Microwave messes are some of the easiest to make and the hardest to clean up. Because microwaves are so versatile, we use them — and make splatters in them — all the time. If you use the microwave again before cleaning them up, the splatters practically turn into part of the finish. But don’t worry — by using these easy cleaning tips, you can get your microwave looking as good as new again.
Microwaves work by using radio waves to vibrate the molecules inside your food faster. Faster vibrating molecules make for hotter materials. When this happens to water, it becomes so hot it turns into steam, which is why the spaghetti sauce splattered on the side of the inside of your microwave is so stubborn. Every time you use your microwave, it boils all the moisture out of that little splatter, turning it rock hard and leaving it firmly attached to your microwave’s finish. This is also why adding a cup of water to the microwave can make reheated pizza taste better.
But you can use the steam-generating power of your microwave to clean with, too. Start by filling a microwave-safe bowl halfway with water and filling it the rest of the way with white vinegar, one of the most versatile green cleaners. Put a wooden spoon in the bowl to prevent the mixture from getting “superheated,” which happens when water in a still container gets heated past its boiling point. (When the superheated water is disturbed, it can cause sudden and explosive boiling.) Microwave your bowl filled with the solution and wooden spoon for on high for five minutes.
This will spread the cleaning mixture around your microwave and loosen baked-on splatter and food scraps. After the cleaning mix is done cooking, let it cool in the microwave for a bit before removing with pot holders. The bowl and its contents will be very hot. Then you can get to work on the inside of the microwave with a wet sponge. The mess inside should come off relatively easily.
To prevent future microwave messes, use a plastic cover or at least a paper plate to cover your meals and prevent them from splattering inside your microwave. And while the above method can clean most microwave messes, you should try to clean any splatters as soon as you can. There is a point of no return, when a stray spot of meat sauce can become a permanent stain on the inside of your microwave. So don’t let your microwave become one of those things you never think to clean — but should.