Everything You Should Know About Tea Towels

Since the first emergence of humans from the earliest bogs, we have wanted to keep our cookware dry. It is not a surprise that we have grown an interest in this fundamental of accessories, which we call a tea towel or is called dishtowel in the US.

Tea towel, which is similar to the size of a hand towel, finds its traces back to the 18th century when it was meant to dry fancy fine china and used at lavish tea ceremonies. Today, we find tea towels in homes and are being utilized in different capacities all over the world. They are known for their versatility – from keeping greens crisp and fresh to keeping baked foods warm; the uses just do not end here.

Staying consistent with the name, a tea towel was considered the main element in the great British tea service. It was designed to pair with the rest of tablecloth and rubbed elbows with the finest chinaware and crystal. It was often folded over the tea kettle to cushion it, used to avoid trickles or adroitly dangled over cakes and pasta to keep them fresh. It was only after the Industrial Revolution that the manufacturers started turning to fibers and producing tea towel as a mass-produced consumer item.

In the mid-twentieth century, people would frequently reuse rugged cotton animal-feed bags by slicing them up into dishtowels. However, not happy with their incomplete look, they weaved them with detailed designs, in spite of the trouble of working with rough knits of the bags.

In present times, a tea towel is a delicate fabric made of cotton, linen, a mix of both, or terrycloth which is a thick weaved cotton. A tea towel is usually imprinted or has a woven design for embellishment. For artists, it has turned into the canvas on which they draw their life and inspirations.

Ever heard that tea towels can cause food poisoning? Wash them regularly!

When was the last time you washed your tea towels? It sure does not top our to-do task list, particularly when they are going to get smudgy anyway. However, what we must know is kitchen cotton is greatly exposed to bacteria buildup. Dishtowels are dirty and they likely have fecal tainting.

The American Society for Microbiology suggests disposing of multipurpose dishtowels. Rather than having a single towel for several uses, it is suggested to use different towels for drying hands, cleaning, and cooking. You must also make sure that the tea towels are dry once you are done working in the kitchen since moist towels are a rearing base for germs.  

Nonetheless, you do not need to panic. The fact is the bacteria gathered from the towels is not something you would want in your home, our day to day surroundings are full of microbes yet we manage to remain relatively sound.

Moreover, if you are a meat lover and cooks it every other day in your kitchen, you have to ensure the regular washing of your tea towels. This might not sound very realistic to most of us but Huffington Post reports that we should be washing our tea towels after each turn of use. An easy hack is to use a diluted bleach solution to clean tea towels in case you would prefer not to do laundry every day. At the very least, you need to wash your tea towels every week.

Some Creative Uses of a Tea Towel

A tea towel is, for sure, one of the essentials found in any home. When you see them, your first idea would be “here is something I could dry the dishes with.” This way you only disregard the extensive scope of different uses to which tea towels have been put throughout the centuries.

Give it as a Momento

Since the eighteenth century, tea towels have been passed down to ages as treasures. Perfect for a marriage, wedding or a housewarming blessing, a customized tea towel conveys both a valued and practical supposition.

Keep Your Greens Crisp

Leafy greens need to be dried at a clean place once you wash them. Slip them in a tea towel and delicately pat them dry. They will remain crunchy and fresher.

Line Your Cabinet & Drawers

Tea towels even serve as great cabinet liners. Just make sure they are clean enough to use. Lay them flat inside your kitchen drawers and cabinets. They will ingest extra water and moisture from cutlery and glasses in addition to including a beautiful look. You will need to occasionally wash tea towels so your cabinets and dishware remain new.

Customize Your Guest Bathroom

You always put extra effort into making guest rooms considerate and comfortable enough for your guests. How about dedicating a part of your effort to the guest bathroom? Replace traditional hand towels with modern tea towels to give a touch of style and theme to your guest bathroom. Go for a pattern that coordinates with the general pattern of your washroom.

What Not To Use a Tea Towel For?

Using the Same Towel For Multipurpose

As mentioned above, always keep separate tea towels even if you are just using them for drying hands and cleaning dishes. We do end up using the same towel through the course of the day – this, however, should be avoided. Our hands carry a plethora of germs, thus using them for cleaning hands and then using the same for wiping dishes may only imply a good way to spread bacteria.

Cleaning Up Raw Meat

Tea towels are just not meant for this. By using them for cleaning up meat, you only run through the risk of contamination. Your best alternative is to use disposable paper towels.

Wiping Up the Sink

Who does not love the look of a clean and shiny sink? We all do! It may feel tempting for you to use a tea towel to wipe up your sink after you have finished doing the kitchen work, but just do not do it! Your sink carries an overabundance of germs, which will then be carried to your tea towel and to everyplace else you use it.  

With their adaptability and perfectly made material, tea towels qualify for remarkable contributions to any home. Redo a tea towel for an elegant touch that will go for many years to come.


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