Which tea towel is best?

Tea towels, or dish towels, as they’re often known outside of England, New Zealand and Australia, are an essential part of any kitchen. They have many uses beyond drying recently cleaned dishes. They’re also made from various materials, although cotton is the most popular option.

Some tea towels are custom made or embroidered, while others have more of a classic design. If you’re going for a themed holiday design, check out this set of six tea towels by Urban Villa. They’re high quality, 100% cotton and make a great gift.

What to know before you buy a tea towel


Most people use tea towels to dry fragile dishes such as china or porcelain. However, you can use them to wrap around hot tea pots or wine bottles, insulate dishes or cover food. In fact, the English began using tea towels these ways in the 18th century.

For some people, tea towels are a form of decoration that hangs on the wall. This is especially true for those who enjoy a bit of embroidery in their spare time. Embroidered tea towels make a great gift since they come in nearly any design. Many people now use tea towels as they were initially intended or as decoration. They also could use them to bundle baguettes, or add them to a table setting for a touch of sophistication or elegance.


When it comes to design, there’s no limit. Luxury tea towels often are custom made and can have any print or design imaginable. This makes them great as gifts or for those who want something creative or unique in their own kitchen.

Some popular designs include:

  • holiday-themed
  • animal print
  • a loved one’s initials
  • leaf or floral patterns
  • map of someone’s home or a popular area
  • embroidered

A tea towel may have a subtle design or it may be bright and eye-catching. Whatever the case, they are versatile enough for any occasion.

Tea towel vs. dish towel

Many people often use the words “tea towels” and “dish towels” interchangeably. While this usually works, it isn’t always accurate.

For example, embroidered or custom tea towels are more for decoration than they are for practical use. On the other hand, people primarily use dish towels as a way to dry dishes or protect surfaces from hot containers. That said, both types of towels are versatile.

One of the biggest differences between a tea towel and a dish towel is that tea towels typically are made from cotton or linen. Dish towels may be made from different materials, with terry cloth as the most popular option. Dish towels are more absorbent than tea towels, generally speaking.

Tea towel care and maintenance

The best way to properly wash a tea towel is by hand. If you have cotton tea towels, you may be able to put them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle, then let them air-dry or tumble dry low in the dryer. Make sure to wash tea towels with like colors.

To wash a tea towel by hand, soak it in a bowl of warm water and add a dash of dish soap. Thoroughly rinse the tea towel and leave it out to dry.

What to look for in a quality tea towel


Linen tea towels: Linen is the traditional material for tea towels. This material has soft fibers that are perfect for drying or polishing delicate dishes such as porcelain or fine china. Unlike other materials, linen doesn’t scratch dishes, nor does it leave behind lint, fuzz or other debris. Linen is also fast-drying and absorbent.

Cotton tea towels: Similar to linen, cotton also is highly absorbent and gentle enough for fragile dishes. Cotton tea towels often are more durable than linen tea towels. Even after multiple washes in the machine, they’re likely to hold their shape and work as intended.

Both cotton and linen tea towels can last for years with proper care. Since they absorb moisture and dry easily, they are less likely to become a breeding ground for bacteria than dish cloths made from other materials.


Tea towels come in various sizes but they’re usually around 27-by-19 inches in size. Some custom tea towels may be larger or smaller, depending on the manufacturer or artisan, as well as individual preference.

Individual or sets

Tea towels sometimes come individually packaged. This is often the case with custom tea towels or luxury tea towels. They also can come in sets. Most sets come with two to six tea towels, which is convenient for anyone who plans to use them regularly and doesn’t want to frequently wash them.

How much you can expect to spend on a tea towel

Tea towels range in price but most standard sets cost $10-$20. Individual, luxury, embroidered or custom tea towels may cost more, depending on the seller.

Tea towel FAQ

What else can you use tea towels for?

A. With tea towels, you can use them for nearly anything. Besides drying dishes or holding hot plates or other containers, you can use them to dust fragile keepsakes or dishes, dry your hands or clean up spills.

Can you embroider a tea towel by hand?

A. Yes. Just make sure you wash and dry the tea towel first to remove any oils or other residue it may have.

What’s the best tea towel to buy?

Top tea towel

Urban Villa Set of 6 Christmas-Checks Tea Towels

Urban Villa Set of 6 Christmas-Checks Tea Towels

What you need to know: This set of six holiday-themed tea towels are made with premium quality cotton and are gentle enough for even the most fragile china dishes.

What you’ll love: These tea towels come in several colors for any holiday occasion. They are highly absorbent, long-lasting and easy to clean. Since they’re made from cotton, they are fast-drying and resistant to bacteria buildup. They’re also natural and chemical-free.

What you should consider: They may attract lint when washed in the machine.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top tea towel for the money

Green Lifestyle Tea Towels

Green Lifestyle Tea Towels

What you need to know: This set of six cotton tea towels is simple, clean and practical.

What you’ll love: Highly absorbent and quick drying, these tea towels make cleaning countertops, dusting glasses or drying dishes quick and easy. They’re 20-by-28 inches in size, making them the right size for nearly any use. Each towel comes with a hanging loop for easy storage.They’re durable and come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

What you should consider: If you’re looking for a gift idea or something to add a splash of elegance to your space, you may want to look elsewhere.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

T-Fal Textiles 2-Pack Tea Towels

T-Fal Textiles 2-Pack Tea Towels

What you need to know: Doubling as your standard kitchen dish towels, this pack of cotton tea towels comes in several solid and checked patterns.

What you’ll love: These kitchen towels are durable, absorbent and dry quickly. They’re a little smaller at 16-by-26 inches, but they’re still large enough for most people’s hands. The brand is known for producing high-quality products.

What you should consider: They’re on the thinner side and should be hand-washed to help with longevity.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.