Can You Microwave a Towel? Dry vs Wet Towel [Tested]

WhatsApp Image 2022 07 14 at 9.58.20 PM 11zonA microwave oven is a vital kitchen tool perfect for reheating leftovers, making popcorn, and melting butter to make delicious meals. The oven works by creating waves of electromagnetic energy that cause water molecules to move at high speeds, thus creating friction that cooks food.

So, Can You Microwave a Towel? Yes, you can microwave a towel. Microwaving a towel is a way to get a quick and easy cleanup. With a microwave, you can have your warm towel ready in just a couple of minutes.

All you require is a clean towel and some water. Soak the towel in water until it’s thoroughly wet but not dripping wet, and place it in the microwave for about two minutes at high power.

A heated towel saves you shivers on a cold winter morning. Nothing is more comforting and refreshing than stepping out of the shower and wrapping yourself in a warm towel during cold mornings.

Towels come in many varieties, but the common ones comprise cotton or polyester. Cotton towels contain mostly air and cellulose, whereas polyester contains polyethylene.

When it comes to microwaving towels, some people say you definitely can, while others are adamant that you absolutely cannot. Read this article to get the facts, tips, and tricks on doing it safely and correctly. Also, you will learn what happened after I microwaved both dry and wet towels in the microwave.

How to Heat Towels in a microwave

Knowing how to heat towels in the microwave correctly is vital to avoid them getting burnt. In this experiment, I decided to microwave both dry and wet towels so as to confirm if indeed it’s safe to microwave them.

I was also interested in knowing the duration one can microwave a towel safely without getting it burnt. So, let’s dive straight into it.

The procedure of Microwaving a Dry Towel

Can You Microwave a Towel?

 

1. I placed a dry towel with a temperature of  26.5 degrees on the microwave plate.

2. I microwaved it at one-minute intervals checking the temperature using an infrared thermometer after every minute.

3. I repeated the same procedure till the fourth minute.

What happened After I Microwaved a Dry Towel for 4 Minutes

In the first and second minutes, the towel was warm to touch. Around the third minute, the towel began to smell. In the fourth minute, the towel started to burn, got charred spots, and was smoky. The temperature was above 100 degrees giving an alert on the thermometer.

A table Showing Temperature of The Dry Towel During 4 Minutes Interval

Time in MinsTemperature in Degree Celsius
026.5
157.6
266.4
388.7
4Above 100

Below is the dry towel after the fourth minute

Can You Microwave a Towel

 

The Procedure of Microwaving a Wet Towel

Wet Towel

Can you Microwave a Dry Towel?

If you want to try this out for yourself, all you need is a towel, some water, and a microwave.

1. I soaked the towel and wrang it out as much as possible.

2. Then I placed a wet towel with a temperature of 22.1 degrees celsius on the microwave plate.

3. I microwaved it at one-minute intervals checking the temperature using an infrared thermometer.

What happened After I Microwaved a Wet Towel for 3 Minutes

In the first minute, the towel was warm to touch. Around the second minute, the towel was hot enough to use with a temperature of 68.6 degrees. By the third minute, the microwave was very hot with a temperature of 70.6 degrees celsius.

You can still use it after the third minute as a barber towel or a hand wash towel.

I wouldn’t recommend microwaving beyond the third minuter as it may burn.

Can You Microwave a Towel?

The towel was warm and nice to use after the 3rd minute

A table Showing the Temperature of a Wet Towel During 3 Minutes Interval

Time in MinsTemperature in Degree Celsius
022.1
153.7
268.6
370.6

Video of the Experiment I Did Microwaving Dry and Wet Towel

The Science Behind Microwaving a Towel

For a microwave to produce enough heat to cook or warm food, it needs water molecules, and food has plenty of them. Unfortunately, when you put a dry towel inside the microwave, there are no water molecules present for the microwave to work with, which means it won’t produce adequate heat, and the towel won’t warm up.

The trick is to soak the towel in water and squeeze out all of the excess water as you go before putting it in the microwave. It is therefore clear that it is safer to microwave a damp towel as opposed to a dry towel.

Precautions to Take When Microwaving a Towel

1. Use Short Bursts

Do not heat your towel for an extended period; instead, use only ten or 15-second sessions of heat at a time. You may need multiple bursts of microwaving to get your towel fully heated. Repeat the process until the entire towel is warm or hot, depending on the desired temperature.

2. Consider Microwave Size

You don’t want to overcrowd a smaller microwave with a big towel. A reasonable precaution is to make sure there are at least 3 inches between the sides and top of the microwave. You should also leave space between the edges of the towel and the tray when placing it inside.

3. Let it Sit for a While

It’s not safe to remove hot towels immediately from a microwave because they can burn your fingers. Instead, let them sit for some time, so they cool down on their own before handling them.

What You Should Never Microwave

Here are some items you should never microwave:

1. Paper Towels

Paper towels compose a thin layer of plastic, which is not safe to heat in a microwave. They may melt in spots or catch fire.

2. Plastic Bags

Most plastic bags melt and release toxins into your food. For example, plastic bags of frozen vegetables in the grocery store are made of plastic and often have metal ties.

However, some bags have labels of “microwave-safe” on them, but it’s best to double-check with the manufacturer first, as even those bags may not survive for very long without warping or melting.

3. Foil and Metal

You should never microwave metal and foil containers. Metal heats up quickly and creates sparks when placed in the microwave. Foil can also overheat, possibly causing sparks that cause fires. The same applies to candy wrappers.

The risks of microwaving a towel

The concern with microwaving towels is that they can act as fire starters. When put in microwaves, towels can reach temperatures as high as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to ignite some materials.

A cotton towel contains little or no water, and if you microwave it for too long, it won’t necessarily catch on fire, but it could start to smolder. A smoldering towel can ignite other combustibles around them like walls and curtains and your microwave too.

Alternatives to microwaving a towel

Some people use towel warmers to keep them warm during those winter months when temperatures drop below freezing. Towel warmers in your bathroom can take the chill off your towels. The problem with using a heated towel rack is that it takes time to heat the towels, and you never really know if it’s on or off because it looks the same whether it’s hot or cold.

The other way of drying a wet towel is using an electric dryer that heats up to very high temperatures and can cause water to evaporate from your towel quickly. You could also try using an air compressor or even just hanging it out in the sun for a day or two.

Faqs About Microwaving a Towel

Can you put towel in a microwave?

Yes, you can put a towel in the microwave, but since towels don’t contain any liquid water, they won’t absorb much energy from the microwave. So whether to put a towel on the microwave depends on the type of towel you want to heat up and how you want to heat it.

Will a cloth towel catch on fire in the microwave?

Can You Microwave a TowelYes, a towel can catch on fire in the microwave. Several factors determine whether a cloth towel will catch on fire in the microwave or not. First, if it is dry, then it will not catch fire. Some types of cloth are more likely to catch fire than others because they have more moisture that turns into steam and heats up.

Finally, a wet towel absorbs microwaves, leading to overheating and potentially combustion if the towel or material heats for too long.

Can I put a wet towel in the oven?

You can put a wet towel in the oven. If you want to put a wet towel in the oven, put it on high and leave it for 10 minutes. The heat will ensure that your towel is dry before you use it.

However, the towel will have a slight burning smell after being in the oven, but nothing like you expect from something truly on fire. Microwaves are not good at drying things because they don’t get hot enough.

Can you put dry towels in a towel warmer?

Yes, you can. It is suitable for warming up a dry towel in a warm environment for hours and is now potentially covered in bacteria. Towel warmers are also suitable for drying your towels after you’ve used them. They also heat the bathroom, so it doesn’t get too cold. Towel warmers don’t dry towels but warm them.

Can you put fabric in the microwave?

Yes, you can put the fabric in the microwave, but there are some caveats to observe. You should only use the microwave for small items, like socks or clothes. You should never try to heat more oversized items like towels or blankets.

When using the microwave to dry your clothes, you must ensure they do not contain any metal and are damp but not soaking wet. Metal and water don’t mix well with microwaves because they can cause sparks, so if you have any metal buttons or zips on your clothing, remove them first. Next, squeeze out as much water as is possible from your clothing before popping it in for a few minutes.

The only materials you shouldn’t put in the microwave can be ignited by a spark, for example, those containing metals, like aluminum foil or silverware and plastics.

Conclusion

Microwaving a damp towel might have some practical applications like warming up a towel for a baby’s bath or heating a make-shift hot pack for sore muscles, but some serious risks are involved. For example, overheated towels can cause a fire if not handled properly.

If you are going to try microwaving a towel, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your microwave oven, and be very careful when handling the heated towel. What’s your favorite way of using a microwave-safe towel? Let us know as we welcome any additional tips or tricks.

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