October 04, 2022 3 min read

The linen tea towel has been around for centuries, but what is a tea towel and what is it used for? 

What are Tea Towels?

A tea towel is traditionally made from a soft and breathable natural fabric such as pure linen or 100% cotton. A tea towel is made to be large enough to dry dishes and wipe one's hands in the kitchen. While the dictionary definition of a tea towel is “a cloth for drying dishes,” its origin in 18th century England was to help insulate warm tea pots, hence the name “tea towel.”

A natural fabric tea towel will easily absorb liquids, it can be washed and dried over and over again, and softens to become better with age. Tea towels can be embroidered to create a special housewarming gift and can be passed on from generation to generation. From daily use to family heirlooms, tea towels have been and continue to be a household staple around the world. 

Tea towels have several names depending on where they are located and are sometimes referred to as dish towels, hand towels, flour sack towels, or drying-up cloths. Regardless of what you call them, these kitchen towels have a multitude of uses! Aside from the above-mentioned ways, there are many other daily tasks these versatile towels can help you with. Read on for a helpful and unique list of different uses for tea towels.


Different Uses for Tea Towels 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to tea towel uses. Here are some of our favorite uses for a linen hand towel:

1) Drape the linen tea towel inside of a basket to help keep fresh baked goods like bread and muffins warm. It will allow the baked goods to breathe while still staying warm and fresh. Alternatively, you can skip the basket and simply wrap the goods in the linen towel.

2) Use the linen tea towel as wrapping paper Furoshiki style like they do in Japan! It makes for a beautifully presented, eco-friendly wrapping paper replacement that the gift receiver will love (and can use again in the future). Two gifts in one!

3) Use the linen tea towel to dry your hands in the kitchen. Linen tea towels are a much more eco-friendly option than one-time-use paper towels. You can wash and dry the tea towels as often as needed and use them again and again! Plus, you’ll have one less thing to remember to buy at the grocery store.

4) Use the linen tea towel as a hot pad on your dinner table or countertop when serving warm meals. If the towel gets any spills on it, no problem; just throw it in the wash!

5) Your linen tea towel can double as an extra large napkin if you happen to run out of your regular dinner napkins. You can also use a standard-size linen dinner napkin like the ones we sell here and never have to worry about running out of dinner napkins again.

6) Accidentally wear a white shirt to a spaghetti dinner? Wrap the linen tea towel around your neck as use it as a bib! It’s surprisingly stylish, people might think you’re wearing a cool bandana. 

7) Use the linen tea towel as a dishcloth to dry dishes after they are washed. Bonus, our linen tea towels come with a loop on the inside that makes them easy to hang and air dry after use.

8) Use your linen tea towel to loosely wrap clean, slightly wet vegetables up before placing them in the crisper in your refrigerator. This will help your veggies stay fresh, and the towel will absorb the excess water. 

9) Drape a damp linen tea towel over your bread dough while it is proofing on the counter. The tea towel will allow the dough to keep in moisture and stay warm. This is an eco-friendly alternative to using cling wrap, as the linen tea towel is plastic free.

Discover the Uses for Tea Towels for Yourself

Portland Apron Company’s linen tea towels are machine washable, made from natural fabrics, and are sewn right here in the USA. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels and plastic wrap, they are an excellent choice! We’ve been making linen aprons and kitchen and table linens for over a decade, so rest assured we do it right when it comes to making some of the best linen tea towels around!

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