When you think of a kitchen towel, what do you think of? A soft fluffy towel used to dry dishes? The thin linen towel your grandmother used when making bread? Or something different? I think of an essential tool I use in my kitchen every day for everything from wiping my hands to a substitute for a potholder and more. The basic kitchen towel should be the first purchase when setting up your kitchen because of its great versatility. The basic kitchen towel, as discussed in the previous installment of this series (read here), is a towel made of tightly woven and/or looped fabric. The loops are small and can even make different decorative patterns that can help with heat distribution when being used as a potholder or oven mitt.
So let’s talk about what you should be looking for when choosing the perfect towels for your kitchen.
Prints and Patterns:
You never want vinyl prints or patterns since they can melt when exposed to heat and hinder the drying process when the towel gets wet. If you are looking for a design, look for woven patches or patterns (see picture below for examples). You can also get a more sophisticated look by using kitchen towels with textured patterns and designs.
When choosing the perfect basic kitchen towel, there are several factors to keep in mind when it comes to the type of fabrics you want. You can get them made from re-purposed or recycled materials, new materials, cotton, hemp or bamboo fibers and more. It all depends on what you are ethically looking for. Also, keep in mind that the prices can vary greatly between the types of fabrics depending on their source and quality. If you are a person who is looking to setup a sustainable kitchen based on environmental impact, maybe look for woven bamboo or recycled materials. If you are trying to keep your impact as low processed as possible, maybe look into a hemp fiber. Or if you are like I was back in the day and don’t know or really care about any of that and just want something cute for your kitchen, look at all of them. The only fabric to avoid when looking to purchase your base kitchen toweling is microfiber or synthetic fibers as they don’t hold up to the heat of the kitchen well at all…trust me on this one; I learned the hard way for you. Let’s dig into each fabric type a little more to give you as much info as possible:
- Re-purposed/Recycled Materials: This is one that I didn’t really think about until I received a set of recycled cotton towels for my birthday in college. I loved them and still use them today (see below. Thanks Ashleigh!). They are the softest and most wonderful towels I have in my kitchen and made me look at what could be used to make a kitchen towel a little differently. These ones are woven from recycled cotton yarn and the pattern is made from a natural dye that was printed on. I would totally recommend checking this out as an option, even if you aren’t looking at them for the ethical reasons, they are just amazing towels.
There are several styles of kitchen towels out there, and this can be almost as overwhelming as choosing the fabric types. Let’s take a look at the different styles and what they are used for to help you find what’s right for you.
- Bar Mop: The Bar Mop style is shorter than the average kitchen towel and generally has a larger looped terry cloth pattern to them. These towels, as the name implies, were developed for the bar industry and are made to be extremely absorbent and sturdy for continued wash and use. I love these towels due to their absorbency and insulating properties. This is why we use Bar Mop towels to make our Attachable Towels to accompany our Traditional and Men’s aprons here at TreadlingHome. They are amazing and I would highly recommend this style for anyone starting out and building their working kitchen towel collection. As with all kitchen towels, the Bar Mop comes in several textures ranging from large loops to a tightly woven waffle pattern. It’s up to you what you prefer. I find that the waffle pattern isn’t as absorbent as its looped terry counterpart; so if you’re looking for something that can multitask a little better for you, I would suggest keeping with the terry options.
- Basic: The basic kitchen towel is your best friend next to the Bar Mop for general kitchen use. It can be used for everything from drying dishes and cleaning up spills to acting as a substitute for a potholder that you only need one of to get a larger pan out of the oven or off the stove. The basic kitchen towel comes in 2 major categories:
- Terry cloth: The looped fabric we are most familiar with in the US and associate with toweling. It makes toweling more absorbent and helps to distribute the heat well. It can come in single or double sided versions as well as woven to make patterns.
When You’re Shopping:
When you’re shopping for your kitchen towels, keep these 3 tips in mind:
- No vinyl prints/designs/wording. Keep it embroidered or printed.
- Choose the type of fabric that works best with your ethics and style.
- Choose a style of towel that works best for your needs.
I know! Who knew there was so much to that thing you grab when you make a mess or want to take something out of the oven or off the stove? Well now you do. I hope that this was helpful for you and that you can go forth with confidence when purchasing your next kitchen towel.
Thanks for visiting the TreadlingHome Kitchen and we hope to see you back soon 🙂