Product Design

Help Us Create Product #4 in Our Line

June 15, 2018

We’re in the home stretch of our sprint to get important feedback from you on the first items in our product line (there will be more in the future, at a more leisurely pace). Your thoughts and definitive votes on cutting boards, kitchen mats, and mixing bowls have been so helpful—we can’t wait to show you the prototypes once they arrive at our office!

In the meantime, we’d like to announce our next product: kitchen towels.

By kitchen towels, do we mean tea towels, you ask? We’re divided. Amanda likes to call them kitchen towels; Merrill likes to call them tea towels. According to Google trends in every state but Nebraska, people favor calling them kitchen towels (just sayin’, Merrill!). At Food52, we go our own way, so you can tell us what to call them (feel free to give your take in the comments below!).

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Either way, these towels have more design details than you may think. What dimensions should they be? Is a loop for hanging helpful? (If so, where should the loop go: in a corner or along the side?) What fabric is best for absorbency and glass shining? We could debate and discuss these details for hours.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I do reach for dish/tea towels sometimes to sub for potholders if they are more handy at the moment, and at those times they are MUCH easier to handle if the towel is not oversized. Anyhow, my two (or theee) cents...looking forward to seeing the final product! Finally, good absorbency is an absolute necessity.”
— Kristen W.

You see, we need your help. And you can help us by voting on the details here.

Yours in designing better kitchen wares,

Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs, Co-founders

Vote on the details

No time for a quiz? You can still enter to win here. For rules and regulations, click here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda Robinson
    Linda Robinson
  • Nancy
  • Renée Robinson
    Renée Robinson
  • BerryBaby
  • Kristen W.
    Kristen W.
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Linda R. June 19, 2018
When I was growing up we had two towels, the tea towel was only used for drying dishes. The hand towel was used for everything else. Still do that today. It is hard finding a good linen teal towel
Nancy June 19, 2018
Solids are better, as patterns can evoke love/hate/can/can't use it reactions.
If you decide to go with some printed material, consider:
MEASUREMENTS in two systems (metric, imperial) as there are many many questions about this on Hotline
* volume
* weight
* oven temps.
* meat and poultry temps to indicate doneness
AMERICANA - regional fruits, veg, fishes or recipes
Nancy June 19, 2018
Per comments here & on the tea towel quiz: recent studies show that kitchen towels, like sponges, can carry high amounts of bacteria (esp e. coli), especially if they're used for two purposes.
So, need to change them and/or wash them frequently.
Therefore, endorse:
1) sturdy material
2) hems that can stand up to multiple washings, including bleach
3) some slight differentiation in material or color so those who use two or more towels at same time can ID them quickly in use.
Smaug June 19, 2018
Seems like as good a place as any to throw in a plug for a fairly recent product from Lysol, their "Laundry Sanitizer" is a non bleach alternative for sanitizing laundry loads. I'm taking their word for the results, as my testing labs are currently nonexistent, but I've been using it for a year or so and am at any rate still alive. It continues to mystify me why people use dish sponges- rags are cheaper, work better and can be thrown in the wash daily, or more often.
Renée R. June 16, 2018
Amanda, we're originally from Arkansas and Oklahoma. I grew up hearing my mother and grandmother only refer to them as tea towels. Of course, that's what I call them. Throughout my life I've had friends comment to the effect they've never heard the term. They're always going to be tea towels for me. It's a connection to my past I don't want to lose. BTW, I like 2 kinds. I have your extra large cotton flour sacks, which I use for drying a big load of tomatoes, etc. and I love them. I then like normal sized 100% linen towels for drying pots and pans, etc. I also think it's necessary to be able to bleach them in order to keep them clean, therefore colors and patterns don't work for me. I dislike a stained nasty looking towel and if I've just baked a blackberry pie, there's no way I've avoided staining my towel. I do a bleach load of my tea towels once a week. Keeps them looking fresh.
BerryBaby June 16, 2018
The towels hanging in the kitchen are 'towels'. One for hands, which hangs on the left, one for dishes hangs on the right.
Dish cloths get changed out numerous times. Which brings up, maybe matching dish cloths? BB
Kristen W. June 16, 2018
“Tea towel” sounds to me like something from a bygone era, like men carrying around cloth handkerchiefs in their pockets. It gives me the impression of being some kind of artisanal, vintage-y specialty item that might cost more than a plain old dish towel (“dish towel” and “dish rag” are somewhat interchangeable, after all, but a “tea rag” is not even a thing). Even if they do mean the same thing in actuality, tea towel is slightly more poetic-sounding to me so I like it.

Re: pattern vs. solid, I personally like a unique graphic element of some kind, but that’s really just a matter of personal style, as someone else more or less said, and it’s hard to please everyone.

I do reach for dish/tea towels sometimes to sub for potholders if they are more handy at the moment, and at those times they are MUCH easier to handle if the towel is not oversized.

Anyhow, my two (or theee) cents...looking forward to seeing the final product!

Finally, good absorbency is an absolute necessity.
Smaug June 15, 2018
I've always used separate hand and dish towels in the kitchen, so neither "kitchen towels" nor "tea towels" (for drying tea?) conveys much to me- what sort of usage are these intended for? I've never thought using towels for pot holders made much sense in a home kitchen, but a lot of people seem to do that, too. One essential for any towel- a hem that doesn't fall apart after a few washings. I would favor solid colors, or white; among other things, to sell patterned towels you need to satisfy a lot of different tastes, probably resulting in a lot of patterns to keep straight.
Amanda H. June 15, 2018
Very good point about patterns! Thanks for your thoughts, Smaug.
Renée R. June 15, 2018
Always been "tea towels" for me.
Amanda H. June 15, 2018
Are you from Nebraska? :)