Tom SchierlitzFind out which materials are microwave-friendly, and which ones you should avoid.
Some materials are fine in the microwave and some aren't (see below). And then there's plastic. You'll find experts who say no plastic containers should be used in the microwave-ever. "The material contains chemicals that may leach into food when it's heated," says Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., a scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a health-research organization. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed that plastics labeled "microwave-safe" are suitable for microwave use. "No studies have shown short- or long-term health consequences from heating microwave-safe plastics," says Michael Herndon, an FDA spokesman. The bottom line? Right now, there isn't one. If you choose to use plastics, stick with those labeled "microwave-safe" (but don't allow plastic wrap to touch your food during heating). If you're wary, use glass or ceramic dishes marked "heatproof" or "microwave-safe."
Related: Real Simple's Top 20 Kitchen Tools
Go for It!
- Glass and ceramic dishes
- Paper plates, towels, and napkins
- Wax and parchment paper
Not So Fast
- Aluminum foil
- Brown paper bags
- Cold-storage plastic containers (such as margarine, cottage-cheese, and yogurt tubs)
- Onetime-use plastic containers
- Dishes with metallic paint or trim
- Foam-insulated cups, bowls, plates, and trays
Clean in 90 Seconds
To loosen your microwave's splatters and stains in a flash, try this favorite Real Simple technique: Heat a bowl of water and lemon juice on high for 5 minutes, then wipe the oven clean with a solution made from 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon baking soda.
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