How To Clean A Microwave With Vinegar And Steam!

Have you ever exploded pizza sauce in the microwave? Today’s post will show you how to clean a microwave using only water, vinegar, and steam! It’s easy to do, only takes about five minutes, and it works great!

How to clean a microwave in 5 minutes with just water and vinegar!

I was able to clean off dirt and grime I didn’t even realize was there! Mostly what I saw when I looked at the microwave were the big red pizza sauce spills, but after I was done cleaning I realized the entire thing had gone five shades whiter! Don’t just assume your microwave is yellow. It’s not; microwaves are white. :-)

I love simple cleaning solutions like this. I made a homemade grout cleaner with just baking soda and bleach and it worked WONDERS! And we’ve been using a homemade borax free laundry soap for almost a year now and we love it! It’s cheap, non-toxic, and cleans better than commercial detergent! And when we moved into our new house and the washing machine was horribly dirty, I learned how to clean a washing machine with just two wash cycles, and it’s sparkling clean now!

This tip for cleaning a microwave is just as simple as the other two homemade cleaning products; it only requires water, vinegar, and about one minute of elbow grease to get a sparkling clean microwave!

How To Clean A Microwave With Vinegar

Here’s what you need: (Amazon affiliate links below)

Fill a microwaveable bowl with 1-2 cups of water and add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar. Add a drop of essential oil if you don’t want your microwave to smell like vinegar. :-)

CAUTION: Liquids can get superheated in a microwave and explode. It isn’t common, but it can happen if you microwave liquids in a perfectly smooth container. Bubbles can’t form on a smooth surface, so the liquid won’t boil until it is jostled. This can cause it to “explode” into boiling when you open the microwave or try to remove the bowl. But don’t freak out! Most consumer bowls and cups are not perfectly smooth, and a microwave with a turntable jostles the liquid enough to allow it to boil. But, if you are worried about it, float a toothpick in your bowl. Bubbles will be able to form on the wood, causing the water to boil without exploding.

How to clean a microwave in 5 minutes with just water and vinegar!

Put the bowl in the microwave and shut the door. Microwave the water and vinegar for 5 minutes.

If your microwave is REALLY dirty, don’t open the microwave right away when the timer goes off. Leave the door shut for about two more minutes to let the steam continue to work. The steam will help loosen up caked on bits of food, and the vinegar will help eliminate any odors.

When you open the door, be careful pulling the bowl out; it will be very hot! Remove the turntable tray (carefully, it will be hot as well) and wash it in the sink.

Now just take a cloth or sponge and wipe down the inside of the microwave. The dirt and food will come right off!

How to clean a microwave in 5 minutes with just water and vinegar!

If you don’t want to microwave a bowl of water and vinegar, you can also get a sponge soaking wet, pour about a teaspoon of vinegar on it, and then microwave the sponge. This doesn’t create as much steam though, so if your microwave is really dirty like mine was, use the bowl instead.

Do you have any other tips for cleaning a microwave? I was thrilled with how easy this was! What other kitchen cleaning tips have you tried?

If you liked this project, check out these other cleaning tips!

I used Young Living’s lemon essential oil, which is a super versatile oil! It’s good for smoothing calluses, removing grease, gum, or sticky residue, plus it smells great, so it makes a great air freshener! Check out all the other things lemon essential oil can do!

Lemon essential oil is great for cleaning grease, gum, and sticky residue, plus it smells great so it's the perfect air freshener! http://practicallyfunctional.com/natural-living-essential-oils/

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, just let me know or join our Facebook group! I’d be happy to get you more info or get you a sample to try out!

Or if you are ready to start using essential oils, you can get the Young Living Premium Starter kit at a HUGE discount and get all your oils at 24% off for life when you sign up as a wholesale member. The starter kit is everything you need to get started living a happier, healthier, more natural life with essential oils, and the 24% discount on any future purchases of Young Living oils and products doesn’t hurt either! Check out this page for more details.

Welcome to the club! Sign up to get Young Living essential oils at 24% off for forever, and get all this as well! http://practicallyfunctional.com/young-living-member-sign-up/


I link up at these awesome parties! 

The following two tabs change content below.
Hi, I'm Jessi! Welcome to Practically Functional, a blog about real projects that real people can actually do! You don't have to be a pro in order to craft or do DIY projects; Practically Functional is full of projects for everyday life that anyone can do, regardless of skill or experience! Whether you're looking for fun crafts, DIY projects both big and small, gardening advice, cleaning tips, or quick and easy recipes, you'll find them here! Follow the step by step instructions in every tutorial, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions! Make sure you follow along by RSS or subscribe to daily or weekly emails so you don't miss a single tutorial!

Latest posts by Jessi Wohlwend (see all)


  1. I am obsessive about covering food in the microwave so it doesn't get to that state…but Hyphen is less so. I've steamed a wet sponge to loosen everything, but the bowl with water and vinegar seems more effective!

    As for stoves…yeah, mine too!

  2. Yeah…I really should be better about covering food in the microwave… *sheepish look* :-) But this was so easy to do it sorta makes up for it!

  3. What a great idea for the sponges! I've just been tossing them when they get icky but I'll try this next time!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A little vinegar and baking soda (watch when mixing the two due to them making a volcano) will clean about ANYTHING!! You can also try lemon juice and salt mixed together to get stuck on stuff. Be careful to not SCRATCH your appliances to much or it can ruin your finish. And for your sponges, run them through your dishwasher with your dishes and they are nice and clean and germ free!!

  5. Kendra @ A Proverbs 31 Wife says:

    I have crocheted dish scrubbers that I just throw in the laundry.
    Vinegar and baking soda are awesome, that's for sure and they work together nicely to unclog drains.

  6. Rita B Caldwell says:

    I use this idea all the time and it's such a time saver and works so well.

  7. ~Damita's Pretty Wrap~ says:

    Great idea! I'm going to try this, thanks for sharing! Its due to be cleaned…even though we cover almost everything that goes in, still get those little splatters lol. Have a great Tuesday! xo Holly

  8. Betsy @ Romance on a Dime says:

    I need to do this…first thing tomorrow morning! I keep putting it off too. Thanks for posting this and linking up to Romance on a Dime!! I'm pinning this!

  9. Thrifty Crafty Girl says:

    I do something similar, but I use lemon juice instead of vinegar… works like a charm!

    I'm your newest follower from the blog hop!

  10. Heather Kinnaird says:

    Doing this now!! thanks for sharing

  11. Heather Kinnaird says:

    new follower:)

  12. Three Loud Kids! says:

    I didn't know this! What a great idea. I always have such a hard time cleaning my microwave. Im going to give this a try in the morning- my microwave needs a cleaning badly!

  13. Sensational Finds says:

    I plan on using this trick today while I clean1 Thanks for the tip, stopping by from I Heart Naptime


  14. Jessi W says:

    That sounds good, I'll have to try that!

  15. Helen's Decor says:

    Thanks for the clean idea…love it. I'm celebrating the 100th Sunday Showcase party at Under The Table and Dreaming, too.
    Hope you add Linky Follower to follow those of us using WP.
    Thanks, Helen

  16. Jessi W says:

    Thanks for the reminder Helen! I have an account but totally spaced on putting the widget on my sidebar :-p It's up there now though!

  17. Laura @ cookiecrumbsandsawdust.blogspot says:


    I've been doing this for years -minus the vinegar. Acually I just put a damp rag in the microwave and let the moisture from that steam the inside. Use a different rag to wipe clean, because the first one will be too hot to use. And I just stick my turn table in the dishwasher, and pop it back in when it's done.

    I'm visiting from the Nify Thrify linky party. I would love if you stopped by my blog.

    Thanks for sharing, and looking foward to more tips,

  18. Jessi W says:

    Thanks for the link, I'll have to try that!

  19. Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy says:

    I have been needing to give my microwave a good clean! Thank for linking this up to topsy turvy tuesdays, I'm featuring it as the tip of the week

  20. Ok, that last comment about lemon juice is from me, wrong user was logged in.

  21. Heaven's Walk says:

    This was the kick in the hiney that I needed, Jessi! Thanks!! Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow!! :)

    xoxo laurie

  22. Jessi W says:

    Lemon juice would smell a lot better than vinegar, that's for sure! Maybe I'll try that next time

  23. Creative Raisins says:

    That is a great tip I am definitely going to give this a try.

  24. Lauren Hobson says:

    Do you use the high setting, or do you need to adjust the power level?

  25. Jessi W says:

    I just used the high setting like we use for most of our food. And as you can see from the picture above our microwave is only 700 watts (most range from 600 to 1200, so it's on the lower end) but I don't think that part matters at all. You just want it to get nice and steamy in there!

  26. The Blissful Baker says:

    This is a great trick! Thanks for the help :)

  27. BE SURE AND PLACE A TOOTHPICK IN THE CUP OF WATER AND VINEGAR!!! A family friend was doing this same cleaning trick and when she opened the microwave the boiling water exploded in her face causing very SEVERE burns. The doctors explained the tension in the water and said putting something small in it, such as a toothpick, would prevent it from exploding.

    • Good to know! When I microwaved this it didn’t boil over, plus my microwave was super dirty so I let it sit for about two minutes with the door shut after the timer went off and the water had a chance to cool down. But that’s a great tip and a great reminder to be careful with anything super hot!

  28. Not sure what type of stove top you have, but I have a WHITE flat top. It was left for us from the previous owners and they must have used steel wool to clean it because there’s NO top layer left to keep everything from getting burned onto it. ANYWAY, I tried EVERYTHING from bleach to vinegar to magic erasers and nothing worked. Then my MIL told me she was told by the guy that sold hers to her to use angled razor blades! (ANGLED so you don’t scratch it up worse) My stove is super shiny clean now! —–As for microwave, I love this trick! I sometimes use a drop of essential oil to remove any odors (burned popcorn is the worst!) A drop of teatree, rosemary, or eucalyptus are my go-to odor eliminators. I also put a drop (ONE so as not to ruin it) in my steam floor cleaner, and in my vacuum container. A few drops of lavender on a damp washcloth in the dryer with sheets and towels is wonderful too! Lastly- I live in SERIOUS tick country and have kids and pets. I make a blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary in a spray bottle of alcohol and spritz the sheets, couches, and rugs. It works great and smells amazing! (just be careful to check that you don’t stain any fabrics by using too much oil)

  29. Be careful when using bowls or cups of water in the microwave. Water can super heat and explode. (http://youtu.be/2FcwRYfUBLM) Use a sponge saturated with water and vinegar.

  30. Thank you so much for the tip! I just did this and my microwave is super clean.

  31. This is very helpful! Thank you :D

  32. Did this today. My microwave was in a similar state… worked brilliantly! Thanks.

  33. Tested some Pinterest inspired cleaning tips, including yours for cleaning microwaves, and posted about it on my blog. I linked back to you of course! Thanks for the tip and feel free to come check out my post:

  34. My wife did this and it worked great.

    However … does this shorten the life of the microwave? You’re coating the inner parts of the microwave that have any exposure to the inner compartment with acid.

    • hmm… something to think about. my mom taught me the same trick ages ago without the vinegar. maybe I’ll try with just water from now on

  35. Love this trick.. just tried it for the first time today. I realized I didn’t have white vinegar but tried it with the apple cidar vingear we have and it worked just as great. Crusted cheeze came right off the glass plate too! My microwave is usually a nightmare and this was great. Made it an easy ordeal. I could fill the dishwasher while the combo was microwaving.

    @ Karla, I have a white stovetop too and it is always another nightmareish task to tackle in my kitchen.. we love to cook and get messy in the kitchen. I will definitely try the angled razor trick-thanks for the tip!

  36. HOLY CRAP! My micrwave hasnt been cleaner since the day I bought it! I poured some of the hot vinegar water on my stovetop instead of down the drain and let it sit for a bit. Didn’t go as well as cleaning the microwave, but my stove is nice and clean now also. YEAH!

  37. I have been doin this for awhle now. I hav never used vnegar, however, I do use dish soa in the bowl and let it run for quite some tme and it works great !!U can also spray your microwave with kiten cleaner such as 409 or whatever u use and it works well tooo!!

  38. Very good trick. This is so simple & easy idea to clean microwave. As Megan said, I will take care of it. I will use toothpick to avoid any problem. Thanks a lot.

  39. Another great tip. Thanks you are the go to girl with all the easy tips for making the house sparkle. The best tip I know around the home is to buy an extension cord for your vacuum so that you don’t have to stop and start all the time. Saves all the bending over.

    • Very smart! Our apartment is small enough right now that I only have to plug it in once, but when we move to somewhere bigger I’ll keep that in mind!

  40. rossinhawaii says:

    I soak 2 or three kitchen sponges in water and then pour a small amount of vinegar. Set the timer for 2 minutes and then let it cool for a few more. You can use the sponges to clean the microwave. It also kills the bacteria in the sponges so it’s a two-fer!

  41. Yesterday evening I read this on Pinterest and started at once this cleaningtip. After five minutes I saw some result and decided to give it another 5 minutes. A great boom and the water exploded!!! But …. after cleaning the mess, my microwave was cleaner than ever ;- ))) Thanks for this tip, but never longer dan five minutes. Greez from Corrie

    • The same thing happened to me, except what ever that big boom was broke the microwave! After I cleaned it my turn table no longer turned. I will not be doing this with my new one that is for sure!

  42. Can you do this with apple vinegar?

  43. Thanks for this tip! I live in a dorm and we have two shared microwaves in the whole dorm for about 90 girls. As you can imagine, our microwaves are disgusting! I live right across the hall from the microwave room, so when I can’t sleep, sometimes I scrub at the microwaves, but I can never get them clean. I’m going to try this next time I’m having a burst of insomnia!

  44. I saw this over at Miss Information and it’s such a great idea that I had to pin. I am glad I am not the only one in that vicious cycle! LOL! I think I’ll go try this out *RIGHT NOW*!!

  45. Pinned it! I totally feel you on that vicious cycle. I fall into it regularly.

  46. Doing this as I type, at first I thought you took a picture of microwave lol ;-) I was thinking today I needed to clean it

  47. Wow! Must try this.
    Do you think it may work with an oven also?

    • Wouldn’t think so-steam would escape. My old Polish mother-in-law would put ammonia in a bowl in the oven overnight and wipe the slime out in the morning with hot dish water. Seemed to wrrk great.

  48. Worked great!

  49. Patty Paulsen says:

    That lovely little turntable can go in the dishwasher…every time I have a not-quite full load I put the turntable in. Also, the lovely little vent cover goes in to (I have a microwave mounted over my stove and the cover can get pretty gunky).

  50. Jasmine chand says:

    This was great advice cuz my microwave was like a jungle but with food stains it was just omg so I wanted to clean it for my mom but just with water it did not work tried with microwave cleaners and etc but nothing worked whenever someone came they would say nice house nice furniture but WOW what a microwave its so dirty I would be like ok lol Ikr and blah but then my cousin told me bout this website so it was great help for me and my family thxz soo much for having pictures and great advice for us viewers to see

  51. Brilliant!!! Just did this on my microwave which had suffered from too many spills and explosions and I can’t believe how quick and easy it was! Thank you!!

  52. Just did my microwave , worked great :)
    Decided to try it on my oven , I am absolutely amazed, WOW can’t believe how well it worked…..thank you :)

  53. FYI: My DD used that exact bowl to reheat some Chile a couple of weeks ago, and it cracked all the way around the middle of the bowl! Unbelievable because we have been using it all the time and there were no cracks, chips and she only put it in for 55 secs!
    Thanks for all of your tips by the way!!!

  54. Debbie A says:

    You can also do this with vanilla and water. If you are using the vinegar I wonder if you could add a little lemon juice for a fresher smell.

  55. Hello! clever trick I tend to add a bit of lemon too as when I clean glass :) Pinned onto my “Oh I could Live there” Board, came over from the Blitzen party at Debbiedoo’s.

  56. Just did it! my microwave was not very dirty but I wanted to try it!
    It worked! Thanks for the tip! :)

  57. Ok, this did not work for me at all. I microwaved it for five minutes the first time, and nothing happened. I microwaved it for ten minutes the second time and let it set a couple minutes after the time went off. When I opened the microwave, the baked-on crud was still baked on. This didn’t moisten or loosen any of the grime. Is there some secret step that I missed?

    • You couldn’t just wipe it away with a rag afterward? I doesn’t clean it for you, it should just make it way easier to wipe up. :-) After you microwaved the water and vinegar, when you opened the door did a bunch of steam come out? The steam is what loosens up the gunk.

  58. Had a very high expectation for this cleaning trick but turned out to be a total dissapointment. It didn’t work at all! =(

  59. Absolutely did not work for me. I tried it several times with different size bowls, different water amounts, different times… no luck on any of them! :( None of any of the variations produced enough steam to help in any way at all. So disappointed since my microwave is a mess!

    • That’s too bad Kelly! I’ve never produced enough steam that steam came pouring out of the microwave when I open the door, but it’s always enough to slightly loosen the caked on gunk so I can wipe it away with a sponge. I wish I had some other suggestion for you. :-(

  60. Sherry Roth says:

    I use baking soda mixed with water. Heat the same way…let it sit for several minutes before wiping out with a damp cloth. Using baking soda also deodorizes the microwave too!

  61. This works great! I don’t use vinegar though (the smell of vinegar gives me migraines), I used a little bit of lemon juice. I microwaved it the 5 minutes recommended. Then I immediately took out the turn table (put the bowl back in and reclosed the microwave to give it a few extra minutes of steam time) and washed it (wiped right off with no effort whatsoever). Then a took the bowl out of the microwave (again immediately reclosed the microwave to keep it hot) and poured the water on my stove top to let it soak while I wiped out the microwave (which again wiped right off with no effort). Then I wiped the stove right off, again with very little effort! :) Thank you for this tip, I will never again have to scrub my microwave or stove top!

  62. I have done this for years, and yes, it works quite well! Just 2 quick things that others might not know. First, if you use sponges rather than the bowl method, sponges CAN catch on fire in the microwave, even when sopping wet. (Speaking from experience, whoops!) So for people using the sponge method, just be advised that you shouldn’t walk away from the microwave while they’re heating like you can walk away from the bowl method.

    Also, when removing the turn table to wash it, it is VERY hot coming out of the microwave, which means if you run cold water over it, it CAN crack/break/shatter. So it’s a good idea to set it out to let cool for a few minutes before washing with warm/hot water. :)

    And just a guess for the people for whom it did not work, perhaps they have a lower power microwave and the water mixture never boiled? (Great tip about floating a toothpick, by the way – I’d never heard that one before and had something blow up in my face for the first time about 2 weeks ago!)

    • Good point about the turntable glass shattering! Mine was so hot I had to wait a while for it to cool down, but even if the glass is just warm to the touch, it can still shatter, so it’s a really great idea to match the water temperature to the temperature of the glass before washing!

  63. Laurinda says:

    I’ve always cleaned mine by pouring about a 1/2 cup of water right on the microwave’s tray, running it for a minute, letting it sit for 5 so the stream does the work, then using the water to wipe it down. Easy peasy.

  64. What a great and easy idea, we too have a rather messy microwave even though we cover most things that go in it. I will have to try this remedy on the weekend, Thanks for sharing!


  1. [...] immediately following a mess, i wouldn’t need to do steam clean it, but i don’t and this is pretty easy and [...]

  2. [...] to clean the microwave today and I looked to Pinterest for some advise. A very popular post from Practically Functional promised a solution to cleaning your microwave in 2 minutes. I was sold- especially since it was a [...]

  3. Pinterest Does It Work? Homemade Microwave Cleaner » Creativelyb says:

    [...] believe it disappeared …. Until you open the door again of course. So I have seen this article on Pinterest that mentioned a quick and easy way to clean your microwave. I figured I’d try it out since I had [...]

  4. [...] found my way to Jessi’s blog, Practically Functional, and her post on “How to clean a microwave in 2 minutes” which was based on a tip from Crafty Little [...]

  5. [...] How to clean your microwave | DIY microdermabrasion | How to glitter-fy everything | Crayon [...]

  6. [...] microwaves in general, though for practicalk purposes I understand if you have one in your house.  Practically Functional will show you how to completely clean your microwave in 2 minutes, minus all [...]

  7. [...] 7 // Learning to clean a glass stovetop (check out that reflection!) and a microwave [...]

  8. Life Hacks | Pearltrees says:

    [...] Hacks < how to < CRAFTY < aislynowen Get flash to fully experience Pearltrees Cleaning A Microwave In Just 5 Minutes! – Practically Functional I’ll admit it, my microwave was disgusting! Disgusting with a Capital D. It was past the point [...]

  9. [...] Here is a link to the original blog I followed via Pinterest: http://practicallyfunctional.net/2012/04/how-to-clean-your-microwave-in-2/ [...]

  10. [...] frequent use that these appliances will have during the holiday season.  In fact, you can actually steam clean your microwave for the best [...]

  11. [...] this pin on Pinterest, I certainly wanted to try it. The ingredients were simple, water and vinegar Practically Functional blog made it simple. 2 cups of water and 1-2 tablespoon of vinegar, microwave on high for 5 minutes [...]

  12. [...] just enjoy! If you are looking for microwaving tips, in the event of a Peeps explosion, check out this [...]

  13. [...]  How To Clean A Microwave.  Ever had something explode in your microwave?  Cleaning it sucks.  Well, I had been curious [...]

  14. […] we moved into this apartment it wasn’t very clean. I already shared my 5 minute microwave steam cleaning tip, but another area that needed serious cleaning was the bathroom. The grout was disgusting! But […]

  15. […] Clean Your Microwave In 5 Minutes  ||  Homemade Grout Cleaner  ||  Detox Bath Recipe […]

  16. […] How to Clean Your Microwave in 5 Minutes from Practically Functional. […]

  17. […] bleach mixture sit for an hour. (Get some other spring cleaning done while you’re waiting! Clean your microwave with vinegar, or make this homemade grout cleaner and clean your tile […]

  18. […] DIY Dishwasher Tabs DIY Deodorizer Gel Air Fresheners All Purpose Cleaner All Natural Car Care Kit How To Clean Your Microwave DIY Reed Diffuser Homemade Air Freshener Deodorizing Carpet Powder Carpet Refresher […]

  19. […] DIY Dishwasher Tabs Dig Deodorizer Gel Air Fresheners All Purpose Cleaner All Natural Car Care Kit How to clean your microwave DIY Reed Diffuser Homemade Air Freshener Deodorizing Carpet Powder Carpet Refresher […]

Leave a Comment