The VICE Guide to Right Now

A Woman in China Tried to Disinfect Banknotes by Microwaving Them and Ended Up With Burnt Money

Just another example of extreme precautionary measures against the coronavirus.
Woman China Microwaves Money Disinfect coronavirus
Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Since February, Chinese banks have been disinfecting banknotes as a precaution against the coronavirus. They use ultraviolet light or high temperatures to kill germs on the surface of the banknotes, then store them for up to 14 days before redistribution.

In a DIY attempt to do the same, a middle-aged woman from Jiangsu Province found herself in a hot mess. When she popped 3,125 yuan ($449) into the microwave, she probably didn’t expect her money to burn up.


According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, a burning smell started to waft out of the microwave oven after less than a minute. She tried to save the banknotes but it was too late — most of them were burnt to a crisp.

In her desperation, the woman brought the charred remains of the banknotes to her local bank for help.

Woman in China tried to disinfect money by microwaving them

Image from Xinhua News Agency on WeChat.

Apparently, the banknotes were so badly burnt that the bank’s authentication machine couldn’t work on them. Bank staff had to count and authenticate the notes by hand. They also had to be extra careful — the notes were so brittle that the blackened bits could turn into ash when touched. They very cautiously flattened out the banknotes and glued them on white paper to authenticate them.

Luckily, the woman got a full refund from the bank.

So for those at home, please don’t put your banknotes in the microwave, unless you have money to burn.

Find Koh Ewe on Instagram.