A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (2023)

Created: Thursday, 25 February 2016 10:59

A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (1)

If you’ve ever walked into someone’s bathroom and noticed what looks like a miniature hand towel on the towel rack, you’re likely not looking at a hand towel at all. This smaller towel is commonly called a fingertip towel. Fingertip towels may not be quite the household name like their counterpart the hand towel, but chances are you’ve probably seen them hanging around more places than you think.

  • Fingertip Towel Size
  • Types of Fingertip Towels
  • How to Use Fingertip Towels

Fingertip towels have many different functions and can be used in more rooms than just the bathroom. They come in a variety of different colors and styles, and can be matched to your room’s décor. These petite towels add elegance to any home or business, and provide your guests with a little bit of added luxury when displayed for their use. Fingertip towels can also take on more practical functions in kitchens, garages and gyms because of their natural absorbent qualities.

History of Fingertip Towels

Homes and businesses have used fingertip towels for many years. Early on in their history, they served a very specific and functional purpose. Upscale restaurants often offered diners a small bowl filled with water after they finished their meals so diners could rinse off any remaining food particles from their hands.

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The petite size of these bowls only allowed the person washing their hands to fit their fingers inside. Therefore, these small bowls were called, you guessed it, finger bowls. They would then use a small towel to dry their fingers, thus creating the fingertip towel. This practice was quite popular as diners could wash and dry their hands without having to leave the table.

With the help of the Industrial Revolution, towel manufacturing became more of a mass production. No longer were homeowners confined to having one-size-fits-all towels. Many homes now had a variety of towel sizes on hand for different occasions. Fingertip towels were beginning to not only be offered at upscale restaurants, but they were frequently presented with finger bowls at formal meals within the home as well.

However, the finger bowl practice became less popular during World War I when the U.S. Food Administration discouraged any excess china, glassware or silverware in restaurants or homes. Doing away with finger bowls at mealtime eliminated the need for fingertip towels as an everyday occurrence at tables.

Even though the finger bowl hand washing routine is no longer in practice, fingertip towels live on.Fingertip towels are often used as decorative elements in kitchens and bathrooms, or as functional pieces that serve many purposes inside and outside the home. Some restaurants also still use fingertip towels, but they are typically relegated to the bathroom, as it’s no longer customary for patrons to wash their hands at the table after their meal.

Fingertip Towel Size

A first glance, you may mistake a fingertip towel for a hand towel. Hand towels and fingertip towels do share many similar qualities:

  • They both come in a variety of colors and patterns
  • They’re typically made from cotton or a cotton blend
  • They are similar in their long, rectangular shape.

But the actual size of a fingertip towel as compared to a hand towel is vastly different. Hand towels typically measure 16 inches wide by 30 inches long, whereas fingertip towels are only 11 inches wide by 18 inches long.

A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (2)

When fingertip towels are placed in a bathroom near bath towels, they’re also frequently mistaken for a large washcloth. But when unfolded, their rectangular shape is usually a dead giveaway. Washcloths are almost always square in shape and usually measure around 12 or 13 square inches.

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Fiber and Weave

Most towels are made from cotton or cotton blended with other fibers such as polyester or bamboo. Modal and microfiber are also popular towel fiber choices because of their ability to hold moisture. However, the softest and highest quality towels are made from either 100 percent Egyptian cotton or American-grown pima cotton. Cotton is a super absorbent fiber that is soft to the touch, making it an ideal choice for a towel material.

A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (3)

There are a few different options when it comes to the construction, or in other words, the weave, of fingertip towels. The weave you choose depends on what you plan to primarily use your fingertip towel for:

  • Terry — Terry weaves make for spectacularly universal fingertip towels. They have large thread loops, resulting in high liquid absorbency, making them great for everyday use.
  • Velour — Velour weaves are similar to terry weaves. However, the loops in velour weaves are sheared, providing a softer, plusher feel than terry, while also making them less absorbent. You will need to blot rather than rub when using velour fingertip towels to absorb liquid.
  • Waffle — Waffle weave fingertip towels are mainly used as kitchen towels because of the small squares that are formed into the weave. This somewhat rough, waffle texture is great for rubbing off water spots or food debris when used for drying dishes and utensils.
  • Jacquard — Fingertip towels with intricate patterns and designs directly woven into the material use a jacquard weave. Jacquard weaves are generally very strong and resilient, and can withstand significant stretching when wet.

Some fingertip towels are even made using two different types of weaves on each side, allowing them to be a multifunctional option to fit a variety of needs.

Fingertip Towels: A Multitude of Uses

Today, fingertip towels have numerous uses around the home, in restaurants, and even in fancy spas. No longer are they confined to only being used in formal dining situations. Some of the most common uses for fingertip towels include:

A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (4)

Guest Bathrooms

There are many ways you can create elegance in a guest bathroom with fingertip towels:

  • Lay them on your bathroom countertops
  • Drape them over coordinating bath or hand towels for your guests to use after washing their hands
  • Place a basket full of fingertip towels near your sink so guests can use a fresh towel after each hand wash. These can be displayed by simply rolling them into a circular shape or folding them neatly into more intricate shapes for added decoration.

Have a small receptacle or hamper nearby so your guests can drop used fingertip towels in so they’re not reused.

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Bathrooms in One-Bathroom Homes

If you’re entertaining guests and only have one bathroom in your home, fingertip towels are an excellent way to provide a designated hand-drying towel that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Displaying fingertip towels in your only bathroom will take the confusion out of which towel your guests should use. The small size of a fingertip towel is easily recognizable, and your guests will know not use your personal bath towels.

Dinner Parties

Why not go back to an era of sophistication and use your fingertip towels at the dinner table. In lieu of paper napkins, place fingertip towels around the table for your guests to clean their hands with during and after the meal.

If you want to stay true to tradition, add a small finger bowl filled with water for your guests to rinse their fingers. Be sure to let your guests know what the finger bowl is used for, otherwise some guests may confuse it for a tiny water bowl and try to drink it with their meal.


If you’ve ever had a clambake at your house, you know it can be a real mess. You can go through rolls of paper towels just for a few people. Offer your guests a fingertip towel or two instead of paper towels so you can simply wash and keep reusing after the party. This will eliminate the waste of using tons of paper towels at your next clambake.


Because fingertip towels are made from super-absorbent materials like cotton, they work great as a tea towel for all sorts of kitchen uses. Keep a fingertip towel handy during food prep to wipe your hands with after chopping or handling food. Or, if you’re serving bread with your meal, lay them in the bottom of your bread basket for a decorative liner.

Dish Drying

Fingertip towels are perfect for drying dishes, especially when you’re handling fine crystal, fancy wine glasses, or delicate china. They’re not quite as bulky as a larger hand towel, so they easily reach all the way to the bottom of your favorite champagne flutes. Rest assured there will be no watermarks on them for next time!

A Complete Guide to the Ins and Outs of Fingertip Towels (5)

Utility Towel

If you’re looking for a general utility towel, then a fingertip towel is for you. Some even come with a loop or grommet on one corner so you can hang them in a convenient spot for easy access. Hang them from golf bags to use for drying golf balls, or store them in the garage or toolshed to easily wipe down tools or greasy hands.

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Workout Towels

If you have ever been to the gym, you may have noticed almost everyone carries around a towel with them. Some choose to bring a hand towel, a few even a bath towel, but most are probably carrying around a fingertip towel.

The smaller size of fingertip towels allows them to be easily carried to different equipment and draped discreetly over a corner of the machine. Other larger towels can get in the way and become a nuisance to those working out around them. Fingertip towels are the perfect size and absorbency to quickly grab and wipe the sweat from your face mid-workout.

Rally Towels

At sporting events, fans all over the stadiums wave around towels with their team colors. Show your team spirit and purchase wholesale fingertip towels in bulk so you have enough to pass around to your fellow spectators. For a wide variety of options and color choices, try shopping online for fingertip towels as they are often greatly discounted when buying in larger quantities.

Restaurants, Hotels, Spas and Country Clubs

Give your establishment upscale appeal by replacing paper towels or hand dryers in bathrooms with 100 percent cotton fingertip towels. Guests will love the elegant touch of a soft, cotton towel placed for their personal use when visiting the restroom in your facility.

Care Tips

Quality fingertip towels are designed to release stains and odors when washed and withstand the strain of multiple wash cycles. Here are a few additional care tips you can take to help prolong the life of your fingertip towels.

  • Before you begin to use your fingertip towels, make sure you wash and dry them. This will remove any lingering chemicals or dirt and debris from manufacturing. Since towels are often tightly packed in shipment, washing them will help return them to their natural fluffiness and promote maximum absorbency.
  • Avoid fabric softeners when washing. Fabric softeners make towels feel extra soft, but they can also reduce the absorbency of the towel. If you really love the way your towels feel after using fabric softener, then try to only use it every 3-4 washes. This will reduce the likelihood of a waxy buildup accumulating on your fingertip towels and promote continued absorbency.
  • The addition of vinegar to your wash cycle on occasion will do wonders for your towels. Add about a half to a full cup of vinegar to your wash load to help increase the absorbency of your towels by removing excess detergent residue. Vinegar also helps set the color of your towels so they don’t bleed onto other items during the wash cycle. If your towels are beginning to smell musty, vinegar will also aid in neutralizing this odor.
  • Wash towels in the hottest water setting recommended for your particular towel to remove germs and bacteria. Germs can accumulate on towels after repeated use, especially towels used for hand washing like fingertip towels. White towels can be washed in hot water, preferably with other whites to avoid discoloration that can occur over time. Colored towels can be washed in warm water with similar colors to prevent any colors from bleeding.
  • Bleach is okay, but make sure you use non-chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach can significantly reduce the life of your towel by weakening the fibers. Non-chlorine bleach is much gentler on the material and will still remove stains and keep your whites looking bright. For colored towels, use a color-safe non-chlorine bleach if needed.
  • Drying time is important. Over-drying towels can begin to breakdown the individual fibers of the towel. However, if your towel is not completely dry when folded, it can quickly lead to smelly mildew. So make sure your towels are completely dry when removed from the dryer, but try to avoid drying them longer than they need.

Shop Towel Super Center

Fingertip towels are a great way to add elegance and luxury to any bathroom or kitchen. You can choose to coordinate them with other towels in your collection or make them stand out by choosing bold accent colors from your décor.

Purchasing wholesale fingertip towels from Towel Super Center gives you multiple style and color options to choose from. We make our towels from the finest-quality materials, and they are 100 percent cotton for superior absorbency. Simply pick the perfect fingertip towel for your needs, and we’ll have it delivered right to your door. Browse Towel Super Center’s large selection of other towel options for your business or home, and find all of your towel needs right in one convenient place!

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