Fingertip Towel vs. Hand Towel: The Never-Ending Confusion (2023)

Every sort of towel has its own use and purpose. As a result, it can be a little difficult to remember all the ‘towel etiquette.’ Failing to do so might even result in embarrassing situations when you’re visiting a place with that degree of hospitality.

This is why we decided to address the confusion regarding fingertip towel vs hand towel. By going through the article, you will be learning about the proper use of the two. So stay with us till the end as we explain in detail why and how the two towels differ from each other.

Fingertip Towel vs. Hand Towel: The Never-Ending Confusion (1)

Fingertip Towel

The names of the towels are quite literal. So defining them isn’t that hard. A fingertip towel straight-up means the towel that you’d use to dry your fingers. That’s it, and we’re not even kidding! Now, if we were to discuss what they are used for, then the discussion can get a little lengthy.

Here’s a brief explanation to simplify the entire concept – Fingertip towels can be both functional and ornamental. So if you spot one on the corner of the basin, then it’s there for you to dry your fingers. However, a printed fingertip towel on the tea table is just there because of the looks.

The overall use of fingertip towels would depend on how you perceive its purpose. Or on how your host intends on presenting it in front of you if you’re the guest. We know that understanding the theme of this towel can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s the same difficulty as remembering which hand to hold the fork with.

If you’re unfamiliar with a fingertip towel, then it’s quite normal to mistake these as modern-day napkins. But that’s not the case. These towels have been in use across fine dining and pleasantries since the beginning of the medieval age. In fact, they used to be a symbol of aristocracy and elegance back in the days.

Hand Towel

Hand towels are the much more popular counterpart of fingertip towels. You won’t find a fingertip towel everywhere, but a hand towel is present in every household. You’re most likely to spot one beside the sink or hanging from the towel bar on the wall.

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RELATED: Best Hand Towel

More often than not, the very first set of things that you will receive as pleasantries while checking into a hotel will contain a hand towel. Remember that a clean hand towel is one of the best ways to welcome a guest into your accommodation. Not only is it a symbol of warmth but hospitality as well.

A bath towel has a specific use of drying you after your baths. But with hand towels, the uses can get pretty diverse. Even though the main purpose always roots down to absorption of moisture, the situation may vary largely. For instance– you might come across the same product of hand towels in both a gym and a hospital!

Since they are ever so present in popular infrastructures, users can get familiar with the uses quite easily. Many hosts even go to the extent of folding hand towels in unique ways for their guests. Why? Well, that’s simply so that the guests have a much more pleasant experience during their stay.

Fingertip Towel Vs. Hand Towel – What’s The Difference?

If your search engine has led you to this page, then we’re sure you’re suffering from the common towel dilemma. Well, you may be a little relieved to know that you’re not alone in this struggle. Therefore, we’ll be walking you through the basic differences you ought to know about these rectangular clothes.

Shape and Size

The very first difference you’ll notice between the two towels is their size. Hand towels are larger than fingertip towels but smaller than a bath towel. The convenient size of a hand towel gives users the perfect balance between carrying and absorption.

Also Read: Best Bath Towel

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Fingertip towels are larger than napkins, but they have come in a specific size of 11” x 18” (width x length). Despite their difference in size, both the towels are rectangular in shape.


Even though users widely confuse the two towels as almost the same thing, their uses are very different. Of course, they both come in various colors and prints, but they both have very specific and different uses.

The uses of hand towels are limited to drying your hands after a wash. However, it’s also okay to wipe your face after a refreshing wash. So, you’ll mostly notice them beside the sink or neatly folded in the kitchen. But it’s not just water that they absorb. Users like to pat their sweat dry after a routine workout or run as well.

Also Read: Best Workout Towel

Although hand towels have both commercial and home use, they are not as diverse as fingertip towels. That is because fingertip towels are not limited to bathrooms and sink. Rather, they are used as fine dining apparel, wipe cloth, and for other cleaning purposes.

The small towels that you see sportsmen carry in their pocket during matches are also fingertip towels. These towels eliminate the bulk use of paper towels during parties. And that gives it a big advantage over its counterparts!

Weaves and Fibres

A hand towel is meant to absorb more moisture and water, so it has wider weaves and thicker fibers. So you will come across cotton threaded hand towels in luxurious households and posh hotels. Linen and microfibers are also two common go-to for both hand and fingertip towels.

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On the contrary, fingertip towels for personal use, so weaves are naturally constricted. If you have sensitive skin, then try going for bamboo fiber ones as they are gentle on the skin. Finding the right weave and fiber for use can be a challenge sometimes, but the user experience is worth the effort.

Cleaning Purposes

As the name suggests, hand towels are mostly used to clean your hand after you’ve washed them. In contrast, fingertip towels aren’t limited to drying your fingers only. You can also use them for cleaning the counter or inside the oven.

Patrons may or may not use hand towels as a washcloth. But their counterpart plays a vital role in cleanliness. Since the size is quite convenient and handy, users also like to carry them to picnics and outings. Often luxury cars have a pair of fresh fingertip towels placed in the glove box for hygiene purposes.

Gifts and Decoration

The two sorts of the towel aren’t only limited to functions. Both the towels come in various colors and patterns. In luxurious hotels, the authority folds hand towels in the shape of lilies and swans as an exciting way to welcome guests. Print a towel with your preferred monogram or message, and voila! You have a perfect present.

Remember that hosts place various printed fingertip towels on shelves just for cosmetic purposes. Those towels have no functional use. So if you spot one of them, then steer clear of using them, or your host wouldn’t be too happy.

Which One Should You Use?

The entire discussion of this article trickles down to one common question – Which one should you use? The answer to this question depends on what do you need the cloth for and whether you’re the guest or the host. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind–

If you’re the host, then use hand towels beside sinks and water sources. Offer a fresh one to your guests in their bedroom and clean it daily. Use the fingertip towels at the dinner table. If you own a restaurant or spa, then offer both fingertip and hand towels to your guests after making sure they are clean.

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If you’re the guest, then dry your hands with a hand towel after using the sink. Is there involvement of sweat? Then carry a fingertip towel with you. Make sure to work your way from the top of the towels are in a pile. And refrain from using hand and fingertip towels that are there for ornamental purposes.

Fabric Towels, Paper Towels, or Air Drying: Which One Is Better?

A statistic published in January 2021 says that the sale of paper towels in the US amounts to USD 6.47 billion. And that is only for the year 2020! This bulk of sales indicates the amount produced and used as well.

Paper towels are a popular option for hygienic purposes. It’s also popular in sectors where the authority has to serve several people regularly. But in households and small-scale restaurants, hand and fingertip towels can come in handy.

Whether crossing over of germs from one person to another will happen or not largely depends on the cleaning process. In other words, if the hand and finger towels go through cleaning after every use, then we can reduce the chances of contamination.

To add more to this matter – A research from 2013 states that Air drying your hand increases the risk of bacterial cross-contamination. At the same time, towels mitigate the threat by many times. So, just by transitioning from air drying and paper towels to fabric ones, we can save the world from misery.

Step Up Your Hosting Game Today!

If you’ve read through the entire article, then you’ve successfully deciphered the unabating confusion between Fingertip Towel vs Hand Towel. So the next time you’re in a posh household or restaurant, you won’t need to worry about their individual uses anymore.

It’s always admirable to see someone know the proper sanitary etiquette. And from this point onwards you’re one of them learned ones as well. This set of skills is not for you to become a better guest only. Rather you should take this opportunity and turn your hosting skills up a notch as well!

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What is the difference between fingertip towel and hand towel? ›

A fingertip towel is a small-sized towel providing an easy convenience to dry hands and 'fingertips' quickly. It is smaller than a hand towel, yet larger than a wash cloth. A fingertip towel can be functional, decorative, or both.

What is the purpose of a fingertip towel? ›

As guest towels: The fingertip towel is common in bathrooms as a guest hand towel. Their small size makes them ideal for drying hands after washing up. Finger towels used in this way often hang on the bathroom towel bar, or sit neatly folded in a basket by the sink.

What's the difference between a guest towel and a hand towel? ›

Sometimes bath sheets are referred to as extra-large bath towels. The bigger size bath sheet will take a little longer to dry but it will wrap fully around you as you dry. IS A GUEST TOWEL BIGGER THAN A HAND TOWEL? No, a guest towel is generally around 30cm x 50cm, while a hand towel is a bit larger at 50cm x 100cm.

How do you use a finger towel in a restaurant? ›

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.

What are the four types of towel? ›

The main types are bath sheets, bath towels, washcloths, hand towels, kitchen towels, gym towels, paper towels, beach towels, pet towels, face towels, hair towels, spa towels, and foot towels.

How do continuous hand towels work? ›

The towel is open-ended and the clean portion is stored in a bin at the bottom of the cloth roll dispenser. The clean and dirty sections of the towel never touch. Once the towel reaches the end, it gets placed in a bin or drum for laundering and a new, clean towel is placed in the unit.

What is a magic towel? ›

The magic towels is a compact tissue cloth, made out of 100% cellulose, it expands in seconds and unrolls into a 18x24cm or 22X24 cm durable towel when a splash of water is added to it.

How many times should you use a hand towel? ›

Hand towels should be changed every couple of days. Typically, this means using two to three fresh hand towels a week, and laundering them along with bath towels and washcloths.

Is a fingertip towel a washcloth? ›

Fingertip towels are slightly larger than a washcloth measuring around 11X18. As you can tell, unlike washcloths, fingertip towels are rectangular rather than square. Also, unlike washcloths, Fingertip towels aren't necessary unless you have a large circulation of guests.

Why do Japanese people carry hand towels? ›

They carry tissues, handkerchiefs, and small umbrellas inside their bag at all times. One of the rules that Japanese public schools make kids follow is to bring a handkerchief or a small towel every day so that they can wipe their hands after they wash them, or wipe something when they spill something.

How do you hang fingertip towels? ›

Pinch and Drape

Using your fingers, pinch the middle of the top long side of the hand towel and drape the towel over the hook. Straighten out the hanging towel, pulling down the ends to flatten it out and create symmetrical hanging folds.

Why do fancy restaurants give you hot towels? ›

Restaurant owners often look at hot towels as an alternative to paper or linen napkins they already have in place. Hot towels can be used after and during a dining experience for the guests to clean their hands and mouth. Like they traditionally do with a paper or linen napkin.

Why do waiters wear a towel on their arm? ›

Not only does this restaurant essential to protect the hands of your staff from touching hot plates and bowls, but they ensure that no marks are left on the plates by the servers.

What is best type of towel? ›

Cotton is the most popular towel material. But not all cotton towels are created equal. High-quality Turkish and Egyptian cotton produce the best, softest, and most absorbent towels. Whether you need them for yourself or your guest bathroom, cotton bath towels are multitaskers and ideal for everyday use.

What is the difference between types of towels? ›

A dish (kitchen) towel is typically made from thick cotton or terry cloth, while a hand towel is made from cotton, polyester, bamboo, or linen. You use dish towels in the kitchen, while hand towels are primarily used in the bathroom.

What type of towels do hotels use? ›

What type of towels do hotels use? The most common types of towels used in hotels are 100% cotton towels. However, cotton and polyester blends are also used in hotels, thanks to their exceptional durability.

What are Japanese towels? ›

“Tenugui” are a type of traditional Japanese towel. Since tenugui have a smooth texture that is unlike typical Western terrycloth towels, they can be used in various ways other than just drying hands or bodies.

What is a love towel? ›

Designed specifically for after-sex cleanup, it is soft, fluffy and absorbent enough for any situation! EMBROIDERED WITH LOVE: Embroidered with the Love Bucket logo to add sexy playfulness, and you'll never confuse it with any of your other towels.

Why do hotels give hot towels? ›

Traditionally, a hot or cold towel is provided to a guest upon their arrival at a business, restaurant, or F&B establishment as a way to say, “Welcome. Thank you for coming”.

What is the most space saving way to fold towels? ›

The trifold, bifold and deep fold methods will save space on your closet shelves. However, the best space-saving towel folding method is the spa-style roll. Rolled towels take up significantly less space than flat folded towels. Rolled towels can be stored easily in other places if you have limited storage space.

What is a smart towel? ›

The smart towel warmer solutions support remote control of reheating and drying, constant temperature mode, and more. You can set a weekly schedule for automatic drying tasks, which is convenient and energy-saving without constant attention. Scenes.

What is multifold hand towel? ›

Kleenex Multifold Hand Towel can be used to refill your hand towel dispensers. They have a multifold design which dispenses only 1 sheet at a time, helping to reduce contamination and wastage. They are made using Airflex technology making them extra absorbent and easy to use.

What is a turtle towel? ›

A Turtle Towel is a waterproof towel/ seat protector. Absorbent, velvety polyester with waterproof bonded lining. Easy-on, Easy-off, machine washable, and dryable. Folds up into the detachable, waterproof bag that doubles as the headrest cover.

What is the two towel trick? ›

What is the “towel challenge” on TikTok? The “towel challenge” requires two people to each hold the ends of a towel. The two towels should interlock to form a link. Each person must then contort their bodies while crawling and looping in and out of the circles to get free.

What is Dobby towel? ›

A Dobby Towel is a towel with border that features patterns or designs woven into the flat, separate weave portion. We have many styles to choose from to accent your decor.

Is it OK to use the same towel for a week? ›

The Cleaning Institute recommends washing bath towels after three uses. If you shower every day, that means laundry almost twice a week. Regular laundry is sufficient to clean towels and remove any germs that are starting to accumulate.

Do hotels notice missing towels? ›

THEY KNOW. According to a Miami-based company called Linen Tracking Technology, a lot of hotels stitch tiny microchips into their towels, robes, pillowcases, cloth napkins and other linens. The LinenTracker chips are currently being used in over 2,000 hotels--but don't ask which ones.

What happens if you use the same towel for too long? ›

“The longer towels stay damp, the longer the yeasts, bacteria, molds and viruses remain alive and stay active,” explains dermatologist Alok Vij, MD. “They can cause an outbreak of toenail fungus, athlete's foot, jock itch and warts, or cause these skin conditions to spread,” he says.

Is it better to use a washcloth or hands? ›

Scrubbing up with your hands is recommended. "It's best to just wash with our hands," suggests Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD. "Loofahs have been well-documented reservoirs of bacteria. They have been shown to grow Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, and more.

How hygienic are hand towels? ›

The hygienic efficacy of hand drying includes drying efficiency, the effective removal of bacteria, and the prevention of cross-contamination. From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers.

How hygienic are paper towels? ›

A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012 found that paper towels are superior to hand dryers because they dry hands more thoroughly, allowing them to better stop the spread of bacteria.

What are the three towels for? ›

Cover the basics

But if we're talking absolute essentials, then every linen closet must have standard bath towels (30” x 58”) for after-shower use, hand towels (16” x 30”) for washing up, and washcloths (13” x 13”) for when you're washing your face,” Elks, product development manager at Brooklinen, says.

What towels are more absorbent? ›

Thicker, heavier towels are usually more absorbent than thinner, lighter towels, but take longer to dry, of course. Towels made of Egyptian or Pima cotton, premium cotton brands, are super absorbent, and towels made with rayon absorb even a bit more water than cotton.

What are Egyptian towels? ›

Egyptian Cotton towels are incredibly absorbent, due to the unique composition of the Egyptian cotton plant. The Egyptian Cotton plant (Gossypium barbadense) differs from regular cotton plants in that the Egyptian fibres, or staples, are much longer compared to regular cotton fibres.

Why do Americans use paper towels? ›

They are convenient, they are absorbent, they are especially helpful in cleaning messes where something like cross-contamination could be an issue,” she says.

What do Italians call a hand towel? ›

(also: hand towel) asciugamano. (also: bath towel) telo da bagno.

Why do Arabs wear a towel? ›

The keffiyeh is commonly found in arid regions, as it provides protection from sunburn, dust and sand. An agal is often used by Arabs to keep it in place.

Are towel bars still used in bathrooms? ›

Towel bars, Hooks, Racks, or Rings

Towels are the most essential accessory in every bathroom, which is why you need to install a proper place to hang towels. Sometimes they are beside your shower or bathtub. Towel bars, racks, and hooks are common in every home and useful in hanging towels.

Why do hotel towels dry better? ›

The main reason is that they wash their towels in hot water 40-50c with commercial detergent and no fabric softener. Fabric softener can really reduce the absorbency of your towels,which leave a waxy residue on towels, for example. Also, cotton gets more absorbent with use, and hotel towels are well-used.

Why do they put hot towels on legs? ›

Hot towel scrubs open the pores in our skin, allowing toxins to surface and exit the body. It also exfoliates our skin, getting rid of dead skin cells and making way for new ones.

Why do people snap cooling towels? ›

ColdSnap towels and bands produce a long-lasting cooling effect through simple evaporation. As the water evaporates, the PVA creates a cooling sensation. Once saturated with water and exposed to air, the evaporation process will start and cool the towels to 10-15 degrees below the ambient temperature.

Why do waiters tap the table? ›

Most restaurants require a 100-percent table touch. Although the exact opportunity might vary, the best time is between the delivery of the main course and the subsequent clearing of the table. You are attempting to gather information from your guests, some of whom don't want you to interrupt.

Why do waiters serve with one hand behind their back? ›

Why do waiters have their hand behind their back? It is done to avoid the free arm or hand from accidentally touching the customer during every stage of service. Diners are not there to be touched by the staff, they are there to eat undisturbed.

Why do chefs have a towel on their shoulder? ›

Whenever the chef needs to take a pot off the burner, they can use their towel to pick it up because the chef's towel is thick enough to protect them from any burns.

What is considered a hand towel? ›

Hand Towel Size

As is clear from the name, a hand towel is used to dry your hands and usually hangs by the sink for easy access after washing your hands. It is generally 15"x25" to 18"x30" large and sometimes has decorative edges like tassels or a fringe for some extra visual interest.

What is the other name for hand towel? ›

What is another word for hand towel?
paper toweltea cloth
7 more rows

What is hand towel? ›

noun. : a small towel for drying one's hands.

What is a Japanese hand towel called? ›

Tenugui” are a type of traditional Japanese towel. Since tenugui have a smooth texture that is unlike typical Western terrycloth towels, they can be used in various ways other than just drying hands or bodies.

When should you throw away hand towels? ›

Ultimately, though, when a towel's threads begin to pull—or you notice a lingering odor, despite a careful wash—it's time to toss it; you can expect body and hand towels to last between two to five years depending on their quality. Wash cloths, on the other hand, should be replaced every one or two years, notes Winch.

What type of towels do 5 star hotels use? ›

Ring-spun cotton is the most popular design for most high-end hotel towels. Perfect for an authentic 5-star feel, the blend of long and short twisted fibers helps to make the towel loops strong and smooth.

What is toilet paper called in Italy? ›

ItalianEnglish Translation
detergente intimointimate wash
carta igienicatoilet paper
8 more rows
May 13, 2022

Why do Europeans not use washcloths? ›

Basically, Europeans think that washcloths, also known as 'flannels' are a personal item. As one gal commented on a travel forum: “The general concept is that a washcloth is as intimate and personal as underwear, thus not provided.

What do Americans call kitchen towels? ›

Kitchen towel can refer to: Dishtowel in North American English, called tea towel in UK English. Paper towel in UK English.

What is a fancy word for towel? ›

See also synonyms for: toweled / toweling. cloth. doily. serviette. wipe.

What do you call a towel to wipe table? ›

Bar Towels

These towels are small, light, and absorbent. As the name implies, bar towels are your towels of choice for bars, counters, and tabletops. They have high absorbency and are perfect for taking care of those nasty spills on your tables.


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