How To Clean A Disgusting Dorm Microwave – One Simple Fix

Whether through neglect or a culinary experiment gone wrong, it’s not exactly difficult to end up with a pretty revolting microwave interior.

In this guide I’ll explain all the steps you need to follow to clean a truly disgusting dorm microwave. Even better, the easiest method of all is practically hassle-free too!

After that I answer some common questions that often go hand in hand with this topic.

Ready to get started? It’s easy, I promise!

Three lemons on a cutting board, with one half of a lemon

Step 1: Prepare A Lemon And Water Mix

Fill a medium size glass bowl (one that can fit in the microwave) to around the halfway point with warm water.

Take a large lemon, cut it in half, and then squeeze every last drop out of both halves into the bowl. 

Add the lemon halves to the bowl of water.

Put the bowl into the microwave, and cook the contents for around 5 minutes on a medium heat setting.

Once it’s finished, leave the microwave door shut for another five minutes before opening it.

Why does this method work?

The steam created by the lemon water will adhere to the food particles in the microwave. The natural acidity of lemon juice within that steam helps to break the dirt down even more aggressively.

Once the “resting” period has finished, open the microwave door and remove the bowl and the turntable*.

Put the bowl to one side, as you might need some of that mixture later on for any stubborn foods or stains.

(*Use oven mitts here as the contents will still be at least warm, and potentially hot.)

Step 2: Soak The Turntable

This is a good opportunity to let nature do some hard work on the turntable, while you start working away at the microwave interior.

Just fill a sink with hot soapy water, and carefully slide the turntable in. If your microwave has a ring on the inside to help rotate the turntable, add that to the soak as well.

Step 3: Clean The Microwave Interior

Next, grab a fresh damp dishcloth and start wiping away at the ceiling and the sides of the microwave.

The vast majority of the muck should wipe off very easily. You start with the top and the sides though, so any detritus lands on the bottom before you clean that section up.

What if there are still bits of food that don’t wipe off easily?

No problem! Dip the dishcloth into that lemon water mixture, and apply it vigorously to the tricky spot. That should be all you need to remove the worst of the damage.

Once the interior of the microwave has been cleaned off, make sure you give the inside of the door a good wipe down as well.

Step 4: Clean And Replace The Turntable

Finally, just give the turntable (and ring) in the sink a good wipe down with a cloth.

Rinse them off, then return them to the microwave.

Voila! Your disgusting dorm room microwave should now not only be clean as a whistle, but also packing a pleasantly lemony scent!

A dorm room containing a desk, microwave, laptop, shelf and bed

Frequently Asked Questions

To wrap up, let’s get right down to it and answer some of the most common questions related to this problem.

Can I Use Lemon Extract Instead Of Fresh Juice?

Yes. If you don’t have a lemon to hand but you’ve got some lemon extract, use that instead. This stuff lasts forever in a bottle, and is always handy to have around.

As a rule of thumb you should use half the lemon extract, when compared to the amount of natural juice you’d find in a freshly-squeezed lemon.

Fresh lemons typically contain 2-3 tablespoons of juice in total. So, add around 1.5 tablespoons of lemon concentrate to your warm water.

What’s The Easiest Way To Clean The Inside Of A Microwave?

The lemon method I’ve outlined in this guide is by far and away the easiest method.

Once you’ve set your bowl of lemon water up, the process is pretty automatic. You just need to have a good wipe inside when it’s finished steaming.

If your dorm microwave is in a truly disgusting state, however, you can use something a little stronger.

In this case, turn to vinegar. Use two cups of water in the bowl, along with two tablespoons of vinegar. Follow the rest of the steps in this guide from there.

It goes without saying though that the after-aroma is considerably less pleasant than fresh lemon!

Get some windows open if you need to try this approach, and definitely try the lemon juice first.

What Is Safe To Use To Clean The Inside Of A Microwave?

Lemon juice or vinegar in a water solution are the safest products to use to clean the inside of a microwave.

These natural products are both effective, and highly recommended over chemical cleaners.

A baking soda paste is another option if you’re really struggling to get the job done with lemon juice or vinegar.

Wrapping Up

There you go! That should be everything you need to know about getting your dorm microwave from disgusting to delightful, with the bare minimum of effort involved.

You can avoid these problems in the future by using lidded plastic containers. Just make sure your Tupperware set is safe to use in a microwave first.

If the appliance is beyond all hope and you’re considering a replacement, take a look at my guide to choosing the best microwave for college dorm life.

In that article you’ll find tips for choosing the right size and power settings for a small space microwave, along with reviews of five excellent – budget-friendly – options.