7 Things You Should Never Put in Your Microwave

opening a microwave door
Know your microwave safety. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Microwaves are one of the most dangerous items in your home. You’d be shocked how many Americans misuse this everyday appliance. Read on to find out what you should never, ever put in your microwave. 

1. Lunch bags

Never put a brown paper lunch bag in your microwave. They may seem like a safe material to heat up — they’re made of paper just like a paper plate, after all, but they can be really harmful. According to the USDA, “They are not sanitary, may cause a fire, and may emit toxic fumes […] the ink, glue, and recycled materials in paper bags may emit toxic fumes when they are exposed to heat.”

2. Grapes

Bunch of colorful grapes with leaves
They’ll explode. | karandaev/Getty Images

Did you know that grapes explode in the microwave? Most people don’t. If a recipe ever calls for warm grapes, don’t use the microwave to heat them up. They can ruin your microwave and potentially cause a fire in your kitchen.

3. Plastic storage containers

Leftovers in tupperware
Not all of them are microwave safe. | joebelanger/iStock/Getty Images

Just because some plastic storage containers are microwave safe, doesn’t mean they all are. If a reusable plastic container is safe to put in the microwave, it will be marked as such. “If you don’t see that label, check the manufacturer’s website — or to be on the safe side, just don’t microwave it,” advises Clark.

4. Travel mugs

Traveler pouring tea from thermos
Most travel mugs can’t go in the microwave. | iStock.com/Remains

Though it’s tempting to warm up your travel mug in the microwave once your coffee starts to cool off, most travel mugs aren’t microwave-safe. If they are, it’ll explicitly be labeled on the mug.

If it’s made from stainless steel, don’t nuke it,” says the Huffington Post. “The stainless steel will block the heat from warming your coffee or tea and can damage your microwave.”

5. Yogurt containers

two yogurts
The plastic could melt. | Hanhanpeggy/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Yogurt containers,  or other one-time-use plastic containers like those used for margarine or sour cream, should stay out of the microwave. Though it may be tempting to save money on plastic containers, these disposable containers aren’t intended to last very long, and definitely can’t withstand high-heat. They can melt in your microwave and release harmful chemicals into your food.

6. Styrofoam containers

A food cart worker fills a styrofoam take-out container with food
They could emit toxins. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

You’d be surprised how many people are still reheating their leftovers in their styrofoam containers. “Styrofoam is a type of plastic. And plastic doesn’t play nice in the microwave — unless otherwise marked on the container,” says Huffington Post writer Julie Thomson. Additionally, styrofoam containers can emit harmful toxins  when warmed up in the microwave that are dangerous to whomever’s heating up leftovers.

7. Chinese takeout boxes

Chinese take out food in boxes
The metal handle might start a fire. | iStock.com/rez-art

Chinese takeout boxes may seem okay to put in your microwave because they’re mostly made of paperboard. But, that light paperboard is coated with wax or plastic, and often includes a solid wire handle. Not only is the wax/plastic harmful to whomever’s eating the leftovers, but the metal handle can start a fire.  

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