Is Rust on the Microwave Door a Safety Issue?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

There has always been a bit of rust spots along the bottom of the micro door, but just now I noticed it’s suddenly become quite extensive. I wiped it, shut the door & reopened it, and rust dust was spreading around. Barring the question of microwave safety in general, is it still safe to use? I only use it for reheating the occasional steak or cup of coffee, or steaming a package of green beans. Which does, by the way, create a LOT of steam, which may be why it’s gotten so rusty.

Signed,
Rusty Redhead

PS Here’s a picture to illustrate my question.

Heather says:

I’ve written previously about how microwaves work, they act as boxes that keep the microwaves in a confined area. IF the rust were to reach a point where it compromised the integrity of the door, there would a potential for microwaves to escape. Now, don’t freak out, they aren’t going to chase you down the hall, out the door, and down the street, but it is something you don’t necessarily want to expose yourself to.

The Michigan State University Extension says:

If there are signs of rusting inside the oven, have the oven repaired.

Cosmetic surface rust is not a safety issue, but don’t ignore it either.

I did a quick search for appliance parts and it does not seem as though the door is replaceable, however I may be mistaken. I would call your local appliance repair store to be sure.  Since I tend to run on the very conservative side, I would begin looking for a replacement microwave. 

To prevent rust from occurring in your replacement microwave, leave the door ajar after cooking  or cleaning to allow the moisture a chance to escape. Wiping down the door and cavity walls of the unit with a dry towel would also help prevent the problem. But just knowing how hard it is for some people to cover their food while using the microwave, I can see how most would balk at the idea of ANOTHER extra step.

Good luck!

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Comments

  1. Wow, I felt alarmed coz I've seen our microwave has a rust on its door. I've got to clean it immediately.. Thank you for sharing this information!

  2. I think I have the same microwave…same problem!! I’ve never had this happen with other micorwaves. Is it a GE??

  3. gggirlgeek says:

    I have the same microwave. I have also seen two other models rust in my area. I live on the West Coast. Since this never happened when I lived in the humid Midwest or the South, my theory is that the salt in the air does it. My computer parts also rust for no reason when stored away.

    I have rubbed a bit of castor oil onto a tiny spot that has started on my latest microwave. It’s thick and it gets gummy so it should prevent further spread. I would replace the microwave if there is extensive damage beyond that.

    Leave the door open for a while after cooking.

  4. I have the same microwave and same issue and noticed also recently it has seemed to spread like crazy – overnight! I am worried that this is a health hazard. I totally understand the importance of leaving the door ajar after use for steam to escape and wiping dry after use……now! I have had multiple microwaves in the past and this is the first this has happened.