How To: These Hidden Key Codes Will Lock Your Microwave's Controls So Nobody Can Use It

These Hidden Key Codes Will Lock Your Microwave's Controls So Nobody Can Use It

You might think that you have your microwave all figured out, but chances are you don't know all of its secrets. Some microwave tricks are truly hidden; obscure information nowhere to be seen in the user manuals. Other tricks are hiding in plain sight, often overlooked or tossed to the curb because a microwave oven is so simple that instructions aren't needed, right?

They are that simple, but even the simplest of gadgets are hiding something.

One little-known feature of almost every brand of microwave is the locking mechanism. No, I'm talking about locking the door — I'm talking about locking the control panel. With the control panel locked, none of the buttons will work until you unlock it, but most of the time, there is no "lock" or "unlock" button anywhere to be seen. That's actually by design since it's a childproof safety feature.

Why Even Have a Control Panel Lock on Microwaves?

There are currently no federal safety regulations for microwave ovens when it comes to children specifically, but the Underwriters Laboratory recently approved a new standard for microwave manufacturers that requires a two-step process for opening microwave doors. The rule takes effect in March 2023 and is meant to prevent toddlers and young kids from being burned by hot food and drink.

A disengagement feature may be an acceptable substitute for people with disabilities who can't use a two-step process to open the door. And while there were no previous rules for it before, most manufacturers already have a disengagement feature built-in to their microwave ovens — and that's the hidden control lockout we're talking about.

While the hidden control panel lock on your microwave can certainly prevent toddlers and young kids from nuking things they shouldn't, you could also use it to prank your roommate, coworkers, and family members who don't know about the trick. With it locked, it'll block them from heating drinks or leftovers, which is sure to confuse the hell out of them. Some of the best pranks are the simplest ones.

How to Lock & Unlock Your Microwave Control Panel

All microwaves are different, so the code for locking and unlocking the controls will vary. Some models will have a straightforward lock and unlock button, but it's a design failure, in my opinion. Toddlers can know what a lock symbol is and even could make out the word lock, so it's possible they could figure it out.

The Hidden Lock Codes for Popular Microwave Ovens

From all the manuals we've looked at, many of them use the "Stop" or "Cancel" button to hide the child safety lock for the controls, but some use numbers on the keypad, obvious lock buttons, the "Mute" key, and so on. Many are activated and deactivated using a long-press while some a specific number of presses.

The only time I saw that a child lockout was missing was for above-range microwaves that are tall enough to be out of a toddler's and young child's reach.

Reference the list below to see what your microwave model's keypress or key combination might be. Some brands have different ways to turn the locked mode on depending on the model. The list just shows a few examples for each brand, but your microwave may use a different unlock process; read your instructions manual in that case to find the one that works for you.

Jump below the list to see more information about using the locking mechanism on your standalone, countertop, above-range, under-cabinet, under-counter, or built-in microwave oven.

Amana

  • Press-and-hold X / CONTROL LOCK for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold X / LOCK (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold the START button for five seconds. (ex.)

Amazon

  • Press SETTINGS multiple times until you see TURN CHILD LOCK ON, then press START. (ex.)

Bosch

  • Press-and-hold PANEL LOCK (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex)

Cafe

  • Press-and-hold MUTE ON/OFF / LOCK CONTROL (HOLD 3 SEC). (ex.)

Farberware

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL (HOLD) for three seconds. (ex. 1. ex. 2)

Frigidaire

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL for three seconds.
  • Press CLOCK & SETTINGS twice until CONTROL LOCK is on the display, then press START / +30 SEC. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL (HOLD 3S TO LOCK) for three seconds. (ex.)

GE

  • Press-and-hold CLEAR / OFF for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold CANCEL / OFF for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold the 5 and 7 together for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold MUTE for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold LOCK CONTROL (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex.)

Haier

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL for three seconds. (ex.)

Insignia

Kenmore

  • Press CLOCK, press 9 four times, press START, press 1 for CHILD LOCK/DEMO MODE, then press 1 for CHILD LOCK ON. (ex. 1)
  • Press-and-hold CONTROL LOCK for three seconds. (ex.)

KitchenAid

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold CANCEL / CONTROL LOCK (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold CANCEL (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex.)

LG

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CLEAR for three seconds. (ex.)

Magic Chef

  • Press-and-hold CANCEL / OFF for three seconds. (ex.)

Maytag

  • Press-and-hold CANCEL for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold OFF / CANCEL / CONTROL LOCK (HOLD 5 SEC) for five seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold ENTER / START for three seconds. (ex.)

Oster

  • Press-and-hold START / STOP for three seconds.
  • Press-and-hold RESET for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold STOP / RESET for three seconds. (ex._
  • Press-and-hold STOP / CLEAR for three seconds. (ex.)

Panasonic

Samsung

  • Press-and-hold CLOCK and MORE / LESS together for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold ENTER / START for three seconds. (ex.)

Sharp

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CLEAR for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press CLOCK, press 1, then press-and-hold START for three seconds. To disable, press CLOCK, press 1, then press STOP / CLEAR. (ex.)
  • Press CUSTOM HELP, press 1, then press START / TOUCH ON. To disable, press CUSTOM HELP, press 1, then press STOP / CLEAR. (ex.)

Toshiba

  • Press-and-hold STOP / CANCEL for three seconds. (ex.)

Whirlpool

  • Press-and-hold X (CANCEL) / CONTROL LOCK for three seconds. (ex. 1, ex. 2)
  • Press-and-hold X (CANCEL) / LOCK (HOLD 3 SEC) for three seconds. (ex.)
  • Press-and-hold CANCEL for three seconds. (ex.)

Important Things to Know About Using the Lock

For most microwave ovens, the lockout instructions are fairly simple, but there is more useful and interesting information you should know that may apply to your model.

  • Lock Indicators: With almost all microwaves that have control locks, there will be an indicator in the display next to the time (or by itself when no time is set) to tell users why the control pan no longer functions. Some will simply have an "L," some will actually say "Locked," some use "Loc," and others use a lock icon. Out of all of those, the "L" is probably the most elusive to confused microwave users.
  • Controls When Locked: In our example GIF above, the GE-branded over-the-stove microwave very clearly says "LOCKED" when the safety lock is turned on. When someone tries to use any of the buttons, it then says "CONTROL LOCKED." There will be no extra feedback on some models when pressing buttons, but some try to spell things out to the user as our GE one does.
  • Lock When Idle: To use the child safety lock for the control panel, make sure the microwave oven and timer are off. You won't be able to set the lock if a cooking time is set or it's currently heating food or drink. That's the case with all models that we looked at.
  • Lock Bypass: For many microwave oven models, the locked mode will be maintained after power disconnection. So with some versions, the user could simply unplug the microwave, wait a few seconds, then plug it back in to bypass the control lock. But on other models, the locked state will remain.
  • Cleaning Tip: The panel lock feature is also handy when cleaning the control panel on your microwave oven. The lock will prevent accidental button presses when wiping the control panel clean.
  • Oven Locks: Some regular oven models (i.e., not microwaves) with digital controls also have a control lock. For example, on one Bosch model, you could press the "Key" button for four seconds.
  • Deactivating Child Lockout: To deactivate the control panel lock, almost every microwave model works similarly: just perform the same button presses you did to lock it in the first place. It's that easy. I noted the unlock process in the list above for ones where it's not the same keypresses.
  • Smart Microwaves: Some microwaves have smart functions that work with Amazon Alexa, Hey Google, Sonos, Apple HomeKit, etc. When the microwave is locked, the controls on a remote app for Android and iOS are also blocked, as well as voice controls. We haven't found any smart apps or voice commands that let you lock and unlock the microwave, but there could be something out there somewhere for something.

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Cover image by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks; GIF by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

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