It’s easy to forget about our microwave when we’re not using it—especially since many models are compact, tucked into the corners of counters, or mounted above the stove. But, like other kitchen appliances, our microwaves need basic maintenance in order to keep running smoothly.
Here are a few tips for keeping your microwave in working order.
How to maintain your microwave
According to most manufacturers, the lifespan of a microwave is roughly 10 years. Here’s how to ensure that you get the full decade out of your appliance:
Cover your food
The best way to keep your microwave clean is to prevent it from getting gross in the first place. Do this by covering your food when you cook it—just make sure that the lid or cover isn’t too tight (which ultimately can create even more of a mess). Not sure what to use? Read about the best ways to cover your food, here.
Wipe up spills right away
If food or liquids do spill (it happens), wipe it up immediately. According to Consumer Reports, “leftover food bits may absorb the microwave’s energy the next time you turn it on and create hot spots that could damage the interior.”
Clean built-up gunk regularly
Even if you cover your food and wipe up spills in a timely manner, a thin film will likely form on the inside of your microwave. The longer it sits, the harder it is to remove, so when you notice it, get rid of it. Not sure what to do? We’ve written about a number of ways to remove this film, including using steam, lemons, and baking soda.
Use the exhaust fan
If your microwave is located above your stove, you should be turning on its exhaust fan when using the cooktop—especially when steam is involved. You don’t want that moisture getting into the microwave’s electronic components, and shortening its lifespan.
Clean the grease filters
Clogged grease filters may make your microwave less efficient, causing it to have to work harder, and potentially cutting its life short. Check your microwave’s manual (if you still have it) to find out how to remove and safely clean its grease filters.
If you can’t find it, the grease filters are typically located on the underside of the appliance, and generally easy to slide out (though you may want to put on a pair of rubber gloves if you don’t like touching gross things). Then fill your sink or a basin with hot water, add a squirt or two of degreasing liquid dish soap, and let the filters soak until the gunk can be wiped off easily. Finally, rinse them, then pop them back into place.
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