You've Been Cleaning Your Microwave Wrong This Whole Time

As fun as cooking can be, sometimes it's nice to just nuke leftovers in the microwave and call it a day (though there are some foods you should definitely not reheat in the microwave). But frequent use of this appliance can lead to gross buildup of gunk from past meals, not to mention possible cross-contamination with bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella (via VICE).

To avoid messy situations, you should be cleaning your microwave on a regular basis. While this might seem like yet another chore to add to your list of things to do, the good news is that it's really easy and quick, so it shouldn't take too much time. And the bare minimum you need for the task is a paper towel and soap. It might seem strange or risky to not use something more stringent, but actually, you should stay away from harsh cleaning solutions because chemicals and food are not a safe combination.

How to clean microwave messes

First, fill a bowl with water. If you want some extra cleaning power, you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice — but it's not necessary. Microwave the bowl for about three to four minutes so the inside of the kitchen appliance becomes steamy, and then remove it with an oven mitt. Any dried-up stains and splatters should be softer and looser from the steam and the oil from the lemon. This means you can just take a paper towel and wipe all the buildup off (via Cosmopolitan).

This first method should work to get the bulk of your messes out, but if you find that there's gunk sticking around, there's another method to try. For more stubborn messes, you'll have to break out a few more supplies, but it's not that much harder than the other method, and you'll probably have more successes if the first try didn't get you the results you wanted.

For microwave messes that are a little more stubborn

To conquer stuck-on, hardened goo, combine 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle and spray the mixture inside the microwave. Alternatively, you can just treat the problem areas with the mixture if you don't have a spray bottle. Let the soapy water sit for a couple of minutes, and then wipe it off. If something is still sticking, you can scrub it down with a tough sponge or even scrape it off with anything suitable, like a butter knife or even an old credit card.

No luck? Then, turn the microwave on for a few minutes with a damp towel over the mess. The extra concentrated steam should help it loosen. If that still doesn't work, then you can make a paste of equal parts dish soap and baking soda. Apply the mixture to the spot, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then scrub it off with a sponge (or that butter knife you used). Be sure to wipe down with a damp paper towel or cloth afterward so you clean up any remaining residue — easy-peasy, and no harsh chemicals needed.