Small appliances are designed to make our lives easy in the hustle and bustle of every day. The following guidelines will help you properly care for your microwave and toaster ovens in order to maximize their lifespans.

 

1. Microwave basics

A microwave oven has a transformer, which boosts normal household current, and a magnetron that converts that current into electromagnetic waves. The waves cause food molecules to vibrate fast enough to generate friction, which creates the heat that cooks the food internally.

Microwave ovens that sit on the countertop usually generate between 800 and 1,050 watts. They can cook a lot of food quickly, but they also take up a lot of counter space. Smaller models that can be mounted under cabinets are usually less powerful and hold less food. Other features to consider when you buy a microwave are moisture sensors, quick-setting touchpads, a rotating carousel and a child-proofing feature.

What you should know about your microwave

  • Look for a label on cookware that says it is suitable for microwaving. Most glass casseroles, cooking dishes, measuring cups and pottery that don’t have metallic trim or glaze can be used in a microwave.
  • If you are not sure about a dish, pour 250 millilitres (one cup) of water into it and put it in the microwave for one minute. Touch the dish; if it’s hot, don’t use it in the microwave.
  • Never use metal objects, including aluminum foil, except as directed in the owner’s manual. Sparking and damage can result.
  • If something in your microwave ignites, keep the door closed and quickly turn the oven off.
  • Don’t run the oven empty; it can damage the magnetron.

2. Cleaning and repairing a microwave

Cleaning a microwave

  • Unplug the oven, then clean the inside with warm water or a solution of dish detergent and water. Use a damp sponge to clean up spills as soon as possible.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or oven cleaners on a microwave oven.

Repairing a microwave

  • Unstop the vents with a toothpick if the oven suddenly runs inconsistently or shuts itself off. This sometimes happens if grease splatters clog the air vents. Unplug the oven first.
  • To replace a microwave oven light, first unplug the oven. Remove the lamp compartment cover by removing the screw holding it in place. Remove the bulb and replace it.
  • Microwave ovens typically require a 20-watt appliance bulb. Replace the lamp cover and plug in the oven.

Aside from these minor fixes, always go to a professional for service on a microwave.

3. How to maintain a toaster oven

A toaster oven can bake and broil food as well as toast bread, using one or two sets of heating elements. Most models have two upper elements for broiling and two lower elements for baking. The baking temperature is maintained by a thermostat, while toasting is usually controlled by a timer.

Toaster oven care

Most modern toaster ovens have “continuous clean” interiors, which means splatters are essentially burned off as you use the oven. To clean the inside of a toaster oven, unplug it and let it cool. Remove the racks and trays (including the crumb tray) and wash in warm soapy water. Sponge off the interior with a nonabrasive cleaner.If one or more of the heating elements stops working, you should be able to get replacements. Call the manufacturer for the nearest service store.

Following these easy steps will help you make the most of your small appliances