Is It Safe To Keep A Microwave Plugged In?

Most of us never unplug the microwave. It’s an always-on, always-ready appliance and is the main clock in our kitchen. But should it be unplugged? How about if you are going way for a few weeks?

Is it safe to keep a microwave plugged in when you’re not using it? Let’s find out.

The answer to this question isn’t actually that complicated. Generally speaking, it is very safe to leave your microwave plugged in when you’re not using it. However, there are a few factors to consider that might make you want to unplug it anyway.

First, microwaves use a fair amount of electricity, even when they’re not in use. So, if you’re looking to save on your energy bill, unplugging your microwave when you’re not using it is a good idea. This “vampire power” means higher energy bills each month and can add up to $5-10 additionally dollars spent each year for a newer microwave. It’s not a ton, but it’s wasted money nonetheless. That said, this is not a safety issue.

Second, microwaves emit electromagnetic radiation. Can this happen when they are off? Basically the answer is no. Consumer microwaves have rarely, and almost never, been a radiation concern[1] and almost all the injuries from microwaves are a result of the food and water they heat. Even so, if you want to reduce any possibility of radiation in even the smallest amount, you can unplug the device, even if it’s just for peace of mind.

You might want to unplug your microwave to prevent fires. Spontaneous fire is very unlikely if you have a microwave from a reputable brand with some sort of safety certification, like the UL from Underwriters Labs or CE from Intertek[2]Intertek: These certifications on a microwave that hasn’t been misused almost certainly ensure fire safety.

One bigger reason you might want to unplug your microwave is because you have children in your home. A curious child might play with the microwave or even try to use it, and set the timer for too long or put a piece of metal inside. Both of these are just about the most unsafe things you can do with a microwave, making this one of the number one reasons why you’d want to unplug your microwave when you, or another adult, aren’t using it.

But Is It Safe?

At the end of the day, the decision of whether or not to keep your microwave plugged in when you’re not using it is up to you. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra on your energy bill or if you don’t have young children or pregnant women in your home, then there’s no reason to unplug it. However, if you’re looking to save money or reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation, then it might be a good idea to unplug your microwave when you’re not using it.


2 Intertek: