How to Clean a Microwave

One of the big advantages a microwave has over a conventional oven is that it is so easy to keep clean, especially if you keep food covered when you cook it. But even the most careful of cooks will have a disaster from time to time, and there are always the casual users who 'forget' to put the lid on. The resulting mess is all too often left for someone else to take care of. In a microwave, that's not such a problem. First of all, it's important not to use conventional cleaning agents in a microwave oven.

Traces of them stuck to the sides can create operational problems as well as unpleasant flavors in the food you cook. Fortunately you don't need them. Keeping the cooker clean and fresh is so simple, and so economical, that you will not have any trouble fitting it into your routine once a week. More often if you do happen to have a spill.

All you need to do is put four cups of water (no less) in a glass bowl and add two tablespoons of vinegar. You could also use the juice of a lemon or even two teaspoons of vanilla essence. Put the bowl on the outer edge of your turntable and microwave it on high for 20 minutes. This will create a great deal of steam, which in turn will clean the oven, so be very careful when you open the door. Wait a couple of minutes after the cooking stops before doing so. Be careful handling the bowl.

Although the glass will not be heated by the oven (the microwaves simply pass straight through it) it will be heated by the water it contains. Use a cloth to remove it. All you need to do now is take everything out of the microwave and wipe the inside clean with a sponge or other absorbent material. Pay particular attention to the little square, or squares, that you see inside the oven. These are where the microwaves radiate from and need to be kept clean and clear for the oven to operate properly.

You can wash the turntable and its support (if it has one) in the normal way but rinse it well before drying and replacing it in the oven. Making this a regular operation will not only help to keep your microwave clean and fresh, it will also help to prolong its working life and keep it at the peak of efficiency.

Michael Sheridan is a former head-chef and an acknowledged authority and published writer on cooking matters. His website at contains a wealth of information, hints, tips and recipes for busy home cooks


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