15 Best Substitute For Tea Towel Including Buyer’s Guide

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As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I can’t stress enough the importance of having the right tools and supplies at your disposal. One such kitchen essential is the humble tea towel. It’s a multitasker, serving as a dish dryer, a dough cover, and even a makeshift potholder in a pinch. 

But what happens when you find yourself without one? Fear not, because I’ve delved into the world of substitutes for a tea towel, and I’m excited to share my discoveries with you.

Best Substitute For Tea Towel – 15 Options Available

Tea towels serve various purposes in the kitchen, from drying dishes to covering bread dough. If you’re looking for substitutes for a tea towel, consider these options:

Paper Towels

Paper towels are a convenient and disposable alternative to tea towels. They can be used for drying dishes, covering food, or wiping surfaces. While not as environmentally friendly, they are readily available and absorbent.

Microfiber Cloth

Microfiber cloths are highly absorbent and great for drying dishes. They are also suitable for cleaning and can be washed and reused multiple times.

Cotton Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins made from cotton or linen can work well as tea towel substitutes. They are absorbent and durable, making them suitable for various kitchen tasks.


Cheesecloth is a finely woven cotton fabric that’s often used in cooking for straining liquids, making cheese, or covering food items. It’s lightweight and breathable, making it suitable for tasks that require air circulation.

Silicone Baking Mats

Silicone baking mats can be used as a substitute for covering dough or pastry. They are non-stick, easy to clean, and can withstand high temperatures, making them versatile in the kitchen.

Flour Sack Cloth

Flour sack cloths are thin, lightweight, and highly absorbent, making them excellent for drying dishes, covering dough, or straining liquids. They are a common choice in the kitchen and can be easily washed and reused.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper can be used as a substitute for covering dough or lining baking sheets. It’s non-stick, oven-safe, and prevents sticking, making it a versatile choice for baking and cooking.

Cotton T-Shirts or Cloth Diapers

Old cotton t-shirts or cloth diapers that are clean and no longer in use can be repurposed as tea towel substitutes. Cut them into appropriate sizes for your needs and use them for tasks like drying dishes or wrapping food.


Dishcloths, typically made from cotton or microfiber, are designed for cleaning and wiping in the kitchen. They can also be used to dry dishes or cover food when needed.

Bamboo or Rattan Mats

Bamboo or rattan mats can be used as substitutes for covering rising dough or food items. They allow for air circulation and are often used in Asian cuisines for steaming or cooling food.

Saran Wrap (Plastic Wrap)

Plastic wrap can be used as a substitute for covering food items or dough. It provides an airtight seal and is excellent for keeping food fresh. However, it should not come into direct contact with hot surfaces.


Clean newspaper can be used as a substitute for tea towels when draining fried foods or for absorbing excess oil. Place a layer of newspaper on a plate or tray and set the fried items on top to drain.

Cotton Oven Mitts

Oven mitts made from cotton or similar materials can double as tea towel substitutes when handling hot dishes or bakeware. They provide protection from heat and are easy to clean.

Cotton Socks

Clean cotton socks can be repurposed as tea towel substitutes for smaller tasks like drying dishes or wrapping food. Simply cut them into the desired size and use them as needed.

Silicone Pot Holders

Silicone pot holders can be used to handle hot pots and pans or as a substitute for a tea towel when handling hot kitchen items. They provide a good grip and can withstand high temperatures.

When selecting a substitute for a tea towel, consider the specific task and the material’s suitability. Some tasks may require absorbency, while others may need non-stick properties or breathability, so choose accordingly.

How To Choose The Best Substitute For Tea Towel

Choosing the best substitute for a tea towel depends on the specific task you need to perform in the kitchen. Consider the following factors when selecting a substitute:

Task at Hand

Think about the primary purpose of the tea towel. Are you using it for drying dishes, covering dough, straining liquids, or something else? The best substitute will vary depending on the task.


Different tasks may require specific material properties. For instance, if you need absorbency, choose a substitute made from absorbent materials like cotton or microfiber. If you need something non-stick, go for silicone or parchment paper.

Heat Resistance

If the task involves handling hot items or surfaces, ensure that the substitute can withstand high temperatures. Silicone, cotton oven mitts, and pot holders are suitable for this purpose.


Consider whether you want a disposable or reusable substitute. Items like paper towels are disposable, while cloth alternatives can be washed and reused, making them more eco-friendly.

Size and Shape

Ensure the substitute is the appropriate size and shape for your needs. You may need to cut or adjust some substitutes to fit the task correctly.

Food Safety

If you’re using the substitute in direct contact with food, make sure it’s food-safe and clean. Avoid substitutes with chemicals or materials that may leach into your food.

Environmental Impact

If sustainability is a concern, opt for substitutes that are eco-friendly and can be reused multiple times. Avoid single-use alternatives if possible.


Consider your budget. Some substitutes may be more cost-effective than others, especially if they can be reused many times.


Choose a substitute that is readily available in your kitchen or easy to obtain. Convenience is a factor, especially in the middle of cooking or baking.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, your choice may also come down to personal preference and familiarity. If you have a preferred substitute that you’re comfortable using, go with what works best for you.

In summary, the best substitute for a tea towel depends on the specific task, material properties, and your personal preferences. Consider the factors mentioned above to choose the most suitable substitute for your kitchen needs.

What materials should I avoid when looking for a substitute for a tea towel?

When looking for a substitute for a tea towel, there are certain materials you should generally avoid due to safety, functionality, or hygiene reasons. These materials include:

Plastic Bags: Plastic bags are not suitable as substitutes because they are not absorbent, and they can melt or release harmful chemicals when exposed to heat.

Vinyl or PVC: Materials like vinyl or PVC are not food-safe and can leach harmful chemicals when in contact with food. Avoid using these as substitutes for tea towels.

Rubber or Latex: Rubber or latex materials may not be as absorbent as needed, and they can be difficult to clean. Additionally, some people have latex allergies, so it’s best to avoid these materials in the kitchen.

Sponges: While sponges are useful for cleaning, they are not suitable as tea towel substitutes for tasks like drying dishes or covering food. Sponges can harbor bacteria and may not be food-safe.

Synthetic Fabrics with Coatings: Fabrics with waterproof or non-breathable coatings are not ideal substitutes because they may not allow for proper air circulation or absorption.

Fragile Materials: Avoid using materials that can easily tear or disintegrate when exposed to moisture or heat. They won’t hold up well for tasks that involve handling liquids or hot items.

Materials with Loose Fibers: Materials that shed fibers or lint, such as some types of upholstery fabric, should be avoided as they can contaminate food or dishes.

When selecting a substitute for a tea towel, opt for materials that are clean, food-safe, absorbent (if needed), and suitable for the specific task you have in mind. 

Natural materials like cotton, linen, or microfiber are often good choices for tea towel substitutes because they are absorbent, breathable, and easy to clean.

Can I use a regular bath towel in place of a tea towel in the kitchen?

Using a regular bath towel as a substitute for a tea towel in the kitchen is possible, but it may not always be the most practical option. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

Size: Bath towels are typically larger than tea towels, so you may need to cut or fold them to a more suitable size for kitchen tasks. This can be a bit inconvenient and may result in wasted material.

Absorbency: Bath towels are designed for body drying, so they are generally thicker and more absorbent than tea towels. This can be an advantage for some kitchen tasks, such as drying dishes or absorbing spills, but it may not be necessary for tasks like covering dough or wrapping food.

Cleanliness: Ensure the bath towel is clean and free from any chemicals or contaminants that may be present in bath and body products. You wouldn’t want these substances to come into contact with your food or dishes.

Hygiene: Remember that bath towels are designed for personal hygiene, and they may not be as hygienic as kitchen-specific towels. Washing them thoroughly and regularly is essential to maintain cleanliness.

Convenience: Using a bath towel in the kitchen might be less convenient than having designated tea towels. You’ll need to ensure the bath towel is readily available and accessible when needed.

In conclusion, the world of tea towel substitutes is vast and diverse, offering something for every kitchen and every culinary task. Whether it’s the convenience of paper towels, the elegance of cloth napkins, or the versatility of silicone baking mats, there’s a substitute out there waiting to be discovered. So, the next time you can’t find your tea towel, fear not—get creative and try one of these substitutes. Your kitchen adventures will thank you!

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