Kitchen Towels

Kitchen Towel & Dish Cloth Options

There's no denying that a commercial kitchen can be a messy place, making kitchen towels an essential tool. They can be used for everything from wiping up spills to drying dishes, while others are used for cleaning. Below are some of the towels commonly found in commercial kitchens and how each type is used.

Towel Materials

The material of the towel dictates its best use in a kitchen. These are the most common towel materials, along with their typical uses.

Cotton Herringbone

Also called flat weave, towels made out of this material are usually lint free and very flat, lacking the bulk of some of the other types. Because of this, they are not very absorbent but are ideal for chefs who want to hang them over their apron strings or toss them over their shoulders. These kitchen towels are usually 100 percent cotton. These versatile towels can be used for a variety of tasks, including drying hands, wiping off counters and cutting boards, pressing the moisture out of items like shredded potatoes, and as a stand-on for pot holders.

Waffle Weave

Waffle weave kitchen towels have a visible texture of raised squares. They are very absorbent, but the weave is loose enough to be wrung out very thoroughly, allowing them to be used to mop up messes without the need for full drying. The slightly rough texture makes this fabric a good choice for cleaning cloths as well, since it can be used for light scrubbing. Due to its versatility, waffle weave fabric is available in several sizes. Smaller sizes of waffle weave dish cloths are ideal for cleaning, while larger sizes make great kitchen cloths for drying messes. These are not lint free and should not be used for drying dishes.


Microfiber towels are known for being exceptionally soft, absorbent, and lint free. This particular combination makes them ideal for drying glasses, as they absorb the water without leaving lint behind to contaminate the next drink. This fabric doesn't wring out quite as thoroughly as waffle weave, but it does dry quickly. Microfiber towels are also used in many cleaning applications, from dusting to cleaning bathrooms.

Terry Cloth

The most common fabric in the production of bathroom towels, terry cloth is made to be highly absorbent, its textured surface quickly wicking away moisture. Terry cloth is durable and often thick, making it ideal for drying wet counters and bars, holding hot pans, and scrubbing wares in a dishwashing sink. It is not lint free, and so is not usually used for drying dishes.

Flour Sack Towel

Flour sack towels are 100 percent cotton made into a thin, breathable fabric. Because this fabric is breathable, it is often used to cover rising dough and to line baskets for serving bread. These can also be used for polishing silverware or glasses, or for dusting and cleaning.

Cheese Cloth

Cheese cloth is a gauzy fabric that gets its name from one of its most common uses: straining whey off cheese curds. This type of cloth is usually made of 100 percent loosely woven cotton and is lint free. This means it can be used to strain a wide variety of foods and sauces, and to wrap and cover items. Because of its open-weave design, cheese cloth is not absorbent and should not be used for cleaning.

Kitchen Towel Maintenance

While kitchen towels and dish cloths are fairly low maintenance, there are a few steps you can take to extend their service lives and ensure they are as useful as possible.

  • Wash all kitchen towels before use. This will help remove any excess dyes, oils, and dust left over from the manufacturing process.
  • Ensure all towels are completely dry before being folded and stored to help prevent mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors.
  • Never use fabric softener when laundering kitchen towels, as it can leave behind a waxy film that impedes moisture absorption.
  • Be sure to always separate cloths used for cleaning from towels that come in contact with food or clean dishes. Many towels and cloths are available in solid colors or with colored stripes that can be used to differentiate them for specific purposes.