Make your microwave last with tips from the pros

Without much effort your microwave will work well for years

Published: March 18, 2015 05:15 PM

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Today’s microwaves do everything from defrosting to grilling. Sure, they’ll reheat yesterday’s dinner or pop a bag of popcorn. But many of the latest models also automate heating functions for a wide range of food and offer convection, speed-cooking, and even grilling capabilities. That means you can cook an entire meal without turning on your stove. Some simple precautions and basic upkeep will keep your microwave popping for years to come.

Don’t let splatters sit. Tackle them right away with a wet paper towel. If you need something stronger, add a sprinkle of baking soda to the wet towel.

Cut the crud. Scrape off tough, baked-on food with a credit card. The straight edge can lift the mess without scratching the oven’s finish.

Use the right cleaner.
Wash the turntable and other removable parts with hot water and a little dishwashing liquid.

Freshen the interior. To stop smells, place a bowl of lemon juice and warm water inside the oven and run it on high for 1 minute.

Avoid damage. If sparks fly from your oven, turn it off immediately and remove the food or the utensil you were using. If caught at once, sparks shouldn’t damage the oven.

Don't run on empty. Avoid turning it on when empty and avoid putting metal inside.

Mind the installation. Use a surge protector to shield the microwave’s solid-state circuitry from voltage spikes.

Follow instructions. Check the owner's manual for more tips.

Top microwaves from our tests

Cooking with microwave energy is more efficient than cooking on a cooktop or in an oven. Capacity is improving, too. Major brands are increasing usable space without stretching overall size by using recessed turntables and walls. But some manufacturers exaggerate size by counting wasted space in the corners so see our microwave Ratings for the real deal.

Best countertop microwaves

Best over-the-range microwaves

—Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)

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