Courtesy of Food52
Kitchen towels are more than just decorative pieces of cloth to hanging on your oven door. You can use them to dry dishes, glassware, and even your hands. They can also be used to sweep crumbs off your countertop, mop up spills, and can stand in for an oven mitt or trivet if the need arises. When shopping for kitchen towels, a cute design or color that matches your décor is only one of many key considerations. For Belinda Wei, co-owner and chef of Dear Bella Creamery in Los Angeles, California, good absorption, tight threading, and thickness of fabric are the most important qualities she looks for when choosing kitchen towels. "Microfiber has the best level of absorption," she says, adding that she keeps several types of kitchen towels on hand for different purposes. "I have reusable 'paper' towels made of bamboo for light spills," she says. "When I'm cooking, I prefer a terry cotton cloth as a thick multipurpose towel for cleaning as I go, holding hot handles, drying tools, wiping hands, and securing my cutting board."
When it comes to wiping up spills and wet surfaces (your sink, stovetop, and even a cutting board), microfiber is king. "I find microfiber cloths work best for quick clean-ups," Rachel Diaz Pirard, co-owner and pastry chef of Casa Ora in Brooklyn, New York, says. "They absorb a lot of liquid and wring out easily for an almost immediately dry towel. Rinse them off in the sink and you can use them over and over again. They also air dry much quicker which makes them less prone to bacteria growth."
Shopping for your own absorbent kitchen towels? Consider our picks.
Best Decorative Kitchen Towels: Martha Stewart Collection Cotton Lots of Lemons Printed Kitchen Towels
Best Kitchen Towel Set: Five Two Essential Kitchen Towels
Best Microfiber Kitchen Towels: HYER KITCHEN Microfiber Kitchen Towels
Best Paper Towel Alternative: Dot and Army Unpaper Towels
Best Budget-Friendly Kitchen towels: Utopia Towels Cotton White Washcloths Set
Best Decorative Kitchen Towels
Designed by Martha herself, this set of three towels includes one solid yellow and two with their own lemon print.s Each towel measures 18 by 28 inches and we love that they double as kitchen décor. They're made of 100 percent flat-woven cotton, which is absorbent (great for wiping up spills) and lint-free (ideal for drying and cleaning glassware). To clean, simply throw these towels in the washing machine.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Cotton Lots of Lemons Printed Kitchen Towels, $17.89 for three, target.com.
Best Kitchen Towel Set
Rather than create rely on one kitchen towel to do it all, Food52 created two complementary kitchen towels that address a variety of tasks. Two are quick-drying flour sack towels, which are perfect for drying glasses and swiping away crumbs as they're lint-free; the other two are plush utility towels designed to stop spills (plus, they're thick enough to be used as an oven mitt). The 100 percent pre-washed cotton towels were designed with input from the Food52 community—36,000 people weighed in on what makes the perfect kitchen towel.
Shop Now: Five Two Essential Kitchen Towels, $69 for four, food52.com.
Best Microfiber Kitchen Towels
Soft and super absorbent, these microfiber towels are said to sop up six times more water than the average kitchen towel. They come in an eight-pack of gray and white towels with a simple striped design and measure 18 by 26 inches. The manufacturer claims that these towels get even more absorbent with subsequent washes and will not fade or shrink over time.
Shop Now: HYER KITCHEN Microfiber Kitchen Towels, $15.99 for eight, amazon.com.
Best Paper Towel Alternative
Made from 100 percent organic cotton, these machine-washable towels are a reusable alternative to traditional paper towels. Sold in sets of 15, each towel measures 14 by 12 inches and has a waffle-like texture that's great for scrubbing away whatever foods end up on your stovetop and counters. The colorful stitching along the edges of each towel is a sweet added touch––chic and eco-friendly. Use these "unpaper towels" to sop up spills or dry your hands—basically, you can use them for any kitchen task.
Shop Now: Dot and Army Unpaper Towels, $50 for 15, food52.com.
Best Budget-Friendly Kitchen Towels
If you have the storage space and enjoy having clean kitchen towels on hand without needing to do laundry multiple times a week, look no further than this 24-pack of cotton washcloths. They measure 12 by 12 inches and are lightweight, yet super absorbent, and soft. Keep a pile in your linen closet at the ready for when you're drying dishes.
Shop Now: Utopia Towels Cotton White Washcloths, $15.99 for 24, amazon.com.
Best Multipurpose Kitchen Towels
These Turkish cotton towels are unique in that they have a waffle texture on one side and terry loops on the other side. This means that not only are they highly absorbent, but they're also soft on dishes and glassware. The towels are sold as a set of four and come in a variety of colors.
Shop Now: All Purpose Pantry Towels, $21.95 for four, williams-sonoma.com.
Best Bar Towels
Martha loves using bar cloths instead of paper towels to clean a cutting board or any surface in the kitchen. This 48-pack will ensure you always have a clean bar towel on hand. They might not be the prettiest to look at, but they get the job done as far as mopping up messes goes. The towels measure 16 by 19 inches and are made of 100 percent cotton.
Shop Now: Sara Glove Bar Mop Towels, $33.95 for 48, amazon.com.