Uses for Dish Towels

Fancy or inexpensive new towels, or recycled old ones have great potential in craft projects as well as repurposing around your home. This is a guide about uses for dish towels.

March 11, 2016 Flag
7 found this helpful

We all have them, the old tea towels that are worn out, faded or stained, that we don't care to use anymore and that we would never put out when company is coming over.


Over the years, I've accumulated my share of them too and I've found lots of uses for the retirees. They're practical and save me money too. Unless I use them as a rag for a particularly dirty job and throw it out, I wash them again and again. Many people use them for making crafts but I'm not inclined, so I'll skip the possible crafting uses.

  • They can be used whenever and wherever I'd otherwise use paper towels in the kitchen and around the house. They're wonderful for cleaning windows because they don't leave paper lint.

  • My favorite use is for wrapping veggies that are stored in the fridge because I don't care much for using plastic wrap or containers. Washed greens are loosely wrapped in a towel and put into the crisper. The towel absorbs the excess moisture, allows breathing room for whatever is inside, and keeps the veggies fresh.

  • I don't use a salad spinner. I spread the washed lettuce on a towel, roll it up loosely and holding the two ends, I shake the towel around.

  • The fridge crisper drawer is lined with a folded up towel. Once a week or so, it gets shaken out and replaced. No more washing the crispers for me because they're always clean.

  • I've used them with the grandchildren as a bib, spit up cloth, baby wipe or emergency diaper.

  • Keeping one in the car under the driver seat is handy. When I'm stopped at a red light I grab the cloth and quickly dust the dashboard.

  • They're really handy when I'm doing my canning, especially when working with red beets or tomatoes. I go through a lot of them then and I don't have to worry about staining my good towels.

  • They're a foot wipe when my dog comes in from outside on a wet day.

  • I don't like to use plastic much, especially with food. When preparing food in advance for my guests, I cover the serving dish with a damp tea towel. This works well too for sandwiches made in advance of lunchtime, keeping them fresh.

  • A dry towel is useful for covering baked bread, cookies, muffins, etc when they come out from the oven and need to be cooled before putting them into a container. The towel protects them from dust and household flies.

  • They can serve as huge napkins when you're eating something messy like lobster or ribs. I had a corn roast once and gave everyone an old tea towel to mop up the drippy butter to keep face and hands clean.

  • Hubby doesn't like using paper plates even at a picnic, saying that paper makes food taste funny. I have several old mismatched china plates that I keep in the picnic basket, wrapped in old tea towels to keep them from breaking. Covering the food keeps bugs at bay and they're also handy for sitting on so you don't get your clothes dirty from sitting at a public picnic table. In a pinch, I've used them to wrap food swap stuff that I've received from family and friends.

  • They also make a good cape when shaving out hubby's neck or coloring your hair.

Besides crafting or sewing projects, what do you use your old tea towels for?

Source: Always looking at uses for things

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March 14, 20161 found this helpful

I use a large one to cover freshly washed dishes.

I keep some in a hanging basket so they are handy to use as cleaning rags.

Some of my small appliances are on an open shelf and they are covered with a tea towel.

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March 15, 20160 found this helpful

What wonderful ideas! So practical and thrifty, handy and sanitary, too. I don't like all that plastic in the kitchen, either. My only added comment, as a retired Home Economics Professor, would be to say, add a little bleach (1/4 to 1/3 cup), to the washing machine and wash them in hot water and detergent. The FDA (Food & Drug Admin.) did research on the germ content of fabrics washed in hot water & detergent and dried in the dryer. They were amazed at the number of germs that remained. So, that's why bleach, detergent and hot water are recommended for washing fabrics, especially any fabric that comes into contact with food.

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March 15, 20160 found this helpful

Simple. I use them for hand towels in the kitchen.

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March 20, 20161 found this helpful

I enjoy seeing how other people use old items. These are great uses, some of which I had not thought about. We don't like to use paper towels either, so I cut some towels in smaller sections for small jobs. I keep some upstairs and down - all within easy reach. I recently commented to hubby about how much money we had saved by using cloths (rags) instead of paper towels over a number of years. I keep a basket on the kitchen counter of small white cloths that I wash again and again. Those are for "clean" wipes and the colored or discolored towels are for the "dirty" jobs.

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March 21, 20160 found this helpful

I cut them into smaller pieces, depending on their original size, hem them, and make napkins out of them. We never waste money on paper napkins and there is always room for them in the wash.

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June 18, 2005 Flag
1 found this helpful

Buy 8-10 plastic stick-on holders for hanging dish towels. Buy the same amount of dish towels. Put stick-ons above the window where you would like the curtain. Put the dish towels on the holders.

Stick-ons stick immediately! So make sure it is where you want it before you stick it. I got these at the Dollar Tree. You can also grab one to use in an emergency situation. I buy extras to match for kitchen use. I also change the towels to a orange, red and yellow stripe for a different color look. I get lots of compliments.

towelcurtain2.jpg towelcurtain.jpg

By Fran

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Anonymous Flag
June 18, 20050 found this helpful

I'm lovin' it! Very nice picture and kitchen. What a good idea Fran, thanks!

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June 19, 20050 found this helpful

What a cool idea,

I am going to be sharin this one with peeps that are moving in to there first homes,

Thank you for sharing it with us

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June 19, 20050 found this helpful

Very creative. I applaud you!


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June 20, 20050 found this helpful

that is so neat, thanx for the pic.


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June 26, 20100 found this helpful

That is so clever! Really attractive colors. I love it!

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August 27, 20130 found this helpful

What a great idea! I am going to try this. Thanx for sharing.

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January 16, 2007 Flag
Cindy Bailey1 found this helpful

I needed some inexpensive, but thoughtful gifts for a number of people who have been helping me with my small business this year. I was able to pick up packs of Christmas towels and matching hot pads for $5. Each pack makes two angels and you have an oven mitt left over. Makes a nice teacher gift for a lady.

Time To Make: About 10 minutes.
Level Of Difficulty: Easy enough for a grade schooler.
Cost: $2.50


  • 1 tea towel
  • 1 dish cloth
  • 1 square hot pad
  • coordinating ribbon
  • Optional: holly sprig, wired tinsel, gift bag, fiberfill


  1. For body and head, fold tea towel into thirds lengthwise. Fold in half again lengthwise. Now fold in the opposite direction. (Refer to photo of finished project).
  2. Tie a ribbon about 3 inches down from fold to make angel's head.
  3. For arms, fold dish cloth in thirds. Roll up and tie ends with ribbon about an inch from each end.
  4. For wings, bunch hot pad up tightly in the middle. Tie with ribbon.
  5. Tie arms to body. Tie wings to the back of the project as shown.
  6. Optional: you may tie the hands together "in prayer" with a holly sprig. Also a halo of wired tinsel, etc. may be placed on her head.
  7. You may present her in "clouds" by placing her in a small gift bag and placing fiberfill in the top of the bag instead of tissue paper.
  8. By Cindy from Waynesburg, PA

    Editor's Note: Although these are made in Christmas patterns, these could be made with other styles of towels and hot pads for anytime of year.

January 16, 20070 found this helpful

RE The Editor's Note: I absolutely agree! I sent this in during the Christmas holidays, but was thinking how cute it would be for bridal showers. You could use them as prizes for games. Make them in the wedding colors, of course! You can use wash cloths and hand towels. Use the wash cloths for the arms and the wings. Cindy

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January 16, 20070 found this helpful

I made a couple of these a few years ago for my mom and my secret sister, they still have them displayed in there kitchens and love them.

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January 16, 20070 found this helpful

I love this idea! I always need towels and think this would be a great gift to give or receive. Can't wait for Mother's Day now that I have the idea!

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January 17, 20070 found this helpful

what can i say that hasn't been said..........?

i love them

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January 19, 20070 found this helpful

Another thoughtful and cheap gift is a few scratchie tickets. They are as little as $1 each and you never know your (well, your client's) luck!

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January 20, 20070 found this helpful


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January 25, 20080 found this helpful

May 28, 2008 Flag
Kelly Ann Butterbaugh0 found this helpful

Dish or kitchen towels are cute and inexpensive. Add their versatility and they become a very popular item to have around the house. The next time you spy a pack of them on the clearance rack or in the discount store, stock up and create some interesting uses for these inexpensive beauties.

Many Uses For Dishtowels

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June 11, 2005 Flag
2 found this helpful

Instead of tossing the worn out dish towel, I fold it in fourths making a small place mat size rectangle. I stitch the edges with my sewing machine to keep it together.

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April 2, 2005 Flag
1 found this helpful

Over the years I have accumulated many terry dish towels. My uses for them: coasters, napkins, bibs, doilies, covers for arms of chairs, cleaning rags, dust rags, pot holders/trivets, place mats.

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