Unless the only thing you do in the microwave is reheat your morning coffee, you know how gnarly the appliance can get, inside and out. Splattered tomato sauce, crusty cheese, and lingering odors are just some of the offenses. If you have kids at home, the situation probably gets even worse (burnt popcorn, anyone?). 

Here’s how to clean a microwave and keep the mess in check in a few simple steps.   

Step 1: Wipe It Down

As with most cleaning tasks, the faster you act the easier it will be. Use a household sponge and hot soapy water to wipe down the door, touchpad controls, and interior cavity. A credit card is helpful for scraping up stuck-on foods without scratching the surface.

Step 2: Wash Any Removable Parts

If your microwave has removable parts, such as a turntable, shelf, or rack, remove them every now and then for a thorough hand washing in the sink. 

Step 3: Sanitize

Lemon juice is the secret to a fresh smelling microwave. Place a bowl of water containing a few tablespoons of lemon juice in the oven and run it on high for a couple minutes. You want it to get good and hot so that steam fills the cavity. Then wipe down the inside of a microwave with a cloth, using the condensation to deliver a deep clean. Repeat if necessary.

In the market for a new microwave? Some new models come with steam-clean features, low-maintenance ceramic interiors with rounded edges, and black stainless steel finishes that resist smudges and fingerprints. Check Consumer Reports' microwave Ratings for more information on the latest models.