Is microwaving vinegar and water a miracle microwave cleaner?

While I was researching for Hang Your Hat's Episode 8:  Wax On, Wax Off, one cleaning hack came up over and over again - Cleaning your Microwave by Microwaving Water and Vinegar.  Some sites implied that once you did the microwaving you were done and the microwave would be magically cleaned by the water and vinegar vapor, others indicated that a quick wipe down of the walls after microwaving the water and vinegar mix was required but, it would be so easy to remove the junk that it would practically jump off the side of the microwave onto your cleaning rag.

I was pretty skeptical of these claims.  It just didn't seem likely that just microwaving water and vinegar would make that much difference, so I decided to do an experiment of my own.

Before

 Before Cleaning - Spaghetti Explosion Mess

Before Cleaning - Spaghetti Explosion Mess

The state of my microwave is a direct consequence of allowing my kids to microwave their own food.  It is messy, and I am ok with that.  Letting them fix their own food helps them gain a sense of independence, and learning that an uncovered bowl of spaghetti will splatter the entire microwave will serve them well later in life.  The result was that I didn't have to manufacture a mess in my microwave to do this test, so in that sense this is a "true" test of this method; however, despite the volume of mess, it actually hadn't been that long since my microwave was cleaned, so I didn't have junk baked on by eons of use.  A truly baked in mess might have different results, as could different microwave materials, wattage, etc.  Moving on.

Comparison to Standard Cleaning Methods

I started by doing a wipe down of just the door using my favorite all purpose cleaner, by Method, and a clean rag.  I had no problem whatsoever removing the mess on the door using this method - it came right off.

Experiment

Then I started on the actual experiment.  There were a LOT of variations on this method, the one I chose to use was from Magnolia Magazine's 2nd issue, Simplicity.  The directions were;

In a microwave safe bowl microwave 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and a few drops of essential oil for 4 minutes, then let sit for 4 minutes.  Wipe clean.

I followed the directions exactly, even using a timer to make sure I waited just the right amount of time.  Since the type of essential oil was not specified I assumed it was added for the smell rather than any specific cleaning quality, so I used Lavender.

Results

 After Microwaving the water and vinegar mix and wiping with a dry rag.

After Microwaving the water and vinegar mix and wiping with a dry rag.

After waiting the prescribed amount of time I wiped down the inside of the microwave with a clean dry cloth.  Some of the junk did come off, but it wasn't exactly miraculous.  There was still plenty of mess left after I wiped it down.

Recommendation

 After scrubbing the microwave with the warm water and vinegar mix.

After scrubbing the microwave with the warm water and vinegar mix.

When just wiping the microwave with a dry cloth didn't really work, I decided to use warm water and vinegar as a cleaning solution.  I dipped my rag into the solution and wiped down the inside of the microwave with that.  The microwaved mess didn't stand a chance.  Huge amounts came out with every swipe of my rag and soon it was completely clean.

Conclusion

The simple act of microwaving water and vinegar did not mirculalously clean my microwave; however, the warm water and vinegar mixture that resulted from this cleaning hack was quite a good cleaning agent.  If you use this hack expect to do some scrubbing.

For more on cleaning, check out Hang You Hat, Episode 8:  Has On, Wax Off.

Does waxing your sink keep it cleaner longer?

Hang Your Hat Episode 8 just came out, and it is all about spring cleaning.  While doing my research for the show I came across a couple of cleaning hacks, a few of which were even good enough to try.  My favorite of these hacks was waxing the sink.  The idea is that waxing the sink will make water bead up on it, and gunk rinse down the drain easier, keeping the sink cleaner longer.  Since kitchen sinks tend to be one of the most disgusting germ filled areas in the home, and since my sink seems to attract filth like a magnet attracts ferrous metal, I thought it would be worth a try.

 The Sink Before - Not Hiding the Shame Today

The Sink Before - Not Hiding the Shame Today

 The close ups really do the filth justice.

The close ups really do the filth justice.

This is what my sink looked like when I started.  The close ups really do it justice.  I won’t deny it, it was filthy, and also the reason this hack appealed to me so much to begin with.  It always feels like as soon as I clean the sink, I blink and it is filthy again.  I was really hoping that this hack would give me a bit more time between serious scrub downs.

Step 1:  Thoroughly Clean the sink  

The sink needed to be cleaned before it could be waxed, so I went with a three step approach to getting it the cleanest it could possibly be.  I should note here that my sink is a stainless steel sink, and it can tolerate some pretty heavy cleaning.  Always make sure that the cleaning products you use are safe for the surface you are cleaning.

Baking Soda and Dish Soap

The first step in the cleaning was a good scrubbing with baking soda and dish soap.  This combo makes a slightly abrasive paste that is really good for cutting through heavy grime.  When I finished scrubbing I rinsed the paste off, and the sink was already looking a lot better.

Vinegar

Next I went in with a spray bottle full of vinegar and a scrubbing pad.  The vinegar is good at getting rid of water spots and minor lime scale build up (if you have heavy lime scale build up a product like CLR is a better choice).  Note here that I washed the baking soda off the sink before applying the vinegar.  Combining the two will not do anything harmful, but it probably won’t do anything beneficial either.  Since baking soda is alkaline and vinegar is acidic when the two are combined the Ph of the combination becomes neutral, like water.  Since I needed an acid for the water spots and the lime scale I did not combine the two.  

On a side note, you might notice vinegar reacting to lime scale if you have a lot of it.  It bubbles up just like it does when it is combined with baking soda.  This is because the lime, like the baking soda, is alkaline.  The reaction is a tiny bit of lime scale being eaten away by the vinegar.  

Once the vinegar was done doing its job I rinsed it off completely.

Bleach

Last I used a bleach based cleaner to disinfect.  Make sure the vinegar is completely washed off before applying the bleach because vinegar and bleach can create some harmful gas when combined.

I sprayed on the cleaner, and let it sit for 5 minutes to give it time to completely disinfect.  Then I rinsed it off.

 After Cleaning

After Cleaning

This is what is looked like when I had finished cleaning it - It cleans up pretty good!

Step 2:

Dry the Sink

Before wax can be applied to the sink it must be dry.  I grabbed a clean dry cloth and wiped it down.

Apply the Wax

Next I applied the wax.  I used carnuba wax – just like the wax used on cars.  My family does not put anything directly in the sink that we will be eating later, so I felt comfortable using the carnuba wax.  If my family ever put food directly in the sink I would have used a food safe wax instead.  

The wax is easy to apply, you just get a bit on the applicator and rub it on the sink trying to apply a thin even coat on all of the sink surfaces.  If you leave a few globs, like I did, it is not the end of the world, it just takes those areas a bit longer to dry.

Remove the Wax

Let the wax dry completely before you remove it.  When it is dry it will look like a white, slightly powdery, haze on the surface of the sink.  

Once it is dry grab another clean dry cloth and wipe off the dry wax (and be amazed how much crap you still get off the sink even after all of that cleaning).  You should not see any white haze left once the wax has been removed.

 

Step 3: Test it

 Even tiny drops of water bead up after the application of the wax.

Even tiny drops of water bead up after the application of the wax.

I was a bit nervous to test it.  I had such high hopes for this hack, and I really wanted it to work.  If it hadn’t worked I was going to be so disappointed.  Firebeard ended up getting some water when I wasn’t looking, some of which dripped into the sink.  It beaded up beautifully.  I spent the rest of the day rinsing things off in the sink and watching water and bits of food slide right down the drain without leaving a mark on the sink.  It was a beautiful thing to behold.

Step 4:  See how long it takes the filth to build back up again

And then I went on a business trip for 5 days.  Firebeard and the kids stayed home, and used the sink like they normally would.  It was rinsed out when dishes were done, but it was not cleaned or even wiped down.  This is what it looked like when I got back (and put the dishes in the washer):

 After five days of use and no cleaning.

After five days of use and no cleaning.

 Close up after 5 days of use with no cleaning.  

Close up after 5 days of use with no cleaning.  

Conclusion:

Holy Crap!  This is amazing.  I am never not going to do this ever again.  Five days after being cleaned and waxed it looks like it normally does five minutes after I clean it.  I don't know how this isn't standard Home Ec 101.  Really I could not be more pleased with how well this turned out.  You should definately give it a try!  I am heading off to wax the rest of the sinks in my house now.

 

To learn more about Spring Cleaning and cleaning Hacks check out Hang Your Hat Episode 8:  Wax on, Wax Off.  If you have a fantastic cleaning hack you would like to share, or have heard of one that might be worthy of a cleaning experiment, please let me know about it in the comments.