But because of its versatility and frequent use, the microwave also attracts Jackson Pollock-like food splatter, which likes to travel to far-flung corners of the appliance, dry quickly, and really stick on. The crust that forms is annoying to clean at best, and just about impossible to remove at worst.
Cue the quickest, easiest, totally chemical-free way to de-grime your microwave. You probably already have everything you need: a microwave-safe container, a lemon, and a clean dish towel or sponge.
Here's how you get cleaning:
First, pour about half a cup of water into your microwave-safe container (I use a glass measuring cup). Slice the lemon in half, squeeze it into the water, and throw the squeezed rinds into the vessel. Because of its high acid content, the lemon acts as a natural degreaser (and will make your kitchen smell pretty good, too).
Microwave the lemony water on high power for 90 seconds to 2 minutes, until it comes to a boil.
After boiling, let the water stand for 2 to 3 minutes in the microwave (with the door still closed) to allow steam to accumulate and distribute. Combined with the lemon, this steam will loosen any stuck-on residue in your microwave and make it easier to wipe off with the dish towel or sponge.
Speaking of the dish towel, open the microwave (carefully—there might still be billowing steam!), remove the container with lemon water (don't pour it down the drain just yet!), and use the towel or sponge to wipe down the walls, ceiling, and inside of the microwave door. To help release any stubborn bits, dunk the towel in the warm lemon water you set aside before scrubbing. If the glass turntable needs a little love, remove it and wipe it down with the towel or sponge before replacing.
And in the time it takes to listen to your favorite song, you've got yourself a squeaky-clean microwave—no sweat (but a little steam)!
more 5-minute microwave magic
How do you usually clean your microwave? Have you tried this quick & easy tip? Let me know in the comments.
Brinda is the Books & Special Projects Editor at Food52, where she edits all of Food52's cookbooks and covers the latest and greatest books on the site (drop her a line with recs!). She likes chewy Neapolitan pizza, stinky cheese of all sorts, and tahini-flavored anything. Brinda lives in Brooklyn with 18 plants. Find her at @brindayesterday on Twitter and Instagram.