Kitchn Love Letters

These $10 Towels Are a Favorite Among Mechanics but I Use Them in My Kitchen

updated May 14, 2021
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A person standing with a cleaning tool belt around their waist
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Though I try very hard to be green in my everyday life, sometimes I find myself reaching for a very specific roll of blue garage towels. They are Scott Shop Towels, most often seen in a mechanic’s shop, wadded up and covered with grease. And the same qualities that make these towels ideal for an auto shop make them equally suited for the kind of greasy, soggy, gross messes that occur in the kitchen. 

Credit: April Blake

I came upon these towels by way of my in-laws, or rather, my husband helping himself to rolls of them when he went to visit his parents years ago. His dad used to own a gas and service station in rural South Carolina. And every few weeks, he’d get a few cases of these shop towels. Several made their way into our home. Soon enough, I began requesting my husband bring more back with him — because these things are perfect for cleaning up kitchen messes! Grease, spilled milk, dog messes, etc.! I started reaching for these sparingly, but any time I had a big mess that I didn’t want to sop up with a dish towel.

Credit: April Blake

The thick blue towels are way more durable and absorbent than your regular paper towel. At the risk of sounding like I’m writing the script for an overwrought TV infomercial, the magic of each sheet lies in its fabric-like texture. While paper towels quickly dissolve into soggy shreds, the strong, absorbent fibers of shop towels allow them to soak up copious amounts of liquids with ease. It’s worth noting that because they’re so thick, I’m extra aware of the waste they produce, so I make it a point to use them sparingly and ask myself if the job really warrants one before I pull it off the roll.

Though my father-in-law’s service station is now closed and our run of free-to-us shop towels is over, we still keep plenty on hand. A supply of 12 will last us more than a year, and every time I use one, I still marvel at how much better they are than paper towels.