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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Westum Kjerngard

History Of The Kitchen Towel

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

This is a little bit of history of the Kitchen Towel, also called Dish Towel or Tea Towel. So far I haven´t found any book that describes the history, so I googled this topic and this will be a kind of summary of what I found, but also my preferences when it comes to towels.

We all can agree that these kind of towels have been around for ages. From silk towels used in ancient China to delicate posh embroidered tea towels in 19th century England. How the flour sack towels came out of the great depression to the famous Vincent Van Gogh who painted on kitchen towels when he run out on art supplies and money.

At I find this: "In the mid-20th century, dish-towel designs were updated for the modern household, thanks to improvements in screenprinting techniques and colorfast dyes. Mostly made of cotton or linen, tea towels of the 1940s and '50s often featured patterns with bright floral shapes, cartoon animals, popular foods, and travel themes"

During the Great Depression, cotton flour sacks were often reused as tea towels since buying them new was not an option for many families. In turn, flour companies adopted more decorative sacks explicitly so they would be saved for kitchen duty ( This is from )

Now kitchen towels can be made of linen, linen mix, cotton, linen union or terrycloth, a thick cotton pile. I have also seen a mix of cotton and polyester. When it comes to dry my kitchen utensils, I prefer the terrycloth, just love them. Flour sack is perfect to cover food or bowls. I often use linen towels as napkins. But I also have towels in pure cotton, many of them is just for display only.

So how do we use these different types of kitchen towels? First of all, it is a kitchen accessory.

We use them as napkins, As a buffer between pots & pansLiners for trays, baskets, refrigerator door, etc. To dry fresh fruits and vegetables. To cover food and keep it warm. As a slip grip under cutting boards. Drying or polishing dishes. Straining food. Embroidery, DTG Printing, & Screen-printing. Hand Towe. lDusting & Window Cleaning. Gift Wrap. Makeshift Diaper, Bib or Burp ClothCleaning Cloth for your car. (

Wipe surfaces and counters for both preparation and clean up.Always present to wipe hands

As an apron.As a drip cloth to lay out dishes to dry after washing. At the ready to wipe off any spills on the edge of a plate for presentation.

As a stabilizer beneath the cutting board or mixing bowls to keep them in place.

As an oven mitt or hot pad to quickly pull items from a hot oven or grabbing warm dishes.

As a pad or trivet upon which to rest items right out of the oven. As a cover for proofing bread or while dough rises. To polish glassware. As a strainer. To squeeze out the water content from frozen spinach.To make cheeses. For dehydrating fruit. For drying herbs or seeds.

To wash produce. As a lettuce crisper. To help keep food such as bread and rolls warm without getting soggy while being served. As a liner for other foods such as baked goods and snack chips. As the serviette or napkin at the dinner table. (

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