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What is the difference between a hand towel & a fingertip towel?

Updated April 17, 2017

Most bathrooms have a towel holder next to the bathroom sink that holds a towel for people to use after washing their hands. The towel holder, for example a towel ring or a towel bar, is a useful and necessary item for the bathroom . Whether a hand towel or a finger tip towel is used depends on the height of the towel holder, and the needs of the users.

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Hand towels are generally 14-inches by 22-inches, while fingertip towels are smaller, at 10-inches by 15-inches. These sizes may vary somewhat, depending on manufacturer, but the fingertip towel is obviously smaller than a hand towel.


Because a hand towel is larger, it is used for vigorous hand drying, and other bathroom duties, like wiping faces and hand-drying hair. Hand towels are usually in the master bathroom. Fingertip towels are more suited to guest bathrooms, or a bathroom that visitors to the home may frequent. Guests are expected to wash their hands and gently dry their fingertips on the fingertip towel.


Fingertip towels usually have decorative trim, and are often changed out to reflect a current holiday or theme. For example, when it is winter, out come the snowmen fingertip towels while in October, the pumpkin-decorated fingertip towels make an appearance. Hand towels may also be decorative, but are generally more utilitarian.

Hanging Towels

Hand towels and fingertip towels should suit the towel holder from which they hang. A hand towel should not drag the counter top, making it less useful. Additionally, a fingertip towel should not hang from a towel holder that is so large that it makes the fingertip towel look minuscule.


Used hand towels and fingertip towels should be washed often to keep germs at bay. If a towel is highly decorative, follow manufacturer directions carefully regarding cleaning to keep intricate trim intact. Otherwise, most hand towels and fingertip towels can be washed in warm water, using a gentle detergent, then dried at the lowest dryer setting possible to reduce fading.

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About the Author

Karen Nehama is a former chef and restaurant manager, currently serving as editor of a food review and recipe website. With expertise as a youth adviser, she is also a consultant for a teen advice column.

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