The ‘Tea Towel trick’

What is the  tea towel/dishcloth trick I hear everyone talking about?

You will often see in recipes that people will state to lay a tea towel (the cloth you dry your dishes with) between the inner slow cooker bowl top and the lid of the slow cooker (see photo below).
This is to absorb condensation and stop it from dripping down into the dish inside. It’s often used by members in cakes and breads etc that you don’t want to end up soggy.

I cannot say with 100% surety the safety of this method as it is not one slow cooker manufacturers recommend, but it is instead something the home slow cooker user has devised somewhere along the line.  Our members use this method every day to enable us to cook the non traditional slow cooker recipes that we all love like cakes, breads and slices etc.

When using one it is recommended to fold up excess fabric up onto your lid (you could secure it around the handle) so that it does not hang down over the hotter outer casing of the slow cooker.

We’ve made you a short instructional video on the Tea Towel trick HERE

You can also make your own Slow Cooker Cover – for instructions on how to do so click here-
(see photo below)

People do have concerns about fire hazards with this but from what I have been able to learn myself from my internet research, cotton has an Autoignition temperature of 407 °C (765 °F). Your slow cooker will come no where near these temperatures.  However I would love to get feedback from anyone who has professional knowledge in this area – feel free to contact me.
Also remember that the tea towel absorbs liquid during this process so it stays damp.

However it is totally personal choice if you feel this is safe for you to do or not with your slow cooker. Please make the decision for yourself on what you feel safe doing.

It is not recommended to use the tea towel in general recipe cooking simply as a measure to reduce liquid in your every day slow cooking dish.
Instead for risk minimisation with this technique, if you decide to use it, do so only for cakes, breads and baking etc recipes  where water dripping onto them is a major issue.

Again, please make your own decision regarding the safety of this practice.
If in any doubt do not do this.
I personally recommend not leaving your home when you are using a tea towel in this way so that you are able to keep an eye on your slow cooker and the towel throughout the cooking process.

27 thoughts on “The ‘Tea Towel trick’”

  1. Why isn’t it recommended to use a tea towel for general slow cooking as a method of reducing the amount of excess water in the recipe?

    1. I don’t leave a tea towel unattended so this method is one I personally only use when needed – eg cakes/baking
      There are many other alternatives better suited for every day slow cooking 🙂

      1. I guess I just don’t understand the risk with it. I’ve had one on my slow cooker all day today and the towel is soaked. So, not only do slow cookers not get hot enough to ignite a tea towel, they’re surely not going to ignite one that’s soaking wet?

        This post has OK’d the tea towel for cakes, but not general cooking, and I’m just confused as to why. Does it affect the cooking?

        1. As I’ve explained above the method is intended for cakes and baking etc that would be ruined with the water dripping down onto the food.
          The other recipes that are not intended for use with tea towels are not created with them in mind.
          So for some, your wet tea towel would rob the dish of liquid it requires to be successful.
          You are of course free to not follow the recipes and do as you wish, I am merely explaining it’s intended purpose and explaining what my personal recommendation is. The rest is up to you 🙂

          1. Oh, ok! When you said it wasn’t recommended, I thought you meant that it was unsafe or would interfere with the cooking somehow.

            I used the tea towel today before I’d read your tip on how to thicken recipes. I’m making a beef stew and didn’t want soup 🙂

            Thanks for the replies!

      2. i have started using a Tea towel under my lid for things like butter chicken and beef strog and the like so the sauce thickens. it really works a treat 😉 no flour needed and when the towel gets to wet i change it out for another.

        1. Can I ask? If you want a thick sauce do you use the tea towel trick for the whole time cooking or just the last hour?

    2. Im thinking that to use a tea towel during normal slow cooking the liquid absorpion would be minimal’d would be sopping wet very quickly
      Breads cakes etc dont create as much moisture

  2. Does anyone have any idea how to get the cooking smell out of the tea towel after using under the lid of the slow cooker?
    I have washed mine several times and tried soaking it but the smell is still there!

  3. If you desolate 3 aspirin tablets in half a bucket of water and soak your tea towels overnight before washing the smell will be removed.

  4. Instead of useing tea towels I use paper towels. Don’t have to worry about the towel smelling like the food and when done just throw them away.

  5. The only baking I do in my slow cooker is Sticky Date LOAF.
    I use the tea towel but I also put my wooden spoon across the cooker, then the tea towel and then the lid. The spoon keeps the lid raised which also let’s steam escape, and what steam doesn’t escape is caught by the tea towel and doesn’t drip onto my date loaf. ?

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