December 7


What Towels Do I Need In The Kitchen?

By Robin Hatch

December 7, 2020

I always thought a kitchen towel was just a kitchen towel, but oh, was I wrong. You get a few different types of kitchen towels, and they are used for various purposes.

You typically need four different kitchen towels made from other materials because they all perform different purposes. Cotton towels are thick, durable, and great for soaking. Paper towels are excellent for thick liquids and food. Linen is superb for polishing, and terrycloth is perfect for large spills.

In this article, I go over what a kitchen towel is. What different materials are they made out of, and what other types are there? I then detail their specific purpose, applicable to different kitchen situations, and then I go over what else you can use a kitchen towel for.

What Is A Kitchen Towel?

A kitchen towel (dishcloth) is an absorbent material (cloth or paper) used for drying or wiping dishes, cups, pots, pans, and silverware.

Surprisingly, kitchen towels can be made and found in various materials, including paper, Linen, cotton, and terrycloth. 

Different Types Of Kitchen Towels

We now know the different materials that kitchen towels can be made of, so let’s look at the different types. Technically the different types are based on the various kinds of material; however, they can have other names that refer to the material they are made from.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are made up of cellulose fibers. These cellulose fibers can also be found in wool, cotton, and most other plants.

When looked at under a microscope, the cellulose fibers are made out of giant molecules, and they are linked to smaller molecules.

Cotton Towels

Most people will say that kitchen towels made of cotton are the best kitchen towels to use. Kitchen towels are made from tightly wound cotton. This causes them to be very absorbent, soft, and capable of soaking up vast amounts of liquid.

Cotton is a great fabric and is used in clothing as well. Cotton can withstand being washed many times without losing any of its quality characteristics.

Due to the fact cotton is so absorbent, it is less likely to smudge and cause watermarks on your furniture, appliances, and kitchenware.

Linen Towels

Traditionally kitchen towels, or so they were named (tea towels), were and are still made of Linen. Linen is very different from cotton. The material is still soft, but the feel is different.

Linen clothes are used best in situations for polishing, mostly polishing fine china and other delicate dishes and kitchenware. 

Linen instantly absorbs water and most other liquids and is very quick to dry. Linen is frailer and more delicate than cotton, though, and can not last as long as cotton does when be used day in and day out. When washed often, linen kitchen towels become thin, strained, and tear pretty quickly.

Terrycloth Towels

Terrycloth has a few other names, including terry cloth, terry cotton, terry toweling, terry towel, or simply toweling. An excellent example of a terrycloth is the towel you use to dry yourself off after showering or bathing.

It is typically manufactured by weaving or knitting and is made of fabric woven by many protruding loops of thread, and it can absorb a considerable amount of liquid. 

It would be best if you had kitchen towels for different aspects of your kitchen. You need them to dry dishes, wash dishes, wipe down the counters, clean off appliances, wipe your hands, and clean up spills.

How Many Kitchen Towels Do I Need?

Kitchens should have at least two towels by the stove and two towels by the kitchen table for a total of four towels.

However, now knowing what the different types of kitchen towels are and knowing what they are made of, you could deduce that each of them in their way would be more beneficial than another depending on different scenarios you could find yourself in.

Hence, we could say that you need all four different types of kitchen towels. Here is why.

Paper towels are fantastic for wiping up messy thick spills and pieces of food. So, say you spilled some curry on the floor or kitchen counter.

You do not want to use any other towels because they might get stained and not absorb the thick liquid properly.

Paper towels give you a free disposable option with which you can wipe up almost anything, including grease and oil from cooking.

Grease and oil will stain your other kitchen towels. First, wipe up any thick liquid and pieces of food with disposable kitchen towels, and then clean up the rest of the spill with the other appropriate towel.

Use cotton towels for washing and drying your dishes. They are great for this purpose because they can soak up a lot of liquid and are durable. Use wet cotton towels for washing, and then use other dry cotton towels for drying your dishes off. What is excellent about cotton towels is that most of them are lint-free.

Having a lint-free kitchen towel is preferable because you do not want any pieces of fluff on your kitchen dishes, pots, and pans after you dry them off. 

As we stated under paper towels, cotton would not absorb thick liquids so quickly, and they would stain if you had to wipe up liquids such as ketchup, mustard, and any other condiment.

Linen towels also have their place in the kitchen. They are great for polishing metal. Cotton is very absorbent, thick, and suitable for wiping. In contrast, Linen is thin and is better for rubbing.

If you use cotton to polish your kitchen silverware, it might stain as well, whereas Linen would also stain, but Linen’s stain removal is somewhat easier than cotton.

Terrycloth towels are great for wiping up massive floor spills that consist of a lot of liquid. They are also great for wiping down your kitchen counters because they can absorb how much liquid.

You would not need to rinse them out when wiping down your kitchen counters, and they could hold more liquid, whereas a cotton towel would probably not dry down your countertops.

How To Use Kitchen Towels Properly

Kitchen towels can be used for many things that you may or may not know. They are great for gym towels and wipe-down chairs, weights, or cable machines. You could also use your kitchen towels to wipe down, wash, and polish your car.

They are also great for any other part of the house, helping you wipe up spills and any form of mess. Lastly, you could also use them as shop rags. That means you could use them to help you with the DIY stuff you want to do around the house. For example, you could use them to paint and stain furniture.

Watch Keeble Outlets explain what other uses there are for a kitchen towel


Surprisingly there are quite a few kitchen towels, four in total. They are made of various materials, and there are multiple types. The materials dictate what the names and types are. You get paper towels, cotton towels, linen towels, and terrycloth towels.

All these different towels are unique, have other properties, and offer you various features when used and applied in the kitchen. 

Cotton is thick, durable, and can soak up liquids quickly; Linen is thin and is great for polishing silverware. Paper towels are great for wiping up thick liquids and pieces of food. Lastly, toweling is excellent for soaking up large spills and wiping down your kitchen counters.

I hope you found this helpful article, and I hope you will go out and get each of these different kitchen towels to make your job and life a little bit easier in the kitchen.

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked kitchen questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.

Robin Hatch

About the author

For over a decade, Robin has been a real estate agent, interior design specialist, and mother. Through her trials and tribulations, she wanted to create the perfect website to help you save money and make your home look beautiful.

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