Towel Question

I know this is trivial, but it’s been driving me nuts. I can’t Google up a real answer. Maybe someone here knows.

There are several different sizes of towel for personal use in the bathroom. There’s the bath towel, which one uses to dry oneself after bathing, obviously. There’s the larger bath sheet, for the same purpose, but presumably for larger people. There’s the washcloth, a small square that is suitable for washing the body and/or the face. There’s the hand towel, which one generally uses to dry one’s hands after washing them.

Then, there’s the fingertip towel, somewhere in between a hand towel and washcloth in size. Why, other than to presumably pad the pockets of towel makers and department stores, does this odd little towel exist? What is its purpose?

Is one to dry one’s fingertips separately from the rest of one’s hands, on a separate towel? :rolleyes:

The closest thing I could find to an answer was a brief mention of them being “for guests.” This requires further explanation. Is it presumed that guests only wash the tips of their fingers? Is it that they don’t “require” as large a towel as the home’s residents for drying their hands after washing (and why would this be)? Does the name actually come from a tradition of having one at each guest’s fingertips, for some reason?

Help, please, so I can get this nagging question to leave me be!

In order of size:

Washcloth - to put soap on and scrub all parts of body.

Guest towel (“fingertip towel”) - for drying hands, very handy (ha!) for party guests. Probably about same size as towels used in restaurants with fingerbowls.

Face towel (“hand towel”) - for drying face and hands, appropriate size for resident of the home.

Bath towel - to dry whole body after bathing.

Beach towel - (“bath sheet”) - for lying on at the beach, can also be used for drying as needed.

I can’t answer most of your questions. However, I can tell you why my mother buys them, especially inexpensive ones decorated for various holidays. Fingertip towels are just the right size to cut a hole in, line the hole with ribbing, and give to people for use as baby bibs. Well, actually, mostly toddler bibs. You know, not so much for newborns, or those being bottle(or breast) fed, but those who are old enough to feed themselves, but tend to drop/smear food on all available surfaces. Such that one sometimes wonders whether it would be easier to strip the child naked,except for the diaper, sit the child in the high chair, provide appropriate food, and when dinner is over, give child bath, complete with washing of hair. Bibs like my mom makes can continue to be used until the child is two or three, and mostly able to eat without making such a mess of clothing.

Wait a minute: the hand towel is also a “face towel”?! After a lifetime of being told to keep my hands off my face, I’m going to spread all those germs on with a towel!? :eek: :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, I’ve never heard of that. It makes a bit more sense in explaining the fingertip towel, though. But, what is the source of your information? I mean, is this just opinion, family tradition, or what? Hope you don’t mind me asking.

It’s my opinion, garnered from years of osmosis, but with no real authority. I figured someone would call me on it. :slight_smile:

But the real question is, why have you been told to keep your hands off your face? How do you pop zits, or pick your nose, or get that little piece of spinach off your lips? :slight_smile:

Seriously, though, don’t you dry your face with a bath towel? Seems to me a towel that dried your just-cleaned hands is hardly anything to worry about.

I’ve been told to keep my hands off my face by my dermatologist, as touching the face is one thing that really exacerbates acne (I’m in my 40’s, and I still have frickin’ acne!). Also, touching your hands to your mouth/nose/eyes is a leading spreader of communicable diseases, and I have poor immunity.

As to your second question: yes, I dry my face with my bath towel, which I do not share with anyone. But I’ve always been under the impression that anyone who uses my bathroom is going to avail themselves of whichever hand towel is hanging by the sink, and I have no control over how thoroughly they wash & rinse their hands.

Maybe if I put out fingertip towels for the guests, they will use them instead of “my” hand towel! Hey, this is making more sense all the time!

IMHO (with no Emily Post authority) fingertip towels are for guests because they are small enough for single use. For example, a stack of fingertip towels is set near the basin during a party. Used fingertip towels are discarded into a small hamper or basket that is separate from, but next to, the wastebasket. Used in this manner, fingertip towels are much more sanitary than asking all guests to dry their hands using a larger hand/face towel, and are also more elegant than placing a stack of paper towels or napkins near the basin.

In addition, fingertip towels can be used decoratively. Due to their small size, rolling up several different colored fingertip towels is an inexpensive way to brighten up the commode without taking up large amounts of counter/shelf space.

Good points all. The strategy is to have your personal face and bath towels, used only by you, and guests towels for guests. The trick is to get guests to use the guest towels - sometimes they think they’re too pretty to muss up and look for something else. :rolleyes:

That’s it? That’s all?!?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.

Firstly, it has great practical value:[ul][li]You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta.[]You can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours.[]You can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon.[]Use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth.[]Wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat.[]Wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.[]You can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal.[/ul]… and, of course, dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.[/li]
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag [non-hitch hiker] discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of:[ul][li]toothbrush[]face flannel[]soap[]tin of biscuits[]flask[]compass[]map[]ball of string[]gnat spray[]wet weather gear[]space suit[/ul] etc., etc. …[/li]
Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have ‘lost’. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.