We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Towel sets aren’t limited to the plush collections found in hotel rooms and bathroom linen closets. Many people buy towel sets for their kitchen, too. The typical kitchen towel isn’t as luxurious as its bathroom counterparts, but it serves an important purpose nonetheless. Some kitchen towels are completely lint-free, making them ideal for drying dishes, cups, and silverware. Others absorb liquids especially well and are designed to tackle spills, drips, and other liquid emergencies. And of course, kitchen hand towels provide a convenient — often decorative — place for you to wipe your hands while working.
At BestReviews, we combine consumer feedback with independent research and expert interviews to provide honest, unbiased shopping advice for our readers. We have compiled a shortlist of reasonably priced kitchen towel sets that we believe will provide you with years of quality service.
Your kitchen has probably seen its share of spills. For this reason, you can never have enough towels on hand. What’s more, a basic set of decorative hand towels can change the look and feel of the entire room.
The definition of a “kitchen towel” is open to interpretation. Everything from a roll of disposable paper towels to a set of decorative hand towels fits the general description.
Here’s a look at the most common kitchen towel types:
The tea towel is a workhorse kitchen linen. Often sold in sets of four or five, its name highlights its ancestral purpose: drying the household tea set.
A tea towel’s natural absorbency and lint-free nature make it ideal for washing dishes, but it’s not necessarily the best choice for drying your hands or handling cookware.
A standard tea towel can also be referred to as a dish towel, but when you compare different brands, you’ll likely notice some subtle differences.
Dish towels are often thicker in texture than tea towels. Some have an abrasive and/or ribbed texture that enables them to thoroughly wash and dry dishes, cutlery, and cookware.
Because they’re more utilitarian than decorative, most dish towels remain tucked inside a drawer when not in use.
The typical pot holder is a thick square of reinforced cloth designed to protect tabletops and human flesh from hot handles and lids. Most have a finished edge and an attached fabric loop for easy access.
Some pot holders are lined with a heat-resistant material like silicone. Others are designed to double as oven mitts. Because they often sit in public view, many pot holders showcase decorative colors and designs.
Kitchen hand towels are often made of thick terry cloth that closely resembles the material in a bathing washcloth or guest towel.
Some cooks tuck a hand towel into the waistband of an apron while preparing food. Others hook the towel to a refrigerator or drawer handle for quick access. Hand towels can be quite plain or extremely decorative. They can replace paper towels as the first line of defense against small spills.
The best kitchen towels are absorbent, lint-free, and easy to launder. Cotton is a naturally “thirsty” fiber that can be woven into a cloth that will not create lint. It’s a popular towel material, but it’s not the only one on the market. You’ll also see towels made of wood-based fibers and manmade microfiber on store shelves.
Because the first tea towels were designed to clean and polish tea sets, the material needed to be lint-free. Plain cotton linen may be thin, but it absorbs the final drops of water on dishware and sheds no unsightly fibers.
Plain linen is also considered food-safe. As such, many cooks use it as a protective cover for breads and other hot foods.
Tea towels require frequent replacement. Fortunately, manufacturers often sell them in packs of four, five, or more.
The material found in dish towels (and some hand towels) is a more processed form of linen. Cotton thread is used to create a thicker ribbed finish, giving the towel an abrasive quality that aids in dishwashing, pot holding, and surface cleaning.
Many ribbed kitchen towels feature color schemes or graphics that match or enhance the room’s decor.
Cotton terry cloth is extremely absorbent thanks to the numerous threads woven into the material. It’s an ideal fabric for both functional and decorative hand towel sets. You’ll also see it used in some pot holders and oven mitts.
Many consumers put their seasonal hand towels on display for decorative reasons, but they keep a set of functional terry cloth towels tucked away for dishwashing and surface cleaning.
Microfiber is a synthetic material consisting of thousands of extremely tiny fibers. When working in tandem, these fibers sweep up dust and dirt far more efficiently than regular cotton.
If you’re looking to get your kitchen surfaces and dishes squeaky clean, you may want to sample this simple synthetic technology. Some people swear by the effectiveness of their microfiber towels.
Kitchen towels are often your first line of defense against spills, boil-overs, and other cooking emergencies. As such, they can go from perfectly clean to heavily soiled in a matter of minutes.
If you want to preserve the quality and functionality of your kitchen towels for as long as possible, keep these tips in mind:
There is no agreed-upon standard in the world of towel labeling. So just head on to the kitchen section and pick a linen that suits your needs, regardless of description.
From spilled juice in the morning, to dirty wine glasses at night — kitchen towels are in demand from sunrise to sunset in many homes. It makes good economic sense to buy them in bulk when possible.
Here are a few other great reasons to buy more than one kitchen towel at a time:
Q: Why should I use cloth kitchen towels when disposable paper towels are available?
A: For starters, cotton kitchen towels are more versatile than paper towels. The same cotton towel can be used to hold a hot lid, clean up a spill, and wash dishes — all in the same day. A paper towel only accomplishes one of these feats before becoming unusable.
And of course, when you use kitchen towels, you’re not sending hundreds of used paper towels to the landfill. You’re living a greener life by reusing your materials.
Q: Should I opt for tea towels, dish towels, or hand towels? The labels are confusing.
A: The original lint-free linen towel designed for kitchen use was called a tea towel, and it’s still marketed as such in many kitchen supply and retail stores. Often sold in sets, it’s a great all-purpose kitchen towel.
You’ll also see dish towels and hand towels on shelves in the kitchen section, many of which are thicker and more absorbent than traditional tea towels.
But truth be told, there is no agreed-upon standard in the world of towel labeling. Generally speaking, you should head toward the kitchen linen section and look for a product that fits your needs, regardless of description.