Kitchen Hacks

8 Ways to Use a Kitchen Towel Besides Drying Dishes

November 20, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

There’s a reason I have more kitchen towels than literally any other kitchen item: I use them the most. Turns out, a lot of you are the same way. When we set out to design kitchen towels for Five Two, our new line for kitchen, home, and life, we asked the Food52 community how you use kitchen towels—and what we could do to make this humble helper even more helpful. A casual 36,000 votes later, our game plan took a surprise twist:

Instead of creating one kitchen towel, we created two. Why? The more we read your feedback, the more we realized how many boxes kitchen towels check. Both are big (but not too big!) and prewashed (read: soft as heck). But each has its own, dare I say, superpowers. The thicker utility is plusher and extra-absorbent. The lighter flour sack is quick-drying and lint-free.

Here are some of our favorite oddball ways to use each of our brand new kitchen towels. (They're currently sold out, but we’re making more! Just click “Notify me when it’s back in stock.”) And do tell us in the comments below: What did we miss?

The Utility

Oven mitt. Wait, where is my oven mitt? is a question I ask myself every time my oven timer goes off. Just fold a kitchen towel over a few times so it’s extra-thick, then use it to snatch whatever’s baking away in there.

Berry dryer. After washing fragile ingredients, like mixed greens or fresh berries, lay them out on the towel and let them air-dry. I love this method because it’s hands-off and smush-free.

Bread blanket. You can’t beat still-warm bread (with lots of butter, obviously). To serve this with dinner (and win dinner), toast in the oven until just warm to the touch, pile in a basket, and swaddle with a towel.

Corn-on-the-cob nest. Line a basket or bowl with a kitchen towel, then snuggle in some hot corn on the cob. Think of it like an insulator and stylish decoration all at once.

The Flour Sack

Mixing bowl anchor. You know when you’re whipping cream and your mixing bowl is wobbling all over the place? Kitchen towel to the rescue: Just lightly dampen, fold into a square, and set under your bowl. Or, do as our resident Genius Kristen Miglore does, and roll up the towel, then wrap it around the base.

Dough babysitter. Bread dough can’t be left alone. Uncovered, it’ll develop dry skin (happens to the best of us), which will prevent it from reaching its full potential. Covering the bowl with a kitchen towel (some even recommend a slightly damp one) is all you need.

Vegetable squeezer. After grating any watery vegetable—be it zucchini for bread, potatoes for latkes, or spinach for omelets—bundle in a kitchen towel and twist into oblivion over the sink, a bowl, or the trash can.

Lettuce “spinner.” Our Director of Partner Content Cory Baldwin learned this trick in Italy a decade ago and hasn’t stopped using it since. Roll up greens in a towel, bring the ends together, and fling back-and-forth out the window, into the shower, whatever works. And presto! dry greens, no salad spinner required.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

What are some of the out-of-the-box ways you use your kitchen towel? Share your tricks in the comments!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Katerina D. December 29, 2018
Just found your web page. I love * Ways to Use a Kitchen Towel ... great ideas!
NancyFromKona December 13, 2018
My husband says ‘No more pillows’ but hasn’t caught on to the towels (yet)!
My favorite use for a linen towel is to wrap my homemade bread for storage. No more moldy loaves which is the problem with plastic. Hey Food52 developers this could be a project for you. I felt I had splurged when I spent $20 buying a lovely heathered gray plaid heavy linen bag from a woman who sells sourdough loaves at a local farmer’s market. Now I realize it was a great purchase and I should have bought a bunch to give to all my friends and family who respect fine bread. And they need them in several sizes for their boules and baguettes and lots of colors too.
Krystal C. December 6, 2018
These sound good unless you have matter how hard you try, a cat or dog hair swill find it's way to a clean kitchen towel even if taken straight from the cabinet lol
Nancy November 26, 2018
Emma - yes, dish towels are the work horses of the kitchen.
Do most of these, but new to me is the straining soups etc from Brenda M. Looking forward to doing that one.
Another use is to keep vegetables (leafy and/or medium soft; not so much for hard or rood veg) ready-to-eat in the fridge a few days.
I have a terry-cloth thing called a salad bag, designed to hold with some moisture and promote no mold in the fridge.
When I run out of space in that I wash, spin and hold greens in a layer or two in the towel in the fridge.
Sort of a cross between the salad-spinner and berry-dryer functions.
Emma L. November 26, 2018
Hi Nancy! I love Brenda's tip, too. And I love your "salad bag" trick! My mom does something similar whenever she makes a crudités platter—cuts the vegetables the night before, then keeps them bundled in a barely-damp towel to stay fresh and crisp until serving.
bellw67 November 23, 2018
After squeezing spinach and drying berries, said towels are very colourful.
Hollis R. November 22, 2018
i can't believe you left out the *trick* of wrapping the lid of the pot you've cooked your rice in with a towel, then covering the pot back up with the towel-wrapped lid, for the fluffiest, most perfect rice ever. every time.
Emma L. November 25, 2018
Ah! This is a great one—thanks, Hollis!
Brenda M. November 20, 2018
I use thin towels to strain soup/sauces/broth
Emma L. November 20, 2018