Felt is a textile fabric or material made by matting, pressing, and condensing fibers to form a product or product material. Felt can be made of natural organic fibers such as wool fur and cotton or synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic (petroleum-based), rayon (pulp-based), or acrylonitrile.
So can you microwave felt fabric? No, you can’t. The article should end here, but if you want to know more, keep on reading.
Can You Microwave Felt?
It might be a bad idea. Better not try than risk melting felt unless it’s felt that’s made of wool. Even then, the wool can catch on fire if you’re not careful either. Actually, even if the fabric is microwaveable, you shouldn’t try microwaving them unless they’re made for microwaving.
Felt is notoriously thin. Among the fabrics, it’s most likely to melt or catch fire. Organic felt can take microwaving better but it’s still risky. Check the ingredients or materials used for your felt fabric before microwaving it for your own peace of mind.
Some of the plastics used on felt fibers are flammable in nature or produce chemicals that might prove toxic to you and your microwave. The chemicals used to make the material themselves could be flammable as well.
A heat bag is made for microwaving but for limited times that prevent melting or catching fire. Even then, it requires a minute of microwaving at most. If it’s exposed to microwave radiation for too long, it might melt if it’s made of plastic threads.
Synthetic Felt Fibers Shouldn’t Be Microwaved
If felt contains polyester, acrylonitrile, rayon, or petroleum-based acrylic fibers or other synthetic material then it’s likely to melt like grocery plastic over an open flame when microwaved for too long or for even a few seconds depending on the grade of plastic used.
There are those who claim it’s okay to microwave polyester or other plastic synthetic threads as long as you’re careful. The results vary depending on multiple factors ranging from plastic quality to microwave power settings. It can change from felt fabric to felt fabric.
It’s this chaotic uncertainty that makes felt dangerous to microwave. If you can, get a test piece of felt to test how resilient it is against different microwave settings. Microwaves heat up things from the inside out.
If a hotspot forms or is superheated, it tends to melt or burn when it reaches a certain temperature, even if it’s made of microwave-safe material. You should prevent the formation of hotspots for the safety of your fabric.
You may also like: What are Microwave Safe Materials?
How About Organic Felt Fibers like Wool or Fleece?
Felt made of polyester and other plastics should melt or has a risk of melting. If the felt is instead of made of cotton or animal fur, it’s less likely to melt but it instead has a fire hazard risk. When making things like rice bags, the expensive ones are made of fur and the cheap ones are made of plastic.
Plastic is prevalent in textile or as cloth material exactly because it’s cheaper than its more resilient counterparts. If you’re microwaving something like rice bags or you’re making things like heating pads, make sure they’re made of organic material for microwave radiation resilience.
Long story short, while fleece and fur as well as cotton are flammable, they’re less likely to catch flame than it is for microwave radiation to melt plastic polyester felt like slices of cheese on a hot skillet. Felt is also kind of thin so it’s more likely to burn than, say, a thick coat or bag.
Pros and Cons of Using Microwaves to Steam Dry Wet Clothes
One of two reasons why you’d ever want to expose your felt or fabric clothing to microwave radiation includes drying out wet clothes rather quickly. When you use it in tandem with your tumble dryer, you’d end up with warm, pseudo-steam-pressed clothing.
Felt bags and clothing are dangerous to microwave to dry not only if they’re made of synthetic threads. It’s also because of the nature of microwaves. These oven types heat up things from the inside out, particularly when they’re wet or have moisture content in them.
They excite water molecules until they’re hot, and the heat radiates from within to outside. This results in hot spots, not being able to get all the moisture out of your clothing, and uneven heating and drying compared to classic steam press or air drying your clothing.
What If You Successfully Microwaved Felt in the Past?
You’re one of the lucky ones. It’s like hosing down a power strip that’s plugged in your socket and not getting shocked. The luck of the draw kept you from the worst possible outcome but that doesn’t mean the worst possible outcome isn’t an ever-present risk.
Keep your fingers crossed that your luck doesn’t run out the next time you feel like microwaving your felt just because you had success with it in the past. If you absolutely want or need to microwave your felt, make sure it’s not synthetic or polyester felt.
Furthermore, heat it up in increments. “Cook” your felt bag, satchel, or skirt with the same caution you’d cook your quiche or your mug cookie. Microwave in 30 second to 1 minute increments instead of microwaving felt in one go for 5 minutes, expecting a non-melted result based on pure luck.
Is Embroidery Floss Safe in the Microwave?
Embroidery floss—stranded cotton that’s a loosely twisted, slightly glossy 6-strand thread, usually made of cotton but also manufactured in silk, linen, and rayon—can be used along with felt in order to make all sorts of arts and crafts or clothing and apparel.
It’s also kind of more microwaveable than felt since felt can sometimes be made of inorganic or manmade plastic threads. For sure potato or corn bags tend to catch fire, thus ruining your microwave. In regards to embroidery floss, maybe you should be careful with it like with synthetic felt.
What Else Do You Need?
Felt is susceptible to melting when microwaved. It’s best not to do so or you’ll have to be super careful when doing so. To be more specific, felt is sometimes made of polyester, which in turn is made from plastic. Long story short, inorganic felt is not microwave-safe and organic felt is only a little better.
Plastic that’s as thin as felt tends to melt unless it’s of the Saran wrap variety (which also melts at certain temperatures and should never be placed in contact with food).
- James V., “Can You Microwave Fabric?“, SewingIsCool.com, May 12, 2021