Can You Microwave Paper Towels? -[Tested]

Can You Microwave Paper Towels?Paper in fashion! Well, did you know that Marc Jacobs (Louis Vuitton’s head of designer) made a coat purely from paper towels in 2014?

Yes, the normal paper towel. For instance, paper towels are thicker and finer than normal tissue paper. They are also stronger and extra absorbent because they are expected to soak up liquids and perform other kitchen duties perfectly.

But wait, can you microwave paper towels?

Yes, you can safely microwave a paper towel though you should be very careful. Paper materials don’t hold too much moisture; hence they can dry or burn on the sides if overheated in the microwave.

What Are the Benefits of Using Paper Towels in the Microwave?

We now know that paper towel is microwave safe, but why should you do it? What are the benefits? Let’s look at some positive sides of using a microwave.

1. They Help Control Splashing

One of the key reasons people use paper towels in the microwave is to prevent splashing. While warming foods or fluids that easily splash, always place one or two pieces of the paper towel to cover the container. It helps manage the splashing. The advantage of doing this is that you don’t need to clean the walls and the microwave turntable once your food is heated.

2. They Help Retain Moisture

We use paper towels in the microwave mostly to wrap food. The reason for this is to prevent moisture from escaping because that’s what happens when you’re using a microwave for cooking anything. You can relate this method to covering a pot when steaming food on the stove for the same results.

3. They Can Catch Drips

People also use paper towels in the microwave to spread them over the turntable. The main reason people do this is to attract drips when reheating liquid foods or soup. After you’re done microwaving, take out the paper towel instead of wiping the turntable.

4. They’re Cheap and Convenient

Finally, paper towels are quite affordable and convenient. When starting, paper towels may appear expensive. But if you factor in that, you can reuse them (either for microwaving or something different), making them pretty affordable.

Things to Know Before You Microwave Paper Towels

You can become a paper towel guru by knowing these things before you start microwaving.

1. Flat, Unfolded Paper Towels Are Safest

It’s safer if your paper towel lies flat in the microwave. Indeed it’s safer to avoid scrunching, folding, or crumping the paper towel. The reason is to prevent heat from dispersing easily from the crumpled paper towel. And it should be flat when using your paper towel above or below your food.

2. Plain White Paper Towels Are Safest

It’s safer to microwave plain white paper towels instead of those with different patterns. The USDA clearly gives guidelines on cooking with microwave ovens. Besides that, ink from paper is also dangerous because it can leach into your food, and it is poisonous when you consume it.

3. Recycled Paper Towels May Be Less Safe

The main constituents of repurposed paper towels are never consistent and mostly comprise ingredients that are not microwave safe. There’s a high likelihood of melting, ignition, and eventually, fire, whether it’s the tiny plastic particles, metal, or anything else.

Therefore, if you’re using reprocessed paper towels in your kitchen, it’s best to use something different to cover your food when heating.

4. You May Want to Dampen the Paper Towel

Looking from a safety angle, there’s no given reason to dampen a paper towel for microwave use. However, for fire prevention reasons, it’s logical that wet substances are more fire-resistant. However, it won’t hurt.

Here are other reasons why you should moisturize your paper towel.

  • In some instances, draping your food in a wet paper towel will stop it from getting dry. It is advisable to do this with bread foodstuffs, e.g., rolls, pizza, sandwiches, tortillas, etc. Additionally, a damp paper towel covered over a container of leftovers can ensure it doesn’t dry out. The liquid converts into steam and gets into the food.
  • The dry paper towel can sometimes blow about due to wind from the equipment’s fan. After moisturizing the paper towel, you can place it at the top of the bowl, and it will remain in contact.

5. One Paper Towel Is Enough

Basically, one paper is usually microwave safe, and you don’t have to stack a whole bunch of them. Some reports say that layering more than ten paper towels in the microwave prevents heat from escaping. That is untrue so stick to only one or two if it’s a must. If you need something thicker than that, you can use a paper plate or microwave-safe dishes instead of compiling numerous paper towels.

How Do You Microwave Food With Paper Towels Safely?

Here are some ways to microwave using paper towels differently:

Method 1: Lay A Paper Towel On Top Of The Food

Laying a paper towel over your food when heating is good as it preserves heat and moisture and ensures that food heats well. You can moisturize the paper towel before you cover to preserve more moisture if you want. This method is best for heating foods like baked potatoes.

Method 2: Lay A Paper Towel On The Plate

Can You Microwave Paper Towels?Reheating saucy foods and soups can make them splash inside the microwave. You can stop this by taking a plate and covering it using a paper towel. Follow by placing the plate over the bowl to allow the paper towel to create heat and escape and not drop back to your food.


Method 3: Wrap Food Into The Paper Towel

Covering food with a damp towel is good for retaining moisture and keeping your food soft. In this method, you first need to dampen the paper towel. Next is to put the food in the paper towel. Ultimately, you can use this style to heat meals like tortillas.

Method 4: Use The Paper Towel As A Vent

 A paper towel can act as a vent if you use it to cover food when rewarming. In fact you can use it instead of plastic wraps. It allows the heat to pass over and prevents food from overheating. Basically, it allows the food to heat more uniformly. Using this method ensures that your food tastes better and guarantees that it doesn’t undercook.

What To Do If Your Paper Towel Catches On Fire In The Microwave

If your paper towel happens to catch fire in the microwave, do the below immediately.

Step 1 – Stop The Microwave Immediately

A paper towel burning in a running microwave is more harmful than if it’s put off. So, once you notice flames, switch off your microwave immediately.

Step 2 – Put Out The Fire

After turning off the microwave, proceed and put out the fire as fast as possible. You can use water to put it off unless it’s an oil fire. If you’re using a paper towel to microwave something very oily, using water may increase the fire, so be watchful.

Once your fire consumes all the oxygen in the microwave, it should go off automatically. Once the microwave is off the fire, it will go off really fast since the paper doesn’t contain combustible elements. Again, microwaves have less air, hence less oxygen.

Step 3 – Start the Clean-Up Process

After putting off the fire, you should remove the microwave outside to prevent smoke from setting off the alarm or making your house smell. Remove the burnt paper towel particles and anything else that caught fire sensibly.  Remove the rotating plate and start cleaning your microwave.

An experiment on Microwaving a Paper Towel

I did an experiment and wanted to check what happens when you microwave a paper towel.


Microwaving an Unfolded Paper Towel

I took a paper towel and placed it on a microwave plate in a lying flat position without any folding. I then microwaved it at intervals of 1 minute, checking the temperatures using an infrared thermometer. I did this for 7 minutes.

Results and Findings

Even after 7 minutes, the paper towel did not change. It retained heat but did not burn. After each minute there was a temperature rise but this did not affect the nature of the paper. It, therefore, proves that it is safe to microwave a paper towel provided it is in a flat position with no foldings.

The table below shows the temperature changes per minute

Time in minutesTemperature in degrees Celsius

Microwaving a folded Paper Towel

Can You Microwave Paper Towels?I took a paper towel, folded it, and crumped it together. I then placed it on the microwave plate. I then microwaved it in intervals of 1 minute checking the temperature using an infrared thermometer.

Results and Findings

After the first minute,  nothing had happened to the folded paper towel. In the second minute, the paper towel started to get charred spots and there was some smoke. The temperature of the paper got high of 74.8 degrees Celcius. I couldn’t microwave it further. It is therefore evident that it is not safe to microwave a folded paper towel.

This is how the paper towel looked

Can You Microwave Paper Towels?


Faqs About Can You Microwave Paper Towel

Is it Safe to Use Paper Towels in the Microwave?

Yes, you can use paper towels in the microwave since it’s safe. But you should be cautious when during the process. Make sure that you do not fold up the paper towel while microwaving. Paper towels are good for microwaves considering their low water content.

How Long Can Paper Towels be in the Microwave?

You shouldn’t microwave a paper towel for longer than five minutes. If you’re using several paper towels or prefer folding your paper towels, be more observant.

Why can’t paper towels burn in the microwave?

For anything to overheat, it must absorb the energy surrounding it. Paper towels are, however, transparent to microwaves. Paper towels don’t hold the microwaves and can’t absorb them. That makes them hard to burn.

Are Bounty Paper Towels Microwave Safe?

Bounty paper towels are microwave safe, but you can only use them for short periods to reheat food. If you’re using the printed type, it’s advisable to have the unprinted side touch the food to minimize the likeliness of ink getting in food.

Will Paper Towels Burn in the Oven?

Paper towel has absorbent qualities that make it ideal for large messes. You should avoid using any paper product, towel included, in the oven due to the internal heating components and the uneven temperatures. These unpredictable details make using a paper towel in your range dangerous.

Will a Cloth Towel Catch on Fire in the Microwave?

Microwaving a cloth towel will not do anything to the cloth. Nonetheless, it won’t absorb the generated heat and may spoil your microwave. It’s similar to putting your microwave on when it’s empty.

Are Paper Towels Toxic?

Like any other paper product, paper towels are made using wood pulp. According to research, the chemicals used in manufacturing soft paper towels are naturally poisonous but don’t cause extensive damage.

Does Paper Burn in the Microwave?

They can be paper towels, sheets of paper, and paper cups or plates. It is advisable to microwave paper by laying it flat, though, ensure to watch over it. Still, it’s easy for the paper to combust inside the microwave and ignite a fire if crumpled.

Will Paper Towels Burn in the Oven?

A paper towel can burn in the microwave. According to Firefighter insider, paper burns at between 424 to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the oven has different components, the chance of a fire igniting from a piece of paper towel is high.

Can Brown Paper Towels go in the Microwave?

When microwaving, Wax paper, paper towels, paper plates, parchment paper, and bowls are all safe. However, brown paper bags are never secure in the microwave because they can’t resist high temperatures and can easily ignite a fire. They can also discharge poisonous fumes and may encompass germs that can be transferred to food.

Can you put paper napkins in the microwave?

If you’re planning to microwave something, then notice that you’ve exhausted your paper towels; you don’t have to worry. You can cover your food using a paper napkin to prevent it from splattering in the microwave.

Is it Safe to Wrap Food in the Microwave?

The USDA states that it is safe to wrap food in the microwave provided the wrap has a microwave-safe label. However, the wrap should not get into contact with the food.


If you’ve never thought of using a paper towel to reheat food before, now you have countless reasons. Your cooking can be less messy, and you’ll minimize cleaning time and ensure your food remains delicious and softer if you use a paper towel.

Check out this video for more

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