Don't Make This Harmful Mistake When Cleaning Your Microwave

Over the years, microwaves have become an indispensable part of our kitchens since they offer a quick and convenient way to heat food, defrost ingredients, and even cook simple meals. Like any kitchen appliance, they require proper care and handling to prolong their longevity and safety. While microwaves are relatively simple to operate and clean, there's one crucial rule that is sometimes overlooked: Never get your microwave's control panel wet. Doing so isn't just an aesthetic mistake; it can lead to costly repairs and even safety hazards.

Of course, this is also one of the places on the microwave that gets the dirtiest since it's one of the most touched areas. It can become inundated with food and germs, not to mention dirt and grime. As a result, the control panel needs a regular wipe-down and should be cleaned about once a week along with the rest of your microwave, but it also requires some forethought to avoid saturating the board.

Water can break your microwave's control panel

The control panel of your microwave is more than just a collection of buttons. It houses delicate electronic components like circuit boards, microprocessors, and sensors. These intricate components are designed to interpret your commands and translate them into electrical signals that power the microwave. When water comes in contact with these sensitive components, it can cause a few different problems. If water somehow gets inside, either by a too-wet sponge or cloth or by a direct spraying, it can short out the control board or touchpad.

In addition, even small amounts of water can lead to corrosion of electronic components over time. This can slowly eat away at the metallic contacts and traces on the circuit board, eventually rendering them unusable. Water can cause glitches by disrupting delicate electrical signals. This can lead to malfunctions like buttons not responding and incorrect power levels. It can also cause the microwave to stop working altogether.

Broken control panels can be pricey to replace

If water damage occurs, repairs can be costly. Replacing a control panel can easily set you back several hundred dollars. Depending on the model and availability of parts, it often ranges between $100 and $500. In some cases, the cost may even exceed the value of the microwave itself, making repairs impractical.

As a result, prevention is key, and you can take simple steps to clean your control panel and keep it safe. The easiest way to clean your microwave's control panel is to use a damp cloth — but do not scrub. You'll also want to avoid spraying cleaner directly onto the panel. If you have a big spill near the control panel, immediately mop it up with a dry cloth to minimize water exposure. Avoid placing steaming dishes or pans directly next to the control panel to keep away condensation. To minimize the need for constant cleaning, wash your hands before touching the panel, especially if they're greasy or wet. 

By keeping your control panel dry, you're not just preventing costly repairs, you're also ensuring optimal microwave performance. Typically, you should only have to replace your microwave every 10 years or so.