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The kitchen towel is one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen. Having a good set of dish towels allows you to stabilize a cutting board, wipe down spills, and dry tools and your hands. Mostly made of cotton, they also work well as a banneton lining for your sourdough breads or for patting salmon dry before pan-frying. Kitchen towels can even stand in as an oven mitt to handle hot pans and pots. When choosing towels, you'll need to consider a few key factors, like the type of material, how absorbent it is, ease in washing and drying, how it handles glassware, and the size of the cloth.
We selected the best kitchen towels that cover a variety of uses.
Best Overall: Now Designs Ripple Dish Towel
Variety of colors match any kitchen
100% cotton has great absorbency
Ribbed style helps with scrubbing
Colors can’t be sanitized bleach washing
Terrycloth can leave lint behind on surfaces
Who else recommends it? Wirecutter also picked the Now Designs Ripple Dish Towel.
What do buyers say? 90% of 900+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Turkish cotton is well known for its softness and absorbency. It stands true for these kitchen towels as well. Measuring 24 x 18 inches, these towels are soft, thick, and incredibly absorbent. The Now Designs towels come in a set of two and many colors, from Bali Blue to London Grey and feature a ridged design. The versatile towels can be used to dry hands, pots, dinnerware, and even stemware. Easy to maintain as they are machine washable, they are a good addition to your kitchen linen collection.
Material: Turkish cotton | Dimensions: 18 x 28 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 2 per pack
Best Budget: Zeppoli Classic White Kitchen Towels
Linen/cotton blend minimizes lint
Blend also allows for faster drying
Comes in multiple colors
Thin fabric, so less absorbent
Not lifetime quality
Made with strong and durable cotton material, these 25 x 14-inch kitchen towels showcase a herringbone weave that makes them lightweight, absorbent, and minimizes lint. They're quick to dry, which lowers the risk of mildew or any funky smells. Easy to wash and dry with minimal shrinkage, this 30-pack means you will have a constant supply of kitchen towels for your use. Keep a pair or two in your kitchen, and you will eliminate the need to use paper towels for all those little cleanup jobs.
Material: Linen/cotton | Dimensions: 14 x 25 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 15 or 30 per pack
Best for Food Prep: Utopia Towels Kitchen Bar Mops Towels
Holds up to repeated uses
Textured surface useful for scrubbing
Comes in many colors
Not lifetime quality
These Utopia Towels stand up to the rigors of food prep in both home and professional kitchens. Measuring 16 x 19 inches, the size is perfect to put under a chopping board to stabilize it, and the appropriate thickness makes it easy to give your knife a quick clean-up before getting on with the next chopping job.
Hemmed edges prevent unraveling, while the ring-spun cotton makes them super absorbent and lightweight. The terry loops on both sides create extra surface area for completely drying off all surfaces and scrubbing off spills without scratching any surfaces. At the end of the day, throw them in the wash, and they will be ready to tackle another busy kitchen day with you.
Material: Ring-spun cotton | Dimensions: 16 x 19 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 2
Best for Dishes: Zeppoli Flour Sack Towels
Sheet-like cotton sheds very little lint
Max-sized for larger kitchen tasks
Flexible and versatile
Lightweight fabric not great for grabbing hot surfaces
Working-style towels don’t offer a refined presentation
“I love drying dishes,” said no one ever, but it is a chore that just needs to be done. Why not make it easy with a kitchen towel that does most of the job for you?
Although the label says "flour sack" towels, this 12-pack of towels from Zeppoli is not produced from actual flour sacks like in the olden days. Made of natural ring-spun cotton, which is sturdy and highly absorbent, these lightweight towels make drying dishes an almost pleasant experience. Measuring 31 x 31 inches, these towels can be used to line a breadbasket, clean up spills, and cover vegetables. They are easy to wash and dry quickly.
Material: Ring-spun cotton | Dimensions: 31 x 31 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 12
Best Microfiber: Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, Non-Abrasive, Reusable and Washable
Textured surface useful for scrubbing
Smaller and more agile for delicate jobs
Not heat resistant
Synthetic fibers don’t absorb the same way cotton would
Microfiber serves some very specific purposes in the kitchen and in cleaning. It’s reliably 100% free of lint so it’s great for drying dishes and glassware. For cleaning, users of microfiber cloths swear by being able to clean with little more than a bit of water. But these are smaller cloths, and because microfiber is synthetic, they aren’t meant to be super-absorbent. Remember, too that they have no heat resistance at all; they’ll melt or burn if they touch an oven rack or burner. With all that in mind, they’re great to have around, but not an all-purpose towel
Material: Polyester/polyamide blend | Dimensions: 12 x 16 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 24
Best Cotton: Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Dish Towels
Lots of fun colors
Nearly lint-free fabric
Thinner and more agile for delicate jobs
Thinner towel not great for handling hot surfaces
Uneven manufacturing quality
This 12-pack of flour sack dish towels are an excellent way to minimize use of paper towels in the kitchen. Soft enough to use for hand drying, they're also sturdy enough for all the vigorous kitchen tasks.
Measuring 28 x 28 inches, these towels are lint-free and machine washable. Flour-sack towels make some of the best dish drying towels because they are highly absorbent and leave no residue behind—just a streak-free shine. These are thin enough to be used as cheesecloths, or for cleaning up various tumbles and spills in the kitchen.
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 28 x 28 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 12
Best Waffle Weave: Mia's Dream Cotton Dish Towels
Stylish enough to be used as guest towels
Lots of rich color choices
Waffle weave helps with drying
Not lifetime quality
The Mia’s Dream kitchen towel's honeycomb design makes it lightweight, breathable, and absorbent. The waffle weave is known for being lint-free and soft on glassware. So, bring out the fine dishes and glasses. While 100 percent cotton towels can’t make cleaning up enjoyable, they will make it efficient. These towels come in a variety of colors. The size, 13 x 28 inches, is just right for many jobs in the kitchen. The towels have a hanging loop to make drying and storage easy.
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 13 x 28 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 3
Best Multipurpose: Harringdons Kitchen Dish Towels
Commercial grade quality
Holds up to repeated use
Made with pure cotton, this is a commercial-grade towel that's great for home use. Generously sized at 28 x 20 inches, these towels feature the herringbone weave and are lightweight, absorbent, and quick-drying. The weave on these towels is tight but not stiff. Use them for cleaning, hand drying, dish drying, or simply for all your baking-related projects. These towels are constructed to last and face the rigors of the kitchen. While they absorb a lot of liquid, they themselves do not get soggy, which allows you to get a lot more done with just one towel.
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 13 x 28 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 12
Best for Gifting: Anthropologie Baker Stripe Dish Towels
Cheerful, retro stripe design
Hold their shape through repeated washings
Mid-weight fabric works for almost any kitchen task
Colors will fade with time
This set of four unique and decorative kitchen towels from Anthropologie make a great gift for someone who loves cooking and spending time in the kitchen. The whimsical and soft colors add a little splash of fun to your decor. Measuring 28 x 21 inches, these towels are thin and absorbent to make drying anything a breeze. The cotton fabric doesn’t wrinkle after washing, and the towels are machine washable.
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 28 x 21 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 4
Best for Embroidery: Aunt Martha's White Flour Sack Dish Towels
Hemmed all around
Great for larger kitchen jobs
Lighter weight not the best for heavier kitchen tasks
If you want to let your creative ideas take shape and custom-make embroidered kitchen towels, Aunt Martha’s flour sack towels are a good bet.
These 28 x 28 inch towels are fully hemmed, have a close weave made from 130-thread count, and are lint-free—all the things that are needed in a good base for embroidery. And once you have put your creative designs on them, these are excellent towels to use in the kitchen because of their lightweight and absorbent features. They also are great for proofing bread, rolling pies, and drying dishes.
Material: Cotton | Dimensions: 28 x 28 inches | Machine Washable: Yes | Count: 2
What to Look for When Buying Kitchen Towels
The majority of kitchen towels are made of cotton or linen. These durable fabrics can stand up to the wear of kitchen use and regular washing and tend to be soft enough to avoid scratching your dishware. Some materials and weaves—linen, ring spun, and waffle, for instance—are more absorbent than others. Absorbency is most important because you want a towel that will actually dry surfaces rather than just moving the water around, which is what you'll find with some of the cheapest towels. Microfiber and flour sack towels are also a popular choice because they're absorbent and lint free, so they're great for polishing glassware and delicate dishes. Because each material has its own advantages, you might consider buying various kitchen towels to meet all your needs.
Size and Use
Kitchen towels vary in size, so it's critical to think about your cooking style and how you'll use them. The smallest are rectangular and average 15 inches wide by 20 inches long. These are good for wiping your hands and drying dishes, as well as other random kitchen tasks. Tea towels are a type of cotton dish towel that's typically around 28 inches square. They can be quite decorative; they were originally intended to adorn tea servings but tend to be more utilitarian today. Flour sack towels tend to be the largest, at about 30 inches square. These lint-free towels are great when you need to cover bread, baked goods, and other foods as they rest or cool.
Drying and Washing
Two key considerations in choosing kitchen towels are how quickly they air dry in the kitchen and how easy they are to clean. Since you're likely to reuse kitchen towels for a couple of days, you want a fabric that will dry thoroughly so it's ready for the next cooking project. Thinner fabrics tend to be the best, but some thick towels with a particular weave or material are competitive in this area.
Kitchen towels should be machine washable because you want to ensure all the kitchen grime they absorb is removed. If you don't have a washer at home, think about stocking enough towels to last until your regular laundromat trip. While microfiber towels are absorbent and lint free, they do need to be cleaned more carefully.
Where do you hang kitchen towels?
Hanging your kitchen towels lets them dry out in between uses, and there are several places you can hang them. For instance, the handle on your oven or dishwasher is convenient as long as you don't let the towel drape onto the floor when opening the door. The edge of the sink is good if the towel won't get wet or soiled. If you have the space, consider a kitchen towel holder. There are countertop, wall-mounted, and under-the-counter options available. Consider if a hook or bar design is a good fit for your kitchen. Whatever you choose, avoid hanging multiple towels on top of each other so your towels have space to dry.
How often should you change or wash kitchen towels?
Whenever cleaning up particularly messy spills in the kitchen, replace the kitchen towel right away. Toss it in the laundry and get a clean one to use. However, with average kitchen use, it's best to change kitchen towels every couple of days.
How do you wash kitchen towels?
The best way to clean kitchen towels depends on the material, and most are machine washable. Wash cotton and linen towels in hot water; soak them in a mix of warm water and vinegar before washing to remove odors if needed. When necessary, use bleach to keep all-white towels spotless and color-safe bleach for other towels or mixed loads. Always transfer towels from the washer to the dryer right away to avoid bacteria and mildew.
Microfiber kitchen towels require a little more attention to retain the material's excellent absorbency and cleaning ability and to keep them lint free. Make sure the load does not include lint-producing fabrics, such as cotton; use a separate laundry bin for microfiber. Machine wash in warm water with a mild detergent (preferably free of dyes and perfumes) and tumble dry on low heat.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
As a chef, Renu Dhar has cooked in different kitchens using a variety of kitchen towels. Over the years she has used most of these recommendations for various jobs in the kitchen.