The inexpensive Tekla tea towel is a multi-purpose home must-have.

By Danica Lo
Updated August 03, 2017
Courtesy Ikea

For avid homeware shopping enthusiasts, one of the best times of the year is right about now, when the new annual Ikea catalog drops. Filled with hundreds of pages of staged rooms, interior inspiration, well-designed minimalist-ish form-meets-function household goods, furniture, and cookware, thumbing through the latest edition becomes a respite from everyday life—and gives us hope that there might just be an affordable solution to the clutter and dreary familiarity of our current surroundings. The Ikea catalog is selling us optimism, and we're buying it.

Behold: The humble 79-cent Ikea "Tekla" tea towel

The Daily Mail points out that one of the star best-selling products in the latest catalog is this "Tekla" 79-cent dish towel–and it's not like it's some super-hi-tech ultra-absorbent dirt-repelling cleaning machine. Nope, it's just an ordinary 26" by 20", 100 percent cotton, machine-washable (it's prone to shrinking, but only by 8 percent) tea towel ostensibly meant for drying hands and dishes, and for just keeping around for mopping up spills in the kitchen and dining area.

But take a look at the comments on the product page—and you'll find happy customers who've rated the tea towel five-stars, and who've even suggested creative uses for the white-and-red dish dryer. Here are six of our favorites:

Carry it in your gym bag: "They have uses in more than the kitchen," user KFling writes. "They make a bathroom hand towel that no one worries about actually using, and with the loop it comes in very handy at the gym to make sure only dry bottles get packed into the bag after one's shower."

Use it to store your vegetables: "I use then for just about everything the other reviewers do, but I also use them to keep my garden greens fresh in the refrigerator," writes dobemom. "I wet the towel and wring it out as thoroughly as I can, then wrap the greens in the towel and place on a refrigerator shelf. The greens stay crisp quite a while this way."

They're even soft enough for babies: "I have cut them in half and used them to wash up babies after meals," writes Mamaroonie.

Use them to wipe down mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces: "It doesn't leave streaks on glass," writes Mokayno. "It washes up great. Looks like a restaurant item." Omah agrees: "These cloths are the very best I have ever had to clean and shine my glass top stove."

Storage and lining: One way to make sure your plates, pots, and pans are protected while they're stowed in your drawers and cabinets is to use these dish towels in between layers—which will keep your favorite items from being scratched (or clanking against each other). These inexpensive cotton towels can also be used as tray and basket liners, to keep your fresh-out-of-the-oven baked goods warm, and to prevent scratches on lacquered surfaces.