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The Difference Between a Hand Towel and a Fingertip Towel

difference between fingertip towel and hand towel

With so many different types and sizes of towels, from bath towels and bath sheets to hand towels, guest towels and fingertip towels, it can be confusing to know what to use when, or what type you should buy. Of all the types of towels, hand towels and fingertip towels can be especially confusing because they are similar in size and function. But each of these towel types serves specific purposes, and whether at home or at a business, it's beneficial to have plenty of each.

In this guide, we'll answer the question, "What is the difference between a hand towel and a fingertip towel?" We'll also cover the many uses for each type, and why you should have plenty of both hand and fingertip towels on hand in your home or business.

 What Is a Hand Towel?

Hand towels, which are ideal for drying off your hands after washing up, are an essential item to have by any sink. You can find these towels folded or draped by the sink, or hanging from a towel bar or towel ring. Hand towels generally measure 16 to 18 inches wide by 28 to 30 inches long, and are smaller than bath towels, but larger than fingertip towels and washcloths. These hardworking towels should consist of a soft, yet strong, fabric to stand up to frequent use and washing.

What Is a Fingertip Towel?

Fingertip towels, which measure slightly smaller than hand towels, but larger than washcloths, are generally about 11 inches by 18 inches. These towels tend to be fancier and more for decorative purposes, but they can also be functional. Similar in purpose to a guest towel, fingertip towels are also sometimes called finger towels, and you can fold them neatly for guest use. Fingertip towels can be straightforward in color and design, match the rest of the towels in the room or decorated with unique or seasonal colors and designs. People can use them like a hand towel, for drying hands and fingers in the bathroom, or for small cleaning or kitchen tasks.

what is a fingertip towel

What Are Hand Towels For?

As the name implies, the most fundamental use of this versatile little towel is for drying hands. Because these small towels are an essential item for any bathroom, you can usually find them hanging up near the sink. They are also excellent for patting your face dry after washing. If you are using them this way, be sure to take a clean towel, instead of the shared hanging hand towel. Hand towels can also play a role in the kitchen, or for mopping up household spills.


Hotels and bed and breakfasts offer hand towels in guest rooms, usually at least one hand towel per guest in each room. In these settings, the hand towels are often of a plush, luxurious quality and artfully arranged with the other towels in the room.

At a gym or health club, patrons use hand towels during or after a workout, to towel off, wipe off sweat or to clean exercise equipment before or after use. The hand towel's smaller size is perfect for use in gyms, and these types of businesses must have plenty of hand towels in stock for client use. Hand towels should also be in ample supply in sports locker rooms. Players often carry them tucked into a pocket for use while playing sports.

Hand towels are also necessary at salons and spas, as a perfect size towel for client use during hair and nail services, massages, facials and all sorts of other treatments.

There are a wide variety of uses for hand towels in homes and businesses. In any of these businesses that rely on hand towels, it's essential to wash them between each client to prevent the spread of germs.

What Are Fingertip Towels For?

These small, delicate towels first appeared in upscale restaurants and fancier dinners at home, getting their name from the finger bowls diners used to wash fingers before or after dinner. Although this practice is rare now, the fingertip towel lives on in many functional and decorative uses, and for both homes and businesses. Here are some ways you'll see fingertip towels used today.

 

  • At restaurants and dinners: Some fine-dining establishments still rely on the practice of using fingertip towels for washing or drying hands at the table before or after a meal. Their use can elevate guests' overall experience at the restaurant, offering a historic, elegant touch. At dinner, consider providing linen finger towels in place of paper napkins.
  • what are fingertip towels used forAs 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. As guest towels, fingertip towels often have more interesting colors or patterns than other towel options, and you can change them to reflect the season. Providing a basket of finger towels offers a unique, upscale touch to your bathroom and allows guests to have a dedicated towel, rather than sharing one hand towel that could harbor germs and not ever fully dry out with multiple guests using it.
  • In the kitchen: Fingertip towels are excellent for drying off hands while preparing food, for drying dishes or for wiping up spills. A fancier finger towel is also just right for lining baskets of bread, rolls or crackers for serving.
  • At salons and spas: The smaller size of fingertip towels make them ideal for use at hair salons, nail salons and spas for facials, massages and other body treatments.
  • For working out at the gym: Many gyms and other sports facilities provide hand towels for guests to use for themselves or to wipe off gym equipment, but the smaller fingertip towels may be better suited for this purpose.
  • For cleaning and dusting: Fingertip-sized towels are great to have around the home or office to use for light cleaning. They're perfect for dusting and other cleaning duties — the small size means they can easily reach the insides of glassware and vases, or in between tight corners.
  • As utility towels: Rely on this convenient towel for a wide variety of utility purposes. You can keep a stack in the garage for cleaning and car washing, use in the car for traveling or keep one in your golf bag.
  • As a gift: Small fingertip towels in high-quality fabrics like linen make excellent hostess gifts or housewarming gifts. The towels can have pretty designs, seasonal touches or meaningful embroidered imagery or monograms, and will be a memorable gift the recipient can use over and over again.
  • As decoration: Place fingertip towels in a bathroom to elevate the style of the room. A set of bath towels with coordinating hand towels and fingertip towels hung artfully together is a straightforward way to add class and style to any bathroom.

The size of fingertip towels makes them ideal for all sorts of uses around the house, as well as for many types of businesses.

Materials Used for Hand Towels and Fingertip Towels

Both hand towels and fingertip towels can consist of the same materials, and the best materials for each can depend on the intended use of each towel. Here are some of the most common materials used for making hand towels and fingertip towels.

 

  • Cotton: Cotton, perhaps the most frequently used fabrics for towel manufacturers, comes in several varieties and qualities. Egyptian and Turkish cotton are the highest-quality kinds of cotton. As such, you will often find them in more luxurious towels at hotels and spas. Cotton also comes in organic varieties, blends, weaves and textures. Terrycloth is most common for bathroom towels, while flat and waffle weaves work best for kitchen towels.
  • Linen: Linen, made from the fibers of the flax plant, is a durable material that can dry faster than cotton. Linen is a standard material for kitchen towels, or for upscale fingertip towels used for guests.
  • Bamboo: Fibers from the bamboo plant create a softer texture than cotton and are naturally more resistant to mildew. Bamboo towels are excellent for sensitive skin and are a more eco-friendly choice, as the plant grows quickly and does not need pesticides. Bamboo material is ideal for luxurious bathroom towels, but there are a variety of other uses for it, as well.
  • Microfiber: This synthetic fiber, made from a polyester blend, is highly absorbent, lightweight and quick-drying. Microfiber towels are excellent for dusting, car washing or any other type of cleanup. Microfiber towels are also popular with professional swimmers because of their ability to wick away water.

 

Caring for Hand and Fingertip Towels

caring for hand and fingertip towels

The care instructions for both of these types of towels are much the same. An exception to this would be if the fingertip towels are decorative or fancy, with embroidery or other delicate elements — you may want to use extra care and a delicate wash cycle for these more intricate pieces. When you properly care for your hand towels and fingertip towels, you'll help them maintain their absorbency and fluffy texture, and extend their life. Here are a few simple care tips for both hand and fingertip towels.

 

  • Read the care labels: If your towels have tags or came with any accompanying information, read through it completely for any specific care instructions.
  • Wash new towels before using: Brand-new towels could have detergent or chemical residues, dust or germs from manufacturing and storage, and often get compressed during packaging. Washing all new towels before you use them will ensure they are fresh and clean for your first use, as well as soft and fluffy.
  • Avoid using fabric softener: When washing towels, you should avoid using fabric softener. This laundry additive can leave residues that build up and reduce the absorption capability of the towels. Even though fabric softener sounds like a good idea at first, it's a huge don't for towels. If you like the feel of fabric softener on your laundry, at least try to reduce usage, and don't use it on every laundry cycle when you're washing your hand or fingertip towels.
  • Wash similar colors and fabrics: You can wash most towels together, but if you have several colored groups of towels, keep them in separate laundry loads.
  • Use vinegar in the wash occasionally: This unique trick will keep laundry smelling fresh and strip towels of any residues and detergent buildups. About a cup of plain white vinegar is all you need to neutralize odors and reduce buildup naturally.
  • Wash towels in hot water: Hardworking towels pick up a lot of germs and bacteria, so you should use the highest heat setting possible for the wash cycle. Using hot water will kill the germs present on dirty towels.
  • Use the power of the sun: Line-drying outside may seem like an old-fashioned idea. However, this method not only infuses your laundry with fresh air, but the sunshine of line drying also naturally reduces odors and bacteria.

Using these straightforward laundry care tips will ensure your towels are long-lasting and performing at their best for years to come.

Shop Quality Hand and Fingertip Towels at Towel Super Center

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Both hand towels and fingertip towels are versatile standards for any home or business needs. From heavy-duty cleaning powerhouses to elegant decorative touches for dinners and guest bathrooms, there seems to be a hand towel and finger towel for just about every purpose.

Whether you're shopping for your home or your business, Towel Super Center has the top-quality towels you need at the wholesale prices you want. We have a large selection of all types and sizes of towels, including hand towels and fingertip size towels. Shop our wide selection online and have your towels delivered right to you. Whatever your needs are, we have a towel for you.

 

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