This Microwave Cleaning Trick Removes Burnt on Food With Ease – And Makes Your Kitchen Smell Nice

We’ve all been there – you accidentally leave food cooking in the microwave for too long and end up with a burnt, splattered mess inside that leaves behind a nasty smell. No matter how much you wipe and scrub, it seems like you can never fully remove the charred remains and odor. But don’t despair – there’s a surprisingly simple microwave cleaning trick that can help tackle even the toughest burnt on food and odors, leaving your microwave fresh and clean with ease.

Why Burnt Food is So Hard to Remove from Microwaves

Before we get into the cleaning solution, it’s helpful to understand exactly why burnt and splattered food can be so difficult to remove from the inside of microwaves. Here are a few key reasons:

  • Food is heated unevenly – Microwaves work by exciting water molecules in food, generating heat. This often leads to uneven heating, resulting in hot spots that can burn or splatter food.
  • Food is left to overcook – If you accidentally leave food cooking too long, proteins and sugars will caramelize and burn onto the microwave surface.
  • Food splatters – Oil and moisture in foods will pop and splatter as they overheat, coating the inside of the microwave.
  • Burnt on food hardens – Heat from cooking dries out and hardens burnt on food remains, bonding them tightly to the microwave surface.
  • Odors linger – Burnt food gives off odoriferous volatile organic compounds that penetrate microwave surfaces and linger even after cleaning.

So burnt food essentially turns into a hardened, splattered mess that stubbornly sticks to the microwave interior and lets off nasty smells that won’t go away easily. But don’t worry, the trick we’re about to share helps combat all of these issues!

The Miracle Microwave Cleaning Trick

Here’s the surprisingly straightforward microwave cleaning solution that can tackle even the most stubborn burnt on messes and odors:

Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water, add some lemon slices and bring it to a boil in the microwave.

That’s it! This simple trick leverages the power of steam and citric acid from lemon to naturally loosen, dissolve and deodorize burnt on food, leaving your microwave fresh and clean with minimal effort.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of this microwave cleaning hack:

  • Use a large, microwave-safe bowl that can hold at least 2 cups of water. Glass or ceramic work best.
  • Add 2-3 sliced lemons to the water before microwaving. More lemons means more citric acid cleaning power.
  • Microwave the bowl on high for 5-7 minutes, until the water is boiling rapidly. This produces steam to loosen food remains.
  • Allow the microwave to steam for an additional 3-5 minutes with the door closed after boiling.
  • Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away any loosened food and grime with a cloth or sponge.
  • For tough spots, let lemon juice sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping away. The citric acid helps cut through burnt on grease.
  • For odors, try microwaving lemon water for 5-10 minutes afterwards to deodorize the interior.

The natural steam and acidity safely break down and dissolve stubborn food remains and residue without harsh chemicals. And the cleansing lemon fragrance leaves your microwave smelling fresh!

Why Lemon and Steam are Effective for Microwave Cleaning

You may be wondering why such a simple trick using just lemons and water can be so effective at tackling burnt on microwave messes. Here’s the science behind why it works so well:

The Power of Steam

  • Steam carries a lot of heat energy that can soften and loosen dried food debris when applied directly.
  • Food splatters and stains are rehydrated by condensing steam so they can be wiped away easily.
  • The high heat of steam helps sterilize and sanitize the interior of the microwave.
  • Steam can penetrate and dissolve residues that sponges or cloths may miss.

Benefits of Lemon Juice

  • Lemon juice contains citric acid, which works to dissolve and cut through grease and grime.
  • The acidic lemon juice breaks down tough burnt on stains on a chemical level.
  • The fresh lemon fragrance counteracts unpleasant burnt food smells.
  • Lemon juice also has natural antibacterial properties to sanitize the microwave.
  • It leaves behind a streak-free shine without harsh cleaning products.

So together, the steam and lemon juice provide a one-two punch to dissolve, penetrate and eliminate tough burnt-on foods and odors for an easy, eco-friendly microwave clean.

Step-By-Step Microwave Cleaning with Lemon Steam

Now that you know why this microwave trick is so effective, let’s look at the simple step-by-step process:

What You Need

  • Large microwave-safe bowl
  • 2-3 lemons
  • Water
  • Cloth or sponge


  1. Add 2 cups of water and 2-3 sliced lemons to a microwave-safe bowl. More lemons = more cleaning power.
  2. Microwave the bowl on high for 5-7 minutes until the water is boiling rapidly and steaming.
  3. Keep the hot bowl inside and close the microwave door. Let it steam for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the hot bowl using oven mitts.
  5. Using a cloth or sponge, wipe away any loosened burnt food residues while the microwave interior is still warm.
  6. For tough spots, let lemon juice sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping again.
  7. Microwave a fresh bowl of water and lemons for 5-10 minutes to deodorize the interior.
  8. Wash the walls, turntable and door with a damp cloth and all-purpose cleaner if needed.
  9. Dry everything thoroughly before using again.

And that’s all it takes to go from burnt on splatters to a sparkling clean, lemon-fresh microwave in less than 20 minutes!

Tips for Preventing Burnt Food in Your Microwave

While this microwave steam cleaning trick is great for tackling messes after they happen, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some useful tips to avoid burnt on food in the microwave in the first place:

  • Use lower cook times and power levels – Start food on 50% power and add time cautiously.
  • Stir and rotate food mid-cooking to spread heat evenly and prevent hot spots.
  • Cover foods with a lid or paper towel to contain splatters.
  • Don’t walk away for long cook times – check progress frequently.
  • Add a glass of water to cooks over a minute to generate steam and prevent burning.
  • Clean up spills immediately before they get a chance to burn on.
  • Avoid microwaving without anything underneath to catch drips and splatters.

Following these microwave usage tips will help minimize the mess and burnt on grime that accumulates over time, reducing the need for heavy duty cleaning.

Other Tough Microwave Cleaning Solutions

While the steam lemon method is amazing for tackling most microwave messes, sometimes you need a little extra muscle against extremely stubborn burnt on stains. Here are a few other heavy duty solutions:

  • Baking soda scrub – Mix with a little water to form a spreadable paste, apply to tough stains and scrub with a cloth or sponge before wiping clean. The abrasive texture cuts through grime.
  • White vinegar – Full of acetic acid, vinegar can dissolve burnt on food remains. Boil a diluted vinegar solution to generate steaming cleaning power.
  • Sodium percarbonate cleaner – Dissolve powdered oxygen-boosted cleaners like OxiClean in warm water and wipe interior with solution for an advanced stain attack. Rinse thoroughly after.
  • Mr Clean Magic Eraser – These melamine foam pads physically lift and scrape away stubborn cooked on stains with minimal scrubbing. Dampen before use.

However, these heavy duty cleaners are abrasive and can damage microwave surfaces with repeated use, so reserve them only for the worst case scenarios. The natural steam lemon method still works best for regular upkeep.

FAQ About the Lemon Steam Microwave Cleaning Method

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using the lemon steam cleaning technique:

What kind of lemons should I use?
Regular yellow lemons work perfectly, organic or not. More lemon slices means more acidity for cleaning power.

Does it matter what size bowl I use?
Use a large, microwave-safe bowl that gives adequate space for the water to boil and steam vigorously. Glass or ceramic bowls are ideal.

How long should I microwave the lemon water?
5-7 minutes on high power until rapidly boiling. Then allow to steam 3-5 minutes with door closed before wiping clean.

How often should I clean my microwave this way?
Once a week is ideal for regular maintenance. Increase frequency if you use the microwave a lot.

Can I use other citrus like oranges or limes?
Lemons provide the highest citric acid content for cutting through grime. But oranges or limes will also add nice fresh fragrance.

What should I do for really tough burnt on stains?
Try letting lemon juice concentrate sit for 10-15 minutes on stubborn spots to fully dissolve before wiping down.

How can I get rid of lingering burnt food smells?
After cleaning, microwave fresh lemon water for 5 minutes as a deodorizer to erase unpleasant smells.

Using this natural microwave steam cleaning technique just once will show you how effective it is! The next time you have a microwave mess, reach for the lemons and let the steam cleaning begin.


This surprisingly simple microwave cleaning trick using steam and lemon can dissolve and eliminate even the most stubborn burnt on food residues and odors with minimal effort. By just boiling lemon water directly in the microwave, you can harness the cleaning and deodorizing power of lemon juice and steam to lift away grime and leave the interior fresh in just minutes.

While it can be frustrating when microwave meals and snacks bubble over or cook too long, this steam and citrus technique helps restore cleanliness and kill odors naturally. No harsh chemicals required!

Give your microwave the lemon steam treatment the next time burnt on chaos strikes so you can get back to quick and easy cooking and enjoying your clean kitchen’s fresh lemon scent. This microwave cleaning hack might just become your new go-to method for maintaining a sparkling interior between deep cleans. With just some lemons and water, you’ll be amazed how a simple steam cleansing can remove burnt on food with ease and make your kitchen smell nice again.