How To Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

updated Aug 27, 2022
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Here’s a scenario: You go to nuke your lukewarm coffee, which you forgot about while you were walking the dog/making the kids’ lunch/scrolling on Instagram. You open your microwave door and — eek! — it’s a hot mess in there. There are grease splatters, dried tomato sauce blobs, and you’re not even sure what else. You want a clean microwave, but you also want hot coffee.

The good news: You can have your microwave clean itself while you enjoy your morning treat! You just need some vinegar and water and about 10 minutes and presto, clean-o. Tomorrow Morning You will appreciate Today You!

Why Vinegar Is the Secret to a Clean Microwave

There are actually a few different ways to clean your microwave, but vinegar is an easy (and cheap) way to get the job done without any elbow grease. The reason vinegar works is because it’s acidic. In fact, it’s so acidic — for you science geeks out there, distilled white vinegar has a pH around 2.4. — it needs to be diluted with water.

Vinegar’s acidity allows it to tackle all sorts of yucky messes, including glue residue, soap scum, hard water stains, and whatever that splatter is on the inside of your microwave — especially when combined with steam, which helps soften and loosen the gunk that seems like it’s a permanent fixture.

Ready to get cleaning? Here’s the step-by-step guide.

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Measure the water and the vinegar: Measure about 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

What You’ll Need

  • Small microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup
  • Vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Clean, dry dish towel or cleaning rag


  • Measure the water and the vinegar: Measure about 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl.
  • Microwave for 5 minutes: Place the bowl in the microwave. Microwave on high power for 5 minutes so the liquid comes to a boil.
  • Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes: Do not open the microwave door right away; the steam trapped inside will help loosen food gunk. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the bowl and turntable: Open the door and carefully remove the measuring cup or bowl. If your microwave has a turntable, carefully lift it out as well.
  • Use a sponge to wipe your microwave clean: Wipe the inside of the microwave clean, starting with the ceiling and the sides — and don’t forget the door!
  • Wipe the turntable: If you took it out, wipe down the the turntable with your sponge and put it back in.
  • Use a clean dish towel to give your microwave a final wipe-down. Go over the whole microwave — ceiling, sides, door, turntable — with your dish towel and you’re ready to go!