Can You Put Paper Towels in the Microwave?

Yes, you can put paper towels in the microwave. While choosing a paper towel for microwaving, it’s best to go for a plain white paper towel, as suggested by the USDA

This ensures optimal safety since printed materials may possess elements that are not suitable for microwaves. 

Paper towels can be helpful in the microwave to cover food items to avoid splatters, as plate liners to absorb excess moisture, or to wrap certain foods for even heating.

It is also advisable to monitor the paper towel and use shorter intervals to check both your food and the paper for ultimate safety.

Things to Know Before You Place Paper Towels in the Microwave

Let’s explore the important aspects to consider when microwaving with paper towels.

Plain White Paper Towels Are Safest

When using paper towels in the microwave, it’s safest to use plain white paper towels. 

The USDA recommends this in their guide to cooking with microwave ovens. Using white, unprinted paper towels eliminates the risk of ink or dyes transferring to your food.

Flat, Unfolded Paper Towels Are Safest

To ensure even heating and prevent burning, lay your paper towel flat and unfold it over the food. 

This allows the paper towel to distribute the heat and moisture evenly, which is essential for heating your food properly.

Dampen the Paper Towel

If you want to retain more moisture in your food, consider dampening the paper towel before placing it in the microwave. 

A slightly damp paper towel can help prevent your food from drying out while it’s being heated.

Avoid Recycled Paper Towels

Even though recycled paper towels are better for the environment, it’s best to avoid using them in the microwave. 

Some recycled paper towels may contain small bits of metal or other impurities that can be a potential hazard when microwaved.

One Paper Towel Is Enough

In most cases, one layer of paper towel is sufficient for covering your food in the microwave. 

Adding more layers can restrict the flow of heat and may not allow your food to cook evenly. Stick to using just one paper towel to ensure the best results.

Finally, it’s important to double-check the packaging of your specific paper towels to confirm if it’s safe to use them in the microwave. 

Brands may have different guidelines, so it’s best to read the label before you go ahead and put your paper towel in the microwave.

Also read: Can You Put a Paper Towel in Air Fryer?

The Different Ways to Use Paper Towels in the Microwave

Let us explore different ways you can safely use paper towels in the microwave. 

These methods are designed to help you retain moisture, achieve even heating, and prevent messes while microwaving your food.

Lay Paper Towels under the Food You’re Microwaving

Placing a paper towel under the food you’re microwaving is an excellent technique to catch spills and splatters. 

This will help keep your microwave clean and reduce the effort required to clean it later. 

While doing this, remember not to use multiple paper towels as they can trap heat easily and increase the risk of fire.

Lay Paper Towels Flat over Your Food

Covering your food with a paper towel helps prevent splatters from dirtying the inside of your microwave. Simply lay the paper towel flat over your dish. 

This approach also aids in retaining moisture in the food, ensuring that it doesn’t dry out during the heating process.

Wrap or Cover Your Food With a Moist Paper Towel

To retain moisture and facilitate even heating, try wrapping or covering your food with a moist paper towel. You can make a paper towel moist by dampening it slightly with water. 

For better results, ensure that the entire food item is covered. Since microwaves often heat unevenly, this method can help to prevent dry spots on your food. 

It’s also important to use a medium to low power setting and heat your food in 2-minute increments to avoid overheating or drying out the paper towel.

Also read: Can You Put Paper Plates in the Oven?

Benefits of Using a Paper Towel in the Microwave

By incorporating paper towels into your microwave cooking routine, you can enjoy several benefits, from easy clean-up to evenly heated food.

Keeps Your Microwave Clean by Avoiding Splattering and Dripping

Using a paper towel in the microwave helps to keep your microwave clean by catching any splatters or drips from the food you are cooking. 

Simply lay the paper towel flat over your food, and it will act as a barrier, preventing any mess from dirtying the inside of your microwave. 

This method will save you time and effort when it comes to cleaning your appliance.

Helps in the Even Heating of Your Food

A damp paper towel placed over your food helps distribute heat more evenly across the surface. 

This ensures that your food gets heated uniformly and reduces the chances of certain parts being overcooked while others remain unheated. 

The paper towel also prevents the food from drying out due to direct exposure to the microwaves, thereby maintaining its texture.

Retains Moisture and Heat to Keep Food Soft

By covering your food with a paper towel while microwaving, you can retain moisture and heat, ensuring that your food remains soft and enjoyable. 

The paper towel prevents moisture from escaping, allowing the food to cook in its steam. This is especially helpful when reheating leftovers, as they can often become dry due to heat exposure.

To Keep Your Food From Being Too Hot, Use a Paper Towel as a Vent

If you want to avoid having your food become excessively hot, you can use a paper towel as a vent by folding it and placing it on top of your food container, creating a small opening for steam to escape. 

This vent allows excess heat and steam to leave, preventing your food from overheating and avoiding potentially burned meals.

Paper Towels Can Be Used Instead of Plates or Bowls Underneath Solid Food

When you are microwaving solid food items, you can simply place a paper towel underneath instead of using a plate or bowl. 

This not only saves you from dirtying a dish but also catches any drips or spills, making it easy to clean up after use.

They’re Cheap and Convenient

In addition to their practical uses, paper towels are also an affordable and convenient choice for microwave cooking. 

They can be found in most homes and are easily disposable, making them an ideal choice for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene while cooking.

Also read: Can You Microwave Paper Plates?

The Best Three Paper Towel Brands for the Microwave

Let us discuss the top three paper towel brands that are best suited for microwave use: 

Bounty Paper Towels 

These paper towels boast a reputation as a reliable and trusted brand. Bounty paper towel’s signature 2-ply thickness absorbs more liquid to help minimize splatters and drips while microwaving. 

Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels, White, 16 Family Rolls = 40 Regular Rolls

It is important, however, to ensure that the white variety is used, as this contains no inks or dyes that might react with the heat in a microwave.

Lay the paper towel flat over your food, or place it beneath the microwave dish to catch spills and facilitate easy cleanup.

Brawny Paper Towels 

Another excellent choice is Brawny paper towels. With their durable build and absorbent qualities, these paper towels are perfect for microwave use. 

Brawny® Tear-A-Square® Paper Towels, 16 Double Rolls = 32 Regular Rolls

Be sure to check if the specific type you choose is microwave-safe, as some colorful and patterned varieties might contain chemicals that react to heat. 

When using Brawny paper towels, remember not to crumple or fold them, as this can increase the risk of combustion.

Amazon Aware Bamboo Paper Towels

For those seeking a more environmentally friendly option, consider Amazon Aware Bamboo paper towels. 

Amazon Aware 100% Bamboo 3-Ply Toilet Paper, Unscented, 24 Rolls, FSC Certified, 350 Sheets, 8400 Count, Pack of 24, Plastic-Free

These towels are not only made from sustainable bamboo, but they’re also safe for the microwave. 

Bamboo paper towels can be useful in absorbing excess moisture and preventing splatters. 

Keep in mind that, like other brands, it is essential to use only the plain, unprinted variety for microwave use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions you may find helpful: 

For How Long Can Paper Towels Stay Inside the Microwave?

The duration paper towels can stay inside the microwave depends on the specific cooking settings and the type of food being heated. 

Typically, paper towels are safe to use for short microwave durations, such as warming up leftovers or defrosting small items. 

However, for longer cooking times or high-power settings, it’s best to use microwave-safe covers or containers to avoid any safety hazards.

How Many Paper Towels Can You Microwave at Once?

It is recommended to use only one or two paper towels in the microwave at a time. 

Using multiple paper towels can trap heat, leading to higher temperatures and an increased risk of fire. Avoid creating multiple layers of paper towels in the microwave to ensure safety.

Can You Put a Brown Paper Towel in the Microwave?

Yes, you can put a brown paper towel in the microwave. Brown paper towels, like white ones, are safe for use in the microwave as long as they are not overheated or excessively dry. 

Follow the same safety precautions as with any paper towel to ensure proper usage and minimize the risk of fire.

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!