The 7 Best Dish Towels for Every Kitchen

Dry, polish, and clean with these durable, absorbent, and expert-approved top picks.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Best Dish Towels of 2023

Wayfair

Sure, you can grab a cheap set of dish towels to get the job done, but quality ones are more effective and last much longer. For drying dishes, polishing glassware, and wiping spills, you’ll want to consider the material and design to ensure you’re getting towels that are absorbent, ample-sized, aesthetically pleasing, and leave a lint-free finish. 

“I take my own towels everywhere I go to cook, and the people I cook with make fun of me because I have so many,” says Carrie Morey, cookbook author and founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. “The right towel is so useful.”

Through years of experience and expert consultation, we've learned that 100% cotton or linen is best for durability, design, and absorbance, and from there, it’s all about weave, size, and plenty of hot water for laundering. Ahead are the best dish towels with which to outfit your kitchen.

Best Overall

Coyuchi Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels Set of 6

4.6
Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels

Coyuchi

Pros: The waffle weave, subtle style, and water-conscious manufacturing helped propel these to the top of our list.

Cons: A set of six might be less economical for some.

While towels can be as personal as the hands that use them, these coastal-colored, waffle-textured cotton towels will appeal to those who value form as well as function. Both the palette and the texture will complement any aesthetic, and since they are yarn-dyed, those colors will stay true for much longer than a printed towel.

When it comes to function, it's all about the waffle. That weave increases the surface area of the towel, which ups its absorption factor, but without the lint of many terry cloth towels. We also love the handy side loop for hanging on kitchen hooks. Add the fact that these are 100% cotton (no polyester here) and created in a factory that minimizes its water use, these towels are not only a little greener for the environment, but they’ll also help keep yours clean with ease and stand up to repeated use.

Price at time of publish: $58

  • Material: 100% organic cotton
  • Dimensions: 20 x 30 inches
  • Quantity Included: 6
  • Colors: Desert and shadow
  • Care: Machine washable

Best Value

Utopia Towels Kitchen Towels Dish Cloth

4.2
Dish Towels

Utopia Towels

Pros: Durable, absorbent, and affordable in bulk, these towels are a classic choice for a reason.

Cons: Slightly smaller than others on this list.

Want to polish glassware? Wipe spills? Quickly grab something out of the oven, or cover that perfectly braided challah bread as it proofs? This is a towel that can do it all. The soft, cotton weave is absorbent and won’t leave lint on delicate stemware, and the blue stripe gives it a pop of color as it hangs over the towel bar. It washes and dries quickly, only gets softer with age, and can even stand in for a napkin in a pinch.

In a professional kitchen, towels such as these are employed in a variety of uses — from padding a plastic cutting board to keep it from slipping to wrapping a bunch of just-washed herbs to keep them fresh. And if you like sporting a towel in your apron strings like many professional chefs do (for greasy fingers and hot pot handles), this is the towel for you.

Price at time of publish: $30

  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 7.8 inches 
  • Quantity Included: 24
  • Colors: Black, blue, green, gray, and red
  • Care: Machine washable

Best Bar Mops

Williams Sonoma Bar Mop Towels & Dishcloths, Set of 4

Williams Sonoma Bar Mop Towels & Dishcloths, Set of 4

Williams Sonoma

Pros: Heavy-duty and highly absorbent, these are a workhorse in the kitchen.

Cons: They might leave a little lint behind until they are broken in.

"When it comes to towels, my clear favorite is terry cloth," says Morey. "I love them because they soak up so much mess. I'm not a fancy chef, and I need something with a lot of absorption. I do a lot of frying, we have kids, and there's just a lot of mess in our house. Bar towels are my go-to."

This is a slightly more refined version of the bar towel that you’ll find in professional kitchens and … well, behind the bars at many restaurants. The reason bar towels are so popular is that they work: The terry cloth weave is highly absorbent and can tackle a wide range of messes. These pure white versions from Williams-Sonoma are hemmed on the edges for a little more elegance and durability, but for the kitchen that sees a lot of action, they’re essential. 

Price at time of publish: $20 for Towels, Set of 4

  • Material: Ribbed cotton terry cloth
  • Dimensions: 18 x 16 inches
  • Quantity Included: 4
  • Colors: White
  • Care: Machine washable

Best Flour Sack

Aunt Martha's Dish Towels

Aunt Martha's Dish Towels

Amazon

Pros: These dish towels are versatile, lint-free, and dry quickly.

Cons:
There are natural imperfections in the weave.

Flour sack towels became popularized during the Great Depression when homemakers upcycled the soft, durable cotton for various household uses, from towels to play dresses for children. Fast forward to now, and they are an essential cloth in every kitchen and even our Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis’s pick for dish towels. 

This pack from Aunt Martha’s stands out from the rest because the towels are extra durable, absorbent, and large to tackle any task, including straining liquids. The material is lint-free and dries quickly, making it an excellent choice for polishing glassware. 

Price at time of publish: $20

  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Dimensions: 33 x 38 inches
  • Quantity Included:
  • Colors: White
  • Care: Machine washable

Best Two-Sided

All-Clad Textiles Kitchen Towel 3-Pack

All-Clad Textiles Kitchen Towel 3-Pack

Amazon

Pros: They’re reversible for extra functionality, and an antibacterial agent prevents odors. 

Cons: They may not be as durable as others on this list.

This towel might be the best of both worlds. One side is a flat weave to minimize lint for polishing glassware and wiping hands, and the other side is a looped terry cloth weave that is ready to tackle spills and messes. It can double as a countertop drying towel, too, especially since it’s treated with an antibacterial agent to keep odors away. Stylistically, it’s a classic stripe, and with its flat side front-facing, will hang crisply from a towel rod or oven handle. 

Price at time of publish: $30

  • Material: 100% cotton
  • Dimensions: 30 x 17 inches 
  • Quantity Included: 3
  • Colors: Almond, black, cappuccino, red, light blue, blue, light green, and brown
  • Care: Machine washable

Best Linen

Pottery Barn Caravan Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towel Set of 2

Pottery Barn Caravan Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towel

Pottery Barn

Pros: Linen tends to hold up better than cotton, and wins major style points for coming in a wide range of colors.

Cons: For a set of two, it’s on the pricier side. 

By its nature, linen, which is woven from the flax plant, is more durable and long-lasting than cotton. It is also very absorbent and has been used for centuries in various clothing and household (even medical) applications, so its durability and usefulness are highly tested. 

Besides its usefulness, it is also very breathable, which makes it a fabric of choice for coastal living. That’s why this towel, with a faded stripe, is a logical choice for the star linen in your kitchen. It is low-lint, quick-drying, and attractive enough to use and display on the regular.

Price at time of publish: $89 

  • Material: 100% linen
  • Dimensions: 20 x 30 inches 
  • Quantity Included: 2
  • Colors: Gray, yellow, navy, white, charcoal, mustard, orange, and pink
  • Care: Machine washable

Our Favorite

While kitchen towels might seem like a small detail in the kitchen, the right one can make an oversized contribution to a cooking experience. Experts agree that an absorbent towel that dries fast and is highly absorbent is ideal, so the Coyuchi Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels are our overall pick. 

Factors to Consider

Material and Absorbency

The dish towel’s material is the key factor in determining its effectiveness (aka absorbency). Terry cloth or waffle weave will be the most absorbent, followed by the traditional blue stripe towel with a soft, textured weave. Although some printed towels are on terry cloth, most are on flat cotton, as the print will last longer than on looped fibers. And finally, although some might like microfiber, Chef Callie Morey does not. It might be highly absorbent, but it’s made from synthetic materials and can require special laundering.

Size

As a rule, slightly smaller towels are more functional in the kitchen, whereas those running 28 to 30 inches or more are for drying or display. Ideally, your kitchen will have a combination of both, with the bar towel the smallest but the most capable of tackling big messes.

Design

While color and print are definitely important, there are considerations beyond just the aesthetic. Some cooks prefer a loop on the corner for hanging on a hook, while others don’t. No matter your preference, choose towels that are hemmed around the edges, as this will significantly increase their lifespan, especially with continued laundering.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How often should you change dish towels?

    If you use your dish towels daily, we recommend swapping out used ones for fresh ones every three to five days. But, of course, use your best judgment. After wiping up large spills or handling raw meat, towels should be washed right away to prevent bacteria, mold, and mildew.

  • What is the best way to launder a kitchen towel?

    Frequently and with hot water, says Morey. "We go through five to ten a day, so at the end of the night, they all go into the laundry room. I throw them in with my regular laundry, and as long as I'm using hot water, they come out great."


    Many cooks make the mistake of not washing a towel often enough—especially a display one hung over the oven door handle—so even after laundering, cooking smells can remain. Our recommendation is every time you cook, wash the towels in the kitchen, even if you've just used them to wipe wet hands.

  • How many dish towels do you need?

    This will depend on how often you cook and how big your kitchen is, but we recommend having at least two on hand each time you cook. Morey asserts that more is better. She keeps a towel at various stations in her kitchen: by the stove, next to the cutting board, and at the sink. That way, there's always one within reach.

Our Expertise

Stephanie Burt is the host and producer of The Southern Fork podcast and a food and travel writer based in Charleston, SC. She is a frequent contributor for Saveur and her work has appeared in numerous other publications, including Washington Post, Southern Living, Conde Nast Traveler, and here at Food & Wine. She has experience in both professional kitchens and front of house and is an avid home cook who also likes to sew, so she knows a good bit about fabric and the messes you can make in a kitchen. 

For this piece, our team consulted Carey Morey, founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, an iconic Southern brand with national retail exposure, four grab-and-go eateries in Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte, and a food truck. She is also an accomplished cook and the author of Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions and Hot Little Suppers, and she stars in the PBS docu-series, How She Rolls. We tapped into their own experience before scouring the market and considering recommendations from competitor sites. 

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles