What can go in the microwave and what can't

Jen Klein

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Just about everyone I know has done it at least once: inadvertently put something in the microwave that shouldn't go there. Whether you realized it when you saw an arc in the box and quickly turned the oven off, pulled out a now misshapen plate and have a huge mess to clean up, or, worse, actually damaged your microwave, it happens. Better to remind ourselves and our families regularly what can and can't go in the microwave, for the safety of all of us.

Woman opening microwave

Determining what can and can't go in the microwave may seem relatively simple, but it can be trickier than you think. Yes, some cookware can go in the microwave, but not for long periods of time. Some cookware gets really hot and you risk burning yourself. And some can't go in at all, even though you might think it should. You should keep your microwave owner's manual in the kitchen and consult it if you have questions and you should read any notations on the cookware itself. Items that are or are not microwave safe generally say so right on the cookware.


These types of cookware typically can go in the microwave unless specifically noted:

  • Glass - Glass, including Pyrex, can be used in the microwave. While there have been some rumors floating around the internet that Pyrex can explode, if you use the cookware in a reasonable and expected manner, you do not have to worry about this.
  • Non-lead/metal ceramics - While less and less common, some ceramics use lead and other metals in the glazes. Make sure your ceramic doesn't, and when in doubt, don't put it in the microwave.
  • Silicone - Silicone cookware handles the microwave well.

Well, kinda

While many plastics can go in the microwave, you may not want to use them in that way. Recent concerns about BPA have lead many a mom to either buy new non-BPA plastic ware, or not expose the plastics to heat that might release the BPA (or both). While, yes, plastic containers can go in the microwave, it's a use you might want to reconsider for other reasons.


Some things should stay clear of the microwave door:

  • Metal - Although a porcelain dinner plate with a thin rim of metal might be okay for some microwaves, better to err on the side of safety and keep all metals out of the microwave. Arcing microwaves can not only damage the oven itself, but present a fire hazard to your home.
  • Melamine - These "character" dishes and melamine bowls cannot go in the microwave. They may be okay for a few seconds, but beyond that, it becomes a mess - and not just when your child starts wailing because her favorite princess bowl is ruined forever!

No matter what cookware you use in your microwave, take great care in handling it. Just like the microwave can create hot spots in food, it can make for some very hot bowls and plates. Keep hot pads and towels handy.

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