Tea Towel 101: How to Hand Wash Them Properly for a Sparkling Clean

hand washing tea towels


If you enjoy cooking, you know how essential a good tea towel is in your kitchen. They help dry dishes and utensils and come in handy for wiping spills, cleaning counters, and protecting your hands from hot pots and pans. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the art of hand-washing tea towels and provide expert tips to keep them clean, fresh, and sparkling.

Why Hand Washing Tea Towels is Important

When it comes to washing tea towels, many people opt to toss them in with their regular laundry. While this might seem quick and easy, there are better ideas than this. Tea towels can harbor bacteria from food spills and use, which can spread to other items in the wash. Additionally, the high heat and harsh detergents used in the washing machine can damage the fibers of the tea towel, causing them to lose their absorbency and wear out faster.

The Dos and Don’ts of Hand Washing Tea Towels

So, how do you wash tea towels by hand? Here are some dos and don’ts to get you started:


Use hot water: Hot water is essential for killing bacteria and removing stains. Make sure the water is hot enough to touch but not scalding.

Use a gentle detergent: Choose a detergent that is gentle on fabrics and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. You can also use a specialized detergent for cleaning kitchen towels.

Soak the towels: Soaking the towels before washing can help loosen dirt and stains. Fill a sink or basin with hot water & add your detergent of choice. Soak the towels for 30 minutes before washing.

Wash by hand: Use your hands to agitate the towels in soapy water. Scrub any particularly dirty spots with a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

Rinse the towels thoroughly in hot water to remove any soap residue.

Hang to dry: Hang the towels to dry in a well-ventilated area. Direct sunlight can cause the colors to fade, so choose a shady spot if possible.


Don’t use fabric softener: Fabric softener can coat the towel’s fibers, making them less absorbent.

Don’t wash with other items: To avoid cross-contamination, don’t wash your tea towels with other items, especially clothing.

Please don’t use bleach: While bleach can effectively remove stains, it can also damage the towel’s fibers and cause them to yellow over time.

Tips for Tough Stains

Even with regular hand washing, tea towels can still develop tough stains that won’t come out easily. Here are some tips for tackling those stubborn spots:

Use baking soda: Baking soda is a natural cleaner that can help remove tea towel stains. Add a tablespoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help loosen the stain.

Try vinegar: Vinegar is another natural cleaning agent that can help remove stains from tea towels. Add a half cup of white vinegar to the soaking water to help break down the stain.

Use lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural bleach and can help remove tough stains. Apply lemon juice directly to the stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing.

Try oxygen bleach: Oxygen bleach is a non-chlorine bleach safe for most fabrics. Add a scoop of oxygen bleach to the soaking water to help remove stains.

How Often Should You Wash Tea Towels?

Now that you know how to wash tea towels, you might wonder how often you should do it. The answer depends on how often you use your tea towels and what you use them for. If you use your tea towels to clean spills and clean counters, you should wash them daily or every other day. If you only use them to dry dishes, you can go a few days before washing.

Tips for Maintaining Tea Towels

To keep your tea towels looking and smelling fresh, you can do a few things between washings. Here are some tips:

Hang them to dry: After using your tea towel, hang it to dry rather than leave it bunched on the counter. This will help prevent bacteria from growing.

Change them frequently: If you’re using your tea towels for cleaning, change them frequently to avoid cross-contamination.

Avoid using them for hot items: Tea towels are not designed to withstand high heat, so avoid using them to handle hot pots and pans.

Don’t overload the washing machine: If you decide to wash your tea towels in the machine, make sure not to overload the machine. This will ensure that the towels get properly cleaned and don’t get tangled up with other items.


Tea towels are essential to any kitchen, but they can quickly become dirty and harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly. You can keep your tea towels clean, fresh, and sparkling by hand washing them using hot water and a gentle detergent. Avoid fabric softener and bleach, and use natural cleaning agents like baking soda and vinegar to tackle tough stains. Following these tips, you can keep your tea towels looking and smelling great and ensure your kitchen is always clean and hygienic.

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