Can I Use a Bath Towel as a Beach Towel?

As summer approaches and you start planning beach trips, you may be wondering if you can simply use your regular bath towels as beach towels instead of buying designated beach towels. At first glance, a towel seems like a towel, so why not use what you already have?

Can I Use a Bath Towel as a Beach Towel

While a bath towel can technically function as a beach towel, there are some important differences between bath and beach towels to consider. Beach towels are engineered for the specific conditions of the beach environment, like sand, sun, and saltwater. Using a suboptimal towel may lead to frustration and a less enjoyable beach experience.

Size Matters

One of the most noticeable differences between bath and beach towels is size. Beach towels are significantly larger than bath towels.

The standard dimensions for a bath towel are around 27″ x 52″, which is just big enough to dry off an average-sized adult after a shower. Beach towels, on the other hand, are typically 35″ x 60″ or larger. Many oversized beach towel options measure up to 40” x 70”.

Why the extra size? Beach towels serve the dual purpose of drying you off and providing a surface to lounge on. The ample length and width allow beach towels to accommodate people of all heights and provide plenty of coverage from the sand below.

Trying to relax and sunbathe on a small bath towel simply won’t cut it. You’ll likely end up with sandy feet and legs hanging off the edges. The right beach towel size helps maximize comfort, functionality, and cleanliness at the beach.

Thinner Fabric for Quick Drying

Another key difference is fabric thickness. Bath towels tend to be thick, plush, and fluffy. This thickness makes them ultra-absorbent, perfect for drying your body after a shower or bath.

Beach towels use a thinner, lighter fabric constructed for quick drying. The thinner fabric holds less water than a bath towel, ensuring you can easily unfold it and wrap up again after a dip in the ocean.

No one wants to lounge on a sopping wet towel! The quick-dry fabric of beach towels makes them ideal for the constant transition from water to sand that happens at the beach. Plus, thinner fabric is easier to transport and takes up less space in your beach bag.

Maximum Absorbency in Bath Towels

When it comes to absorbing water, bath towels have the edge. The thick, fluffy pile of a bath towel pulls moisture away from your skin very effectively, while beach towels sacrifice some absorbency for quicker drying.

If your top priority is maximum absorbency, a bath towel may be the better pick, especially if you don’t plan to swim and just need to dry off occasional splashes. For all-day beach use where you’ll be in and out of the water, go for a beach towel engineered to dry faster.

Durability Matters at the Beach

Beach towels need to withstand more wear and tear than bath towels. They endure abrasive sand, intense sunlight, salt, and chlorine on a regular basis. So beach towels are constructed from durable fabrics that can handle repeated use and laundering.

Cotton, microfiber, and linen are common beach towel materials praised for their strength and longevity. Terry cloth cotton is very absorbent and soft. Linen resists mold and dries quickly. Microfiber holds less sand than cotton.

Bath towels are generally made from soft, delicate cottons and materials selected for pampering your skin rather than rugged durability. They may not hold up as well to the harsh beach environment.

Vibrant Beachy Designs

Finally, beach and bath towels are differentiated by their appearance. Bath towels often come in solid neutrals or simple patterns. They aim to complement bathroom decor.

Beach towels go bold with colorful, fun designs and prints. They showcase your personality and fit the cheerful, summery vibe of the beach.

So if you’re looking to make a style statement, a beach towel offers many more options for creative expression than a basic bath towel.

Can I Use a Bath Towel as a Beach Towel in a Pinch?

Given the differences outlined above, beach towels are optimized for the demands of the shore, while bath towels excel in the bathroom. But in certain situations, using a bath towel at the beach is understandable.

If you find yourself without a beach towel, don’t panic. Here are some tips for making do with a bath towel:

  • Shake it out frequently – to get rid of sand to prevent chafing your skin.
  • Wash it promptly after beach use – to avoid residual salt, sunscreen, and odors.
  • Lay it on a blanket – if it’s too small to lounge on directly.
  • Pat dry instead of rubbing – to minimize damage to delicate bath towel fabrics.
  • Designate it a beach towel – avoid using it again in the bathroom if possible.

While a bath towel can certainly work in a pinch, you’ll get more functionality and comfort from a purpose-made beach towel. So if you plan to spend lots of time seaside, invest in a quality oversized beach towel that will keep you clean, dry, and comfy on the sand.

Beach Towel Fabric Guide

With an array of beach towel fabrics available, which one you choose can impact absorbency, durability, softness and more. Here’s a quick guide to popular beach towel fabrics:

  • Cotton – Very absorbent and soft, cotton is the classic beach towel fabric. 100% cotton offers superior comfort.
  • Microfiber – Made from synthetic microfibers, these towels are super absorbent and fast-drying. They hold less sand than cotton.
  • Linen – Lightweight linen makes excellent beach towels as it’s very quick-drying and resistant to mold. Not as soft as cotton.
  • Bamboo – Bamboo rayon is silky soft and antimicrobial. However, it’s less absorbent when wet compared to cotton.
  • Polyester – A budget-friendly synthetic, polyester dries quickly but can be less soft and absorbent than natural fibers.

Consider factors like absorbency, durability, weight, texture and eco-friendliness as you select the ideal beach towel material for your needs.

Beach Towel Care Tips

To keep your beach towels looking and feeling their best:

  • Shake off sand before rolling up towels, to avoid abrasion damage in the wash.
  • Wash promptly after use to prevent musty odors and bacterial growth. Use a mild detergent.
  • Avoid fabric softener as it can reduce absorbency. Skip dryer sheets too.
  • Air dry in the sun whenever possible, instead of the clothes dryer.
  • Wash beach towels separately from regular linens which can’t handle bleach well.
  • Disinfect periodically by adding a 1⁄2 cup of bleach to your wash, then rinse thoroughly.

With proper care, your beach towels can provide years of fabulous service for all your seaside adventures!

Beach Towel Alternatives

If you find yourself without a beach towel, don’t despair! You have options:

  • Use a blanket, bed sheet, or beach sarong.
  • Let the sun dry you – lay on your beach chair or go for a walk.
  • Borrow a towel – ask someone in your group or the hotel.
  • Rent a towel – many beach clubs and resorts offer towel rentals.
  • Buy a towel – convenient at coastal gift shops and major retailers.
  • Go without – swimsuits dry fast. Just shake off sand before heading inside.

Ideally, pack a dedicated beach towel for hassle-free enjoyment. But in a bind, improvise with these handy alternatives to save the day.

Key Differences: Bath Towel vs. Beach Towel

Bath TowelBeach Towel
Smaller size, around 27″ x 52″Oversize dimensions, approx. 35″ x 60″ or larger
Thick, fluffy fabric pileThinner fabric for quick drying
Very absorbentSlightly less absorbent but dries faster
Designed for softnessMade from durable fabrics
Neutrals and simple patternsColorful prints and bold designs


Can I use a regular towel as a beach towel?

Yes, you can use a regular bath towel as impromptu beach towel. However, beach towels are larger, thinner, quicker-drying, and more durable for optimal beach usage.

What is the best fabric for beach towels?

Cotton, microfiber and linen are top choices. 100% cotton offers exceptional softness and absorbency. Microfiber holds less sand and dries very fast. Linen is lightweight, dries quickly, and resists mold.

How do I get sand out of my beach towels?

Shake out towels vigorously before washing to dislodge as much sand as possible. Wash beach towels separately from regular linens. Add a little bleach to periodically disinfect and brighten them. Avoid using fabric softener which reduces absorbency.

Should I use a bath towel at the beach?

We don’t recommend using your nice bath towels at the gritty beach. But if you have no other choice, designate that towel for beach use only going forward. Wash it promptly after and be vigilant about shaking out sand to avoid abrading the delicate bath towel fibers.

What can I use if I don’t have a beach towel?

Improvised options include beach sarongs, blankets, sheets, rented towels, or purchased towels from nearby shops. Or simply let yourself air dry!


While bath towels can technically double as beach towels, they lack certain qualities that make beach towels optimally suited for fun and relaxation at the shoreline.

Factors like oversize dimensions, quick-dry fabric, durable construction and vibrant designs differentiate beach towels from their bath counterparts. Keep these key differences in mind as you shop for towels to enhance your beach experience.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.