The Best Fabric for Kitchen Towels

Kitchen towels are a kitchen essential. They are useful for drying dishes, wiping up spills, grabbing hot pots and pans, and drying hands. Having a stash of high-quality, absorbent kitchen towels on hand makes cooking and cleaning easier.

The Best Fabric for Kitchen Towels

When it comes to choosing the best fabric for kitchen towels, cotton is the clear winner. Cotton offers the right balance of absorbency, durability, affordability, and versatility that a good kitchen towel needs.

Why Cotton Is the Best Fabric for Kitchen Towels

There are several reasons why cotton is the preferred fabric for kitchen towels:

  • Absorbency: Cotton is highly absorbent, quickly soaking up water and drying surfaces. This makes it perfect for drying dishes, countertops, and hands. The natural fibers soak up moisture better than synthetic fabrics.
  • Durability: Cotton is extremely durable, resistant to rips and tears even after repeated use and washing. It holds up well to daily kitchen use and maintains its integrity over time.
  • Affordability: Cotton is an affordable fabric option. Especially when purchased in bulk, high-quality 100% cotton kitchen towels are budget-friendly.
  • Versatility: Cotton kitchen towels can be used for a wide variety of kitchen tasks – drying, cleaning, covering, and more. The absorbency and durability make them a versatile workhorse.
  • Comfort: Cotton has a soft hand-feel. It is gentle on hands and dishes. Terry cloth cotton towels are especially soft.
  • Heat resistance: Cotton is excellent at resisting heat. Kitchen towels made of cotton can be used to handle hot cookware safely.

For all these reasons, cotton reigns supreme when it comes to the best fabric for kitchen towels. while materials like microfiber or linen have benefits, cotton offers the ideal balance of absorbency, durability, comfort and versatility.

Weave Styles for Kitchen Towels

While 100% cotton is the best base material, the weave style also affects the characteristics and performance of kitchen towels. Here are some common weaves used for cotton kitchen towels:

  • Terry cloth: Terry cloth kitchen towels have characteristic loops that create absorbent, fluffy piles. The loops grab and hold moisture effectively. However, they can leave lint on glassware.
  • Waffle weave: Waffle weave towels have a grid pattern that makes them highly flexible and absorbent. They are great for drying dishes.
  • Flat weave: With a smooth, flat surface, these towels have a more polished look. They are lint-free and good for delicate tasks.
  • Huck: Huck towels have a flat weave with very fine yarns. They are lightweight, lint-free, and fast drying. The thin fabric limits their versatility.
  • Flour sack: Made from loosely woven cotton, flour sack towels are large, thin, and lightweight. They are excellent for straining and food prep but less useful for heavy-duty absorption.

Consider the planned uses for your kitchen towels when picking a weave style. Terry cloth and waffle weave are the most versatile options for everyday kitchen tasks.

Key Takeaway: Terry cloth and waffle weave cotton are the best weave styles for absorbent and versatile kitchen towels.

Thread Count for Kitchen Towels

Thread count refers to the number of threads woven into a square inch of fabric. A higher thread count generally means a denser, softer, and more durable fabric. However, thread count does not guarantee quality on its own.

For kitchen towels, a good thread count range is 200-300. Towels with a thread count in this range provide great absorption and durability without being too heavy or rough. Going below 200 can compromise quality and absorption. Exceeding 300 thread count does not necessarily improve performance – it may just increase cost.

Within the 200-300 range, you can find high-quality cotton kitchen towels suitable for all your needs. Focus less on maximum thread count and more on overall construction and durability.

The Best Cotton Fabrics for Kitchen Towels

When shopping for cotton kitchen towels, look for 100% cotton with a weight and weave that will be absorbent, durable, and lint-free. Here are some top recommendations:

  • Cotton canvas: Canvas has a tightly woven, durable plain weave. It makes excellent absorbent towels that are long-lasting. Look for 10-12 oz weight.
  • Cotton flannel: Soft, absorbent cotton flannel has a brushed napped finish. The versatile fabric is ideal for hand towels or gentle dish drying.
  • Cotton terry: As mentioned, cotton terry cloth is highly absorbent with piles that soak up moisture. Great for drying and wiping tasks.
  • Cotton waffle: Waffle weave cotton makes flexible, textured towels that absorb well and dry quickly. They have a clean look.
  • Cotton gauze: Lightweight open weaves create sheer, breathable towels good for straining, food prep, and decorative use.

No matter which you choose, focus on 100% cotton with a weight and weave suited to your needs. Combine styles to make a versatile kitchen towel set.

Choosing the Right Size for Kitchen Towels

Most standard cotton kitchen towels range from 15 x 25 inches up to 20 x 30 inches. Bar mops and flour sack towels tend to be smaller and larger, respectively.

Choose the size based on your intended uses:

  • Smaller towels – 15 x 18 inches – Good for hand drying, wiping, and preventing cross-contamination when using multiple towels for meats and produce.
  • Standard size – 20 x 30 inches – All-purpose size, good for drying dishes and hands, mopping up spills, and covering rising dough.
  • Oversize – Up to 38 inches long – Extra surface area makes these ideal for straining, rolling dough, and covering large items.

Buy different sizes for different tasks, or opt for the standard size as a versatile middle ground.

Smart Design Features

Look for kitchen towels with design features that enhance functionality:

  • Hanging loops – Make it easy to grab towels quickly when needed. Loops also allow proper drying.
  • Absorbing layers – Some towels have two-layer construction with an inner terry cloth layer for excellent absorbency.
  • Reversible fabrics – Having a different weave or pattern on each side expands usefulness.
  • Colorful patterns – Prints and designs can hide stains.
  • Textured weaves – Provide flexibility and absorbency. Terry and waffle weaves are ideal examples.

Prioritize fabrics and weaves first, then look for smart design features that will maximize usefulness.

Caring for Cotton Kitchen Towels

To get the most life from cotton kitchen towels:

  • Wash frequently using hot water to sanitize and remove stains – at least weekly is recommended.
  • Use an oxygenated bleach like OxiClean occasionally to keep whites bright.
  • Avoid using fabric softener, as it can impact absorbency.
  • Tumble dry on low to reduce shrinkage. Remove promptly to prevent wrinkling.
  • For embellished towels, wash gently and line dry or tumble dry on low.

With proper care, high-quality 100% cotton kitchen towels can provide years of reliable service.

Choosing Kitchen Towels with Long-Term Savings in Mind

Kitchen towels take a beating, so buying in bulk helps ensure you always have extras on hand. Buying towels in multi-packs also offers cost savings over time.

For the best value:

  • Estimate your quantity needs – Allow 3-5 towels per person in the household.
  • Buy cotton in 3, 5, or 10 packs for savings – Bulk packs average $3-$5 per towel.
  • Choose neutral solids like white or natural for versatility.
  • Supplement with printed or colorful accent towels.

With some smart bulk purchasing of cotton kitchen towels, you’ll be set for years of cooking and cleaning tasks.

Towel MaterialAbsorbencyDurabilityLint-FreeHeat ResistanceCost

Key Takeaway: Cotton rates highest across all factors – absorbency, durability, heat resistance, cost – that matter for great kitchen towels.


What are the best cotton fabrics for kitchen towels?

The best cotton fabrics are canvas, terry cloth, flannel, and waffle weave. These fabrics offer the right blend of absorbency, durability, softness, and texture for great kitchen towels.

Should I buy cotton towels in bulk?

Yes, buying cotton kitchen towels in bulk packs of 3 or more is recommended. The per towel cost is lower and it ensures you always have extras on hand when some are dirty.

How often should I wash cotton kitchen towels?

Cotton kitchen towels should be washed frequently, ideally after each use. At a minimum wash them at least once per week to sanitize and remove stains. Hot water wash cycles are best.

Can I use fabric softener on cotton kitchen towels?

No, skip the fabric softener on kitchen towels. Fabric softeners can coat the fibers and impede absorbency. Softening cotton towels is not necessary.

How should I dry cotton kitchen towels?

Tumble dry cotton kitchen towels on low heat to avoid excessive shrinkage. Remove them promptly from the dryer after cycle ends and fold or hang immediately to prevent wrinkling.


When choosing the best fabric for kitchen towels, cotton is the best for its great absorbency, durability, comfort, and versatility.

Go with a high-quality 100% cotton towel in a weave like terry, waffle, or canvas. For maximum usefulness, buy cotton towels in bulk packs so you always have enough clean ones on hand.

With high-quality cotton kitchen towels that receive frequent laundering, you’ll be equipped to efficiently tackle any cooking or cleaning task.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.