Can You Put Napkins Or Paper Towels In The Microwave?

The majority of paper use towels to clean up the mess around the kitchen or to clean the kids at the dinner table. Still, there are plenty of other ways to use them, such as serving food wrapped in a napkin. But how about reheating food wrapped up like this, can it go straight into the microwave as it is? Or would a paper towel or napkin be a fire hazard?

Can You Put Paper Towels In The Microwave

Paper towels can go in the microwave if they are used appropriately. It may sound odd to say paper contains very few water molecules.., but this is important because microwaves work by emitting electromagnetic waves that cause the water molecules in the food to vibrate at high frequencies. Since there isn’t a lot of water in paper towels, they won’t heat up as quickly as food.

Generally speaking, there is no fire risk in microwaving a napkin for a few minutes whilst you reheat food. However, in saying that, there are certain types of paper that you should never place in a microwave

These include recycled paper towels that may contain small amounts of metal that can trigger electrical sparks within the appliance. So there is actually such a thing as microwave-safe paper.

Are Paper Towels Microwave Safe

Most paper towels are microwave safe, but you will need to check the packaging to be sure. 

Manufacturers will include all relevant information on their packaging to let customers know whether they can safely use the product for reheating food. You can find a microwave-safe symbol on the packaging for different paper towels.

Microwave Safe symbol
Microwave-Safe Symbol

The microwave-safe symbol features three or more horizontal wavy lines. The symbol can vary and may include additional graphics, but it always contains those memorable squiggly lines. In case there isn’t a symbol on the packaging, check whether there are any instructions for using the paper towels in a microwave written in plain text.

metallic embossed paper napkin. Paper Towels In The Microwave
A metallic embossed paper napkin

If you cannot find clear markings on the packaging, or perhaps you didn’t buy the packing and just have loose napkins, you will be fine to go ahead and use them if they are plain and natural paper. Avoid using anything with printed designs especially any design that contains metallic pigments. 

When To Use Paper Towels In Your Microwave

So we can all take a deep breath of relief…it’s safe to use paper towels to reheat food in your microwave. But why exactly should you be doing it? There are multiple reasons why you should start using paper towels in your microwave. I’ll go over some of the most common ones.

Paper Towels Retain Moisture

You should use paper towels in your microwave because they are excellent at retaining moisture. The same way you cover a pot when you’re steaming something is exactly how you should think about wrapping food in a paper towel and then placing it inside a microwave. The paper will prevent the moisture from escaping, which will keep the food from drying out.

This will reduce moisture buildup within the microwave and assist in keeping it clean and free from bacterial contamination.

They Protect The Microwave Turntable

It doesn’t take a lot to damage the microwave turntable. All it takes is for you to place a ceramic or glass container harder than usual one time and you may scratch this important component of the microwave. However, this won’t happen if you place a paper towel between the container and the turntable.

Plus it stops that terrible screeching sound of ceramic on glass. 

Avoid Food Splatters
Avoid Food Splatters

They Catch Splashes

Let’s say that you’re heating a meal that can easily splash and leave a mess inside your microwave oven. Paper towels can easily save you the trouble of having to clean the inside of your microwave. All you have to do is simply place a paper towel over the top of the food to prevent any spattering from happening as the food bubbles under the heat.

How To Use Paper Towels In Your Microwave

There are a few different ways you can use paper towels in your microwave. The technique you end up using will ultimately depend on what you wish to achieve when you’re preparing food. Here are four methods that I use for microwaving paper towels.

  1. The easiest method is to simply place a paper tower over the container in which the food is. This is an excellent way to prevent the food from splashing on the walls of your microwave. It also keeps the food from becoming too dry. I use this method to reheat cold pizza all the time.
  2. Place the paper towel on the microwave turntable to protect it from potential damage. Using this method will make microwaving food a more pleasant experience since you won’t hear that loud clanking noise whenever you put a container on the turntable.
  3. Place a paper towel on top of a ceramic plate and then put the food on it. By using this method, you will ensure that your food remains moist. However, make sure that you’re using a plain, white paper towel that doesn’t feature any printed ink.
  4. Wrap the food you want to reheat in a paper towel. This is an excellent technique to use when you’re preparing sandwiches and burritos. It will eliminate the possibility of the food getting soggy.

Can You Put Napkins in A Microwave

Can napkins go into the microwave? Yes, napkins are generally safe for use in a microwave. In case you run out of paper towels but have napkins in your kitchen, you should use them instead. There are two types of napkins that you can use in a microwave – disposable and cloth.

Disposable Paper Napkins

Disposable paper napkins are commonly used in the kitchen. They are made out of cellulose and can be safely used in a microwave. One thing you must remember about disposable paper napkins is that they should never directly touch the food you’re heating. These types of napkins can easily stick to the food when heated at a high temperature, which would make the meal inedible.

Instead, you should use disposable paper napkins to cover containers with your food. You can do this if you want the food to retain its moisture. Another reason to do it is to ensure that the food gets heated evenly.

Cloth Table Napkins

Cloth table napkins are the far better option for microwave use. They prevent the food from getting exposed to direct heat. They can help prevent it from getting dry. They can also be used to cover containers with food that can splash when heated, such as soups and pasta sauces. The best part about cloth table napkins is that they can come in direct contact with food. Unlike disposable paper napkins, they won’t stick to the food or melt.

Can Paper Catch Fire In A Microwave

The ignition temperature of paper is 451 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you were to heat paper towels in an oven, it’s recommended to keep the temperature below 176 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When it comes to microwave ovens, you won’t be able to set the temperature. So, it’s recommended that you keep the power level setting low or medium. Avoid leaving the paper towel inside the microwave for more than five minutes or cooking time. This will be plenty of time to reheat your food.

While paper towels are great when it comes to reheating food, they should never be used for cooking. The amount of time it takes to cook food is significantly longer than the time it takes to reheat it. In most cases, you can reheat your food within two minutes on a medium power level setting. Cooking would require more than five minutes, which is deemed unsafe since it may lead to a fire breaking out in your kitchen.

Verdict: Can Napkins Or Paper Towels Go In the Microwave

It may sound counterintuitive to some people, but you can safely use both paper towels and napkins to heat the food inside a microwave. However, you should keep the power level setting at low or medium and ensure that the paper towel or napkin doesn’t stay inside the appliance for more than five minutes.

It’s recommended that you always check whether there is a microwave-safe symbol on the packaging of the paper towels or napkins you plan to put inside the appliance.

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Having renovated two homes and completed countless repairs, it was time to share this experience with the world. From repairing kitchen appliances to remodeling entire homes, my 30 years of experience will hopefully help you on your journey to a beautiful and functional home