The Best Dish Towels of 2023

Our favorite is the Hawkins New York Essential Waffle Dish Towel

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11-best-dish-towels-of-2022

Madewell / Target / Food 52

Whether you're wiping up spilled juice in the kitchen, spiffing up your countertop, or hand-drying your breakfast dishes, a solid towel is useful for all kinds of reasons. A good set of dish towels should be absorbent and aesthetically pleasing to complement your kitchen decor. That's why we researched stacks (and stacks!) of standout designs of various sizes, materials, weaves, and colors.

Our top choice is the Hawkins New York Essential Waffle Dish Towel, which comes in several chic hues and boasts an ultra-soft honeycomb texture.

But there are plenty of other towels we've checked out, too! Read on for our list of best dish towels, including tea towels, waffle dish cloths, and super-efficient microfiber!

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Hawkins New York Essential Waffle Dish Towel Set of 2

4.9
Essential Waffle Dish Towel
Courtesy of Food52.
What We Like
  • Soft and absorbent

  • Several colorways

  • Oeko-Tex certified

What We Don't Like
  • No monochrome sets

  • Too large for some uses

When it comes to kitchen linens, it doesn't get much better than Essential Waffle Dish Towels from Hawkins New York. Each cloth is woven from 100 percent cotton and features a super-soft and absorbent honeycomb texture. Plus, the towels carry the Oeko-Tex Standard certification, so you know the material is free of potentially harmful substances.

At 29 x 21.5 inches, these dish cloths are on the larger side. While they're perfect for drying hands and dishes, they might be too big for certain uses, like wiping down your counters.

These kitchen towels come in a set of two and your choice of several neutral and cheery colorways. There aren't any monochrome sets available, so you'll have to go with a complementing multicolored pair. Two towels for nearly $30 isn't the cheapest nor the most expensive, but with this brand, you can definitely count on quality.

Price at time of publish: $28

Dimensions: 21.5 x 29 inches | Quantity: 2 | Material: Cotton | Colors: Mustard, gray, blue, pink, green, white | Care: Machine-wash cold

Best Budget

Threshold 4pk Cotton Waffle Dishcloths

4pk Cotton Waffle Dishcloths
Courtesy of Target.
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Lightweight yet absorbent

  • Softens over time

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly coarse before washing

  • Too small for some uses

On a budget? Check out the Threshold Waffle Dishcloths. For under $10, you'll get a set of four towels, each measuring 12 x 12 inches. The size may not be right for hanging on display, but it's great for drying dishes and wiping up spills.

These lightweight kitchen cloths are made of 100 percent cotton and feature an absorbent honeycomb weave. While they might be slightly coarse at first, they'll get softer with every wash.

Price at time of publish: $6

Dimensions: 12 x 12 inches | Quantity: 4 | Material: Cotton | Colors: Taupe, gray, navy, light blue, yellow | Care: Machine-wash

Best for Drying

Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Tea Towels

4.5
Utopia Kitchen Flour Sack Tea Towels

Amazon

What We Like
  • Great value

  • Large size

  • Lightweight yet absorbent

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat thin

  • Get wet quickly

Earning a 4.4 out of 5 overall score, these tea towels were a hit with our home tester. She was a fan of the large size (28 x 28 inches) and lightweight yet highly absorbent quality.

These flour sack towels are clutch for drying dishes and cleaning spills, but because they're relatively thin, they get wet pretty quickly. Still, they come in value packs of six to 192, so you can keep a big stash on hand without breaking the bank.

Price at time of publish: $22

Dimensions: 28 x 28 inches | Quantity: 6–192 | Material: Ring-spun cotton | Colors: Gray, ivory, white, beige, orange, green | Care: Machine-wash

Best for Hanging

Geometry Microfiber Kitchen Towels (Set of 2)

Microfiber Kitchen Towels (Set of 2)
Courtesy of Food52.
What We Like
  • Several unique designs

  • Soft and absorbent

  • Loop for hanging

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Too large for some uses

Looking for something you can hang from a hook or your oven handle? Go with a more decorative design, like these beauties from Geometry. Tightly woven from recycled fibers, these kitchen towels are soft and absorbent, with a handy loop for hanging.

You can choose from several stunning prints, including geometric shapes, floral motifs, gradient colorways, and woodland scenes. At just over $30 for a pack of two, they're on the pricier side for dish towels, but it might be worth investing in a pair for the aesthetic appeal. (You can always keep a more economical set in your drawer.)

Price at time of publish: $32

Dimensions: 18 x 30 inches | Quantity: 2 | Material: Recycled polyester, polyamide | Colors: 10 designs available | Care: Machine-wash warm

Best Oversized

Sur La Table Flour Sack Towels Set of 3

Flour Sack Towels Set of 3
Courtesy of Sur La Table.
What We Like
  • Practical design

  • Soft and absorbent

  • Low-maintenance

What We Don't Like
  • Only one color

  • May shrink in wash

Need something even bigger? Sur La Table Flour Sack Towels might be your best bet. Made of 100 percent cotton, they come in sets of three, each 34 x 32 inches.

Though these dish cloths are only available in white, there's something to appreciate about the no-nonsense practicality. They're soft, absorbent, and conveniently low-maintenance. But like most cotton products, they may shrink slightly the first time you wash them.

Price at time of publish: $22

Dimensions: 32 x 34 inches | Quantity: 3 | Material: Cotton | Colors: White | Care: Machine-wash cold

Best Linen

Pottery Barn Caravan Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towel Set of 2

Caravan Laundered Linen Stripe Tea Towel Set of 2
Courtesy of Pottery Barn.
What We Like
  • Handwoven and yarn-dyed

  • Stonewashed for softness

  • Several tasteful colors

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Too large for some uses

If you're partial to linen, you'll appreciate Pottery Barn's Caravan Tea Towels. They're handwoven, yarn-dyed, and stonewashed to ensure an ultra-soft feel with the first use. Available in 11 tasteful colors with a bright, contrasting stripe, these kitchen towels are sure to make a statement.

The price is undoubtedly steep for a set of just two dish towels, but that is expected with 100 percent linen fabric, as it's sourced from flax plants, which can only be grown in certain parts of the world.

Price at time of publish: $89

Dimensions: 20 x 30 inches | Quantity: 2 | Material: Linen | Colors: Gray, charcoal, yellow, marigold, navy, orange, pink, white, natural | Care: Machine-wash cold

Best Organic

Coyuchi Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels Set of 6

4.6
Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels

Coyuchi

What We Like
  • GOTS-certified

  • Sustainable production

  • High-quality design

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Too large for some uses

We also like Coyuchi's Organic Waffle Kitchen Towels. They're woven from 100 percent cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), so you know that everything from the raw fibers to the dyes meets strict criteria for sustainability and chemical safety. They're made in a facility that recycles 98 percent of its wastewater.

These dish cloths are on the larger side (20 x 30 inches), so they're a good choice for drying hands, dishes, and hanging up—there's even a loop for attaching them to a hook. You'll get a set of six for under $60, which is a pretty decent deal considering the quality.

Price at time of publish: $58

Dimensions: 20 x 30 inches | Quantity: 6 | Material: Organic cotton | Colors: Gray, brown, blue, coastal, multi | Care: Machine-wash cold

Best Fouta

Parachute Fouta Kitchen Towels

Parachute Fouta Kitchen Towels

Courtesy of Parachute

What We Like
  • Long-staple cotton

  • Strong and long-lasting

  • Oeko-Tex certified

What We Don't Like
  • Only one color

  • Too large for some uses

Fouta is a flat-woven cloth traditionally worn and used in Mediterranean countries, including Turkey and Yemen. If you're a fan of the style, you'll appreciate these kitchen towels from Parachute.

They're loomed from 100 percent long-staple Turkish cotton, a supremely soft and inherently strong material that lasts longer than regular cotton. Like most Parachute linens, they're also Oeko-Tex certified for chemical safety. They might be too large for certain uses, and we wish there were more colors available—but other than that, we have no complaints.

Price at time of publish: $29

Dimensions: 19.5 x 27.5 inches | Quantity: 2 | Material: Long-staple Turkish cotton | Colors: Gray | Care: Machine-wash

Best Eco-Friendly

SuperScandi Reusable Compostable Swedish Dishcloths

Swedish Dish Cloths

Amazon

What We Like
  • Reusable and compostable

  • Can be washed 50 times

  • Highly absorbent

What We Don't Like
  • Small size

  • Don't last as long as fabric

If you appreciate the convenience of paper towels but cringe at the waste, this one's for you. Made of a blend of cellulose wood pulp and cotton, SuperScandi Swedish Dishcloths can absorb up to 20 times their weight in water.

While they don't last as long as regular fabric towels, they can be washed and reused up to 50 times. When they need to be cleaned, just toss them in your washing machine or dishwasher. Then, once they reach the end of their lifespan, add these biodegradable cloths to your compost bin, and have peace of mind knowing that they didn't go to a landfill.

Price at time of publish: $20

Dimensions: 7 x 8 inches, 10 x 12 inches | Quantity: 3–10 | Material: Cellulose wood pulp, cotton | Colors: Gray, white, pink, green, blue, yellow, assorted | Care: Machine-wash or add to dishwasher

Most Absorbent

Williams Sonoma Super Absorbent Waffle Weave Multi-Pack Towels, Set of 4

4.6
Williams Sonoma Super Absorbent Waffle Weave Multi-Pack Towels, Set of 4
What We Like
  • Long-staple cotton

  • Oeko-Tex certified

  • Several colorways

What We Don't Like
  • Too large for some uses

These waffle towels from Williams Sonoma are crafted from 100 percent Turkish cotton and Oeko-Tex certified for safety. The unique long-staple fibers make for an incredibly sturdy, yet soft, fabric with excellent absorbency.

Boasting a dense, durable, terry-loomed weave, they're notably fluffy and promise to get softer with every wash. These kitchen towels come in sets of four and your choice of several colorways. Considering the high-quality design, this is a great deal for under $30.

Price at time of publish: $27

Dimensions: 20 x 30 inches | Quantity: 4 | Material: Turkish cotton | Colors: Gray, black, navy, blue, red, orange, yellow, green, pink | Care: Machine-wash warm

Best Color Options

Sustainable Threads Handwoven Striped Cotton Kitchen Towel (Set of 2)

Handwoven Striped Cotton Kitchen Towel (Set of 2)
Courtesy of West Elm.
What We Like
  • Handwoven by artisans

  • Fair Trade facility

  • 15 designs

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Somewhat narrow

We're also big fans of the Sustainable Threads Striped Kitchen Towels. They're handwoven from 100 percent cotton by artisans in a certified Fair Trade facility, ensuring that workers are humanely treated and paid fairly. 

You can choose from 15 colorways, including solids and stripes featuring unique hues like sage, eggplant, and peppercorn. The price is high for a set of two, but it might be worth splurging on the elegant, handcrafted designs. And while these cloths are somewhat narrow, they're great for drying dishes, cleaning counters, and wiping up spills.

Price at time of publish: $15

Dimensions: 6 x 13.5 inches | Quantity: 2 | Material: Cotton | Colors: 15 designs | Care: Machine-wash cold

Final Verdict

Overall, we're loving Hawkins New York Essential Waffle Dish Towels. Available in sets of two and several elegant color combos, they're super soft, absorbent, and Oeko-Tex certified for chemical safety. But if you're looking for a better value, this affordable four-pack of Threshold Cotton Waffle Dishcloths is a stellar choice. They're made with 100 percent cotton and feature an absorbent honeycomb weave.

What to Look for When Buying Dish Towels

Material and Absorbency

Dish towels are made of various materials. Cotton is the most popular, which can be loomed with a waffle texture, like the Hawkins New York Essential Waffle Dish Towels, or flat-woven, as with Parachute's Fouta Kitchen Towels. Then there are linen options, such as Pottery Barn's Caravan Tea Towels. You'll also find microfiber kitchen towels, which can be made of recycled plastic or virgin polyester.

Linen and long-staple cotton will generally be stronger and softer than regular cotton. And thicker weaves tend to be more absorbent—a key quality when drying dishes, cleaning counters, and sopping up spills.

Size, Style, and Design

Dish towel sizes range from roughly 10 x 10 inches to 32 x 34 inches, and they come in both square and rectangular shapes. Smaller options are best for wiping up spills and cleaning counters, while larger towels are better for drying dishes and hanging from a hook or your oven handle. Many people like to have multiple sizes on hand for different uses.

Dish cloths you keep in a drawer can be a bit more plain. If you plan to put one on display, look for a style that complements the rest of your kitchen decor or adds a punchy pop of color, such as Geometry's Microfiber Kitchen Towels.

Size

Most cotton and linen dish towels are machine-washable and dryer-friendly. Some call for a gentle cycle using cold or warm water, so check the recommended care instructions before tossing yours in the wash.

Biodegradable towels like SuperScandi Swedish Dishcloths can be cleaned in a washing machine or dishwasher. Bear in mind they're usually meant to be washed a maximum of 50 times, after which point you can add them to your compost bin.

FAQ
  • What's the difference between a dish towel and a kitchen towel?

    Lots of folks use the terms interchangeably. However, dish towels are usually on the smaller side and are technically meant for washing and drying dishes, cleaning spills, and wiping down counters. Kitchen towels, on the other hand, have a more general purpose. They can be used for drying dishes, drying hands, wiping hands while preparing food, and simply hanging up for decoration.

  • What is the best material for dish towels?

    The best material for dish towels is arguably cotton. The natural textile is inherently soft, absorbent, and strong—even better if it's long-staple cotton. Naturally sturdy and increasingly soft linen is also an excellent choice, though it's typically more expensive than cotton.

  • Do dish towels spread germs?

    Unfortunately, dish towels can easily spread germs and be a source of cross-contamination in your kitchen. Thankfully, however, this problem can be easily remedied with the help of a washing machine. If you're using your towels to wipe up heavy spills or soak up liquid from raw meat, be sure to wash them after every use. And if you're using them to tidy up around the kitchen, wash them every day. If you're only using them to dry your hands or to brush off extra flour or dust every once in a while, you can wash them every few days.

  • How do you make your dish towels more absorbent?

    Cotton and linen dish towels can become more absorbent after a couple of washes. You'll often notice that the fabric is softer and fluffier, which usually also means that it can soak up more liquid. You can also try washing them with about half as much detergent as you normally use, and adding about a half cup of baking soda. That will help remove buildup of other substances, which can essentially "clog" the absorbent qualities of a dish cloth.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Theresa Holland is a seasoned commerce writer and product tester who specializes in interior design, lifestyle, and cleaning solutions. She considered dozens of dish towels for this story, narrowing them down to high-quality designs that stood out in terms of absorbency, versatility, practicality, and aesthetic appeal. She has personally used household linens from Hawkins New York, Threshold, Parachute, Coyuchi, Williams Sonoma, and Pottery Barn.

Theresa has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. You can find more of her stories on MyDomaine, Travel + Leisure, People, and Byrdie.

Updated by
Rabekah Henderson
Rabekah Henderson headshot
Rabekah Henderson is an NC-based contributing writer for The Spruce covering design, decor, and all things home.
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Article Sources
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