What is a Tea Towel? And 10 Ways to Use One

A tea towel is a soft cloth made of linen, cotton or a combination of the two, and usually has an imprinted or woven design for decoration. Tea towels, which are approximately the size of a hand towel, date back to the 18th century, when they were originally used at tea ceremonies and to dry expensive fine china. Today, tea towels are found in kitchens and homes across the globe. They’re used for a variety of purposes, from keeping leafy greens crisp to covering warm baked goods.

To personalize a tea towel for your home or the home of a loved one, browse our collection of tea towel designs. These soft-textured towels are both a beautiful keepsake and practical gift.

10 Creative Uses for Tea Towels

If you think a towel is only meant for drying dishes, think again. The tea towel is incredibly versatile, offering a range of uses both in and outside of the kitchen.

1. Enjoy with breakfast

Tea towel with bowl of cereal
Whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal or a warm cup of coffee, tea towels make for a superb serving accessory. They help keep bowls and mugs in place, and also catch any drips or spills. Tea towels also bring a beautiful and uplifting design to any table.

2. Give as a momento

Since the 18th century, tea towels have been passed down to generations as heirlooms. Ideal for a bridal, wedding or a housewarming gift, a personalized tea towel carries both a meaningful and practical sentiment.

3. Wrap your baked goods

Loaf of bread wrapped in tea towel
Keep your cinnamon rolls, muffins and bread warm by wrapping them in a tea towel. If you’re giving away your baked goods as a gift, tea towels make for personal and eco-friendly wrapping.

4. Personalize your guest bathroom

Hang tea towels in place of traditional hand towels to add a splash of style and decor to your guest bathroom. Pick a pattern or symbol that matches the general theme of your bathroom.

5. Use as a hot pad

Tea towel with hot buns on them
A tea towel, especially when folded, acts as an effective hot pad. Place your warm dishes or baked goods on the tea towel to let it cool down.

6. Line your serving tray

To catch drips and spills, line your serving tray with a tea towel. After all, this was the original purpose for the delightful little towel.

7. Keep your greens crisp

Tea towel drying salad greens
When you rinse leafy greens, they need a clean place to dry. Tuck them in a tea towel and carefully pat them dry. They’ll stay crispy and extra fresh.

8. Decorate the table

A tea towel can add some festivity to your table by using it as a placement or cloth napkin. Choose designs that bring extra life and energy to the dinner party.

9. Store your clean, wet dishes

Tea towel used to dry dishes
Exchange your bulky drying rack for a beautiful linen. Lay a tea towel on your counter, and rest clean dishes and utensils there to dry.

10. Line your cabinet shelves

Take clean tea towels and place them flat inside your kitchen cabinets. They’ll absorb excess water from dishware and glasses—plus add a decorative look. You’ll want to periodically wash your tea towels so your cupboards stay fresh.

With their versatility and beautifully-crafted material, tea towels make for exceptional additions to any home. Customize a tea towel for a simple touch that will last for years to come.