The problem is that if simple care is not taken, these very convenient appliances can quickly become totally spattered and caked with food, rendering them very unappetizing and even disgusting.
Knowing this, I was still shocked recently when a young couple I know mentioned in the course of a conversation that they had thrown out an apartment countertop microwave because it had become so caked with food they didn't think they could clean it.
My frugal and environmentally conscious soul positively cringed when I heard this. And I know my late Mom would have been rolling in her grave if someone had said that in front of her.
And she practiced what she preached, reusing and making do with things that most people would have consigned to the trash heap. We, her children, often found it terribly annoying, even embarrassing at times.
But over time I have come to realize that if people adopted even one tenth of her practices, the environment would be in far better shape. And many people would have fewer money problems if they incorporated some of her thrift into their lifestyle.
Suffice it to say that throwing out an appliance just because it needs cleaning is not budget-conscious.
To help you avoid such a thing happening to you, I offer the following hints whenever you are using your microwave:
Cover Your Food
Put the food you want to heat or cook in a microwave save container or on a plate and COVER it.
An overturned bowl or plate placed over the contents can fulfill the function of a lid quite nicely, but anything microwave safe will do.
Covering the food fulfills three purposes. It hastens the heating process; it prevents the food from drying out; and it also keeps it from making a mess by splattering all over the walls and roof of the microwave.
It’s much easier to wash the cover than it is to have to wipe out the entire microwave.
I also recommend placing large plates under food containers to catch any potential spillage or overflow in the cooking process.
Make covering your food a habit, and I can guarantee that your microwave will stay much cleaner with no extra effort on your part.
Clean Any Spills or Splatters Right Away
Sometimes despite our best efforts to avoid it, food gets all over the microwave. Should that happen for whatever reason, the easiest way to deal with it is to wipe the sides and ceiling of the microwave immediately with a damp dishrag or sponge BEFORE it has a chance to dry and cake on. If there is a mess on the tray, then remove it and wash it right away in the sink before returning it clean to the microwave.
It amazes me how people will avoid this simple little task and let the food dry on when it's so much easier to do it when it's a fresh spill. If ever there was a case where a stitch in time saves nine, it’s this. Prompt cleaning really does save quite a bit of work.
But what’s to be done if you just don’t get around to it in time, and the food ends up virtually cemented to the sides, bottom, and top of the microwave?
That's not a problem. Here’s what you do:
Heat an UNCOVERED bowl or cup of water for about 2-3 minutes in the microwave on high.
Immediately wipe out the oven with a clean damp rag, cloth, or sponge. Or paper towels if the oven is truly filthy. I don’t usually condone the use of paper towels, but if you’re dealing with a greasy mess, it is often the only way to get it out.
Rinse the rag or sponge out frequently as needed so that you are not just swishing the food residue around.
Repeat the water heating step if necessary if there are still some food remnants that dry before you get to them.
Continue wiping until the entire microwave is clean.
Resolve to cover your food from now on and wipe out any spills or splatter as soon as they happen.
It's just one small step in saving you some money and the planet some unneeded trash.