April 27

Is It Safe to Put Things On Top of Microwave? | Our Full Guide


Author: Cornelia Suehr
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If you have a small kitchen and want to maximize your space, then you might be tempted to put things on top of your microwave. Microwaves are usually placed above the kitchen, which takes lots of space in smaller kitchens. However, is it safe to put things on top of microwave? 

We’re here to tell you that it’s not the best idea to put things on top of the microwave.

Can You Put Stuff On Top of Your Microwave?

Microwaves are an important part of our lives, and we all know that. Yet, it seems like their placement in our homes is never just right. If you put them on the counter, they take up too much space. If you put them in a cabinet, they’re hard to reach. And if you put them in a drawer, it seems like they disappear. But there’s another way to use your microwave: as a shelf.

For these reasons, you may want to save kitchen space by placing things on top of it but is it safe? It’s not. The following are some of the reasons why putting items on top of your microwave is not recommended:

a pot with flowers standing on the microwave oven

Unstable Items Can Fall and Damage the Microwave

When someone puts something on top of a microwave, they probably think it’s safe because the item is stable and unlikely to move. But if someone bumps the countertop or if someone nearby hits the countertop with their leg, those items could easily fall off the microwave and onto the floor.

Grouping similar items together on top of the microwave are especially dangerous because it creates an unstable pile that’s more likely to fall.

For example, if someone stores several cans of soup on top of their microwave oven, those cans could easily fall into each other and topple over.

Heavy Items Can Damage the Microwave

In many kitchens, countertop space is scarce. People may think that they can make better use of that space by putting heavy items on top of their microwave ovens. But some microwaves aren’t designed to hold heavy loads, so putting heavy items on top can cause structural damage.

With heavy objects, you risk damaging the unit’s control panel or even its magnetron, which are expensive components to replace. Microwave ovens are not designed to support heavy loads; in fact, most manufacturers specify that you should never put more than 10 pounds (4 kilograms) on top of a unit.

You, Will, Have to Clean It More Often

If you have been using your microwave for some time now, you may have noticed that the surface has become discolored or greasy and dirty when you store items on top of it. So you will have to clean it more often.

Moreover, if someone accidentally bumps into the items kept on top, they might topple and break or spill something on the surface, which will make it harder to clean. This will cause you extra time and effort to maintain your microwave oven.

a person looking at the microwave in smoke

Fire Hazard

Microwave units are designed to let air flow through their vents, so they don't overheat. If you cover them with anything flammable, such as towels or plastic bags, even if it's just for a short time, you risk causing a fire.

The same goes for oven mitts, paper towels, microwave-safe paper towels, and other kitchen items that might be lying around on your countertops.

Damaged Surface of a Microwave Grill

The surface of your microwave grill can become scratched or damaged by objects placed on top of it. This will make cleaning more difficult and impact the appearance of your kitchen countertop.

Damage Stuff

Microwaves can get extremely hot when heating food, and this can melt your food, such as cheese or plastic containers.

Plastic Storage Containers Will Melt

Some people use plastic containers on top of their microwaves as storage containers. This is not a good idea because those containers can melt and ruin your microwave surface. Even if they don't melt, they can get warped by the heat and leave an unsightly stain.

Microwaves are built with ventilation in mind; they need air to circulate so that they don't overheat. If you put something on top of a microwave, it's going to block some of that ventilation. That means that the microwave has to work harder, which means its motor is likely to break down faster than normal. If you're having your microwave repaired or replaced prematurely because you blocked the vents, it obviously won't be worth having put stuff on top of it in the first place.

The vents are there for a reason, and if they're blocked, then microwaves run less efficiently and could cause your microwave oven to overheat.

red toaster standing on the microwave oven by the food processor

Stacking Appliances on Top of a Microwave Oven

When you have a small and crowded kitchen, you might be tempted to stack the appliances on top of each other to save space. However, not all appliances can be stacked on top of each other. For example, stacking appliances on top of a microwave is not recommended by the manufacturers.

Stacking appliances on top of a microwave is dangerous as it can cause a fire. Microwaves are known for heating up food quickly, but that does not mean that they don't heat up themselves as well. The upper surface of the microwave gets very hot during operation and can easily cook things placed on it.

If you are thinking about putting an appliance like a coffee maker or kettle on top of your microwave, think again. It is extremely dangerous to do so, especially if you have kids at home.

Appliances can Block Air Vents

An over-the-range microwave has a fan that sucks the air out of the kitchen and vents it outside through a hose or vent. If you have kitchen appliances on top of the microwave, then it will be difficult for heat and smoke to escape from the appliance. This can lead to fires in your home if grease splatters inside your microwave.

The Food and Drug Administration warns that while microwaves are generally quite safe as long as they are used according to manufacturer's instructions, they can pose hazards when used improperly.

Can You Put a Toaster Oven On Top of a Microwave?

So if you're tempted to put a toaster oven on top of a microwave, think again. Not only could it be dangerous, but it's also a bad idea. The heat from the microwave can affect the performance of the toaster oven. 

Placing your toaster oven on top of your microwave can also be a fire hazard. You never know when you'll forget that your appliances are stacked together, and when you turn on both at once, this can pose a fire risk.

We recommend that you keep your toaster oven and microwave separate. If you want to save space in your kitchen, consider mounting your microwave above the stove using a microwave bracket or wall mount. This is an effective way to free up some valuable counter space in your kitchen. The best thing about this setup is that it's still easily accessible and doesn't impede the function of either appliance.

a shelf with two ovens

How to Use the Top of a Microwave as a Shelf?

If you must put things on your microwave, make sure they are not heavy, are not liquid, will not melt, cannot damage your microwave, are stable objects that cannot easily fall, are not flammable, and will not block the air vent.

Put Stable Objects

If you do choose to place things on top of your microwave, make sure they are stable and place fewer items. You don't want the item to fall or move around, especially if it serves as a catch-all for small objects. You might be tempted to put ceramic and glass containers on top of the flat surface of the microwave, but they will break if they fall down.

Avoid Placing your Coffee or Tea on your Appliances

You should not put liquid items such as tea or coffee in the microwave because liquid could spill out onto the microwave and damage it.

In addition to making sure that the items you place on top of your microwave do not interfere with its operation, you need to make sure they do not block the air vent at the top of your appliance.

Best Items to put on Microwaves or Toaster Ovens

The best items that you can put on your microwave are some cookbooks and maybe a small flower pot. Make sure that the flower pot does not have water in it, and make sure that the cookbooks do not have any food on them and are not too heavy for the microwave.

It is also perfectly fine to place lightweight items on top of your microwave.

microwave in the kitchen

Now that we've cleared out any uncertainties about wheteher it is safe to put things on top of a microwave, you can find out more about different types of modern microwaves to suit all your needs. Check out the extracts from those reviews:

Microwave Types

Best Convection Microwave

Convection ovens have great cooking power, a child safety lock to prevent accidental usage of the microwave, and different cooking levels. Like we mentioned before, choosing a convection microwave for your needs will be influenced by these 3 main factors - capacity, features for your budget, and your counter space.

Best Microwaves For Home Use

The more features you choose to have, the more expensive the microwave oven for home use would be. The good news is that you can choose to keep things very economical by simply going for a microwave oven with minimal features that meets the size and power requirements as stated earlier.

Best Simple And Basic Microwave Ovens

To reiterate this, a basic microwave oven, in our opinion is a small to midsize, non-inverter solo countertop microwave oven. Why? because a microwave such as this is easy to operate, is affordable, does not occupy much counterspace and is easy to install.

Best 1200 Watt Microwave Ovens

Most of the ovens in this category are quite expensive. This is generally due to two reasons: high powered microwave ovens are heavy duty and thus feature expensive components, secondly, they are very large. Some of the premium ovens in this power category though offer cutting edge technology, albeit at a higher cost.

Best Midsize Countertop Microwave

A midsize model is excellent for a regular family. The smaller models are generally reserved for offices, dorm rooms or garage like spaces. Larger microwave ovens are reserved for commercial spaces, so if you are have regular sized family or 4-5 members, then a midsize microwave oven would work perfectly for you.

Wrapping Up

Microwaves have been a part of almost every home since the mid-1970s. They are an essential kitchen appliance that does cooking and reheating food very easily.

But many people do not realize that there are some things you should never put in the microwave or on top of it. Some of these items can cause damage to your microwave or even a fire, but others can be dangerous to your health.

Also, if you care at all about the safety of your family, do not risk putting things on top of the microwave.

At the very least, you'll rest easier knowing that your kitchen is completely safe from potential microwave fires. And besides, keeping items up and away from the microwave will help keep it clean as well no more crumbs or spills will hinder its function over time.

About the author

Cornelia Suehr

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


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