23 ways to use a beautiful tea towel


Los Angeles Times

They’re versatile. They’re inexpensive. And they’re often handmade, by local artisans to boot.

The tea towel is more than a dish rag or an eco-friendly substitute for disposable Bounty or Viva these days. It’s a bit of graphic art, available in a plethora of patterns and illustrated amusements.

We scoured stores and websites for a range of the designs, then asked designers for these 23 ways to use a tea towel.

• Line a bread basket.

• Cushion the bottom of the fruit bowl.

• Wrap up a handmade design as a hostess gift.

• “They also make cute reusable gift wrapping, using them like we do in Japan as a furoshiki,” or wrapping cloth.” — Niki Livingston, Lookout & Wonderland designer.

• Use stiffer materials such as linen in place of vinyl shelf liner. When the shelves get dusty, just toss the towels into the laundry.

• “Especially during the holidays I love packing up fresh citrus in a tea towel and tying it off with yarn and bakers’ twine. This makes for a great hostess gift.” — Heather Taylor, textile artist.

• A variation on that theme: Use a tea towel to wrap scented handmade soap and leave it out for house guests. — Kara Smith, president of SFA Design in L.A.

• Use large ones as place mats.

• “I love using tea towels as napkins or bibs for those get-your-fingers-dirty meals like crabs and ribs. They look great on the table, and if they are illustrated, they become conversation starters.” — Paula Smail, textile designer.

• Use softer materials such as flour sack cloth to blot moisture when washing salad greens. Lay out lettuce on the towel, roll it like a cinnamon roll, then shake gently.

• Lay down a damp towel to prevent the cutting board from slipping when carving meat or rolling out cookie dough.

• “I always use pretty tea towels draped over a tension rod for my bathroom curtains. They’re super affordable, easy to clean and even a non-sewer like me can feel like she’s ‘made’ them.” — Annette Goliti Gutierrez, co-owner of the Los Angeles garden gifts store Potted.

• Put them out as guest hand towels.

• Line your tote bags with them. They’re easier to clean than most totes.

• Stretch and staple them over wood frames as textile artworks to hang on the kitchen wall.

• Have a tea towel sewn with a drawstring. Instant shoe bag. — Vanessa De Vargas, interior designer.

• Use the towel as a wine bag. Ted Vadakan, co-founder of the L.A. store Poketo, shows how to wrap a bottle at

• Turn your favorite designs into simple aprons with twill tape.

• Drape them on the backs of white-slipcovered dining chairs — and enjoy the artists’ original work. — Jackie Terrell, interior decorator and art lover.

• Sew them into simple toss pillows. — Kishani Perera, designer.

• Or you can sew them into seat cushions.

• Lay one over your computer keyboard as a dust (and cat hair) cover.

• When the designs fade or the material gets ragged, use them outside the home. Car buffs love the super-soft flour sack material to wipe down the dashboard — and as we’ve proved here, it’s so easy to find cool new designs for the kitchen again.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category