How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Microwave?

We all know it's tempting to order DoorDash for the third day in a row; after all, it's been a tough week at work, and who has time to prepare a home-cooked meal and still squeeze in 4 more episodes before bed? But before you order take out, check those groceries you picked up at the farmer's market last Sunday and see what you can throw together in the microwave. 

Whether you're thawing a frozen dinner you found in the back of your freezer or reheating delicious leftovers to enjoy for a second (or third) time, your microwave has got you covered. Almost 27 million consumers in America use their microwave as an everyday staple in their kitchen, according to House Beautiful. From oatmeal to baked potatoes, microwaves are a convenient appliance that can prepare food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between. With all that use, it's bound to get dirty. But how often does it actually need to be cleaned? 

Once that microwave door is closed, it's out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Those week-old stains won't remove themselves, and frequent cleanings can prevent bacteria from forming and exposing your food to toxins. 

You should clean your microwave weekly

Even with the rise of innovative kitchen gadgets like the air fryer, microwaves have remained a reliable appliance for a quick and easy meal. Just like anything that we interact with daily, microwaves can start to get messy quickly. Cleaning extraordinaire Elena Ledoux told Martha Stewart, "Microwaves should be cleaned at least once a week, depending on the frequency of use." 

For those of us who rely on our handy dandy microwave to heat up a plate of pizza rolls on a lazy Sunday or our gourmet leftovers after a night on the town, a once-a-week cleaning is most likely just what your microwave needs. We know that no one wants any extra chores to do, but neglecting to clean your microwave can make your food unsafe to eat. Apartment Guide debunked the theory that the heat from your microwave makes it self-cleaning; food spills and little messes can turn into big hotspots for bugs and bacteria. Make sure you wipe down your microwave if any spills occur, and add it on your list of spots to clean during your weekly chore cycle. 

Clean your microwave without breaking a sweat

ProLine Range Hoods shares their easy method for cleaning your microwave: Simply combine water and lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the bowl for five minutes. Once that's done, remove the bowl and wipe the inside your microwave down with a paper towel. This will leave your trusty appliance looking shiny and new, and will smell fresh all week (or until next time you heat up leftover spaghetti). If you find you have tough spills and stains that need more elbow grease to get out, you might need a stronger clean than the lemon-water hack. But before you grab the all-purpose cleaner, Maid For You warns to be careful with cleaning products since you use the microwave to prep food. Cleaning with non-toxic cleaners and natural alternatives is the best way to practice safe food preparation.

Bon Appetit shares their easy, cost-effective way to clean tough stains without toxic chemicals, and their secret ingredient? White vinegar! The acidity in vinegar breaks down grease and stains from leftovers past, and it won't leave behind toxins for future microwave dinners like other cleaners may. So if you can't find any lemons in the back of your fridge, or your microwave needs a more thorough scrub after the many breakfast burritos and leftover chili it's seen this week, add vinegar to your bowl of water during your weekly clean, and keep your favorite appliance safe and squeaky clean!