How to wash dish towels and tea towels

It's important to keep dish towels clean as they can harbour bacteria and damp which can lead to mould. Simply follow these tips on how to wash kitchen towels.

Updated 9 August 2019

how to wash dish towels & tea towels

Hands up if you rarely wash your dishcloths! That’s most of us, because, after all, dishcloths are typically only used to dry dishes that have already been cleaned, so they don’t get dirty, right? Wrong. There are two issues when it comes to tea towels. First, when you’re wiping clean dishes, you’re not only removing excess water, but also any soapy remnants that can eventually cause bacteria to grow within the fibres. Second, a standard tea towel can absorb roughly 20 times its weight without feeling wet, which means that even if we think a kitchen towel is dry, it could actually be harbouring damp, which leads to mildew, mould, and so on. Want to know how to wash tea towels? Then read on.

Washing tea towels is a necessary household chore to prevent harmful bacteria spreading, plus it’s easy and effort-free! Simply putting your dish towels in the washing machine on a hot cycle with a stain-removing detergent like Persil will kill germs and ensure your tea towels are spotless!

Washing Tea Towels: Detergents, Settings, and Cycles

You can boil tea towels on a normal cycle in the washing machine without worry – linen is remarkably strong and it’s not necessary to hand wash (unless you really, really want to). If you’ve used your kitchen towels to wipe up spillages on work surfaces, always opt for a detergent that is focused on removing stains and will remove any small marks or discolouration, leaving your tea towels looking like new. For heavier stains, don’t be afraid to pre-treat with a stain remover first.

Drying Dish Towels

Line drying is the preferred method of drying dish towels, as there is the risk that a dryer could break down the fibres, or melt any stitching or glues holding patterns together. Quite often drying towels naturally isn’t recommended because it takes so long, and leaving a towel damp for a period of time will encourage mildew, but tea towels are so small and lightweight that they dry in no time, so there’s really no reason not to hang them on the line.

How Often Should I Wash Tea Towels?

Now that you know how to wash kitchen towels, and how to dry them, you’re probably wondering how often they should be washed. To ensure good hygiene throughout your kitchen, you should really wash tea towels after every use or, at the very least, at the end of each day. Of course, if you use your kitchen towels to wipe up stains and spillages, particularly if raw meat or fish is involved, then you should wash immediately to prevent the spread of potentially harmful bacteria.

For more information on the ingredients in products mentioned in this tip, visit What’s in Unilever Products here.

Originally published 19 July 2018