This is a hypothetical question, but I could see it happening to me one day.

A father uses a public microwave oven to cook supper to feed his children. The microwave is technically clean, but he is nervous that the "fumes" from other dishes previously cooked in there will "contaminate" the meals of his young ones. After realizing that he wants his kids to eat healthier, he decides that he wants to take action. He wonders if it is safe to double-wrap the food in saran wrap or possibly some other material. Should he do this? It might be unsafe and would release plastic toxins into the food if not cause a fire in the microwave? However, if it is safe, then what is the best material to use for the wrapping?

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    So, you think that "fumes" can contaminate the food, but somehow wrapping it in plastic wrap filled with pthalates and lord knows what plasticizers and then heating that to a few hundred degrees will somehow keep it cleaner? If you must wrap, user paper. – John O Jul 14 '12 at 2:17
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    Or better yet, don't use a microwave, use an oven. Microwaves can cause hot spots in food (colorado.edu/physics/2000/microwaves/hotspots.html) leading to burned tongues and mouths. I don't know about the chemical threat, but I hate burning the roof of my mouth. – mmr Jul 14 '12 at 5:54
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    I'm closing this question now because it's not about parenting. It's about general cleanliness and food preparation, only with "...for kids" added. Please review our faq for details. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 16 '12 at 19:37
  • @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun - Why? This is for parents of kids. So if not, can it at least be migrated to SeasonedAdvice.SE so that it doesn't have to be closed? – Adam Mosheh Jul 16 '12 at 21:50
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    @AdamMosheh: I already stated the reason for closing: it's not about parenting. It's like asking "why is brushing teeth important" vs. "why is brushing kids' teeth important". I also asked the moderators on Seasoned Advice if they would want it and they declined with the reason that it has nothing to do with cooking; the idea about wrapping in plastic foil could be asked on Skeptics but would likely also be closed. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 17 '12 at 6:43

Your best solution bar none if the microwave is actually dirty:

Clean the microwave first

Take along some kitchen wipes and give it a good scrub before you use it.

In terms of fumes - microwaves typically have a fan to move air out anyway, and if not, just open the door for a while.

This would be far better than wrapping the food in something that could actually cause much more contamination problems than the residue of prior microwaved foods (which, to be honest, will be quite thoroughly nuked after being in the microwave for a while)


There's certainly no real danger to microwaving food in a dirty microwave, it's just a little unsightly. However, if you're worried about mysterious fumes and/or want to keep a clean microwave from becoming a dirty microwave, it's a good idea to cover the dish with an overturned plate, or if you're microwaving a tupperware, have the lid on top but cocked to one side. This will prevent splatter from the dish as it cooks, and is a microwave safe way to cover the food. Fixes the problem twice as it were.

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