When most people think of what to put in the microwave, food is the only thing that comes to mind.
We all know that because of the way a microwave works, you cannot put metal in the microwave, but what about fabric?
Can you put fabric in the microwave?
It is possible to put the fabric in your microwave, provided that you use the right materials and how those materials absorb heat. Microwavable heating pads are the more common materials to use in the microwave, as well as cotton, linen, hemp, and silk.
Read on to find out what, if any, fabric you can put in your microwave, and why you might want to (or not want to)!
What Happens if You Microwave Fabric?
The results of microwaving fabric will depend on what type of fabric you are using, and what kind of item is made from that fabric.
Microwaves work because they produce heat that something then absorbs. Microwaving just a piece of fabric will do nothing to the fabric, but it will not absorb the heat that was created and could cause damage to your microwave, similar to if you were to turn your microwave on with nothing in it.
Using your microwave with nothing in it can cause real damage because there is nothing to absorb the heat, your microwave can be damaged and will not work in the future.
One exception to this rule is microwavable heating pads, soup bowl cozies, etc, which do absorb that heat.
Microwavable Heating Pads:
One of the most common fabric projects that you can make to go into the microwave includes microwavable heating pads.
Heating pads are great to use when you have sore muscles, injuries, cramps, or other uses.
These are made by filling a fabric pouch with rice or other grains such as barley or wheat and sewing it closed.
After you have constructed your microwavable heating pad, you would place it in the microwave to warm up so that you can then use it as a heating pad. This can be reheated multiple times.
Why Does This Work?
Because the microwave does not do anything to your fabric, you will be able to continuously put it in the microwave.
The heat itself comes from warming up the grains inside.
Because the rice is what is absorbing the heat and not the fabric, you will not ruin your microwave in the same way that you would if you were to just place your fabric in the microwave.
This is a similar concept if you are making soup bowl cozies or other microwaveable crafts.
Make sure when you do make one of these projects you are using fabrics that are microwave safe. I have listed them in the section below.
Which Types of Fabric Can be Put in a Microwave?
If you are wondering what fabrics are ok to use when you are making a “microwave safe” project, you do have a few possible options.
When picking your fabric for a microwave project, the biggest thing to keep in mind is to use more natural fabrics and to stay away from synthetics.
Microwave safe options include but are not limited to:
These fabrics will not have a problem in your microwave as long as you are not heating them for too long.
Ideally, 100% of cotton is the best fabric to use when making a microwave-safe craft.
Synthetic fabrics, because they are produced artificially, tend to have different levels of plastic in them, which will melt in the microwave.
Fabrics to keep out of the microwave include but are not limited to:
Even though these fabrics are not the safest for the microwave, if there is enough other matter, such as rice, to absorb the microwave’s waves, you might be safe having it in the microwave for a short period of time.
This is a similar concept to warming food up in a plastic container.
As long as you do not have it in too long, it will warm up the food instead of the container, but if you leave it in too long, the plastic will eventually absorb heat as well and melt.
Another thing to avoid putting in the microwave is elastic.
Can You Use a Microwave to Dry Fabric?
If your dryer is full, it is tempting to try and warm an article of clothing or two in your microwave. It seems like a simple and quick solution to wet clothes that you need to wear right now.
This is not the case, and you should not attempt to dry any fabric in your microwave.
Because the fabric cannot absorb the microwave’s heat, it will not dry your clothing and can damage your microwave, as previously mentioned.
There is also the potential for damage to your articles of clothing if you put them in the microwave, especially if there is elastic. Elastic is a plastic that will melt and can wreck your clothes and even has the potential to start a fire.
When the elastic melts, it can create a fire with the cotton part of your clothing. For this reason, do not microwave your clothing.
Can Glitter Fabric be Used in the Microwave?
You might believe you are using a fully cotton fabric, but if your fabric has other features such as glitter or other materials included, it is not 100% cotton and might not be completely microwave safe.
Some examples of things to look out for include glitter and metallics.
You should not use any fabric that features metallic thread, glitter, or pearl fabrics.
If you use fabrics that feature any of these things, you would have a microwave issue similar to if you were to put a metal container or utensil in the microwave.
Even if your glitter is not metallic, you should avoid putting fabrics that have glitter in it in the microwave.
If the glitter is not metallic, it could be plastic and would have the same issue as a synthetic fabric or the elastic would in your project.
In conclusion, you should not automatically assume that your fabric is ok to go in the microwave.
Make sure that if you do put your fabric in the microwave, it is part of a microwave-safe craft and not just the fabric itself. Fabric will not get warm in the microwave and cannot be warmed up.
Because fabric cannot be warmed in the microwave, the most common microwave-safe crafts are made to protect your hands from the warm items that you put in the microwave, like the soup bowl cozy project.
If you plan to make a fabric craft that is supposed to go in the microwave, make sure that you use 100% cotton that has no extras whenever possible.