Can paper towels go in the oven? 

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can paper towels go in the oven?” and substitutes for paper towels.

Can paper towels go in the oven?

No, paper towels should not be kept in the oven. Paper can burn quickly and cause a fire. The temperature at which the paper can catch fire is 451℉. 

Even though paper might not reach that temperature in the oven, the heating elements present in that oven might reach that temperature.

Paper towels can also be manufactured out of heavy metals or recycled stuff which can even leech onto the food. If you want to use paper towels, it is better to heat them at a lower temperature in the oven. You can also opt for other substitutes instead.

Why are paper towels used in the oven?

Paper towels are usually used to absorb grease especially while cooking meat-based products like bacon. In such a scenario, you can cook the bacon and then place it in a tray lined with paper towels rather than placing the paper towels in the oven.

Some individuals also place a paper towel between the food being cooked and the plate to minimize the time required for cleaning. In such a scenario, you can use parchment paper instead of a paper towel to minimize clean-up. 

Parchment paper can also withstand higher temperatures and would not burn compared to paper towels. However, parchment paper can turn darker if it is kept in the oven for a long time.

If you bake food for more than 30 minutes, parchment paper can crumble and fall apart after experiencing discoloration. If you wish to bake for 15-20 minutes, you can stick to parchment paper for baking.

Some individuals also use a paper towel for baking but in such a scenario, it is better to use aluminum foil instead of the paper towel or you can even use a baking sheet for this purpose.

Can you use paper towels in the microwave?

Yes, you can use paper towels in the microwave. Make sure to not place the paper towels inside the microwave for a longer time as this can increase the risk of the paper towels burning.

You can also use wet paper towels to paper towels to reduce the rate of combustion. 

It is also better to look at the instructions provided by the manufacturer on the pack of the paper towels as paper towels are made up of a mixture of many metals too and can have highly inflammable properties.

How to dispose of paper towels?

Avoid flushing paper towels down the toilet as the paper towels are not similar to toilet paper because of which it would not dissolve in water.

Paper towels can also take a longer time to dispose of because they can even clog your toilet or sewage pipes. Paper towels can take 2-3 weeks or a month to decompose. 

As a result, throw the paper towels in garbage bags or trash cans after using them. 

What are the alternatives to using paper towels?

  • You can replace paper towels with cotton napkins. Cotton napkins are also environmentally friendly. Cotton napkins need not be thrown off after every use and can be used again and again. 
  • Dishcloth is used to clean vessels or utensils in the kitchen after washing them. Dishcloth is usually made up of cotton or microfiber and it can be used again and again after washing them, unlike paper towels.
  • Beeswax wraps are reusable and can be used instead of paper towels too. It can be used for all types and sizes of foods though they might need to be washed quite often. 
  • Linen napkins can also be a suitable substitute for paper towels. It is stronger than cotton or paper and you need not worry about tearing them while vigorously rubbing tough stains from the plate.

Linen is also highly absorbent because of which you can dry plates quickly after washing them while wiping with linen. 

Can you recycle paper towels?

No, it is not possible to recycle paper towels. Paper towels are already prepared from recycled products which makes the fibers present in the paper towels shorter. 

When products are recycled, the fibers present in them tend to get shorter and shorter making them unsuitable to use. 

Also, recycling the same product, again and again, increase the risk of the product developing bacteria. 

Used paper towels also contain contaminants because they were used to clean and cook foods because of which cannot be recycled. Recycling requires the products to be neat and clean. 

Other FAQs on paper towels that you might be interested in.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can paper towels go in the oven?” and substitutes for paper towels.