Kitchen Tips: Microwave Cleaning (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous part of this article, we’ve covered general microwave cleaning advice and tips on removing stubborn burnt-in stains.

Microwave Deodorizing

Even with all the stains gone, there’s frequently an odor issue. Whether someone left the popcorn in for too long, or some marinara sauce boiled and splattered, the end result is the same – a lingering smell that just won’t go away. Luckily, there are several easy ways to banish that scent forever (or, at least, until the next time someone misreads the microwave directions…). The “quick” methods work great for mild odors, but if the problem persists, try one of the “overnight” ideas.

Quick Microwave Deodorizing

  • Hot Soda: pour 1 cup of water into a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, add 2-4 teaspoons of baking soda, insert a non-metal spoon / stick / stirrer (this gives water a “starting point” around which to boil), and set the timer for 3-5 minutes. After the water has boiled, let it stand for another 3-5 minutes to allow the steam to work.
  • Hot Vinegar: same method as above, but use 1 cup of water and ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of white vinegar instead of baking soda.
  • Hot Lemon: slice up half a lemon into a microwave-safe bowl or cup, add ½ cup of water, and microwave it for 3-5 minutes, then let it stand for 3-5 more minutes.
  • Hot Vanilla: add 4 teaspoons (~20 ml) of vanilla extract to a bowl of water, microwave it until it boils, then leave it in for 30 minutes.

After using any of the above methods, remove the bowl/cup of deodorizing solution, and wipe down the inside of the microwave.

Overnight Microwave Deodorizing

  • Vinegar: pour a ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of white vinegar into a shallow dish, and leave it in the microwave overnight.
  • Coffee: place some unused ground coffee into a shallow bowl or plate and leave it in the microwave for 12-24 hours. Needless to say, don’t use the grounds to make your morning coffee!
  • Baking Soda: evenly spread ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda on a large plate, and leave inside the microwave overnight. Baking soda is excellent at absorbing odors.
  • Soda Paste (messy but effective): make a paste of baking soda and water, smear it around the inside of the microwave, avoiding any holes/slots/grilles, and leave it in overnight. The baking soda will absorb quite a lot of odors.

Microwave Safety

  • Never place any metal objects in the microwave (this includes aluminum foil). Unlike water, which absorbs microwaves and converts them to heat, metals conduct the microwaves and create sparks, which may cause a fire, damage the magnetron (the “heart” of the microwave), or both.
  • After boiling any liquids, let the container sit in the microwave for a few minutes before removing, in order to allow any potential boiling or bubbles to subside.
  • Always supervise children in the kitchen, especially when using electrical appliances.
  • Never microwave eggs in the shell (they explode).
  • If microwaving any fruit or vegetable with a skin (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, etc), or sausages, puncture the skin in a few places to allow the steam to escape.
  • Don’t heat or reheat anything in paper containers or Styrofoam. Both are likely to contain chemicals that are safe under normal temperatures, but may be released (into your food!) when heated.

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