Plus, tips for how to get this small, but important job done.

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While microwaves can be helpful when it comes to reheating leftovers, they can get quite messy over time. Food splatters, spills, and lingering odors can make this tiny oven a hot spot for grease and stains. However, frequent cleanings can help keep those little messes from turning into big ones. Ahead, we spoke with two cleaning experts to find out exactly how often you should be cleaning your microwave to stay ahead of the curve.

Hand with microfiber cleaning rag wiping inside of microwave oven
Credit: Getty / tab1962

Frequency matters.

You should be cleaning your microwave a lot more frequently than you probably are right now. "Microwaves should be cleaned at least once a week, depending on the frequency of use," says Elena Ledoux of Superb Maids. "It's much easier to quickly wipe the microwave after each use as opposed to cleaning it days later." Plus, giving this appliance regular wipe-downs can prevent leftover messes from flavoring the foods you heat up later.

Use non-toxic, food-safe cleaners.

You trust your microwave to heat the things you eat, which is why you need to make sure you're maintaining it in a food-safe way, notes Rochelle Wilkinson, the owner of Dirt Detectives Cleaning. "When tackling your microwave, which sees everything from pasta sauce to bacon grease, choose something non-toxic. You don't want any residue or after-taste left behind that could circulate in the microwave the next time you use it," she says. She recommends starting with a microfiber cloth and plain water. "Wipe down the inside and the glass plate with the wet cloth," Wilkinson says. "Leave the cloth on the plate and turn your microwave on for one minute." The steam created by heating the towel will loosen any hardened splatter and grease. "Let the cloth rest in the microwave for three minutes, as it will be very hot," she warns. Next, go in with a non-toxic cleaner—Wilkinson suggests a degreaser, like Quick N' Brite ($16.95, walmart.com). "Scrub the inside of the microwave and then rinse it with your microfiber cloth," she says.

Use what you have.

While there are plenty of great products on the market, you don't need to buy a special cleaner to keep your microwave fresh. According to Ledoux, dish soap will do the trick, as well. "The best way to clean the microwave is to use degreasing solutions like Dawn Ultra Liquid Dish Soap ($8.94, walmart.com) and thoroughly scrub interior with a sponge," she says, adding that this is best done after the damp method towel noted above. "Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse with hot water."

Don't forget the exterior.

Of course, the outside of your microwave can get dirty, as well (think of those greasy fingerprints on the keypad). But there's good news: Ledoux notes that you can care for the exterior exactly like you would the interior. Just be sure not to use an abrasive sponge on the surface, which could scratch it. "And polish it off with a dry soft, clean towel," she says.

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