the warranty may become void if you try to make a claim.
How Often Should I Clean My Microwave?
I’ve discussed why you need to clean your microwave and the dangers of not doing so. So, how often should you clean your microwave?
You should clean your microwave after each use. This involves gently wiping the inner surfaces to remove condensation and any food splatters. Your microwave should be cleaned more thoroughly once a week.
If you don’t use your microwave every day, you may only clean it two or three times a week.
Cleaning your microwave after each use quickly removes any food splatters and condensation, making it more hygienic for the next time you use it. It also helps eliminate food smells that can be unpleasant the next time you open the microwave.
A thorough, weekly clean helps remove food build-up that you may have missed earlier in the week. Using an antibacterial product once a week can also help keep germs at bay so that you can microwave food safely.
Each time you use your microwave’s controls, you leave tiny traces of grease and dirt behind. Over time, this can make your microwave look grimy and dull. A weekly clean involving a wipe-down of the microwave’s exterior helps keep your microwave looking shiny and maintains the look of your kitchen.
How To Clean My Microwave?
Most people own a microwave and use it for cooking many kinds of foods. So, what’s the best way to clean a microwave?
Here’s how to clean a microwave:
- Add two cups (17 fl oz) of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar to a microwavable bowl.
- Microwave the bowl of water on high for five minutes.
- After cooking, keep the door closed for five minutes so the steam can loosen caked-on dirt.
- Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of your microwave.
It doesn’t hurt to clean the microwave’s inner surfaces with an antibacterial wipe or spray to kill all the remaining germs as a final step.
To clean the microwave’s glass plate and loose parts underneath, scrub it separately using regular dishwashing soap, or place it in the dishwasher.
You can use this method for your weekly thorough microwave cleaning. During the rest of the week, and each time after using your microwave, wipe down the inner surfaces. You can do this by spraying some antibacterial cleaner onto a soft cloth (or use an antibacterial wipe if you’re pressed for time).
If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, you can use another cleaning method:
- Gently wipe down your microwave with a non-abrasive household cleaner or bicarbonate of soda.
- To loosen caked-on dirt or stains, fill a microwavable bowl with water and squeeze some lemon juice into it. The lemon juice contains citric acid, which helps break down grease and dirt.
- Microwave the bowl on high for two minutes, then wipe the surface again with an anti-bacterial cleaner.
For a shiny and extra-clean finish, spray a little window cleaner inside the microwave and buff it dry with a soft cloth. Window cleaner is also great at shining the microwave’s outer casing and removing smudges.
Avoid scrubbing your microwave’s inner surfaces as this can leave scratches or damage them.