Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ode to a Tea Towel

I kind of didn't like cooking or working in the kitchen growing up. And I didn't know why. It was messy business. Seemed like every time I turned around, there was a spill, a splash, crumbs, dust, grime, gunk, what have you to clean up. Every time that happened, I reached for the paper towels. That's just what we always had in the house. I remember my grandmother singing the praises of paper towels. But I didn't like how wasteful it was. Those babies are expensive! So every time I spilled, splashed, or otherwise discovered the inevitable gunk of the kitchen, I would groan at how it represented $.10 of paper towels in the trash.

So I kind of didn't spend much time in the kitchen.

Mike showed me the light without even realizing it. When we married and I took over his kitchen, he had these towels, about 2x3 feet. Some were terrycloth, some linen, some other textures for other purposes. And I loved them. Over the years, I have used kitchen towels for everything - scrubbing countertops and appliances, cleaning up spilled drinks, disinfecting after chicken or other meat juice, picking up dropped and broken eggs, cleaning under the stovetop, wiping down cabinets, washing windows.

As soon as one is dirty, I put it in the laundry basket in the utility room. At the end of the week I stringently launder them, only to happily use them again. And again. And again.

They are heavily used and loved. Some have holes in them where Dante slept (and chewed) on them while away from home. One has permanent stains from where I use it to polish silver. But they are all routinely bleached and sanitized and are that much better for it.

I also like how each tells a story. There are the ones I bought for Mike to give me for our first Christmas because I loved the idea so much. The one my friend Billie gave me, the one that came under a casserole whose donor told me to keep, my favorite toile ones, the old ones that were around before I was part of Mike's life, the good "Sunday" ones that tend to stay in the drawer, the one we received on our honeymoon in St. Lucia in lieu of change.

Who needs Clorox disinfecitng wipes or other such nonsense when you can use something real that won't rip or tear, won't sit in a landfill forever, and won't put your budget in a crunch?

And the best part? You can use different countertop/window/cleaning sprays depending on your application. Currently my favorite is Iowa Pine by Mrs. Meyer's.

Photo courtesy of Pedlars.


Laura said...

I started collecting tea towels several years ago. I try to pick up one whenever I go somewhere new. I also have started using golf towels. They are super absorbant and come with that nifty hook for easy hanging. I have to admit I'm much pickier about my golf towels. Nothing cheap and simply and advertisement. I insist that they be from a golf course and prefer them to be plaid.

Joe Wilson said...

Love my kitchen towels! We still have paper towels (nothing better to light charcoal) but I'd rather use a "real" towel any day.


Made by Lena