After who’s-even-counting-anymore days in quarantine, legit nothing excites me anymore. Baking five loaves of banana bread? Been there. Tie-dying every loungewear set I own? Done that. Watching more hours of Netflix than I previously thought was humanly possible? You don’t even wanna know how many times Netflix has asked me if I’m still watching.
Sooo it’s safe to say I’ve arrived at the “I’m willing to actually clean and organize stuff just to kill time” level of boredom
And considering you just clicked on an article about how to clean your microwave, I’m guessing you’re at that point too. Welcome to the club, my friend. Now for some good news: “The great thing about cleaning a microwave is that it’s actually a ridiculously easy job,” says Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and founder of Clean My Space. In fact, she claims that the whole process takes her less than five minutes. Impressive.
Now you’re probably like, “Oookay, but I’m not a cleaning expert.” Well, me neither. And I can confirm that it is, in fact, insanely easy. Yup, even if your idea of “cleaning supplies” is a paper towel and soap (the experts actually recommend that you stay away from cleaning solutions because chemicals + food = a very bad sitch) or if you’re dealing with a funky smell (there’s a simple fix for that too. Promise).
Here’s exactly how to clean your microwave because let’s be honest, this is the first time you’ve ever done it.
Step 1: Grab paper towels and some soap!
Yeah, fancy cleaning products aren’t gonna help in this case. “I would not feel comfortable using any chemicals around food, so I’m always looking for natural ways to clean [my microwave],” agrees Kadi Dulude, owner of Wizard of Homes NYC. The one place you might actually want to use cleaning products is on the outside of the microwave, but more on that later.
That said, you’ll score bonus points if you have some lemon juice too, but it’s definitely not necessary. Fill a bowl with water (and about a teaspoon of lemon juice, if you have it) and microwave it for three to four minutes, says Maker. The idea is to get it real steamy up in there.
Once things look ~moist~ (sorry), remove the bowl with an oven mitt (because it will be hot, duh). The steam and the oil from the lemon (still optional!) should have loosened any buildup, says Maker. Aka you should be able to wipe all the gross stuff out with a paper towel now—so go ahead and do that.
Step 2: Target those sticky areas that won’t go down without a fight
If there’s anything left, Maker recommends combining two cups of water and a half teaspoon of dish soap into a spray bottle and spraying it down. If you don’t have a spray bottle, improvise by patting some soapy water onto the problem areas. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe it down. Et volià! That’s it, that’s the whole process.
If you’re dealing with sh*t that Just. Won’t. Come. Off, it’s time to start scrubbing with a tough sponge. Of course, that’s the annoying answer. No dice? Try scraping those stubborn bits of god-knows-what with a butter knife or the edge of an old credit card, says Maker.
If that doesn’t work, you can try sticking a damp paper towel over the, ahem, dried food (????) and turning the microwave on for a few minutes, says Dulude. The steam from the paper towel should help loosen the buildup and make it easier to wipe off.
Still no luck? (What are you making in there?) It’s time to bring in the big guns. Make a paste of equal parts dish soap and baking soda and apply it to the affected area, says Maker. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then scrub the paste off with a sponge or that butter knife we talked about. Just make sure you wipe down the spot with a damp cloth afterward so you get rid of any residue.
If you’ve got a funky smell going on…
This is THE w-o-r-s-t. The easiest way to get rid of a weird odor in your microwave? Wet a cloth or paper towel with vinegar and wipe down the insides—we’re talking top, bottom, each wall, and the door. This will help neutralize any odor, says Maker. Leave the door open and let it dry overnight. And no, it’s not gonna smell like straight vinegar tomorrow, so don’t worry, she says.
If you feel like the stench is really baked in there (ew), you can also make a paste of two parts water, one part baking soda. Wipe the paste onto the inside of the microwave. Same deal as the vinegar, let it dry overnight, says Maker. The next day, use a damp cloth to clean off any residue and you’re good to go.
If you’re worried about germs too…
Honestly, fair. Think about how much you touch the buttons and handle. Those are the only areas you have to worry about disinfecting when it comes to your microwave, says Maker. Wipe the keypad and handle thoroughly with a disinfecting wipe or spray it with some Lysol to keep it clean.
Oh, and maybe don’t save this step for once or twice a year? Now more than ever, you should be disinfecting heavily touched areas in your kitchen on the reg.
If you *never* want to clean your microwave again…
I think I’ve proved that this is an insanely easy process, but if you never wanna do it again, the easiest way to do that is to get a microwavable plate cover, says Maker. Because that’s what got you into this ~mess~ in the first place (I had to).
If you wanna make your life harder and not get one of those, you can also wipe down your microwave every time you use it, says Dulude. It’ll take you 20 seconds and save you from having to scrub ever again. Yay!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.