The do's and don'ts of microwaves

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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Microwaves have fast become a must have item in the kitchen, with more people owning them than not, but how much do you really know about them? Are you taking it for granted that you know enough to be using them properly?

You might think this seems like a strange topic but you'd be surprised at some of the facts you might not know about microwaves so we thought we would swoop in and drop some knowledge. You might be enlightened or you could even discover that you are a kitchen appliance pro!

Is radiation dangerous?

Bishops Park SW6: modern Kitchen by CATO creative
CATO creative

Bishops Park SW6

CATO creative

We all think of radiation as being a potentially dangerous thing and so we should. It is not something to be messed about with so, while many homes have microwaves that are perfectly safe, thanks to their structure and the type of radiation they employ, it is the usage that really makes a difference.

Used in accordance with manufacturer guidelines, microwaves do not emit harmful radiation but if you were to tamper with or tweak your appliance you would be at risk of unknown consequences and, as we all know, the comic books are wrong and you won't turn into a superhero!

Don't put metal in there

Something that we hope you all already know is that you should never put metal in a microwave. Cooking dishes should always be microwave-safe and non-metallic and thankfully, most manufacturers now include a mark on the bottom to tell you if their products are suitable.

Metal in a microwave will arc, causing explosions and fires so if you have taken the time to create your perfect kitchen, such as this one from Nimble Interiors, you don't want to run the risk of it disappearing in smoke!

Gold ceramics can be dangerous

We think you probably knew all about the metal in the microwave issue but were you also aware that gold rimmed ceramics can also have the same arcing effect? We were shocked too as we thought that ceramics were generally a safe bet for microwaves but seemingly not.

The metal in the paint will have a feisty reaction to the microwave radiation and will be just as explosive as if you placed a metal dish in there. Pop your vintage china into storage as it's most definitely not microwave-safe!

Don't let it overheat

Mediterranean Style: mediterranean Kitchen by Rencraft
Rencraft

Mediterranean Style

Rencraft

This tip goes for everything in your kitchen really but with microwaves you really do need to make sure that they don't overheat as they could short out, have a mini explosion or damage your units. The way to avoid this is simple but it's shocking just how many people don't do it.

Just like a cooker, your microwave creates and is exposed to a lot of heat so you have to ventilate the appliance enough to counterbalance it. This is as simple as moving your microwave slightly away from the wall, keeping it free of other kitchen utensils and having a professional fit a built-in one for you, complete with cooling vent at the back!

Not just for food

We know you're going to be a bit confused by this tip but we think it's a bit of fun and will help you to get the most from your kitchen appliance so we are including it. Have you ever wondered what else your microwave could be useful for, other than heating up food? Apparently, a lot of people have!

The most common secondary uses appear to be drying clothes and towels, with many mums hurriedly drying socks at the last minute before the school run! We have to admit that the idea of popping underpants in there on a cold winter's morning made us laugh at first but then very tempted…

Keep it clean

White handleless kitchen in Leeds: minimalistic Kitchen by Pyram
Pyram

White handleless kitchen in Leeds

Pyram

Don't see your microwave as simply another workhorse in your kitchen that you don't have to pay too much attention to; that's as bad as not thinking you need to clean the dishwasher!

Food will naturally bubble and splatter as it heats up so always let your microwave cool down completely then give it a cursory wipe both inside and out. Even if you can't see any food stains, there will be something that could grow mouldy and smelly so help prevent that from happening rather than having to tackle it when it does.

For more kitchen tips, take a look at this Ideabook: Chemical-Free Oven Cleaning Can Be Done. Going natural doesn't mean that your cleaning regime won't still pack a punch!

What else do you use your microwave for? We'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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