Quick Answer: You can microwave some paper towels, but not others.
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What Are Paper Towels?
Different Types of Paper Towels
You've probably noticed that there is a plethora of paper towel companies to choose from at the grocery store, but there are also some distinct types that you can buy.
Here are some of the typical ones:
- Plain paper towels (no designs)
- Printed paper towels (usually with colorful designs)
- Recycled paper towels (usually made with 100 percent or close to 100 percent recycled materials)
- Unbleached paper towels (that haven't been processed with a bleaching agent and typically don't have any dyes)
- Alternative material paper towels (made from bamboo or other sustainable resources)
- C-fold or multi-fold paper towels (the brown or white ones you might find in office areas or public bathrooms)
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So, which of these is microwavable? Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple, but some are more likely to be safe than others.
Plain white paper towels are likely to be microwavable, but printed ones, not so much. The ink on paper products can often find its way into your food. However, that doesn't mean that plain paper towels aren't manufactured with materials that may not be microwavable.
Recycled paper towels can also be tough to figure out because you can't be sure what those materials are. Certain unbleached and alternative material paper towels may be safe while c-fold and multi-fold paper towels probably shouldn't be microwaved at all.
Bottom line: Don't assume that a paper towel is microwave-safe by the way it looks or what materials are marketed.
How Do You Know If Paper Towels Are Microwave Safe or Not?
Labels on Paper Towels to Be Aware Of
When looking for a label, search for something that says "microwave safe." You may not see labels about the paper towels being unsuitable for microwaves, however.
In fact, you may not see a label either way. If this happens, your best bet is to find out directly from the company.
Further Reading: Can You Microwave Rubbermaid? (The Safety Tips You Need to Know)