Can You Put A Paper Towel In The Microwave? (Find Out Now!)

Emily Carr
by Emily Carr

Paper towels are great for anything from cleaning up spills to drying wet hands or leveling a wobbly table. There are so many uses for them in the kitchen, and many people wonder if you can put a paper towel in the microwave.

Most paper towels can be safely used in the microwave in 2-minute increments, on ‘low’ or ‘medium’ heat. Paper towels are suited for keeping your microwave clean or helping your food retain moisture. Avoid brands with dyes, fragrances, or recycled materials; instead, look for plain white paper towels to avoid a fire hazard.

Additionally, limit your paper towel use to one per microwave session. That way, you won’t risk each one crumpling up and retaining too much heat, which could be dangerous.

Continue reading if you’re interested in learning whether or not it’s safe to put a paper towel in the microwave and the best way to do so. Additionally, we’ll cover other uses for a paper towel in the microwave and what not to do!

Is It Safe to Put a Paper Towel in the Microwave?

There are so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to using your microwave. A simple kitchen appliance can become a huge fire hazard if used incorrectly. Furthermore, are paper towels safe to be used inside?

Most paper towels are safe to be used inside a microwave. Paper, in general, has an ignition point of 451 °F, and luckily, microwaves only reach about 212 °F. However, it’s best to avoid brands that have colored detailing, are scented, or are recycled.

While dye or fragrance isn’t usually harmful in small doses, when heated, it can sometimes bleed onto your food, making it toxic to consume. Additionally, don’t use recycled paper towels because they may contain other, flammable components.

It’s recommended to opt for white paper towels per USDA guidelines. Above all, consult the label or company website to make sure that your paper towels can be microwaved.

The Best Way to Microwave a Paper Towel

While microwaving paper towels is generally okay, there are a few suggestions to follow to ensure the process goes smoothly.

To microwave a paper towel safely:

  • Make sure it isn’t scrunched up or folded, trapping heat (this can cause it to ignite).
  • Opt for a plain white paper towel.
  • Wet the paper towel so that it is damp (not soaked) to help your food retain moisture.
  • Ensure your microwave is on a ‘medium’ or ‘low’ power setting.
  • Use the microwave in 2-minute increments or until your food is heated to the desired temperature. Re-adjust your paper towel to lay flat in between each use, if necessary.
  • Only use 1 paper towel.

Following these rules will help keep your microwave clean, your food moist, and your kitchen fire-free!

Uses for a Paper Towel in the Microwave

Now that we know paper towels are microwavable, there are a few ways they can be used inside!

A paper towel can be used in the microwave to:

  • Keep your microwave clean– Lay the paper towel over the food or liquid to keep it from splattering inside.
  • Help your food stay moist– Dampen the paper towel and either lay it or wrap it around the food you want to retain moisture.
  • Limit dirty dishes– Paper towels can be used instead of plates or bowls underneath solid food that needs a quick nuking!

As you can see, paper towels can be put to use in many ways around the house and in your microwave.

The Best Paper Towel Brands for the Microwave

There are so many different types of paper towel brands; how are you supposed to choose? We’ve narrowed down a list of solid-white paper towels that are perfectly safe for the microwave.

Top paper towel brands for microwave use include (in no particular order):

  • Bounty: durable and absorbent; perfect for dampening
  • Brawny: more affordable; come in single-ply option for less bulk
  • Amazon Brand – Presto!: easy to order; has an option to set up a recurring shipping schedule (you’ll never run out!)

Any of these are solid options for reheating your food.

What Not to Do When Putting a Paper Towel in the Microwave

There are a few key scenarios to avoid when using paper towels in the microwave. Overall, these recommendations will keep you and your home safe!

Here’s what not to do when putting a paper towel in the microwave:

  • Use multiple paper towels.
  • Crumple up or fold your paper towel.
  • Soak your paper towel before placing it over your food.
  • Set your microwave on ‘high’ heat.
  • Use dyed or scented paper towels.
  • Microwave the components for longer than 2 minutes.
  • Use metal containers to heat your food.

All of these situations are huge no-nos and dramatically increase the chance that your microwave or the paper towel will catch fire.

Related Questions

Can you put a paper towel in the oven?

If paper towels are microwave-safe, can they be used in the oven?Generally speaking, paper towels should not be used in the oven. As mentioned above, paper catches flame at 451 °F. While some dishes only require 350 °F, oven cooking containers are much larger and will require more than one paper towel to be completely covered.If a paper towel slips and falls to the bottom of the oven, you have a big problem, so there’s really no point in risking it.

Can you put a paper towel in an air fryer?

Like an oven, air fryers are also not a suitable environment for paper towels.The high-speed heat of an air fryer can reach over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While this isn’t quite hot enough to completely ignite a paper towel, it could make it soggy and allow for the sheet to be mixed in with your food.Air fryers are fairly simple, easy, and quick so try not to overcomplicate things by adding paper towels into the mix!

Are paper towels biodegradable?

Good news- most paper towels are, in fact, biodegradable! What does this mean?This means that the materials used to make the towel will break down and decompose in the presence of certain elements like water, air, and soil. They also have a fairly small carbon footprint (when used sparingly).However, not all paper towels are not biodegradable, so it’s important to check for this label before purchasing. If you’re looking for a more environmentally-conscious option, seek out paper towels that are made of recycled materials or opt for a towel that you can wash.

The Bottom Line

To wrap things up, while you can put most paper towels in the microwave, you should always remember to read the brand-specific label first.

Plain white (and unscented or dyed) paper towels can be useful in the microwave as a substitute for plates. They can also be placed over your food to limit splattering in the microwave or be dampened to help keep your meals from drying out.

Paper towels are biodegradable and can be used for so many different purposes around the house, with the exception of in an oven or air fryer. Following the guidelines we discussed will prevent any burn accidents from happening.

The next time you need a quick-fix option for reheating food, try out some of the tips above!

Emily Carr
Emily Carr

Emily is a copywriter with over five years of experience in crafting content for the home renovation and remodeling industry. She loves house projects, whether it be painting a room or tweaking small design elements to transform a space. Her favorite aesthetic is french modern because of its clean lines and airy feeling! When not writing, Emily loves to travel and check out architectural details all over the world.

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