What Happens if a Microwave Runs With the Door Open?

By now, most people know not to leave the door of their microwave open while the appliance is in use.

You may have even seen a warning label somewhere in your kitchen reminding you always to shut the door while microwaving food.

But with all these warnings, we’ve all been there. When you’re in a hurry, you pop your food in the microwave and start cooking, then dash off to do something else.

A few minutes later, you remember your food and race back to the kitchen, only to find that you left the door of the microwave open.

But what happens when you do this? Is it dangerous? Will your food be ruined?

When you open the door to a running microwave, the microwaves inside are quickly released into the air, and there is a potential for radiation exposure.

These waves are what heat your food. So, when you open the door to a running microwave, all those microwaves disappear.

Also, microwave ovens can produce sparks if a metal is in the oven. And when the door is opened while the oven is running, these sparks could escape and pose a fire hazard.

And when humans are exposed to microwave radiation, their bodies absorb the energy from the radiation.

This process can cause your body temperature to rise, leading to tissue damage. Long-term exposure to microwave radiation has been linked to cancer.

In most cases, the microwave won’t even be able to run when the door is opened. This only happens when the microwave door has been hacked.

The microwave has this mechanism that turns off when the door is opened.

When the door opens, a safety switch is triggered that turns off the microwaves. It is called the door interlock switch.

This is to prevent you from being exposed to microwaves when the microwave door is opened.

Therefore, the door interlock switch is faulty when the microwave remains on while its door is open. Though, sometimes it is a flaw on the part of the control board.

You might want to read more about Why Microwave Turn On When Door is Opened.

The Dangers of Using the Microwave with the Door Open

While the microwave has become an essential kitchen appliance, some dangers are still associated with its use.

One of the most common dangers is leaving the door open while the microwave runs.

The door of the microwave is designed to contain the microwaves produced by the oven, so opening the door while the oven is running can allow the microwaves to escape to cause harm.

Harm humans

This can allow harmful microwaves to leak out and potentially cause damage to nearby objects or people. You tend to subject yourself to electromagnetic radiation.

This radiation is what cooks your food, and it can also be harmful to your health. Exposure to this type of radiation has been linked to cancer, so it’s best to avoid it when possible.

In fact, according to research, it only takes about five seconds for microwaves to start leaking when the door is left open.

And when they get leaked, they have been known to cause thermal burns on contact with skin.

Damage the microwave oven

Also, running the microwave with the door open can cause damage to the appliance itself.

While it may not seem like a big deal, this simple mistake can shorten the lifespan of your microwave and even pose a safety hazard.

When the door is open, microwaves can escape and can cause interference with other electronic devices.

Cause fire

Running the microwave with the door open can be a fire hazard. The microwaves produced by the microwave oven can escape and cause a fire if something is flammable nearby.

If something is flammable nearby, microwaves can ignite it and cause a fire.

Microwave ovens could also produce sparks if there is metal in the oven, and these sparks can get away and pose a fire hazard when the door is opened while the oven is running.

How to Avoid the Dangers of Microwave Radiation

While microwaves are a convenient way to cook food, there is some concern about the safety of microwave radiation.

Prolonged exposure to microwave radiation has been linked to various health problems, including cancer. However, there are ways you can minimize your exposure to microwave radiation.

Use of door interlock switch

Exposure to microwave radiation is most intense when your microwave door is open while it’s running.

Except for older models, the microwave shouldn’t run when the door is open in its normal state.

If you need to open the door while microwaving temporarily, turn off the power first and stand as far away from the microwave as possible.

However, the door interlock switch must be checked if the microwave can run with the door open.

The door interlock switch is a safety feature found on most modern microwaves.

This switch is designed to prevent the microwave from operating if the door is not properly closed.

The switch completes a circuit when the door is closed, allowing the microwave to power on. If the door is opened, the switch is opened, and the circuit is broken.

Shortening cooking times

One other way to reduce your exposure is to cook food for shorter periods. Microwaves work by causing water molecules to vibrate, and the longer food is exposed to microwaves, the more radiation it absorbs.

So, cooking food for a shorter time will help to reduce your exposure to microwave radiation.

Distance from the microwave

Standing a few feet away from the microwave while in use is a simple way to reduce your exposure to microwave radiation.

It is still possible to be exposed to microwave radiation if you stand too close to the oven while it operates.

The FDA recommends standing at least two feet away from the oven to minimize your exposure.

Not operating damaged microwaves.

Not operating the microwave if it is damaged helps reduce your exposure to microwave radiation. If your microwave has a damaged door or seal, it’s important not to operate it.

This will help reduce your exposure to microwave radiation. The more reason why the microwave needs to be inspected regularly.

With these and other few approaches, you can help to reduce your exposure to microwave radiation and protect yourself from potential health risks.


Running a microwave with the door open is not recommended. Not only does it waste energy, but it can also be dangerous.

The microwaves can escape and cause burns or start a fire. If you must run the microwave with the door open, keep an eye on it and be very careful.

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