The microwave is one of the most convenient bits of modern kitchen equipment available. Its power allows you to heat food from frozen to piping hot in a matter of minutes, making it a godsend for those chronically short of time.

However, it is this very power that can make it somewhat awkward to clean and maintain. Cooked-on food splatters can be nearly impossible to get off, and knowing how to clean it safely can be confusing. Here are some hints and tips to demystify the process and make sure your microwave is a hygienic place for preparing your food.

The main trick for dealing with stubborn microwave dirt is to soften it with steam. Since microwaves work by heating the water in food, this is an easy thing to achieve. Try microwaving a solution of a tablespoon of white vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl of water for about a minute, or as long as it takes for the inside of the microwave to become steamy. This works because the steam makes any splatters easier to remove, and the vinegar helps cut through grease. If you don’t have vinegar, use another mildly acidic substance such as lemon juice.

You can then wipe down the microwave with a cleaning cloth, paying particular attention to the door, as this is a prime area for grease to build up. The rotating dish can be removed and washed separately, providing you make sure to rinse all the soap off. While it’s drying, you can also clean the spot where it normally sits: it may seem that no dirt should be able to reach this spot, but somehow it often does.

The rubber seal around the microwave door is an area that is often overlooked, but is easy to wipe clean with a damp sponge. It’s best to use only water, to avoid any damage to the rubber.

However, most of us want to keep the need to clean down to a minimum. While the need to occasionally de-gunk the microwave can’t be completely eliminated, the following tips can at least make it a less frequent chore.

The best way to reduce food splatters is to cover your food while it’s cooking. However, it’s vital to always have somewhere for the steam to escape. This is for the same reason that sealed containers should never be microwaved, and vegetable skins should be pierced with a skewer or fork before cooking.

It puts the expanding steam under increasing pressure, and can cause explosions that range from messy annoyances to life threatening, and as such should be avoided. Instead, try covering bowls and containers with cling film (never foil - do not put metal in the microwave), then piercing a few holes in it. This will allow steam to escape safely, while containing most flying droplets of food.

Alternatively, you can buy special covers that serve the same purpose, thanks to lots of small vents around the edges. However, they may not balance well on some narrower containers, so keep some clingfilm handy.

© Axonn 2015