Ah, microwaves – your best friend in college and your mother’s worst nightmare. 

Health implications aside, microwaves have a place in most kitchens around the world. However, like everything else in our lives, there will come a time when you will have to part ways with your microwave. This article will explain the how, where, why, and when of microwave disposal.

The easiest way to make your microwave disappear is to throw it in with the rest of your garbage when it’s pickup day. But is that the right way?

Before anything else, let’s discuss the legality of this situation. Check with your local regulations to make sure that you’re responsibly disposing of your waste. A number of municipalities have a dimension and/or weight limit to their curbside garbage pickup. At the same time, others may also have separate procedures for picking up electronic waste (which your microwave will most likely be).

Now, let’s check out the moral perspective. As a human being who is (presumably?) residing on Earth, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that we aren’t causing any unneeded harm to our home. While a microwave does not contain any toxic components to the environment, the thought of millions of these appliances piled up in the giant holes in the ground, where we throw the rest of our garbage for the rest of eternity, leaves a bit of a sour taste.

Let’s protect Mother Nature! And let us explore the other ways to rid ourselves of our old microwaves without feeling guilty.

Safe Ways to Dispose of a Microwave

So, if you can’t just toss your microwave on the curb and forget about it, what exactly are you supposed to do?

Check with the manufacturer/retailer

A quick phone call or email with the manufacturer (the company that made the microwave) and/or the retailer (wherever you bought your microwave) could be a pleasant surprise.

A number of manufacturers have take-back programs where you can give your old microwave back to be recycled. The caveat is that the transportation costs are on you. That includes shipping off the product or dropping it off at a collection site. However, it still doesn’t hurt to call and check if there is a collection site near you.

If not the manufacturer, the retailer may have an electronics take-back program. Make sure you call in advance, though. You don’t want to waste your time and energy lugging that heavy microwave to your local appliance store then be turned away.

Electronic waste recycling centers. If you would still like to recycle your microwave but neither company doesn’t offer a take-back program, call your local waste recycling center. Along with other electronics, these centers usually accept a whole host of home appliances that don’t really belong in landfills. While there may not be any fees, some places do have associated fees with dropping anything off, so make sure you call ahead to prevent any surprises!

Local waste collection companies.

No, we aren’t talking about the municipal waste collection trucks. Not yet, anyway.

The companies that we’re referring to are the ones that aren’t affiliated with the government and that’ll come to pick up your junk for you. You know, the ones you always hear about on the radio. While there may be a cost, they take all the work out of recycling your microwave for you. Whether your microwave will be donated or recycled, hand it off to the professionals and they’ll deal with it.

If you’ve just upgraded your microwave to match your new granite countertops and that sleek glass stovetop, I want to first congratulate you. Congrats! Now, consider donating your old microwave to a local charity. As stated earlier, microwaves tend to have a place in everyone’s kitchen. So, there should be someone in this not-so-big world that is in need of a new-to-them microwave.

Send it to a landfill.

If, for whatever reason, you do not have the means to recycle your microwave, the only other option that’s left is to put it in the garbage. Check your cities aforementioned regulations to confirm whether or not the regular waste pickup can accommodate a microwave. Due to the weight of these items, a municipal waste collection may not take it off your curb. In some cities, there may be a separate collection date and/or site for electronics.

electronics junkyard
Check your city’s regulation whether they can accommodate a microwave.

Reasons to Say Goodbye to Your Microwave

Let us discuss why one might decide to get rid of an amazing and facilitating piece of equipment.

  • It’s time for an upgrade. Your microwave might just need an aesthetic upgrade. Maybe you’re still using the old microwave that came with the apartment years ago, but the paint has dulled and it no longer goes along with all the stainless steel pots, pans and other kitchen appliances you’ve collected. This is a perfectly valid reason to want an upgrade. Just make sure to recycle or donate your perfectly functioning old one.
  • Microwaves aren’t your thing anymore. Maybe you’re tired of debating the negative health implications of owning a microwave and you’ve decided to start your new life. One that’s a little freer of electromagnetic radiation. Again, this a perfectly valid reason but please recycle or donate your microwave as opposed to throwing it out.
  • No longer serviceable. Unfortunately, death is unavoidable – even for our appliances. There will come a time when you’ve decided you have no choice but to pull the plug on your microwave. RIP, buddy. 

Signs Your Microwave is Getting Old

If my microwave can create, contain, and withstand electromagnetic radiation, what could possibly cause this seemingly indestructible device to fail? 

Unfortunately, as is with anything, your microwave will also reach a point where it nears the end. Luckily for you, the appliance will give you plenty of signs, so you won’t be taken in by surprise. If you notice any of the signs below, it may be time for a replacement.

  • A burning smell. Obviously, if you’ve thrown in last night’s left-over burnt chilli you’re bound to be reminded of your failure, but that’s not the smell we’re talking about. This one is more of an electronic burning smell. So, if you pick up even a hint of this smell, turn off your microwave immediately and unplug the main power supply. This smell is the result of damage to the microwave and must not be used until it is fixed or replaced.
  • Weird sounds or sights. Hear a pop? Clang? Bang? See a spark? Turn off your microwave immediately and unplug the main power supply. This could mean that there is damage to your unit that will need a professional examination or replacement. For transparency’s sake, it is possible that some materials and foods will cause normal sparks while you’re microwaving them. However, how do you differentiate between a normal and an abnormal spark? Well, Google will there to the rescue!
  • The buttons are annoying. What buttons aren’t annoying? Here, we’re talking about a button or key on the keypad that frequently doesn’t work or stops working altogether. Although a good clean may help solve this problem, a further diagnosis is required if this fails.
  • Door seal compromised. If the integrity of the door seal is compromised, please replace this as soon as possible before you use the microwave again. Without a perfect seal, the electromagnetic radiation that should stay inside the microwave is free to exit and float through your body as it sees fit. Luckily, this is a relatively simple fix after a run down to your local hardware store. However, if you have to replace this part too frequently, you may just have to consider an upgrade.
  • Heating problems. If the unit randomly stops heating or is no longer heating your food even after running, it is time to replace your unit.
  • Old age. Even if you were lucky enough to go 10 years without any of the aforementioned issues, it is still time to consider an upgrade. This is simply due to the technological advancements that have been made in that timespan. Your new microwave could be stronger, faster, quieter, easier to clean, more efficient, and more resilient to the test of time.
old and rusty microwave
Yes, microwaves did once look like this!

Conclusion

There are a number of ways to responsibly and safely dispose of your old microwave. 

Always try to call the manufacturer and/or retailer before you get rid of your microwave. It may be the easiest way to get rid of it, but we understand that this isn’t possible for everyone. Plus, we’re not your mom, so you don’t have to listen to us. While we hope that you’ve recycled, there are waste collection services that would take the microwave off your hands. 

Thank you for taking your time to read through the article. If you liked what you read, check out our other articles and see if there’s anything else in your house that’s in need of an upgrade! 

Hope to see you soon!