Microwaves are an essential appliance in most family homes, whether it’s for warming the baby’s milk, reheating yesterday’s leftover takeover, or drying your socks. But despite being so useful, microwaves are often overlooked when it comes to regular cleaning – and that could be a big mistake.
A Canstar Blue survey has found that one in ten Australian adults rarely or never clean their microwave, which is a pretty disgusting statistic when you consider how often most people use them, how dirty they can get, and how difficult they can be to clean thoroughly. We’ve all seen the mess some foods can make, splattered all over the inside of the microwave.
With three out of five survey respondents using their microwave every day, but just one in five cleaning it as regularly, it seems that for many it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
But hidden behind that microwave door could be lurking some rather nasty bugs, just waiting to contaminate your next meal and potentially make you sick. Marjorie Harvey, founder and director of Australian Food Hygiene Services, says microorganisms (or germs to you and me) can thrive in an uncleaned microwave and should not be taken lightly.
“A dirty microwave could be growing a smorgasbord of germs in it,” she said. “Germs need warmth, food and moisture to multiply, and allowing the internal top of microwaves to be splattered with food particles and not cleaned after each use could pose a potential health risk. Remaining particles from the day, or week, before will dislodge as steam softens the old food and causes it to drop and contaminate the new food – if not covered.
“Under a microscope, there would be enough germs on the tip of a pin head – which is more than a million – that may cause food poisoning symptoms. Dirty microwaves are a haven for cross-contamination risks and from my experience, most people do not look under the internal top to see the accumulated food that has splattered from not being covered during the heating process.”
If in doubt about the cleanliness of your microwave, Mrs Harvey recommends covering food or beverages with microwave safe plastic wrap, a lid or bowl. And if you have discovered that food has hardened from continual splashing, you could try placing a cup of cold water into your microwave and turning it on high for around three minutes to create a steam, which should mean the food particles are easy to wipe off. This method avoids using abrasive cleaners that may scratch and harm the microwave surface.
Vinegar, dishwashing liquid, lemon and even window cleaner are also mentioned online as good cleaning tools. If you have a bright idea to keep your microwave sparkling, let us know in the comments box below.