It’s hard to imagine a world without popcorn, Easy Mac and other microwavable delights, let alone other small miracles like fast defrosting and reheated leftovers. A microwave is one of those modern conveniences that you don’t realize the significance of until you no longer own one. You can avoid the tragedy of finding out what life is like without Hot Pockets by storing your microwave correctly. Here’s how:
Choose a Good Microwave in the First Place
The best microwaves on the market do a good job of reheating and defrosting but they also stake their reputation on durability. A quality microwave will last for about 10 years, so invest in one that will hold up in and out of storage. You can find unbiased reviews of countertop microwaves, over-the-range-microwaves and built-in models at a variety of price points on Consumer Reports. It may feel silly to put a lot of thought into comparing microwaves before buying the right one, but remember, this is the appliance that allows you to make a brownie in a mug in roughly five minutes. That’s kind of a big deal.
Clean the Microwave
Anyone who has ever shared a kitchen with a roommate can attest to the unique breed of grime that lives inside microwaves. All of that greasy mystery debris only gets worse in storage. Before storing your microwave, place a wet towel inside and run the microwave for a minute or two. You’ll be able to wipe even the most caked on goop off of the inside of the microwave with ease (Really!). If you’ve got a combination dirty and smelly microwave, soak the paper towel in water and lemon juice. Repeat the process until the mess and the funky smell are both gone.
Pack it Up
Before storing your microwave, remove the glass tray and wrap it in bubble wrap. Place it in a separate box rather than back inside the microwave, where it might shift and break. Next, pack the microwave in a box with foam padding. If you’re the kind of person who saves the original boxes of things (i.e. pretty much no one), you can put the microwave back in its box as long as there’s enough space to accommodate a light amount of padding.
Climate Control or No?
Microwaves don’t typically require climate controlled self storage, but if you’re storing a bunch of other appliances and electronics, or you’re just the kind of person who won’t spare any expenses when it comes to safeguarding your stuff, go ahead and spring for it.
One caveat: If you’re storing your microwave in a storage unit long term (generally not a great idea), you may want to consider climate control to avoid rusting.
In Your Storage Unit
Use common sense when placing your microwave—or anything, for that matter—into a storage unit. Store it upright and don’t put heavy items on top of it. Don’t place it precariously where it might fall and don’t place it beneath items that might fall on it. You should also avoid putting the microwave directly on the ground.
As a side note, if your microwave does get damaged during the moving process, and you’re the DIY type, replacement parts are surprisingly affordable. Just stick to fixes that you feel comfortable doing. If a repair necessities calling a professional, ask yourself this: Is the cost of paying a repairman really less than just buying a new microwave? The answer here is pretty much always no.
Getting Rid of Your Microwave
If storing a microwave is more trouble than it’s worth, or your new apartment comes with a brand new one, you may want to get rid of yours.
Unfortunately, in addition to being glorious deliverers of Bagel Bites, microwaves are hard to dispose of. They’re often included on lists of “hard to recycle items,” which is exactly what it sounds like. In some cities, disposing of a microwave along with your regular trash is not allowed. Even if you can get away with tossing a microwave in the dumpster, you’re hurting the environment.
If your microwave is in good condition, donate it to a charity or a thrift store. You can talk to your storage facility’s staff and see if they partner with or know of any organizations that might need it. You can also try selling it or giving it away on Craigslist. If the microwave is outdated or doesn’t work, get in touch with the people who pick up your trash to see if they offer any services for hard to recycle items, or do a Google search for a hard to recycle materials facility in your area.