If you think of essential kitchen tools, which items first pop into your head? Knives, forks, bowls, measuring cups – those types of things, right? Things that you use virtually every day and cannot live without.
But have you ever thought of the humble kitchen towel as an essential kitchen tool? Probably not, and most people don’t either, but take a second to think how often you use one.
A good working kitchen towel is one of the most important kitchen tools you can have. Just think of the frustration when you are trying to dry dishes and can’t or if you wash it one time and it already starts to tear.
So, what are the best kitchen towels you can buy? The best kitchen towels are made of cotton, terrycloth, or linen. We recommend choosing a tightly woven cotton kitchen towel. Cotton kitchen towels are highly absorbent and durable, making them perfect for drying dishes and cleaning up messes.
In this article, we will have a look at the differences and different uses of dish towels and kitchen towels. We will also have a look at what makes a great dish towel and also which dish towels are the best.
What Are Kitchen Towels?
All around the world, different countries and even continents use different terms for these towels. In the United States, Canada and the majority of Africa, the term “dish towel” and “tea towel” have two very different meanings and uses.
However, in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, tea towels generally refer to all types of kitchen towels.
Most culinary industries recognize the U.S. classification and therefore for the purposes of this article, we will explain the differences accordingly.
A kitchen towel can technically be defined as any type of towel used in the kitchen. This category includes tea towels, dish towels, and also paper towels.
When people use the word “kitchen towel”, they usually only refer to dish towels. Each of these towels have different uses, but some of them can be used interchangeably.
Today, we will specifically look at dish towels as well as some tea towels.
What Kitchen Towels Do Chefs Use?
Having been in the food industry for many years, we know that chefs only use cotton dish towels. This is because of the exact reasons we just mentioned above.
Chefs need to be able to quickly and efficiently clean up any messes without having to stop for too long. If they don’t have proper cleaning tools, they will not be able to do their job well and effectively.
It is also important for them to constantly rotate their towels, thus having more affordable dish towels (compared to pretty tea towels) allows the
Working in a fast-paced, high-pressure restaurant also doesn’t allow them to take even 5 seconds to put on an oven mitt, that is why they also choose thick cotton dish towels as they can easily be used as an oven mitt without them losing any momentum.
Side note: Never use a wet kitchen towel to pick up hot items. The moisture will instantly heat up and burn your hands. Only use completely dry kitchen towels as improvised oven mitts.
What Are Dish Towels?
Dish towels are most often made from terry cloth or cotton (or a cotton blend).
Terry cloth is made from a bunch of loops all sewn together with a perfect space-to-fabric ratio to allow the towel to absorb and retain moisture. Terry cloth towels tend to leave behind a lot of little fibers so care should be taken when using it on fresh produce.
Terry cloths can be made from different materials (including 100% cotton or other types of blends) and is rather a way the towel was made (its structure) than the type of material used to make it.
There are many other materials that are used to make dish towels, however, they aren’t nearly as effective as terry cloths or cotton towels. These materials mainly include microfibre, nylon and polyester.
Cotton is by far the superior material for dishcloths. Cotton is naturally a very absorbent material and thus they can be woven very tightly to create a very effective product without leaving any fibers behind.
This increased surface area allows it to do much more than the looser-woven terry cloth could. It is also a very durable material that will last much longer than any other type of dish towel.
Dish towels are usually between 16 x 28 inches to 18 x 30 inches, however, there are smaller and larger versions for specific uses.
Dish towels have a much wider range of use in the kitchen than any other type of towel. They can:
- Clean any surface including wiping up any spills and messes (both wet and dry)
- Disinfect any working surfaces
- Dusting any cupboards or shelves
- Dry any type of dish or utensil
- Dry your hands
- Can be used as an improvised oven mitt for hot handles or baking dishes
- Can dry off fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables or virtually any other produce
- Can be used to help proof bread by insulating heat
As you can see, it is a very versatile item that needs to be of the highest quality to be a durable, long-lasting item.
Dish towels should also be kept separate from other types of towels and constantly rotated to prevent the spread of bacteria.
What Is The Best Material To Use For Dish Towels?
Dish towels are mainly used to dry dishes and clean up the kitchen. This means that you would need a very durable and absorbent material.
The best material we would recommend for dishtowels is tightly woven cotton.
Cotton is naturally extremely absorbent meaning it will get the job done in seconds. The dishcloth you do get must be tightly woven otherwise it could give off fibers that could end up in your food.
Tightly woven cotton towels will prevent any fibers from coming off on your dishes, surfaces, or even when you are drying fresh produce.
Cotton dish towels are also more aesthetically pleasing than terry cloth towels and is a very strong, durable, and thick fabric. It will be able to perform any function and won’t disintegrate after a few washes.
What Are Tea Towels?
Tea towels are very similar to dish towels, however, there are slight differences which ultimately makes a big difference in how they can be used.
Tea towels are made from much thinner materials like linen (and sometimes thinner cotton) and are intended for more aesthetic purposes. The softness of the linen also makes these towels great for polishing without leaving any lint or water streaks.
Due to the structure of the fibers (which are very tightly woven) linen tea towels are almost always very absorbent and are also very durable.
Tea towels often come in many different colors and also have different patterns, or sometimes even images, printed on to them. The images and prints are usually the first to fade, however, the cloth itself will last quite a while if well looked after.
Like dish towels, the common size for tea towels are also between 16 x 28 inches to 18 x 30 inches. Tea towels, however, have a much larger range of sizes depending on what they will be used for.
Tea towels are mainly used for:
- Polishing fine china or delicate dishes
- Can be used as an improvised oven mitt
- Has many aesthetic functions (decor)
- Liners for tea trays or baskets
- To cover foods and keep it warm (can also help proof breads and doughs)
- Can serve as a napkin for guests
Tips and Tricks for Kitchen Towels
- If you have a kitchen towel that gives off any fabric fibers, you can try to wash and completely dry it a few times before using it. This will allow most of those fibers to come off during this process.
- Always disinfect your kitchen towels (the dishtowels esp[ecially) when you are washing them.
- The best way to store your kitchen towels is separately. By that, we mean that all the dish towels should be stored away from the tea towels. This will prevent cross-contamination of micro-bacteria and also prevent you from using the more expensive towels as cheaper ones.
- If you are cleaning any messes that could stain your towels (for example beetroot, curry, or any such items) rather use paper towels (disposable single-use towels) to clean the majority of it before using your kitchen towels. Alternatively, you can have a few terry cloth towels that are intended to clean these types of stains.
What Are The Best Kitchen Towels To Buy?
Today, we will be ranking our top 9 kitchen towels (both dish and tea towels). We will rank them based on their efficiency, durability, and of course the way they look.
When looking at the best type of kitchen towel to buy, it depends on what you intend to use it for. Below is a list of possible uses for a kitchen towel and which type of towel will be best suited for the job.
|1.||Drying dishes||Cotton dishtowel (tightly woven)||SMARTZ Cotton Kitchen Towels|
|2.||Cleaning up wet messes on surfaces||Terry cloth dish towel / Cotton dish towel||T-fal Textiles Cotton Dish Towels|
|3.||Cleaning up dry messes on surfaces||Terry cloth dish towel||Amour Infini Cotton Terry Dish Towels|
|4.||Polishing dishes||Linen tea towel / Cotton tea towel (tightly woven)||Maison d’ Hermine Equinoxe Cotton Kitchen Towels|
|5.||Improvised oven mitt||Dish towels (thick material)||Homaxy Natural Cotton Terry Kitchen Towels|
|6.||Drying fresh produce||Cotton dishtowel (tightly woven)||Urban Villa Cotton Dish Towels|
|7.||Napkin||Linen tea towel||Liniche Linen Striped Tea Towels|
|8.||Liner for cupboards or trays||Linen tea towel||Liniche Home Linen Kitchen Tea Towels|
|9.||Allow doughs to proof||Cotton dishtowel / Linen tea towel / Cotton tea towel||Zeppoli Natural Cotton Kitchen Towels|
1. SMARTZ Cotton Kitchen Towels
These types of kitchen towels are what we live for!
They are made from 100% cotton and are very tightly woven, meaning you have a very durable, strong product that will continuously absorb water without fault – and the best part, it won’t give off any fibers!
These cotton dishtowels from SMARTZ are sold in either sets of 6 or 12. They are mainly white towels with a beautiful colored line running through the middle; it gives us a real country-side feeling.
You can buy them in one specific color or in different sets of colors (for example a 6 pack of towels with 2 green, 2 red and 2 blue towels). This means you can buy specific colored towels to perfectly match your kitchen.
These dish towels are very soft and very well constructed; just by looking at them, you know that you will have a long-lasting product. And they all come with a very convenient hanging loop so you don’t have to struggle when hanging them to dry.
And did we mention that you could also use them as tea towels? Because they aren’t woven like terry cloths, they will make beautiful additions for tea time or as napkins.
These extremely versatile products that function both as dish towels and tea towels, you would think they cost a pretty penny, but they are actually very affordable and you won’t regret buying these!
2. T-fal Textiles Cotton Dish Towel
If you want bang for your buck, this is the dish towel to go for. This terry cloth dish towel is sold in 8 different colors, either checked or in a solid color.
It has a terry cloth structure that measures 16×26 inches, perfect for virtually any kitchen function.
Its cotton material will allow you to continuously absorb liquids without fault and its thick structure will make it last a lifetime!
This kitchen towel might not be the prettiest in design, but it will definitely get the job done in seconds and because of its low price, you won’t even feel bad if anything happened to it – sometimes that is exactly the type of dish towel you need!
3. Amour Infini Cotton Terry Dish Towel
This is one of the highest-rated terry cloth dish towels and for a very good reason.
Like we have mentioned, cotton is a naturally absorbent material making it the best possible choice for dish towels.
Because they are made as terry cloth towels (remember, terry cloth is the way the towel is made and its structure), they are very soft and will not scratch the most delicate of dishes.
Keep in mind however that these terry cloth towels do tend to give off a lot of fibers, however, many reviews don’t state that this is a problem when it comes to these ones.
They are sold in a pack of four and are available in two sizes, 12×12 inch dishcloths and 16×26 inch dish towels. They also come in a wide variety of colors meaning you can pick any type that will fit your kitchen perfectly.
These are definitely some of the more stylish terry cloths we have seen and will make your kitchen look a lot more stylish.
We were shocked when we saw the price tag! Usually, any type of dish towel that is even slightly leaning towards pretty costs a fortune; not these! They are very well priced and will make a great, yet affordable, gift.
4. Maison d’ Hermine Equinoxe Cotton Kitchen Towels
These are some of the most beautiful tea towels we have ever seen.
Maison d’Hermine Store sells this set of 3 in a large variety of prints, all on 100% cotton material.
They measure 20×27.5 inches and they do say that they can be used for drying dishes, however, purely because of its beautiful print, we wouldn’t want to.
Each design in the set differs creating a very unique set that will be the perfect gift at any birthday party, baby shower, wedding or even just Christmas.
These kitchen towels, unlike normal dish towels or linen tea towels, will be perfect for polishing glasses without leaving fibers or water streaks.
Considering their beautiful and unique design, they are unbelievably affordable and will make any of these designs will make a perfect addition to your home.
5. Homaxy Natural Cotton Terry Kitchen Towels
These cotton terry dishcloths are, in our opinion, not a traditional terry cloth.
If you have a look at the way these towels have been woven, you will see that they aren’t as loose as traditional terry cloths, but not as tight as traditional cotton cloths.
This means that you will have the perfect blend of structure and functionality which will allow these towels to absorb large amounts of moisture, not give off as many fibers when being used, act as the perfect oven mitt while all still being stylish and durable.
They come in a large variety of patterns and colors and are 13×28 inches in size. The material is very thick, allowing it to also be used for cooking functions as well as drying functions.
They are slightly higher priced than normal terry cloths, however definitely affordable and worth the buy.
6. Urban Villa Cotton Dish Towels
If you are looking for an ultra-soft, extremely absorbent, durable and multi-functional kitchen towel, these are perfect!
They come in a very large number of solid colors, meaning they aren’t designed for specific styles of kitchens only.
They are sold in sets of 6, 12 and 24 and are 20×30 inches in size – larger than most kitchen towels.
These towels that are this tightly woven do tend to wrinkle, so if that is not something you want to deal with, then this product might not be for you.
However, for those of you that love these types of soft towels will love these and they can be used as dish towels (for drying) as well as tea towels (for decor) and come at a very reasonable price.
7. Liniche Linen Striped Tea Towels
If you love a more interesting linen cloth, these are perfect for you. These are all sold in natural colors or naturally colored linen and are all very simple, elegant yet beautiful designs.
They also measure 20×30 inches in size, making them very versatile for many different uses.
They are very absorbent (but again, we wouldn’t want to ruin our beautiful linen towels with stains) and they are hypoallergenic, very soft and flexible linen and eco-friendly.
They also have very convenient hanging hooks to make for easy drying. These linen tea towels are slightly more expensive due to their design, but definitely worth it as it will add that natural look to your kitchen while still serving many purposes.
8. Liniche Home Linen Kitchen Tea Towels
We’re a sucker for linen tea towels – actually, give us anything linen and we’re happy.
This natural colored linen (a mix between soft grey and brown) is the perfect addition to any natural home.
It’s hypo-allergenic, unbelievably soft, and very eco-friendly.
Natural linens function best as tea towels. They are absorbent, however not nearly enough to function as normal dish towels would and you also probably wouldn’t want to ruin the beautiful texture and color of them anyway.
This tea towel from Liniche measures 20×30 inches, making it perfect for a wide number of uses including being a napkin, a placemat, a hand drying towel and to function as a linen for trays and baskets.
As with most linen products, these are definitely more expensive than dish towels, however, they are very well priced for linen towels.
9. Zeppoli Natural Cotton Kitchen Towels
If you are looking to buy a bunch of cotton kitchen towels, these are your best option.
They are some of the most affordable cotton dish towels we have ever seen.
You might think then, “well, quality towels can’t be this affordable” and that is where you are wrong! A higher price-tag doesn’t necessarily mean a higher quality product and these kitchen towels prove that.
They are 14×25 inches and are sold in packs of 15, 30, and 45, all with a very classic blue and white French country-side design. They are very elegant towels and will fit virtually any type of kitchen.
Because they are made from tightly woven cotton only, they will be able to absorb time after time and will not wear and tear as quickly as other types of kitchen towels.
Up Next: The Best Oven-Safe Skillets