July 15

Can You Microwave Plastic Plates? – Learn Here


Author: Elena Apostolides
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Can you microwave plastic plates? This question is one that you must always answer before using any item in your microwave oven. Not all plastic plates are oven safe, in fact, most plastic plates are not designed to be used in a microwave except they have been approved by their manufacturers.

Being able to microwave plastic plates will largely depend on if it is labelled microwave safe. While it is safe to use some plastic plates in your microwave, others cannot be used so carelessly. For containers you’re not so sure about, avoid using them in your microwave oven at all.

In this article, we will discuss further about how to know if it is safe to microwave a plastic plate in your microwave and what makes plastic plates so dangerous when used in the microwave.

Can You Microwave Plastic Plates

Some plastic plates can be used to cook in the microwave oven without any adverse effect on the health but there are less microwave oven safe plates than there are unsafe ones.

Can you microwave plastic plates? Yes. Should you? You shouldn’t if you can avoid it.

The FDA is a the body that regulates the use of plastic in microwaves and approves the microwave safe label for plate manufacturers.

They ensure that thorough research are conducted on there containers before approving the microwave safe label for these containers.

These containers are approved because they do not release too much harmful chemicals into your food when you use in the microwave.

So not all containers with the microwave safe symbol are safe from chemical leeching, some of them are giving the microwave safe label because they have very low risk levels

If you want to avoid all risks pertaining to chemical release into your food when you cook in your microwave oven, you can consider other microwave safe options like silicone, glassware e.t.c.

Also Read:

Microwave Safe Symbol

Microwave Symbols: Source: applianceinn.com

Under most plates or kitchenware that are designed for cooking, manufacturers usually indicate with the use of series of symbols where those items can be used.

These symbols range from food safe, to dishwasher safe, to recycling safe, there are so many symbols, some more common than others.

The microwave safe symbol is a set of wavy lines, usually 3 lines drawn horizontally. The symbol may vary from container to container and it could also depend on how many safe symbols are included at the lower part of the container.

Microwave safe symbols could also be indicated by a small microwave with radiation waves and a dish, but you will usually find the wavy lines indicating that the container can be used in a microwave.

BPA and Plastic

Can You Microwave Plastic Plates
Source: Kangovou.com

BPA means Bisphenol A and is a chemical that is usually used to make plastic. The major chemicals that can be released into food in the microwave oven are Bisphenol A and Endocrine Disruptors.

Both of these chemicals are extremely dangerous. The FDA usually takes prior precautions to ensure that plastic plates containing highly concentrated or dangerous levels of either of these chemicals are not approved for microwave oven use.

BPA is usually used to produce plastic containers that are used to store water and food, though not all plastic containers are produced with BPA. Overtime, it has been discovered that some concentrated levels of production can cause BPA to seep into your food while in use.

This is especially worrisome due to the effect that BPA has been discovered to have on blood pressure, the human brain, prostate, child fetuses and various other negative impact. So it is advised that you avoid all containers made with BPA or other harmful chemicals.

All plastic that are intended for use in the microwave oven should be BPA free. In fact if you know that a container contains some unknown chemical, even if it is certified microwave safe, use with caution.

Below are Some Tips to Help Reduce the Likelihood of Ingesting Harmful Chemicals in your Diet

Avoid using plastic in Extremely Hot Temperatures

While this might not always be possible because you sometimes have no readily available alternative, if you can, try to avoid using plastic in extreme temperatures.

This means that you should avoid using them in your microwave or toaster ovens if you can. Even if the plastic container has been certified BPA free, some of them could still contain some chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

Avoid purchasing food in takeout plastic if you can. It has been discovered that a lot of takeout containers are not microwave oven safe

Don’t cover your plate lid too tight when you’re using it in the microwave. The heat will cause the chemicals to leech into your food which is quite poisonous to the body.

Plastic and Recycling Codes

Although a lot of plastic containers can be recycled, most aren’t. Usually, if a plastic container is recycled, it usually comes with a branded symbol, number or phrase at the back and sometimes. Some of those recycled containers should not be used in the microwave, most

Recycling Brands and their Numbers

plastic recycling number
Plastic Recycling Numbers. Source: Eartheasy
  1. Number 1- Polyethylene terephthalate (PTE)- found in peanut butter tubes, ketchup and beer containers and water bottles
  2. Number 2- High density polyethylene (HDPE)- found in household cleaning containers, shampoo, detergent, bleach
  3. Number 3-  Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)- found in windows, shampoo, cooking bottles
  4. Number 4-  Low density polyethylene (LDPE)- found in furniture, shopping bags, frozen foods
  5. Number 5- Polypropylene (PP)- found in  medicine bottles and their caps, straws, tomato sauce e.t.c
  6. Number 6- Polystyrene (PS)- found in egg cartons, disposable plates e t.c
  7. Number 7- Polylactic acid and others (PLA)- found in nylon, computer cases, sunglasses and big water bottles.

Safest Options

If you’re wondering about the best recycled plastic option to use in your microwave oven, number 5, polypropylene might be your best bet.

It is considered the safest option for microwave use. This is because of the strength and resilience of the container.

Even after being exposed to heat, it feels cool to touch. This plastic is usually manufactured from petroleum.

Despite its safety reports, it still isn’t 100% safe so once you begin to feel that it is wearing out, becoming weak or damaged, you might want to find an alternative microwave oven safe container.

Numbers 1,2 and 4 can also be used occasionally, with caution.

Before use check that they have been certified microwave oven safe by the FDA, this makes them a little safer compared to their other counterparts.


In this article, we discussed the topic can you microwave plastic plates. Despite the fact that it is sometimes safe to microwave plastic safe, and not all plastic ware are glaringly dangerous, you should consider using much safer alternatives like ceramic, glass or silicone.

These materials have been tested and certified as perfectly safe for use in your microwave oven. Not knowing exactly what to look out for can also cause you to use items or plates that are not microwave-safe in your microwave oven (see also ‘Why Does an Empty Plate Not Heat up in the Microwave?‘).

Unfortunately, you can continue to use these plates for years without feeling the negative impact that its use might be having on your health.

The damage BPA causes can take years to discover due to the not so obvious/immediate reaction from your body. This is why it is best that you simply stay away from using BPA plastic in your microwave.


1. Can you microwave disposable plastic plates?

Yes, you can microwave disposable plastic plates. However, you should always check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure. Some disposable plates are not meant to be microwaved.

2. What happens if you microwave a plastic plate?

Microwaving food is usually considered healthy by the World Health Organization (WHO). Microwaving in plastic containers, on the other hand, has been linked to a rise in leaching — the transfer or leakage of chemicals into food. Even if a plastic container is labeled "microwave secure," this simply means it will not melt in the microwave.

3. What number plastic is microwave safe?

The plastics classified as #2, #4, and #5 are considered to be clean. Avoid microwaving them, even though they are labeled microwave protected. Plastics #1, #3, #6, and #7 should be used with varying degrees of caution, especially near food or beverages.

4. Can you microwave Ziploc bags?

Ziploc® brand Containers and microwavable Ziploc® brand Bags meet the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) safety standards for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.

5. How can you tell if a plastic plate is microwave safe?

There are a few ways to tell if a plastic plate is microwave safe. One way is to look for the microwave safe symbol on the bottom of the plate. Another way is to check the plate's packaging to see if it says that it's microwave safe. If you're not sure whether or not a plate is microwave safe, it's best to avoid microwaving it.

About the author

Elena Apostolides

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


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