Can You Put a Wet Towel / Washcloth in the Microwave?

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

You are probably already aware that putting metal or foil in a microwave is a disaster waiting to happen. But what about a wet towel or washcloth?

Yes, it is safe to put a wet towel or washcloth in the microwave to warm it up. Just be sure that the towel or washcloth does not have metallic tags or has not been used to clean up metal shavings, and is also made of materials that will not melt under heat.

Precautions Before Microwaving a Towel or Washcloth

Because microwaves produce heat and can increase particle charges in metal, it is absolutely vital that you make sure any material in your microwave has not been in contact with any metal and does not have a metal tag.

Furthermore, certain fibers are not considered microwave safe simply because they will melt. If your towel or washcloth contains polyester or high levels of acrylic, the edges will melt, curl, and in some instances even catch fire if they are microwaved.

100% cotton is safe to microwave. Always read the materials tag on your item to ensure it’s microwave safe.

You can also microwave a dry towel but do so with extreme caution and very close supervision. Microwave fires have been known to have been caused by microwaving dry fabrics for too long or under too high of power.

Uses for Warm Wet Towels and Washcloths

There are many benefits to warming up a wet towel or washcloth:

  • Warm compress for soothing sore muscles
  • Alleviate menstrual cramps
  • Reduce swelling around joint
  • Reduce sinus pressure
  • Alleviate ear pain
  • Soften and exfoliate skin
  • Promotes drainage of eye infections
  • Increase circulation in hands and feet
  • Moisten the skin and increase blood flow before shaving
  • Speed up healing of a bruise (after swelling has gone down)

Can You Put a Wet Towel in the Microwave?

It is safe to microwave a wet or damp towel in the microwave. A damp paper towel that is warmed up in the microwave is actually a great way to re-moisten any leftover bits of food stuck to the microwave sides, making cleaning them up a breeze.

Small hand towels can also be used in this manner and are safe to microwave. Be sure to wring them out as much as possible first so they are just damp.

However, it is not recommended to put large bath towels in the microwave, wet or dry. These items can become heavy when wet and prevent the plate from turning.

Can You Put a Wet Washcloth in the Microwave?

Just as with a towel, washcloths in the microwave are safe in most instances. As mentioned, make sure it’s made out of microwave-safe material though.

A microwaved washcloth that is slightly damp is a popular treatment in spas and barbershops. When you warm a wet towel or washcloth, it can help reduce swelling and ease sore muscles.

How To Warm Up a Wet Towel or Washcloth in the Microwave

This process is actually quick and easy if done properly.

Dampen the Item

Allow the water to get as hot as possible under faucet water and thoroughly wet it. Wring out as much excess water as possible so that it is not dripping at all. You just want it damp.

Too much water can leak into your microwave and possibly damage it. It also will take longer to heat up.

Place on a Microwave Safe Dish

Avoid placing it directly onto the microwave plate to avoid contamination, especially if it will be used on the face. Place it on a clean, microwave-safe plate or shallow dish.

Reduce Power If Necessary

To avoid making the towel or washcloth too hot, it’s recommended you reduce the power to anywhere between 50-75%.

Start in Small Increments

Microwave in short, 10-second increments at first and check the temperature after each round. If it appears that 10 seconds isn’t sufficient, you can increase it to 20 or 30 seconds as needed.

It is important that you do not walk away from the microwave while it is running. Keep a close eye on it at all times to avoid starting a fire or scorching the item.

Allow to Cool Slightly Before Using

This is especially important if the cloth is going on your face. This skin is very sensitive and can be burned easily. To avoid scalding yourself, give the cloth up to a minute to cool down before applying it anywhere on your body.

Final Thoughts

A homemade warm compress made from a damp towel or washcloth that is microwaved has many beneficial uses. While it’s important to check the composition of the item beforehand, you can safely place wet towels or washcloths in the microwave as long as you do it safely.

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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