Can you put foil in the microwave? This is what the experts say

You may think it an obvious question, can you put foil in the microwave, but we ask if there's actually a little more to it

Can you put foil in the microwave?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can you put foil in the microwave? You may think the answer is obvious and common knowledge but what if there's a little more to it?

It can be all too easy to accidentally throw something in the microwave without even realising it contains an element of foil. 

Whether you're reheating last night's takeaway or softening a block of butter ready for your weekly bake, it can easily slip your mind that foil is one of the things you should never put in the microwave

But what is the truth? Are there any exceptions that we can get away with when it comes to putting foil in a microwave?

Can you put foil in the microwave? 

The short answer is no. It’s extremely dangerous to put aluminium foil, in any capacity, into your microwave. And while there are those who say there are expectations of how you place the foil over food etc so you can, we would argue that you really shouldn't.

Speaking to an appliance technician at Fantastic Services, David Miloshev, he is quick to stress just how dangerous putting foil into the microwave is. He explains, “Its use in a microwave is generally not recommended, because such metal objects can reflect the electromagnetic waves emitted from the appliance and create sparks. These waves are normally absorbed by food and foil will disrupt this process.” 

If you're now wondering whether you can put foil in an air fryer then the answer may be enough to sway you in the battle of air fryer vs microwave

Can you put foil in the microwave? David Miloshev profile picture
David Miloshev

David Miloshev is a certified appliance technician who works with the professional domestic appliance repair sector of Fantastic Services.

What happens if you put foil in the microwave?

Foil in the microwave runs the risk of causing fire. Tin foil can be a conductor of the electric charges in microwaves, and because it is thin with a sharp edge if surrounded by strong currents, it can heat up super quickly and potentially cause sparks or even a fire. It's the same reason you also never use a knife when cleaning a toaster.

Can you put foil in the microwave? - picture of takeaway containers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What should you use instead of aluminium foil to cover food in a microwave?

There are a lot of alternatives to choose from when it comes to heating our foods in the safest and cleanest way possible. What’s better is that these alternatives are mostly reusable, better for the environment as sustainable living choices and can be cleaned quickly too. 

If you need to reheat your food or cook something quickly, one of the safer, more efficient ways to cover your food is by using kitchen paper.  This will work as a splash guard for any particularly volcanic sauces, although should a mess still be made there are ways you can clean your microwave quickly and easily

Should you be after something a little more robust then a microwave-safe plate cover may just be your best bet. They’re relatively affordable with endless options available to purchase and unlike kitchen paper, they won’t crumble under any moisture or condensation. 

It's best you don’t clean them in the dishwasher without checking first, as many plastic products such as these will quickly warp in the heat of the dishwasher. If you're plasticware does start staining there is a genius hack to get grease out of your tupperware that will change your life.

One of the reasons we love to use tin foil when cooking is because of its flexibility and versatility, so if you want to wrap a potato or cover the top of your bowl, parchment paper can be a great alternative. 

The best microwave-safe food covers

So what can we use to reheat food in microwaves that won't end in a call to the fire brigade? Lucky for us there are several alternatives...


We would also advise against putting tin foil in your microwave, it's better not to risk it and avoid even the smallest element of foil altogether. If you want to cover food, try any of the above-suggested methods instead.

Emily Smith
Digital lifestyle writer

Emily joined woman&home as a staff writer after finishing her MA in Magazine Journalism from City University in 2023. After writing various health and news content, she now specialises in lifestyle and home writing where she covers all things cleaning, interiors and homeowning.