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Nine Uses for Dish Towels

Not Just for Dishes!

Dish towels are in nearly everyone’s kitchen. They are more environmentally friendly than paper towels, so many people use them to dry their own hands instead of paper towels. However, dish towels have uses that go beyond drying dishes and fingers.

Place hot items on a folded kitchen towel to provide extra protection from the heat.

Place hot items on a folded kitchen towel to provide extra protection from the heat.

1. Protect Surfaces

A folded dish towel can provide a protective barrier when you need to put a hot item on a surface. If you want to protect a refrigerator shelf or a table from extreme heat, put a folded dish towel on the surface, and place the hot dish on top of it.

2. Substitute for a Napkin

Dish towels are larger than most napkins, wash beautifully, and do not need ironing. Many of them are made from linen or other non-abrasive fabrics that are soft to the touch. They come in many patterns and colors. Additionally, they are usually less expensive than cloth napkins. Although they may be too casual for a fancy dinner with guests, they are perfect for a family dinner, especially if you have messy, young children.

3. Protect Items That Can Break or Scratch

This is the perfect use for old dish towels you intend to replace. Use them between cookie sheets to minimize scratches. You can also wrap infrequently used china in old dish towels. This will prevent pieces from getting dusty, and it may prevent breakage if a piece falls.

Here a dish towel doubles as a placemat, and another one is tucked into a cup to use as a napkin.

Here a dish towel doubles as a placemat, and another one is tucked into a cup to use as a napkin.

4. Substitute for Placemats

Use a dish towel in lieu of a placemat. If you are crowding more people than usual at the table, fold a dish towel to create personal space that is smaller than your regular placemats. The dish towel will also be absorbent if a beverage or food spills.

5. Emergency Bib

Do you have a young one visiting, and you do not have a bib? Use two safety pins to affix a dish towel to the child's clothing. The length of the dish towel will provide better coverage than a bib, and washing it will be easy.

6. Makes Opening Jars Easier

It is not unusual to struggle when opening a new jar. Place a dish towel on top of the lid to help alleviate discomfort as you try to open it. Often it will make your grip firmer and enhance your ability to open the jar. Some people put hot water on lids to try to loosen them. Putting a dish towel on top of a damp lid will help dry the lid as you try to release it.

7. Cover for Yeast Dough

Dampen a dish towel, and place it over yeast dough to prevent the dough from getting too dry. If you are worried about the dough sticking to the towel, spray it lightly with non-stick spray. Make sure the sprayed side of the towel faces the dough.

As a basket liner, a kitchen towel helps keep bread warm and provides eye appeal when displaying rolls.

As a basket liner, a kitchen towel helps keep bread warm and provides eye appeal when displaying rolls.

8. Bread Basket Liner

Many bread baskets have open weaves, so crumbs can get caught in them or fall on the floor. Putting a dish towel in the basket will reduce a mess and, if the rolls are warm, covering them with the towel will keep them toasty. Additionally, if you choose to dine al fresco, covering your bread with a towel will help protect it from flying pests.

9. Fan Away Smoke

If you burn food or broil it, sometimes your kitchen can get smoky. Open the windows, turn on a fan, and wave a dish towel near the smoke to help circulate it.

Caution: Don't Substitute Dish Towels for Pot Holders

Using dish towels as a pot holder is not part of this list. Some people may suggest using a kitchen towel instead of a pot holder. Be aware that if your dish towel is not folded over, the heat may penetrate through the towel and burn you. Additionally, since a dish towel is long, it has the potential to touch a hot stove or oven and ignite.

Nevertheless, the versatility of dish towels makes them perfect for many other purposes. If you have limited space or expect to be living in your present place very temporarily, their uses can limit the need for jar grippers, trivets, cloth napkins and placemats.

Comments

Alyssa from Ohio on July 14, 2020:

Who knew a simple dish towel could be so versatile? I love your idea of using old towels to prevent scratches and items breaking!

Abby Slutsky (author) from LAFAYETTE HL on July 09, 2020:

Thanks for reading and following.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on July 09, 2020:

I never considered all the possibilities for alternative uses of dish towels. This article is a tremendously useful guide for getting more value from one’s dish towels. You completed the discussion very well by explaining why using them as pot holders must be avoided.

Danny from India on July 02, 2020:

Nice article, Mam. Dish towels are versatile, that can be used in multiple ways. As Liza mentioned of covering bread dough.

Even milk-based creams can be covered. That makes it a wonderful kitchen staple.

Abby Slutsky (author) from LAFAYETTE HL on July 01, 2020:

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Happy 4th.

Liza from USA on July 01, 2020:

I love your suggestion of using dish towels. Most of the time, I use the dishtowel to cover my bread dough. I think using the dishtowel as a substitute for placemats is a brilliant idea. I really like that. Thanks for sharing, Abby.