Can You Still Use a Microwave After it catches on Fire?

Undisputedly, the microwave is one of the most used appliances in our homes.

And because of that, maintenance is regularly done on them to see they’re always performing as expected.

Many safety precautions are also practiced on them. But in all, once they are not prone to damage, we get to have them disappoint us from time to time.

One harm or damage that hits the microwave is catching fire. And that’s exactly what we are looking at today; can you still use the microwave after it catches on fire?

So can the microwave still be used after it catches on fire? It’s always okay to use the microwave when the food or substance in it is the one that catches fire.

You only need to clean it well, and you’re good to go. But it becomes dangerous to still use it in situations where parts of the microwave, like its wires, catch fire.

With that, you use it at your own risk. Inaccurate input of cooking time, especially overestimating the cooking time, is one major cause of food or substances in the microwave catching fire.

But proper safety protocols and handling of the situation can avoid further escalation, and the microwave can be used safely.

But in the case where wires in the microwave rather catch fire. With that, it’s necessary to avoid plugging the device, not to talk of turning it on.

An expert should be made to have a technical look at it. And when that happens, you try to stick to the technical advice given as to whether you stay away from it totally or for some time.

What Can Cause a Microwave to Catch Fire?

One will wonder how the microwave catches fire since its operation has no open fire. But it is much easier to catch fire once it operates with heat.

Faulty outlets and poor electrical wiring can both be causes of parts of the microwave catching fire. But that isn’t what we will be looking at in this article.

Numerous factors can cause food and substances in the microwave to catch fire. But the most usual causes are;

What Can Cause a Microwave to Catch Fire
What Can Cause a Microwave to Catch Fire
  • Overheating of food
  • Food packaging

Overheating of food

Overheating food in the microwave can be attributed to overestimating the cooking time and microwaving food with no or less moisture.

With overestimating the cooking time, adding as small as five minutes to the cooking time can cause the food or substance in the microwave to overheat.

So it’s always important to adjust your cooking time well. And regarding less moisture, microwave utilizes the moisture in food to heat them.

The moisture in the food absorbs the microwave radiation circulating on the inside of the microwave and causes it to vibrate, which ends up heating the food.

So when the moisture in the food has been exhausted, the energy absorbed in the food wouldn’t get anything to react with.

And when that happens, the food tends to overheat, which emits smoke. Smoke, as we all know, can easily turn to fire.

Food packaging

The food we order is always packaged, either in paper or Styrofoam.

Some materials are been used in food packaging that is good for storing food but can’t stand the heat. Examples of these materials are brown papers and Styrofoam.

So you are good to store your food in these and other materials. But when it’s time to reheat or microwave them, they must be transferred to bowls or plates made from materials like ceramic or glass.

These brown paper, Styrofoam, and the other materials that usually catch fire in the microwave act normally when placed in the microwave initially but begin to misbehave as the temperature of the microwave rises. Hence, they must be avoided.

Another problem that the packaging of food does cause the microwave to catch fire is when the packaging gets stuck near the wave emitter.

The microwave radiation is supposed to spread evenly on the food or substance in the microwave, but the package stacked near the wave emitter will cause the food to get direct heat, causing it to overheat. Overheating the food can also easily cause the food to catch fire.

Can a Microwave Catch on Fire if Nothing is in it?

There are also instances where there’s nothing in the microwave, but it will still catch some fire.

You might wonder what will trigger such fir since there’s nothing in it. With such instances, let’s look at what happens.

In microwave operations, the magnetron generates microwave radiation, converted into heat energy.

The heat energy gets absorbed by the food or any substance in the microwave to heat them.

But if there’s no food in the microwave to absorb the produced energy, the microwave tends to absorb its energy.

It gets to a time when the microwave won’t be able to absorb the energy any longer as it continues. This can result in the microwave caught fire.

How Do You Clean a Microwave That Has Had a Fire?

It is always necessary to always go by the safety precautions when using a microwave or any other home appliance for your safety and also for a long-lasting appliance.

But an appliance like a microwave can sometimes catch fire when you least expect it. So we will look at how to clean the microwave when it happens to you.

Please do well to follow the steps we will take you through for a beautiful microwave clean-up. Now let’s go.

STEP 1: Unplug the microwave

This is important and shouldn’t be forgotten, as this step is for your safety. Failure to unplug before commencing with the cleaning can electrocute you.

STEP 2: Steam the microwave

To make the whole cleaning process simpler and easier for us, we will first steam the inside of the microwave.

Steaming will loosen up any soft and hard soot, even before we start with the actual cleaning.

And when that happens, once we touch the dirt or soot with the sponge or cleaning cloth, it will be long gone.

The steaming is done by heating a cup of water in any microwave-safe container for about 5 minutes.

STEP 3: Cleaning

We will be using dish soap in our cleaning. And in addition to the dish soap, depending on how soft or extreme the soot is will determine whether to use a soft cloth, sponge, or even brush for the cleaning.

Either of them, we dipped the dish soap in water and used it where the dirt was.

NB: After all the steaming and cleaning and the soot are not removed, add vinegar and baking soda to your cleaning cloth or sponge to fasten the cleaning.

STEP 4: Rinsing

After the cleaning has been completed, it’s time to rinse the microwave with clean water.

Wipe and dry the microwave with a clean, dry cloth. Open it and allow air to blow inside it for not less than 2 hours.

As we stated earlier, the microwave can be fully used after food or any substance in it catches fire.

But the strong burning smell still remains and needs to be removed.  Step 5 will guide us to remove such a smell.

When the fire results from burning material, the inside smells like burnt material.

Now, let’s get rid of the smell from the microwave when we’re done cleaning it.

STEP 5: Steam with Vinegar

Steaming of the microwave this time isn’t purposed to loosen soot but to neutralize the smell in the microwave.

The steaming can either be done with vinegar or lemon juice. But we are using vinegar.

Mix one cup of fresh water and one tablespoon vinegar in your preferred microwave-safe container.

Place it in the microwave and heat it for about 5 minutes. Wipe clean the inside of the microwave with a clean, dry cloth.

Is it Safe to Use Microwaves after Burning Plastic?

Ordered food is mostly packaged in plastic bags. We sometimes take our food in plastic containers and bowls.

We, at times, take some beverages in plastic cups. Is it safe to microwave our food or other substances in their plastic bags or containers?

Microwaving food or any substance in a plastic container or bag is not advisable, as it can easily melt as the temperature increases.

There are numerous microwave-safe containers, bowls, and cups that you can use to heat or cook your food in the microwave without any cause for alarm.

There was even a rumor that heating food in plastic bags and containers causes cancer, but it hasn’t been proven yet.

But let’s look at the fact that the container can easily melt, which can cause your microwave to catch fire.

How Do I Get the Smoke Smell Out of my Microwave Fire?

The smoke smell can easily be done by steaming the microwave with either vinegar or lemon juice.

You will need a lemon or vinegar, water, a clean, dry cloth, and a microwave-safe cup.

Let’s continue to get the smoke smell out of our microwave. And let’s note, this approach isn’t used to remove only smoke smell but any other smell you want to remove from the microwave.

  1. Mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
  2. Place it in the microwave and heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove your vinegar or lemon solution about 20 minutes before opening the microwave.
  4. Wipe clean the inside of the microwave with your clean, dry cloth.

Measure to Take to Prevent a Microwave From Catching Fire?

  1. No or less moisture content food

It is always important to microwave food or substances with enough moisture content.

And the instance where there’s not much moisture content in the food you’re about to microwave, you have to stay by the microwave to monitor it.

And you shouldn’t allow such food or substance to stay in the microwave for long. This is because, once the moisture content is exhausted and the microwave is still on, the chance of the food catching fire is very high.

  • Avoid overheating or heating food for a long duration

The microwave shouldn’t be forced to work extra time when it’s done heating or reheating food or substance in it.

Avoid adding extra cooking time, and even if you still want to do that, it should be done under monitoring. Never leave it whiles the microwave is still on and operating.

  • Use microwave-safe containers

Food packaging is one other means that food gets to catch fire in the microwave. And it is usually due to the material the food happens to be in. Some of these materials can’t stand the heat energy.

So to prevent the microwave from catching fire, some materials should also be avoided.

And such materials include aluminum foil, brown paper bags, Styrofoam, plastic bags and containers, and others.


The microwave can still be used after it catches fire, only if the fire doesn’t affect some delicate parts of the microwave like the wire. But it can surely be used if the fire only catches the food or any substance.

All you need to do is clean the inside of the microwave and eliminate all smoke or other smells resulting from the fire. And make sure you avoid what you did that caused the fire.

If the fire did catch some parts of the microwave, you are advised not to turn it on until you’ve made an expert check to see if it’s safe.

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