The kind I use are big and made with thin fabric. And boy, are they handy:
1. Microwave steaming. To quickly heat flour tortillas or pita bread, spritz or drizzle a stack lightly with water, and wrap completely in a tea towel. Microwave on high 30-45 seconds, and use immediately for serving. Also use to heat corn tortillas, and soften stale bread.
2. Soaking juice. From vegetables, that is. If you’re making a dry salsa, and don’t want juice oozing from the tomatoes, slice them and press them onto a tea towel that has been folded several times. Just be sure to put your towel immediately in laundry water, or spray with a laundry cleaner to help prevent staining.
3. Anything you would use a paper towel for. Thin tea towels are like super-durable paper towels. Use for drips, spills, or just shining the kitchen sink.
4. Bibs. Large-sized tea towels offer more fabric than kitchen towels, making it easier to tie (loosely) around children’s necks at dinnertime. If you’re children are super-messy like mine, consider carrying folded-up tea towels with you to restaurants and picnics. Store them in a zipper storage bag so you have something to put them back into when they are covered in food. The bibs – not the kids.
5. Straining. A little bit like the soaking up juice use, but for more: squeezing juice from a lemon without spilling any seeds, catching drops of fat when reserving juice from beef or chicken, or as a substitute for using cheesecloth. Good old Martha – she knows so much.
Note: I wash my dish towels and cloths in hot water, and sometimes with a laundry booster /stain remover like Oxi Clean or Borax, but I don’t work on kitchen spots much. I feel like the effort would be futile, and I have better things to do than apply elbow grease to tomato stains. :)