Tea towel vs kitchen towel

Tea Towel Vs. Kitchen Towels: Finding Out How They Are Different

Despite being adults, we still fall curious about the “Tea towel Vs. kitchen towel” drill each time we buy one. Many of us ignore what towel type we put in our cart. Though a perfect size towel can provide multiple functionalities, they differ in many aspects. 

The same case goes for tea towels and dish towels. One apparent reason for this ambiguity is that both towels are used in the kitchen. Though you can use them alternatively, knowing the critical difference between a tea towel and a kitchen towel is essential to get the maximum out of their cleaning potential. 

This article will guide you to the Tea Towel Vs. Kitchen Towel Differences for better understanding. Let’s get started.

What is a Tea Towel? 

Tea towels are thin, lightweight, towel-based cloth used in the kitchen for multiple purposes. They are often crafted with 100% cotton or linen fabric to make them plush and lint-free. What makes them perfect is that they leave no fiber residue whenever you use them to wrap your backed buns or other food items. 

They often come with little embroidery or patterns to enhance their decorative aspect since they are often used to serve tea.  

They are traditionally the same size as hand towels, so people often confuse them with hand towels or kitchen towels set. In the early 18th century, tea towels were used to clean porcelain sets or during tea ceremonies.

Even though the formal tea rituals of Victorian Britain are less popular these days, tea towels are still used. Additionally, they are used to dry vegetables, line bread baskets, and decorate the kitchen. 

What is A Kitchen Towel? 

Kitchen towels and dish towels are often used interchangeably. These towels are used in the kitchen for cleaning spills from the kitchen racks or cabinets. They are more absorbent and durable than dish and tea towels as they are meant for wiping. 

Moreover, they are also thickened for better absorbency. Kitchen towels are often not embroidered as they interfere with the cleaning or leave scratches on the surface of the glass. This is why they are made simple yet durable. 

Tea Towel vs. Kitchen Towel: Key Differences


Tea Towels 

Kitchen Towel 


Less absorbent 

More Absorbent to withstand cleaning and mopping off spills 


Tight woven and soft surface.

They are made in rough texture and coarse stuff 


Made with cotton, linen

Made with terry towels 


Typically feature a tighter weave to provide better surface coverage and efficient drying.

Loose weave for enhanced fluff for better cleaning 


Less Versatile, it can only be used for tea serving or cleaning purposes. 

More versatile 

Style and design

It may have decorative patterns, embroidery, or prints, sometimes with a traditional aesthetic.

Only in design patterns, no embroidery 


Generally durable but may require more gentle handling due to lighter materials.

Designed to withstand multiple washing.

Common Names 

Tea towel, dish drying towel, kitchen tea towel,

Dish towel, kitchen cloth, kitchen rag

Tea Towel Vs Kitchen Towel

What Materials Make Kitchen and Tea Towels? 

Both kitchen or tea towels come in different sizes, patterns, and materials of which they are made up of. The three most common materials of which both are made of include: 

Linen Towels

Linen comes out of the Flax plant. Linen cloth is generally soft and leaves no lin while mopping on the surface. They also retain their fluff with multiple uses. Both aspects enhance the durability of linen-made tea or dish towels. 

Besides durability, linen towels are also known for their high absorbency and lightweightness. Linen towels are perfect for drying dishes and glasses because of their slightly rough surface. The more you wash them, the softer and more absorbent they get. 

Terry Cloth Towels 

Terry cloth is a tightly woven texture that offers relatively high absorbency compared to linen cloth. Terry cloth is often used in bath towels as they demand battery drying capacity more than other towels. 

In addition, they are also used for heavy-duty tasks such as mopping surfaces. While they might be less commonly used as tea towels due to their heavier texture, they are still utilized in some kitchen settings.

Cotton Towels 

Cotton is the most used material used for the manufacturing of both bath and kitchen essentials. They come in different weights (GSM) textures for tea and kitchen towels. The most notable features of cotton are that it is lightweight, durable, and super absorbent. Cotton tea towels offer more versatility and are also easy to care for. 

Why Are Cotton Tea Towels Best? 

Cotton tea towels are highly recommended as they are highly absorbent, exceptionally soft, and can be used for various purposes. Cotton fibers absorb water, so your clean Dishes and glasses will dry quickly and without streaks. Their supple feel is kind to fragile goods while sturdy enough for repeated usage and laundering. Moreover, cotton tea towels are easily accessible, reasonably priced, and available in various designs, making them a versatile and fashionable addition to any kitchen.

Why Are Kitchen Towels Called Tea Towels?

Towels used in the kitchen are sometimes referred to as "tea towels" because of their long association with the English afternoon tea ritual. Traditionally, these towels were vital in the tea industry, drying delicate teaware before use. The word "tea towel" has evolved to refer to any kitchen towel, not just those used for cleaning teacups and saucers.

How to Care for Your Tea Towels and Dish Towels 

Durability is not guaranteed. Instead, you can retain the strength and durability of your kitchen and tea towels by following care tips: 

  • Wash your dish towels frequently and thoroughly to prevent dirt and bacteria from building up within the weave. 
  • Wash them separately from soiled items to retain their absorbency. 
  • Gently wash your tea towels in case they have embroidery. 
  • Avoid using bleach regularly, as it will result in discoloration. 
  • Folding tea towels should be done carefully to prevent the weave from getting damaged. 
  • Store them in a well-ventilated yet dry place to prevent mold growth. 

Where to Buy Kitchen Hand Towels UK?

If you reside in the UK or wherever get your quality and premium-styled towels and other bath or kitchen essentials from Weave Essentials. We prefer quality over price. We have a wide variety of bath towels, bathrobes, and beach towels that you can get to elevate your shower or swimming experience. Besides this, you can also look out for our exquisitely designed elegant dinner napkins, gloves, and much more for your kitchen must-haves. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are kitchen towels different from hand towels?

Yes, they are different. Though they may seem the same in size, they serve different purposes. Where kitchen towels are used for cleaning spills and polishing ceramics, hand towels are used in the bathroom and other areas for drying hands and face. 

Can I use a dish towel instead of a tea towel?

Yes, you can use dish towels instead of tea towels, as both are meant for drying and cleaning. However, dish towels may be more sturdy and well-suited for heavier-duty chores, while tea towels may have a somewhat more refined texture and are typically used for drying delicate goods.


Both Tea Towels and Dish towels offer a multitude of uses. Where Tea towels are used to enhance the appearance of tea tables, dishes, kitchen towels  are meant for cleaning and drying purposes. Black kitchen towels are often preferred because the white kitchen or tea towels often look musty even on first use, and you might end up washing them each time you use them. So it is better to go with white kitchen towels.

We hope you better understand the difference between a tea towel and a kitchen towel. We hope it will assist in your next purchase.  

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