Can You Put a Paper Towel in The Microwave? Find Out Now

The microwave is a convenient kitchen appliance that has become a staple in many households. It lets you heat up food and drinks quickly and easily. But if you need to cover your food, you may wonder is it safe to use a paper towel or not.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about using paper towels in the microwave.


While microwaves are a great way to cook food quickly and easily, not everything is safe to use in them. This article will discuss whether it’s safe to use paper towels in the microwave and how to use them safely.

Understanding the Risks

While some paper towels are generally considered microwave-safe, there are certain risks to be aware of:

  • Fire risk: Dry paper towels can easily catch fire, especially if heated for long periods.
  • Chemical contamination: Some printed paper towels may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into your food when heated. This could be bad for your health.
  • Uneven heating: Paper towels don’t heat up evenly in the microwave, which can create hot spots. These hot spots can be really hot and burn your fingers if you’re not careful.

Using Paper Towels in the Microwave

What you can do

With the risks in mind, let’s explore how to use paper towels safely in the microwave:

  • Use only plain white paper towels: They don’t have harsh chemicals and are safer to use.
  • Keep them flat: Don’t fold them as this can trap heat and create hot spots.
  • Use wet paper towels: Moisture helps prevent the paper from drying out and catching fire. They can be used to steam food or prevent splatters.
  • Use short-intervals: Start with 2-minute intervals and check the microwave frequently.
  • Choose microwave-safe towels: Check the label of your paper towel and make sure that they safe for microwave use.
A hand holding a paper towel safely covering a plate of food in a microwave.

What to Avoid

To avoid any potential mishaps, here is what you should avoid:

  • Never use recycled paper towels: These may contain metal or plastic, which can spark, melt, and cause a fire.
  • Don’t use for extended periods: Be careful not to leave paper in the microwave for too long. This can easily start a fire.
  • Don’t reheat greasy food: Reheating greasy food with paper towels can cause the grease to splatter and ignite the paper.
  • Avoid Multiple paper: Don’t use excessive paper, as this can trap heat and create hot spots.

Foods Safe and not safe to Microwave with Paper Towels


  1. Vegetables
  2. Reheating leftovers (except greasy or oily foods)
  3. Breads and Tortillas
  4. Pizza

Not Safe:

  • Oily foods (may cause splatters and fire)
  • Foods with high sugar content (can burn paper towel)


If you are concerned about your safety or would like to explore other options, please consider the following alternatives:

  • Microwave-Safe Lids: These lids are perfect for using in the microwave. They’re a great way to keep your food safely covered while it heats up.
  • Reusable Plates: This is another good option. You can use them multiple times and they are easy to clean.
  • Parchment paper: This heat-resistant paper is a good option for covering food.
  • Wax paper: This paper is great for wrapping food when you want to steam it or heat it up again.
Parchment paper being used to line the bottom of a dish for microwaving.

Safety Tips

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific microwave and paper towel brand.
  • Have a fire extinguisher readily available in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave the microwave unattended while using paper towels.
  • If you notice smoke or burning, stop the microwave immediately and remove the paper towel carefully.
A person looking at their food which is in the microwave


Paper towels can be used safely in the microwave, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Always choose high-quality paper towels that are safe use. Avoid using recycled ones, as they may contain metal fibers that can spark in the microwave. You can also use a parchment paper for better safety. And cook food on short intervals and check it frequently to avoid mishaps.


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture:
  1. Proline Range Hoods:
  1. GE Appliances:

Additional Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some common queries.

Is it safe to put paper towels in the microwave?

Yes, it is generally safe to put paper towels in the microwave, but there are important precautions you need to take. Always use plain white paper towels that are safe to use. Avoid using recycled ones as they may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into your food.

Can I microwave pizza on a paper towel?

While you can technically microwave pizza on a paper towel, but it’s not the best option. Because they can absorb moisture from the pizza crust, making it dry and tough. Additionally, the heat can cause the paper to stick to the pizza, making it difficult to remove. It’s best to use parchment paper instead.

Are Bounty paper towels microwave safe?

According to the Bounty website, their paper towels are microwave-safe for short periods of time. However, they recommend following the specific instructions given on the package and using caution when microwaving food with paper towels.

Is it OK to microwave paper?

Microwaving plain paper, such as printer or notebook paper, is not recommended. This type of paper can easily catch fire due to its lack of moisture and potential presence of chemicals like bleach or dyes.

If you need to heat something wrapped in paper, make sure the paper is labelled as microwave-safe. This means it can handle the heat without burning or releasing harmful fumes.

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