The best kitchen towel set
Investing in quality kitchen towel sets is a worthwhile purchase. Known for their versatility, these helpful accessories dry dishes, tidy counters, and even wrap bread or bottles as gifts.
Kitchen towel sets are smart alternatives to paper towels -- they're more absorbent, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. They can add a decorative touch to your kitchen, especially patterned or colored sets. With anywhere from four to two dozen towels in a set, you're able to use and wash them daily.
Read our buying guide to help you tidy up your kitchen with a new kitchen towel set. We're including our favorite, Harringdons' Kitchen Dish Towels, a high-quality set that's beloved by home cooks and professional chefs alike.
Considerations when choosing kitchen towel sets
Types of kitchen towel sets
Tea towel: As one can imagine, the original purpose of tea towels was to dry tea sets. In today's world, they dry that and much more, as they're known for being lint-free and naturally absorbent. While they work well for drying dishes, they're not as good when cleaning cookware.
Dish towel: Dish towels are similar in size and design to tea towels, but they're much thicker and more textured. Their plush finish makes them great for cleaning cutlery, cookware, and dishes. If you're looking for a do-it-all set, dish towels are definitely the way to go.
Hand towel: Hand towels (similar to guest towels in bathrooms) are the thickest ones available. Made from terry cloth, they work for keeping hands dry or cleaning up small spills in a pinch. Some cooks keep them tucked inside an apron or over their shoulder for easy access.
Linen: Linen, made from thin cotton, is well-liked for its lint-free quality. In its plainest form, linen is food-safe and the preferred material to wrap baked foods. Linen sets are also popular for decoration, especially crisp white ones, while rougher towels are used for heavy-duty cleaning.
Ribbed cotton: Ribbed cotton is the thicker, more tightly woven cousin of linen. Its weave is also invariably rougher; its coarseness is best for dishwashing that requires a bit of scrubbing. Ribbed cotton is also a popular choice for grabbing hot pot handles as well as surface cleaning.
Terry cloth: Known for its impressive absorbent qualities, terry cloth towels are popular for fast drying and effective surface cleaning. When folded or layered, they can be used as makeshift trivets. Given its versatile properties, terry cloth makes its way into other items around the kitchen, including potholders and oven mitts.
Eco-friendly blends: There are a number of environmentally-conscious material blends now used for kitchen towel sets. Bamboo, wood, cellulose, and recycled fibers are popular in these blends, which are typically mixed with cotton to boost their absorbent quality.
Microfiber: Microfiber, a synthetic material, is best known for its collection of cleaning properties. Made from thousands of tiny tightly-packed fibers, it's well suited for dusting and scrubbing. Best of all, microfiber excels at cleaning without scratching surfaces, even delicate glass.
Keeping kitchen towel sets clean
Stain control: Like any material, kitchen towels are susceptible to stains, which become permanent if they're not washed or treated in a timely fashion. By washing towels multiple times a week, you're able to get rid of the majority of tough stains.
Food safety: If they're not properly hung to dry, towels can harbor mold and mildew, which undoubtedly transfers to other surfaces. Simply being in your kitchen means towels attract dust and debris particles as well, so aim to replace them daily.
How to clean towels: Use manufacturer-recommended cleaning agents, as various towel blends require different cleaning. Some people create their own mixtures, which may include white vinegar or bleach. As always, it's a good idea to wash kitchen towels separately from clothing and other towels.
Expect to spend $10 or less on sets of six to eight basic cotton towels. If you're looking for oversized, highly absorbent kitchen towel sets, you can spend between $10 and $20. For commercial-grade towels that are durable and often come in deluxe packs, you may spend between $20 and $35.
Q. Should I get white or colored kitchen towels?
A. White kitchen towel sets are popular for their traditional look. Unfortunately, they're susceptible to stains, so they look less than fresh after enough use. Some people opt for colored or patterned kitchen towels, as wear and mild staining tend to be less noticeable.
Q. Do kitchen towel sets have a shelf life?
A. Yes. Some people replace kitchen towels when they begin to have stains or start unraveling at the edges. Repeat washing can deteriorate some materials, causing it to thin over time. Thinning can affect absorbency, in which case you'll need to replace them. Every couple years seems to be the average time.
Kitchen towel sets we recommend
Best of the best: Harringdons' Kitchen Dish Towels
Our take: Commercial-grade towels that hold up to frequent washing. Versatile 28" x 20" size.
What we like: Equipped with loops for hanging. Detail includes simple yet colorful stripes in three tones.
What we dislike: Since they're white, they're susceptible to staining.
Best bang for your buck: Cotton Crafts' Oversized Kitchen Towels
Our take: High-quality 20" x 30" towels available in several colors.
What we like: Thicker than many competitors. Tightly-woven low-lint cotton in a basket weave design.
What we dislike: Towels are known to shrink after a few washes.
Choice 3: Skoy's Eco-Friendly Cleaning Cloths
Our take: Environmentally friendly 100% biodegradable cloths made of wood and cotton.
What we like: Each cloth can replace 15 rolls of paper towels. Four-pack comes in fun colors.
What we dislike: Not a perfect substitute for paper towels, and usually only lasts for a few months.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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