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Stop slamming the door! How to make your microwave last longer

Microwaves last about 10 years, if you take care of them.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You want your microwave to last as long as possible. Consumer Reports says one should last about 10 years, on average. Here are some simple things you can do to help yours live a long life.

First, clean the interior, because spattered food can absorb energy and cause hot spots when the microwave is in use. That can actually damage the interior, so wipe up spills as soon as they happen.

There is some simple but important technology inside your microwave’s door, so if you want the appliance to last, you must be gentle with it.

"The door has switches inside that shut the oven off when you open it. There are also latch components that need to stay aligned, so don’t slam the door," said Tanya Christian, Consumer Reports Home Editor. 

Never run your microwave empty. The appliance causes the molecules in the food to vibrate, creating heat, so with nothing in there, the unit can overheat.

Certain items can catch fire or cause sparks or arc, and they should never be used in a microwave. They include brown paper bags, metal pans, coffee mugs, takeout containers with metal handles, and food that’s wrapped with aluminum foil and twist ties. If you see sparks or arcing in your microwave, turn it off immediately.

Over-the-range microwaves aren’t easy to replace, so give them extra care. Use the exhaust fan when you cook to avoid moisture collecting on the electronics of the microwave. And clean the exhaust filter by soaking it in hot water and a degreasing detergent. Check your manual before putting the filter in the dishwasher.

Another bit of good advice: If you have kids learning to use the microwave, teach them about preset cooking times and the difference between setting minutes vs. hours. A simple mistake can fry your microwave.