When it comes to cleaning the microwave, one place that's often overlooked is the touch pad. This area can get grimy simply from hands touching it, especially if those hands are in the middle of meal preparation, covered in who knows what sort of food residue. It's also a good idea to clean the touch pad during and after a household member has a cold. In most cases, a damp, clean sponge does the trick.
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Touch Pads: Sensitive Equipment
Unlike the dials used as controls on a basic appliance, the touch pad or touch screen on a microwave isn't designed to handle harsh chemicals or even moisture. New touch pads may be sealed to prevent moisture from getting inside, but over time, they tend to wear out and crack.
Whenever cleaning a touch pad, use as little moisture as possible. Clean the pad with a damp, clean sponge or dishcloth, then immediately wipe the touch pad with a dry, soft cloth to remove excess moisture. Manufacturers such as Wolf, GE and Sub-Zero recommend water, never any sort of chemicals, for cleaning the touch pad. On some microwave and oven models, such as a Bosch oven touch panel, a little mild soap can also be used.
Touch-Screen Microwave Matters
A microwave touch screen is a lot like a touch-screen computer or tablet: Touching the screen, even to clean it, could be tricky, as the screen may register your finger pressure as a command or selection of a button. Open your microwave door before cleaning the touch screen, as this deactivates the screen's controls on brands such as Sub-Zero and Wolf.
Wipe the touch screen with a damp microfiber cloth, then immediately wipe the screen dry with a fresh microfiber cloth. If any residue remains, such as food splatter on a microwave that's too close to the stove, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a shallow bowl, then dip the microfiber into the solution, wringing out most of the moisture. Wipe the screen with the vinegar solution, then wipe the screen dry.
A screen-cleaning sponge designed for laptop screens, phones and tablets may also be used on a microwave touch screen or even a touch pad. This type of sponge has microfiber on the outside and a screen-safe cleaning liquid embedded in the sponge. Some versions have a separate spray; if using this type, apply the spray to the microfiber, not to the screen surface. Wipe the screen with the microfiber sponge, following package directions.
Preventive Microwave Maintenance
To help keep the touch pad or touch screen its cleanest, wash and dry your hands before touching it, especially if you've been handling food or other potentially messy materials. Dust the touch pad and microwave exterior every few days with a microfiber cloth.
If a family member has a bad cold or cough and uses the microwave, wipe the microwave handle, controls and touch pad immediately afterward with a disinfecting wipe that's safe for appliances and delicate touch pads. Since the ingredients vary from one disinfecting wipe brand to the next, read the label carefully before using a wipe to ensure it won't harm the appliance.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.