Why Put a Paper Towel Over Food In The Microwave? – A Must-Read

Categorized as Microwave
A white paper towel draped over a plate of food inside a microwave oven.

If you’re like most people, you probably use your microwave to reheat leftovers, cook frozen meals, or make popcorn. But have you ever wondered why some people put a paper towel over their food before microwaving it? Is it just a habit or does it actually serve a purpose?

In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of using a paper towel as a cover for your food in the microwave. We’ll also share some tips on how to do it safely and effectively.

The Benefits of Using a Paper Towel as a Microwave Cover

Using a paper towel as a cover for your food in the microwave can offer numerous advantages. Let’s explore some of the key benefits:

1. It prevents splatters. We’ve all been there—the dreaded splatters that transform your microwave into a war zone. Fear not! Placing a trusty paper towel over your food acts as a guardian, diligently catching those unruly splatters and sparing your microwave from unsightly stains and lingering odors. Say goodbye to post-microwave scrubbing and hello to a cleaner cooking experience.

2. It traps steam and moisture. Want your food to retain its succulent moisture and delectable flavors? Look no further than the paper towel cover. This clever addition helps lock in the precious steam and moisture that naturally emanate from your food, ensuring it stays juicy, tender, and bursting with taste. Plus, with this moisture seal, your food will heat up more evenly and thoroughly, resulting in a satisfying culinary outcome.

3. It rehydrates food. We all know the disappointment of biting into stale bread or tough reheated rice. Thankfully, the paper towel swoops in as a hero once again. If you find yourself faced with lackluster leftovers, simply moisten a paper towel and place it over your food before microwaving. As it warms up, the damp paper towel releases a rejuvenating stream of steam, magically reviving your food’s texture and palatability. Say hello to fluffy rice, soft bread, and pasta that tastes like it just came out of the pot!

How to Use a Paper Towel as a Microwave Cover Safely and Effectively

Harnessing the benefits of a paper towel as a microwave cover can be a game-changer, but it’s crucial to exercise caution to prevent any mishaps. Here are some essential tips to ensure the safe and effective use of a paper towel as a microwave cover:

1. Select the right paper towel: Not all paper towels are microwave-friendly, as some may contain elements like recycled materials, dyes, or chemicals that could leach into your food or even trigger sparks in the microwave. To steer clear of such predicaments, seek out paper towels labeled as microwave-safe. Alternatively, consider utilizing other microwave-friendly paper products like napkins or plates.

2. Don’t let the paper towel touch the food.: Although paper towels are generally deemed safe for microwave use, it’s essential to prevent direct contact between the paper towel and your food. Excessive moisture or proximity to the food can result in the paper towel sticking to it, making removal cumbersome. Furthermore, it can transfer fibers or particles, compromising the taste and quality of your food. Ensure there is ample space between the food and the paper towel, and avoid using excessively wet paper towels.

3. Don’t seal the paper towel tightly: Avoid tightly sealing the paper towel over your food, as this can generate excessive pressure and steam within the container. Excessive pressure may lead to unexpected explosions or damage to your microwave1. Instead, allow steam to escape by leaving gaps or vents. Alternatively, opt for a loose draping of the paper towel over your food instead of stretching it across the container.

4. Mind the clock: Exercise caution to prevent over-microwaving your food while using a paper towel cover. Prolonged microwaving can result in burnt or scorched food, including the paper towel itself. To avoid such scenarios, adhere to the instructions on your food packaging and utilize a timer to monitor the microwaving duration. Periodically check the food’s progress and adjust the power level or cooking time as needed.

What Are the Alternatives to Using a Paper Towel as a Microwave Cover?

When it comes to covering food in the microwave, paper towels are just one of many options available. There are alternative methods that can yield similar or improved outcomes. Here are some options to consider instead of using paper towels as microwave covers:

1. Plastic cover: Opt for a reusable and sturdy plastic cover to prevent splatters and trap steam. You can purchase a microwave-specific plastic cover or use a microwave-safe container with a vented lid. Ensure the plastic cover or lid has vents to release steam and avoid direct contact with the food.

2. Glass lid: Another reusable and heat-resistant choice is a glass lid. Utilize the lid that accompanies your glass or ceramic dish, or employ a microwave-safe plate or bowl as a cover. Guarantee the glass lid has vents or is slightly tilted to allow steam to escape while avoiding contact with the food.

3. Wax paper: Disposable and biodegradable, wax paper is an alternative option. Its wax coating offers heat and moisture resistance, preventing splatters and capturing steam without sticking to the food like paper towels. However, avoid using wax paper for high-fat or high-sugar foods as they can melt the wax and create a mess.

4. Parchment paper: Another disposable and biodegradable alternative is parchment paper. It is treated with silicone or other non-stick coatings, preventing splatters and trapping steam without transferring chemicals or fibers to the food like paper towels. Parchment paper can also be used to wrap food before microwaving, creating a steaming effect and retaining moisture.

5. Cloth towel: For a reusable and eco-friendly solution, consider using a clean cloth towel made of natural fibers like cotton or linen. A slightly dampened towel can generate more steam and rehydrate the food, while a dry towel can prevent splatters and maintain moisture. Ensure the cloth towel is not overly thick or wet, as it may impact cooking time and temperature.

These options provide alternatives to using paper towels as microwave covers. Choose the method that aligns with your requirements, considering the type of food being microwaved, the duration of microwaving, and the desired waste reduction.


So, there you have it! Adding a paper towel as a microwave food cover can be a total game-changer, making your microwaving adventures a breeze. No more splatters, and hello to steamy goodness and revitalized leftovers!

But hold up, friend! Just remember a couple of things to keep your microwave escapades smooth sailing. Choose the right paper towel, give your food some space, avoid tight sealing, and don’t go overboard with the microwaving time. Trust me, following these tips will lead you to microwave nirvana, where your food comes out perfectly without any fuss or risks.

We genuinely hope this article has cleared up any lingering questions about the paper towel phenomenon in microwaves. If you found these insights helpful, be a pal and share the love with your friend and fam. They’ll thank you for being the microwave maestro they never knew they needed!

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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