The Last Thing You Should Do with an Old Kitchen Towel

published Dec 10, 2022
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

Here’s the story of my kitchen towels: I specifically bought them to match our KitchenAid stand mixer. I found the perfect coordinating shade at Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a pile of them. They live in the kitchen drawer to the left of the sink next to the knives and are folded lengthwise and then widthwise so we can easily slip them over the rungs they hang on when they’re in rotation. One towel, for hands, hangs on a holder on the under-sink cabinet door. Another, which is designated for dishes, hangs on the same kind of rack on a cabinet door beneath the dish rack. A third hangs over the oven door handle and gets used while we cook. All three get replaced with fresh ones as needed at least a few times a week. 

Like many people, I suspect, our kitchen towels are not only part of the literal fabric of our kitchen experience, but also part of the backdrop of our life at home, so much of which plays out in the kitchen. They get used day in and day out, week after week, and, at this point, year after year. When they start springing tears and becoming threadbare and just in general no longer fit for kitchen use, I hate to throw them out.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Cut Up Your Old Kitchen Towels Into Rags

Instead of tossing them, I keep them around for a different use, not only to reduce waste, but also because they’ve served us well and make me happy! I want them to live to their fullest potential. And I want to, well, use them!

So I transform our kitchen towels into rags. Cutting them into squares makes them the perfect size for cleaning up spills. They’re more absorbent than our microfiber rags, and I find they’re our go-to solution when we clean up the inevitable nightly spilled water glass. I also like an old (clean) rag when I’m cleaning and either rinsing down a surface or drying it.

Kitchen towels-turned-rags may begin to unravel and don’t look as tidy as actual rags with finished edges piled in a nice neat tower. But they’re also handy for cleaning up the messiest of messes. The messes that maybe you don’t want to wash out of your other cleaning rags. For instance, I like a cut-up towel for cleaning up pet messes. It’s sturdier than the heftiest paper towel and I don’t feel so bad about tossing it in the trash. A rag that’s cut up into even smaller pieces is great for absorbing oil so you don’t send it down the drain

No matter what you plan on doing with your well-loved (read: very used) kitchen towels, taking scissors to them and giving them new life as rags is a frugal, resourceful choice. 

Do you cut up old kitchen towels? If you do, what do you use them for?

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The Last Thing You Should Do with a Kitchen Towel That’s Past Its Prime