Is It Safe To Use A Microwave After Burning Plastic?

I have burned my share of a few dishes in the microwave, and I know I’m not alone. When the wrong type of plastic gets heated in a microwave, there are some important steps you will need to take in order to make it safe to use again.

Most microwaves can be used after they burn plastic, but in extreme cases, the microwave will need to be cleaned before it is used again. If the interior or exterior of the microwave is damaged, don’t use it until it is repaired by a professional and cleaned

To make sure microwaves around the home, workplace, and other areas are up to code, follow these pieces of advice! The following written steps and videos of real-world experience show that saving a microwave is easy to do as long as the proper action is taken.

What to Do After Burning Plastic in a Microwave

Not all plastic containers are safe to put in the microwave, and plastic containers and other dishes that are not labeled “microwave safe” can burn, causing smoke to billow from your microwave. Usually, harder plastics are microwave safe while the softer ones are not.

If plastic is burned in a microwave, the first move you make should be to unplug the microwave and then carefully open the door. Let the appliance cool off a bit, then wipe out any still-burning or smoldering plastic pieces with a dampened towel. Make sure to throw away any melted parts since the material can be dangerous to the health of people living in the space due to possible toxic fumes. Ensure all other kitchen surfaces and appliances nearby are cleaned as well to help diminish bad smells.

Following the above and following steps in this article is crucial, as some burned plastics can produce dangerous gases and fumes that may cause negative health side effects. Some can even cause explosions if they come into contact with nearby sparks or open flames in the kitchen.

Is My Microwave Still Safe to Use?

Thankfully, the microwave is often safe to use even after plastic burns slightly inside. If residual melted plastic is scraped off of the rotating glass plate, the microwave is usually okay to continue using.

After scraping any plastic out, wipe the inside of the microwave with a baking soda paste and then wipe the paste away with diluted distilled white vinegar. Wipe with the baking soda paste and vinegar repeatedly until the microwave looks and smells clean. At the end of this process, a container of tap water can be put in and microwaved on high power for about 5 minutes until the water is boiling. The microwave insides can then easily be wiped out with paper towels until dry and all stains, smells, or marks are removed.

Will the Burnt Plastic Harm Anyone?

If plastic burning is severe in some cases, nasty fumes can fill up the kitchen and the apartment or lower floor of your home. If the fumes are a concern, it’s good to know that most of these fumes are just not severely harmful. However, if the plastic is made of a more harmful type of plastic, the fumes might be harmful. A polymer scientist with experience working with polymer processing plant plastics gives their advice as summarized below.

If the burned plastic in the microwave was made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride material, then the fumes could actually be harmful. You may need to change or wash all furniture, curtains, walls, ceiling, and carpets in a home that are infected and have absorbed the smell. Washing, painting, or changing out home surfaces like these can remove the toxicity released from PVC plastics. Usually, these extreme measures aren’t necessary if smells don’t persist and if the plastic wasn’t made up of PVC, but if it’s a concern, follow the above steps to rid the home of any residual effects!

Cleaning Methods to Remove Odor

If the smoke from burned plastic seems to have tainted a microwave, there are a lot of different ways to rid the appliance of the scent. Simply using an all-purpose cleaner spray, ideally with a de-greaser in it, can purge the smell. Pair the cleaning solution with a sponge, scrub pad, old rag, or a washcloth of any kind and scrub away! The following video provides a step-by-step guide on how to do so.

Unorthodox Ways to Remove Smoky Scent from Microwaves

For even more direct ways to precisely suck up smoke from the microwave, there are even better ways to cleanse it. Some people have discovered a secret life hack in removing smoke with citrus fruits of all things! No cleaning solutions or scrub rags are required with this cleaning method. The only things this cleaning method requires are the skin of a lemon or orange, a bowl of water, and some time in the microwave.

This results in the porous fruit skin sucking in the smoke, so by the time it is removed, the skin may reek of smoke, but the kitchen appliance won’t! The video below is helpful to follow for this approach and advises changing out freshly peeled fruit skin if the microwave needs this process performed more than once.

Microwave Fires

In case of flames or fire, which will likely occur if the wrong kind of plastic is heated in the microwave, the microwave should be unplugged, the door kept shut, and the microwave kept under strict watch as the flames are suffocated in the microwave oven.

Luckily, most microwaves are made with safety features in mind that anticipate an eventual fire occurring for one reason or another. Oftentimes, overcooked foods, technology malfunctions, or over-burned plastic can cause sparks or fires, but keeping the door closed will often be sufficient in containing at snuffing out the fire. The key to putting out a plastic fire is to not put any water on it, as the heat from the microwave can create a reaction with water that can lead to sparks, which could lead to a larger fire.