Cleaning years of grease - bottom of microwave edition
July 31, 2018 3:15 PM   Subscribe

This is an embarrassing "I should have cleaned this more often" scenario, but here we go. The microwave in our apartment sits over the range, and the bottom contains some lights and some standard range filters. (A setup like this.) Not knowing that I could slide the filters out, I unscrewed that whole bottom plate and took it off to see what's where. The grease buildup was... bad. I cleaned the filters with Easy-Off oven cleaner and am satisfied with how they came out, but that entire bottom portion of the microwave is still. So. Gross!

There are some wires for all the electronics to function, which I IMAGINE I can disconnect so that I can stick the whole thing into a plastic bag, spray with Easy-Off, and leave to degrease for a few hours. My question is can I actually do that? Will I damage something, especially when it comes to wiping the goo off afterwards. (I'd love to stick it into a shower instead of dealing with our tiny kitchen sink too, but I'm guessing I can't get a lot of it wet.)

To anyone who's dealt with this type of cleaning task before, what's the best way for me to tackle it? For the first time in 5 years too, so the grease/stickiness is... extensive. When I unscrewed the bottom plate and tilted it downwards to remove it, old grease immediately started dripping onto the range. I need this to never happen again but let's return to a clean state first.

Any tips appreciated!
posted by erratic meatsack to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would use one of those citrus solvents (and ventilate well!) or just straight undiluted Dawn (or other grease-cutting dish detergent) and a scrubby sponge or brush. It’s gonna suck but you can make this a lot better even if you can’t get all the grossness off.
posted by mskyle at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use Goo Gone for situations like that. Wear gloves while you use it though. It's very effective.
posted by ananci at 5:30 PM on July 31, 2018

Ammonia is an excellent degreaser, minimal effect on the environment; I'd dilute it 1:1 with water. Do not ever mix ammonia with bleach - it releases chlorine and causes harm, can kill in high concentration. I use bleach occasionally, ammonia occasionally, have never made this mistake.
posted by theora55 at 5:50 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think it makes sense to remove thick layers of old grease build-up as much off as possible before using cleaning solutions. To make it more scrape-able, hot water vapor can help.

Vapor from boiling water will loosen the grease. Even a big pot of boiling water on the stove [for awhile] will make it easier to scrape the spooge off. Vigorous steam from a kettle of boiling water that you bring close to the surface underneath would be a way to concentrate the effect on problem areas. I've also used a wallpaper steamer and a small standalone milk steamer. Just get lots of hot vapor on the greasy area. Expect darkly pigmented dripping. Hope for softening.

Now that it is softer, scrape. You already have placed some [possibly disposable] cleaning tools at hand - old brushes, popsicle sticks, bamboo skewers, ragged rags. Remove matter with those.

Steam some more. Scrape some more. Yuck yuck yuck.

When most of it is wiped and scraped away, getting down to clean metal and plastic is next.
My experience agrees with the power of ammonia. It really cuts grease. Since you are working against gravity, delivering it to the surfaces is a little challenging. Maybe an ammonia-wetted rag held against the surfaces would be a good way to start. A misting spray bottle might help.

Ammonia can damage paint, discolor aluminum, some floor materials, and [read the label to find out what else], so be mindful of all the dripping that you will cause. You probably want to cover the range top area in big rag towels or plastic.

Good luck! Be persistent.
posted by Glomar response at 6:13 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Would one of those big square tin foil oven protectors underneath help?
posted by kate4914 at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2018

I use the extra strength Dawn and soak in hot water or put them in the dishwasher on sanitize. I've also used my steam cleaner. I have heard of using TSP but be careful with that (take safety precautions and follow directions).

That said, it may be best to get some new filters and start doing more routine cleaning.
posted by jraz at 5:52 AM on August 1, 2018

I would also use diluted ammonia, with the precautions mentioned above.
posted by radioamy at 9:57 AM on August 1, 2018

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