face towel vs hand towel

Many consider towels a commodity we use without giving it much thought. For other people, towels represent small elements of self-pampering, comfort, and even luxury. While for some businesses, choosing the right type of towels can offer them leverage over their competitors.

If you set foot in a high-end hotel, you certainly found face towels, hand towels, bath towels and bath sheets. Today we will focus on the face towel vs hand towel difference, because they are (or should be) the most frequently used types of towels in a person’s home.

Towels are a constant part of our life and they help us keep a good hygiene and health. Besides, some towels can make us feel wrapped in veritable cocoons of comfort; therefore, we need to take very good care of them. Our face towels and hand towels are front-line combatants and take quite a beating. So let us see today the difference between them from all points of view!

1. Face Towel vs Hand Towel: Size

burgundy hand towel

One of the easiest ways to make the difference between two type of towels is their size.

Face Towels

Also known as washcloths, face towels are small towels – 13 by 13 inches in general. These small square towels have a specific goal: they dry and clean your face.

Hand Towels

Sometimes called the “Swiss Army Knife” of towels, hand towels usually rest nearby your sink. From a size point of view, the standard hand towel measures about 16”x30”.

Conclusion: Hand towels are larger than face towels. In comparison to face towels, hand towels are ubiquitous.

2. Face Towel vs Hand Towel: Purpose

white cotton hand towel

The purpose of a towel influences its frequency of use and its presence in certain places. Let us see what this is all about!

Face Towels

While some people also use washcloths as kitchen towels, face towels’ purpose is to make sure you receive the best of face care you can get. They have to dry your face and clean it of water, soap, natural skin oil and face products’ residue.

You will find face towels in hotels, spas, and wellness/beauty centers or medical facilities. They should be more common in people’s bathrooms as well, because the grime and dirt from your other body parts should never end up on your face. You need a special item for face hygiene and this is the washcloth’s main purpose.

Hand Towels

Hand towels are the most common types of towels found in peoples’ homes, hotels, bars and restaurants, medical facilities, gyms, and so on. Their purpose is to keep your hands clean. Of course, some people use them to dry other body parts, but from a health point of view, this is not hygienic.

You can keep such a towel separately for your feet, hair, and body, but never use the hand towel for anything else than your hands.

Conclusion: Depending on their purpose, you should buy separate towels for separate needs. Each of these two types of towels serve a specific goal and you should not use one instead of the other.

3. Face Towel vs Hand Towel: Fabric

green terry towel

Towels come in many fabrics and thread blends. You will find both face towels and hand towels coming in 100% organic cotton, microfiber, bamboo blends, Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton, and other variations. While we are on the subject of fabrics, we want to emphasize on the best choices of towels when you have to buy these two types.

Face Towels

Face towels should be absorbent, gentle with your face skin, easy to wash, resilient to heavy use, and soft. Considering these criteria, you should look for high-end cotton face towels, with Turkish cotton being a very wise choice in terms of quality, absorbency, softness and warmth. If you want your face towel to come with high absorbency rates, then microfiber face towels are also an excellent choice.

Hand Towels

The skin on your hands is not as sensitive and vulnerable as the skin on your face. Moreover, our hands get dirty very often and we can use a hand towel many times a day.

Considering this, your hand towels should come in a resilient fabric which is also pleasant against your skin, but which allows you to obtain proper drying and cleaning.

Some of the best hand towels are the ones coming in 100% Turkish cotton or in bamboo blends. We do not recommend synthetic hand towels. No matter how resilient they may seem, synthetic fabrics do not present quality absorbency and do not treat your skin right.

Conclusion: Both face towels and hand towels should have good absorbency levels and come in soft fabrics that do not scratch or irritate your skin. Some of the best fabrics are microfiber, cotton, and bamboo.

4. Face Towel vs Hand Towel: Numbers

grey face towels in bulk

Maybe numbers is not quite the best criterion for this type of differentiation, but we believe you understand where we are going with this: the number of towels you need from each category.

Face Towel

Given that washcloths have a specific purpose – keeping your face dry and clean – you should change them as often as you can. Face towels take a serious beating because they encounter plenty of substances: soaps and face cleaners, shaving foam, makeup, face creams and washes, toothpaste, skin oil, dirt, and particulates, and so on.

All these products can lead to stains and grime. If you want a hygienic face, you should not clean your face with a dirty face towel.

Hand Towel

As a word of advice, do not use your hand towel to dry and clean you face with or the other way around. The grime and dirt, microbes, and particles on your hands are very dangerous and can cause you skin or even eye problems if they reach your face. Thus being said, hand towels have their own fair share of wear and tear.

However, you can use your hand towels for a week and wash them properly in the weekend. By comparison, you should change your face towel every other day, especially if you have sensitive skin or problematic skin.

Conclusion: You should have a serious stock of face towels, meaning you should either buy more items or look for sets containing a larger number of towels per set. You can purchase less hand towels. Even if you will give them a hard time, you will need less items to get you through the week.

5. Face Towel vs Hand Towel: Cleaning

man washing towels

It goes without saying that you should keep all your towels in perfect shape – clean, disinfected, dry, and perfectly stored. The cleaning methods of towels depend more on the fabric and less on their size and we have talked before about various cleaning methods. However, some considerations are in order:

- Change and wash your face towels frequently. Since they are incredibly prone to stains and heavy soiling, keeping them clean is a matter of hygiene and health, not a whim. Depending on their fabric, wash them according to the manufacturers’ recommendation and never forget to use some vinegar to refresh them.

- Make sure you always separate your towels from other clothes when using the washing machine; you should also separate towels between them when they differ in fabric and dirtiness.

- Make sure you air-dry the towels, no matter their type, and that you store them in clean, dry cabinets.


There is no real face towel vs hand towel conflict. They are both useful and you should use each for its specific purpose.



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