How to remove stains from microwave. No more long-term, permanent yellow stains.
I tried 15 solutions to find the one that works!
At first this was an amusing, slightly challenging attempt to find a solution for those long-term, permanent microwave stains.
Then it turned into a vendetta. Each new method had me approaching the microwave with narrowed eyes and determination to win.
And finally, I have. You would not believe how much time I have dedicated to finding a solution to this problem. But like I’ve promised to you, my dear readers, I won’t share it unless it works! And I have succeeded. (Check out the Cleaning & Hacks page for more content like this.)
Normal cleaning of a microwave isn’t a problem. Wipe it down often, usually no problem.
If dirtier, cook some vinegar and water about 2 minutes and then wipe down. But over the years stains build up. My goal this time around was to get those stains out.
So, I tested. I googled and tested some more. I finally found one method that works better than the others. But it required major scrubbing. I estimated it would take about 4 magic erasers and two hours. I want a clean microwave…but I don’t want it that bad.
So back to Google and then the grocery store. Finally, in desperation, I offered a $25 reward on Facebook to anyone who could provide a solution that met the following requirements:
- Takes less than 20 min. per side to clean. (Reason: Magic Eraser works to some extent, but I would probably have to spend 3 hrs. getting stains off.)
- It wasn’t one of the solutions I’d already tried.
Well….none of them worked. But at least I got my friends involved. And I found a cleaning item I hadn’t used before, but definitely will again.
For a full list of all 15 things I tried, see the very bottom.
Start pictures: like I said, years of deep stains…I clean it regularly now…but wasn’t always so diligent. These stains wouldn’t go away with normal cleaning!
How to remove stains from microwave
Anyway, I know you’re breathless. What finally worked? OxiClean powder and Softscrub. Mix it in the microwave (it will bubble a little bit) and spread around well. The walls are little challenging, but do the best you can. Then let sit for 30 min. Finally, put some elbow grease into it, and then rinse out very well. It actually took two applications to get it (almost) completely clean.
And….the after picture!
Not 100% effective….
Isn’t the difference amazing?
For your amusement, here is the entire list of items I tried in learning how to remove stains from microwave, and their effect:
• Methods 1 & 2: Baking soda & water/ Lemon juice & water: Fill the bowl with hot water. Add either a few dashes of lemon juice or baking soda to the water. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for five minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the interior with a clean cloth. This worked for normal, everyday grime.
• Method 3: Nail polish remover w/ acetone: damaged microwave
• Method 4: Vinegar…slight improvement for a lot of scrubbing
• Method 5: Bleach: no change
• Method 6: Toothpaste: no change, even though it works great on other stains (such as on counters!)
• Method 7: Magic eraser- only serious change. But it’s going to take a lot of scrubbing.
• Method 8: Non-acetone nail polish remover: very slight change.
• Method 9: Soft scrub and bleach. Mixed together in small container. Poured, dabbed over area. Let sit 30 min. No improvement.
• Method 10: Hydrogen peroxide: no change
• Method 11: Clorox Bleach Stain Remover for Whites: no change
• Method 12: Clorox bleach pen for whites: no change
• Method 13: 16oz. water, 4 Tbsp. castile soap, 20 drops tea tree oil. No change…but had a good pleasant scent compared to other cleaners. I’m going to have to use it on other stuff.
• Method 14: Peppermint oil & water: no change. Honestly not surprised…this was a long shot.
• Method 15: Softscrub and OxyClean. Mix. Scrub on. Let sit hour. Scrub again. Worked better than other methods; did lighten stains. Not 100% removed…try a second round. That did it!
Do you have any magic cleaning solutions to share?
While cleaning is NOT my passion (I prefer making printables and baking), I do share some cleaning secrets on The Housewife Modern. And the quest on how to remove stains from microwave was one of my favorites. Though frustrating at times.
Do you have any magic cleaning solutions to share? I would love to share it with my readers! Comment below to let me know.
Katie Crafts says
I had this problem last year! I made the mistake of pressing the “popcorn” button on the microwave and walking away, but it burned the popcorn so badly there was a lot of yellow smoke damage when I opened it up. I tried lemon, vinegar, multiple soaps, magic eraser and all too, and none were as good as soft scrub!!
I know! I had no idea that stains could be so stubborn. It seriously was like a war between me and stains by the end. Hopping over to your website right now to browse around and hopefully check you out on Pinterest!
I just bought a used microwave for a kid just moving into her own apartment and it had some badly burned on stains on the back wall, and on the roof of the interior. Googling how to solve the problem brought me here. There is one wonder cleaner that I decided to give a shot first – denatured alcohol. That stuff is grossly under rated, it will remove Sharpie permanent marker from a microfiber couch with hardly any effort at all. It will take fingernail polish and grease out of microfiber and fabrics. I decided to put a little on a magic eraser and try to remove the badly burned stains. Wa-la. It completely and totally removed ALL of them. In less than 5 minutes. I did have to apply, scrub, wipe off, and reapply 3 different times before they were totally gone. It isn’t a harsh chemical (IS flammable, though) like acetone (fingernail polish remover). It does not damage the surface at all. As a matter of the fact, I used it to clean up the plastic on the front inside and outside of the door, and the plastic touch panel – and they are now perfectly clean and shiny, just like new. It worked like a charm. Thought I’d share another way to remove the stains with hardly any effort.
Bertha Patton says
Fantastic tips! Toothpaste? I have never known that toothpaste could be useful. Thank you for sharing this amazing tips. I am going to use my toothpaste for removing some stains. Greetings!
Yep, toothpaste. Just make sure you use the non-gel plain white toothpaste. The gel kinds don’t work. I use the arm&hammer brand, but I’m sure others would work.
Rick Anderson says
I am in Canada and UNABLE to find Softscrub because it’s an American product( and apparently NOT sold in Canada). Can I use ANY other cream cleaner (like Vim) or any that you can recommend?
I don’t know about any other options. I stopped when I finally managed to have success! (as I mentioned in the post, it was quite the saga). My best guess is that any other cream cleaner like Softscrub would work. But I can’t be sure. I would love to hear from you if Vim works, though. I would update the post to include this option for my non-American readers.
I LOVE the way you went about solving microwave stains. Your details, process, explanation and photos are fantastic. I am quarantined because of the Corona Virus and have a lot of time on my hands. I made a list of cleaning and organizing projects and the stains in the 15 year old microwave were on the list. After unsuccessfully trying two method I came across your website . The Softscrub/Oxyclean worked! It did take two applications. The first time the mixture was absorbed for 30 minutes and the second was for an hour. It did take a bit of elbow grease, but I became excited as I scrubbed and the microwave became cleaner. Thank you!
Yay! I’m glad all that experimenting worked out. I don’t know if you read the list at the bottom of all the 15 methods I tried BEFORE I found one that worked. Like I said in the intro, it turned into a real vendetta against that microwave! haha.
So glad you got your microwave clean. And thanks for compliment on the photos. I knew NOTHING about photography back then and those are some of the worst photos on the site. But I guess they get the point across, so that makes them useful even if not the most beautiful.
Mary Anne says
Thank you! I tried a few things to remove the burned popcorn stains without success. Your idea of using Oxyclean worked perfectly. I live in Canada so I used VIM instead of Softscrub.. I first made a paste with VIM, Oxyclean and threw in a bit of vinegar for good measure. I applied the paste on the stains and left it for 20 minutes, scrubbed and then repeated this a second time. The microwave looks new again. Thanks for sharing!
Glad it worked for you! I’m glad you mentioned VIM. I had a reader for Canada ask before what they could use since Softscrub wasn’t available.
How does the oxy/soft scrub combination affect the food you cook in the microwave afterwards?
Well, I haven’t done an actual scientific study on it. I just washed out the microwave twice and then used it like normal. We didn’t notice any taste or anything in the food. But I can’t guarantee like the FDA that there is absolutely no lingering fumes.
Sorry. It was fine for me, but I just want to make sure I’m not making any scientific claims that can get me in legal trouble.
Amy Turnipseed says
Thank you so much for this post! My kids have microwaved dry pasta on 3 separate occasions and my microwave was nearly orange from the stains. This is the only post I could find with a solution beyond lemons and vinegar. I’ve been scrubbing on and off since last night but I’m making progress! Thanks again!!
You’re welcome! Trust me, I know the struggle (as you read in the post). I scoured the internet looking for a solution. And tried plenty of stuff that didn’t work. Good luck on your microwave.
The inside of my microwave is stainless steel (or whatever that bright shiny metal is). I cleaned it with steamed water and vinegar but had spots on it after it dried. What took it off was Bar Keepers Friend. I shook very well put a little bit on a wet nylon scrubby and scrubbed, wiped off with a clean wet cloth then dried. Looks like it did when I brought it home. I also use it to clean my glass top stove.
My microwave looks just like your before picture! I thought it was ruined because it was a cheap one and would have to just replace it for something better. But thought I would google it first to see if I could clean it before spending money on a new appliance! I def want to try what you did! Looks amazing!
Just one question: Did the combo of Soft Scrub and Oxiclean etch the surfaces at all? I know Soft Scrub is called “soft scrub” for a reason, so that it won’t etch… but I have actually seen it etch some of my bathroom surfaces, like the plasticy shower tub surrounds (we don’t have real ceramic tile shower stalls, it’s an molded insert), because of the bleach or maybe even because of in combination with the scrubber sponge and too much elbow grease. I would love to know what type of scrubbing sponge you used. Thanks so much!
It did not etch mine. But I can’t promise what different cleaners will do to different surfaces. I can only share my personal experience. I used a soft sponge…I think it was one of the cheap ones from Wal-Mart. It certainly wasn’t anything special.
Glad you found the post helpful! Good luck with your microwave.
R T says
I would try a foaming oven cleaner, douse the inside then put a cup of water and microwave it for 5 or more (might need to do this step more than once), let the cleaner soak for a bit more then light elbow grease… Second method, douse inside with cleaner/degreaser and wipe it off, then spray some goof-off on there and let it sit for 30 seconds then wipe. bam-wham thank you ma’am!