The Debate on Microwaving Paper Towels: Can it be Done?

The Debate on Microwaving Paper Towels: Can it be Done?

Are you looking for an easy way to warm up your meal? You may be wondering if you can use paper towels in the microwave. But can you put paper towels in the microwave? This article is going to answer that question, providing vital information to help keep you and your family safe. So don’t heat up your dinner without reading this first!


It’s a common misconception that you can use paper towels in the microwave. While it’s true that paper towels are highly absorbent and can be used to cover dishes to prevent splatters, they should not be placed directly into the microwave. This is because paper towels are not heat-resistant and may start to burn if heated for too long. In addition, some types of paper may release toxins when heated, which could contaminate food if heated in close proximity.

For these reasons, using cotton towels or fabric towel squares is recommended instead.

What are Paper Towels?

Paper towels are a popular item used in homes and businesses for cleaning purposes. They are made from a type of paper that is highly absorbent and capable of absorbing liquids, so they often replace the use of cotton towels or rags. These sheets come from a wide variety of sources, including recycled paper products, rolls or folded packets.

In addition to being Absorbent, paper towels can also be used as an item for wiping up spills/messes or for keeping surfaces clean as well. Paper towels come in various sizes, textures, and thicknesses depending on their purpose and manufacturer. Some types of paper towels have additives that can withstand higher temperature applications such as the microwave. Before using paper towels in the microwave it is important to read the label on the package to make sure you that the product you are using can withstand high temperatures without smoking or catching fire.

Can Paper Towels Catch Fire in the Microwave?

The short answer to this question is yes – depending on their usage, paper towels can catch fire in a microwave. It is important to note, however, that the likelihood of this occurrence increases substantially when the towels are placed near uncovered food or when wet.

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When microwaving anything with a combustible material – including paper towels – it is important for users to always follow safety protocols and use caution. Proper usage of paper towels (or any other combustible material) will prevent any unfortunate incidents from occurring.

Paper towels contain fibres that can become charged with electricity due to the oven’s intense electromagnetic radiation and friction can create sparks within their surface that may cause flames if left unchecked. Therefore, you should always keep your food covered in order to prevent sparking and ensure that paper towels remain dry as moisture encourages further sparking. Additionally, users should take extra precautions when microwaving snack varieties like popcorn and chips as they tend to spark more often during application of heat than liquid-based food items do.

Is it Safe to Put Paper Towels in the Microwave?

Microwave ovens are a convenient way to quickly cook or heat many foods. However, when it comes to items that can be placed and heated in these ovens, there are various safety considerations to take into account before proceeding. Many people wonder whether they can place paper towels in the microwave safely or not.

It is important to know that regular paper towels should not be put in the microwave as they are not designed for such use and may pose a fire hazard. This is because microwaves generate very high temperatures that can easily ignite a paper towel if it is directly exposed to heat for an extended period of time. This is why most microwaves come with specifications for what should and should not be placed inside of them, and paper towels usually fall under the “do not use” category.

However, there are special types of paper towels available that have been specifically designed for microwave use, such as Splat mats produced by Flash Cleaning Solutions Ltd. These mats contain special materials which reduce the chances of ignition when exposed to high heats. Therefore, it is best to purchase these types of products before placing any kind of paper towel in your microwave oven, even if it isn’t recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tips for Using Paper Towels in the Microwave

Using paper towels in the microwave is a common practice, but it is important to follow the proper safety procedures to avoid creating a fire danger.

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To use paper towels in the microwave safely, start by making sure your paper towels are not too thick for your machine. Thicker paper towels are more likely to trap heat and cause sparks. You should also keep them away from any metal or aluminum surfaces in the microwave, as they can cause sparks and fires if they make contact.

Lastly, you should always limit the time you use microwaved paper towels to 30 seconds or less per use. This will help reduce the likelihood of accidentally sparking a fire.

Alternatives to Paper Towels in the Microwave

Using paper towels in the microwave is generally not recommended due to their potential to catch fire or spark and create a mess. Fortunately there are several other options available for easily and safely reheating food and clean-up in the microwave.

Reheating Food:

  • Wax paper: Place small pieces of wax paper between the food item and plate before microwaving to keep food moist and reduce splattering. Be sure that no edges hang over the plate before microwaving as this can cause wax paper to ignite.
  • Paper plates: Choose stronger, thicker plates over flimsy ones when reheating food in the microwave. Also be sure that plates can tolerate high temperatures without softening, warping or melting during cooking.
  • Plastic wrap: Ensure pre-packaged meals are properly packaged before microwaving as this will help prevent messes while ensuring that meals are cooked evenly throughout. Use a lid or plastic wrap over bowls to hold in moisture – but be sure to leave a venting gap for steam release!

Cleaning Up:

  • Damp sponge or cloth: After reheating food, use a damp sponge or cloth rather than paper towels for wiping up spills and splatters inside of the microwave oven – never put sponges into the microwave, however! This will prevent potential fire hazards from occurring due to sparking lint on paper towels coming into contact with electricity from inside of your oven walls. Also be sure not to use abrasive materials such as steel wool pads, which may scratch surfaces in your appliance as well as cause sparks if they come into contact with electricity again.


After reviewing the necessary safety precautions, it is clear that it is not safe to place paper towels in the microwave. As paper towels are not considered to be heat-resistant and may contain flammable materials, there is a risk of fire or spark if the towel ignites. Additionally, the material can be difficult to break down in microwaves and may leave particles behind in your food.

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If you need an absorbent or protective layer while reheating food in the microwave, opt for heat-resistant parchment paper or a damp paper towel instead. Be sure to always follow microwave manufacturer recommendations when heating food as well as any guidelines noted on containers or packaging when applicable.


The short answer is no, it is not recommended to put paper towels in the microwave. Doing so could result in a fire or other damage to your unit. Paper towels are highly absorbent and can easily ignite when exposed to microwaves. Additionally, since paper towels are not heat-safe cookware, they can release toxins into your food when heated in the microwave.

It is best to use heat-safe cookware for any food that is being microwaved, as it will provide a more even heat distribution with less risk of fires or contamination. Before you put anything other than cookware into the microwave, make sure to check that it won’t combust or contaminate your food. Generally speaking, any thin pieces of paper – such as napkins and parchment – should not be placed in the microwave due to their flammability and lack of stability at higher temperatures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can you put paper towels in the microwave?
A1: No, it is not recommended to put paper towels in the microwave. The heat can cause them to catch fire and they can also cause arcing, which can damage your microwave.

Q2: Are paper towels safe to use in the microwave?
A2: No, paper towels are not safe to use in the microwave. The heat can cause them to catch fire and they can also cause arcing, which can damage your microwave.

Q3: Is it okay to use paper towels in the microwave for a short time?
A3: No, it is not recommended to use paper towels in the microwave, even for a short time. The heat can cause them to catch fire and they can also cause arcing, which can damage your microwave.

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