11 Surprising Things You Can Do with a Kitchen Towel

Updated: Nov. 29, 2023

It's not just for drying your hands. Your regular old kitchen towel might be one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen!

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Pile of linen kitchen towels on a white background
Shutterstock / Daria Minaeva

The worst day of the week for anyone who works in a restaurant kitchen is the day before the linen delivery. It might sound dramatic, but we were lost without clean towels! You wouldn’t think a tiny piece of cloth could make such a big impact, but there are a surprising number of kitchen towel uses.

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Smoke detector on the ceiling with kitchen background.
Shutterstock / Paradise On Earth

Waft the Smoke Detector

This might sound silly, but anyone who has set off the smoke detector knows how annoying that noise is. Get it to shut off sooner by wafting a kitchen towel underneath it. It feels a bit like waving the white flag. We surrender!

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Cutting board over towel on wooden kitchen table.
Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

Keep Your Cutting Board from Sliding Around

This is the best-kept secret of the restaurant industry: Every cook puts a damp towel underneath their cutting board. It keeps the board from sliding around so you can focus on your knife skills as you furiously chop your vegetables. Brilliant!

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Female hands holding casserole dish with baked bread pudding on wooden table
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Use It As a Pot Holder

Fold the towel over itself a few times and it’s just as good as any potholder. Just make sure the towel is dry before grasping that hot pan. I learned this one the hard way, but heat will transfer through wet cloth.

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Boiled potatoes and grated the potatoes on a cutting board.
Shutterstock / vkuslandia

Wring Out Watery Vegetables

The key to making good potato latkes or hash browns starts with super-dry potatoes. The best way to wring out those potatoes is with a sturdy kitchen towel. Simply pack up your shredded vegetables in the center of the towel, bring the edges to the center, and twist until you can’t twist anymore.

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Greek Yogurt or Plain Yogurt and a spoon on a vintage wood background.
Shutterstock / Phish Photography

A Substitute for Cheesecloth

If you don’t have any cheesecloth handy, use a kitchen towel instead! You can use it to strain yogurt and make Greek yogurt, or strain out the aromatics of your stock by pouring it right through the towel. When you’re done, wring it out and toss in the washing machine.

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Whipped egg whites for cream on wooden table
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Whisk Easier

Similar to our cutting board trick, slip a kitchen towel underneath your mixing bowls. You’ll be able to whisk away without the annoyance of a sliding bowl. It especially comes in handy when you’re whisking egg whites to stiff peaks or making homemade aioli.

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woman's hand is holding a fork with small portion of Mac and cheese or elbow pasta baked with cream and sharp cheddar cheese sauce in dish,
from my point of view/Shutterstock

Prevent Scorch Marks on Your Table

If you don’t have a trivet handy, use a regular old kitchen towel instead. Simply fold the towel over itself twice so it forms a neat square. Then, place it underneath your hot casserole dishes or cast iron pans.

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Herbs, towel, Board

Keep Your Herbs Fresh

This is the best way to keep herbs and tender greens from going limp in the refrigerator! Just give them a rinse, snip off the bottom of the stems and loosely wrap them in a damp kitchen towel. Store them in the crisper drawer and they’ll stay fresh for two to three weeks.

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Fresh mixed greens leaf vegetables of arugula, mesclun, mache over kitchen towel
Shutterstock / Whiteaster

Say Goodbye to Your Salad Spinner

If you don’t have room to store a bulky salad spinner, turn to a kitchen towel instead. After washing your greens, place them in the center of a towel and bring the edges to the center. Without crushing the greens, gently shake the towel and spin it around to remove the excess water.

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Plate with ripe peeled beets on table
New Africa/Shutterstock

Protect Your Hands While Peeling Beets

This one is probably going to stain your towel red, but it’ll keep your hands stain-free. Instead of peeling the beets by hand, cook them in their skins. Then, use a towel to remove the skins: They’ll fall right off of boiled or roasted beets.

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Freshly baked American biscuits in a kitchen towel and bowl
Shutterstock / SawBear

Keep Your Food Warm

Save your aluminum foil for cooking in foil packets and use a reusable towel to keep your food warm instead. Simply drape a clean kitchen towel over biscuits or breads to keep them from getting cold. It’s also a great way to keep bugs off the food when throwing a backyard barbecue.