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Utopia Kitchen Towels Are Super Cheap, Highly Absorbent, and Surprisingly Chic

Oct 25, 2023Oct 25, 2023

I’ve just counted how many towels I go through each day, and the answer, it turns out, is infinity million.

Aside from being good for obvious uses like drying my dishes or my hands, towels are my everyday spill soppers, crumb collectors, blackboard erasers, muddy-dog-paw cleaners, emergency bath mats, and substitute pot holders.

My life is a nonstop towelpalooza, so it’s no wonder I decided to give our kitchen-towel budget pick, the Utopia Towels Kitchen Bar Mops, a try.

Though I had imagined that they would be able to handle all those little jobs on the cheap (which they do), I hadn’t anticipated just how versatile they would be. Whether I have to outfit a guest bathroom with nice-looking linens or I just need an emergency dustrag, these Utopia towels have become my go-to.

These terry-cloth towels are cheap and absorbent, wiping up spills from big to small.

Bar mops tend to be smaller than a typical kitchen towel, which makes sense: When used in actual watering holes, they’re often kept folded along a bar’s narrow glass rail.

A Utopia bar mop measures 16 by 19 inches. (In contrast, our top-pick kitchen towels, Williams Sonoma All Purpose Pantry Towels, each measure 20 by 30 inches.) However, in our extensive absorption testing, the Utopia towel rivaled and even outperformed several more expensive kitchen towels from other brands, despite its diminutive size.

“Bar mops are generally made of terry cloth, as opposed to woven cotton,” says Lesley Stockton, a senior staff writer on our kitchen team. “That makes them better for wiping up spills, cleaning counters, and drying pots and pans.”

Bar mops are less ideal, Lesley says, for such food-related tasks as pressing tofu or drying leafy greens, since they “tend to release more lint than woven kitchen towels.”

Utopia’s bar mops are fashioned from ring-spun cotton—which, as we note in our bath towels guide, “creates finer, smoother strands of yarn” and a more high-quality fabric than regular cotton.

I always store some Utopia towels under my kitchen sink for easy access so that I can quickly wipe up everyday meal-prep messes as needed, and I keep a few more near my front door for when the dog finishes a rain-soaked walk.

If you’ve ever reached for a bathroom’s lone hand towel and found it damp thanks to the person who used it previously, you can imagine how much nicer it is to use a fresh one every time.

My most frequent use for them, though, is in the bathroom, where they’ve become my preferred washcloth for doing my twice-daily skincare regimen. I soak an entire towel with hot water to remove cleanser from my face, neck, and chest; the towel’s nubbly texture offers a gentle, feel-good exfoliation, and since the bar mop is oversized compared with a typical washcloth, it makes my routine feel a little more luxurious.

Then I wring out the towel and use it to wipe up all the water I’ve splashed across the vanity and onto the bathroom mirror. (I’m very messy.) It easily handles those two tasks back to back, and after quickly drying out on a towel rack, it’s ready to handle other messes.

Our kitchen towel testers have given the Utopia bar mops low marks for being “not that attractive” compared with other kitchen towels, and I agree that they can look disproportionately stumpy when slung over a towel rack or through a drawer handle—but I’ve come up with a few styling hacks that can elevate their look.

My favorite technique is to roll (rather than fold) several of them and display them together in a basket that fits in a handy space close to the sink. (A wooden wine crate or similar container also works.)

For my two-bathroom home, I keep some in a decorative storage bin that sits atop a toilet tank, and I put others in a standing storage unit. When I have guests over, I put a small wastebasket on the floor nearby to encourage folks to use a fresh hand towel on a bathroom visit and then toss it into the wastebasket below.

If you’ve ever reached for a bathroom’s lone hand towel and found it damp thanks to the person who used it previously, you can imagine how much nicer it is to use a fresh one every time—especially in a house full of people.

After more than a year of using the Utopia bar mops, I’ve found that I can easily keep them looking bright by washing them with other whites in warm or hot water and adding OxiClean or white vinegar to the cycle. The best part is that when they do start to get dingy, I feel no remorse about demoting them to rag duty (and, one day, to my textile recycling heap).

At less than $2 a pop, they’re an amazingly bargain-priced way to add a little bougie to your bathroom.

This article was edited by Alexander Aciman and Annemarie Conte.

Rose Maura Lorre

Rose Maura Lorre is a senior staff writer on the discovery team at Wirecutter. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Salon, Business Insider, HGTV Magazine, and many more. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, and lots and lots of houseplants.

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