The Life of a Microwave

The Beginning of the End

My microwave is a trooper. She’s practically a family heirloom as far as I’m concerned. She was bought at least a decade ago by my mother but she’s still pretty sharp looking, all things considered. That and the fact it’s actually strong enough to pop popcorn meant that in joining households with my boyfriend, his microwave was abandoned. (Seriously, it was a dinosaur. Imagine a big plastic storage bin. Now imagine it with a distinct 70s vibe and an off-yellow colour.)

Her first couple years were pretty easy going. My mother took good enough care of it that I inherited it pretty clean, maybe a little yellowing inside but who cares? A free 1100 watt microwave to take to college! That was the beginning of the end.

I ran off to college for the first time with extremely little cleaning experience (What can I say? I’m the baby) beyond “Lysol wipe EVERYTHING”. I didn’t clean it more than two or three times that year, maximum. Since I was the only one using it regularly, it never really got that dirty.

After eight months, she was in storage for the rest of the year, nice and clean with a well-deserved break.

A Year+ With College Boys

That was when I moved into a first-year dorm with four 18 and 19 year old boys for the summer. By time I was getting ready to move again, the microwave was filthy. Once again, I scrubbed her down, this time it took a solid 30 to 60minutes of hard work, but maybe minus some additional yellowing, she was okay again.

When I moved into a new place with two out of four of the same roommates, we agreed to take turns cleaning it. G graciously was the next to clean the microwave a couple months in and my microwave thought she had surpassed the worst of it all. Oh, was she wrong.

My now-boyfriend was the next in rotation to clean the microwave. What I didn’t realize at the time was how big of a germaphobe he is. We kept holding out thinking he’d take a turn to clean the bathrooms, but eventually gave in and accepted that it was just too much for him to deal with. I hate dishes with a passion, though, so we had a fair trade going boyfriend it was his turn to clean the microwave. Ever the charmer, he’d acknowledge it and brush it aside, changing the conversation without me much caring or noticing.

An unknown number of weeks later, I reminded my boyfriend it was his turn to clean the microwave. Ever the charmer, he’d acknowledge it and brush it aside, changing the conversation without me much caring or noticing.

Just The Two of Us

Twelve months later, it was time to move again, and still, the microwave had not been cleaned. Well, I was sure not going to clean it now that it was that gross because he couldn’t clean it! I held my ground. My boyfriend and I moved into our own apartment and, for the first time ever, my poor microwave was not sanitized beforehand.

A Better Place

Eight months later, we were looking to move out again but this time we were looking at an apartment that already had a microwave. We would be moving out at the end of the month, and still, she received no love. In the comfort of living with someone for so long, I, too, got lazy with my chores. I stopped doing the dishes regularly. Like, ever. Maybe once every week or two. I had absolved that my microwave would simply have to be trashed when we moved this time, no one would want this food-crusted beast.

Even if you tuck away my environmental guilt into a tiny box and stash that box away, doesn’t this microwave deserve better? She’s seen my mother single and dating and married, she’s seen me off to a new country to attend college, she saw the end of a toxic relationship, she endured the torture from four first-year college boys and lived to tell the tale. Surely someone, somewhere, can find a good home for her even if we can’t keep her.

I’m sure there’s an 18-year-old out there who would be thrilled to have a full-sized, 1100 watt, fully functional microwave to get her through the college years.

So I finally broke down and cleaned her.

A Second Life

Close your eyes.

Just kidding, you need them open to read this.

Are you ready to see the most disgusting microwave you’ve ever witnessed?

(Now I understand the “airing your dirty laundry” sentiment.)





Here she is!


I know, I’m embarrassed for me too.

I started by boiling a bowl of water for five minutes to help loosen things up. Then I tried a handful of different cleaning tricks found on Pinterest that somehow all used baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar. Remember to use your baking soda and vinegar at separate times or they will become useless! After a good hour of scrubbing and haphazardly applying different products, the microwave was finally as clean as it was ever going to get again.

The Life of a Microwave

Don’t worry, the plate came out sparkling clean from a quick wash in the dishwasher.

With a second good scrub maybe a little more could’ve come out, but I had plenty of other work to be done like making spinach phyllo for our going-away party. In the end, a man did come by and took the microwave off our hands for $10. I’m just glad someone is getting use out of the microwave that served my mother and I for so many years, instead of sitting in a landfill.


Tell me I’m not alone!

What were some of your college cleaning horror stories?


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