Fingertip Towel vs. Washcloth

Linens are an integral part of any home. From bed sheets to towels, they add comfort, cleanliness, and style to our living spaces.

Fingertip Towel vs. Washcloth

Two essential linens for any bathroom are fingertip towels and washcloths.

Though they seem quite similar at first glance, there are some key differences between these two linens that make each uniquely suited to certain tasks.

Size Comparison: Fingertip Towels vs. Washcloths

The most noticeable difference between fingertip towels and washcloths is their size.

Here is an overview of the standard size of each:

  • Fingertip towels: Approximately 11″ x 18″
  • Washcloths: Usually 12″ x 12″ or 13″ x 13″
  • Hand towels: Around 16″ x 30″

So a fingertip towel is rectangular while a washcloth is square. The fingertip towel falls right in between the washcloth and hand towel in terms of dimensions.

This size contrast makes each linen better suited for certain uses, which we will explore next.

Key Takeaway: Fingertip towels are larger than washcloths but smaller than hand towels. Washcloths are the smallest towel option.

Intended Usage: When to Use Each Linen

Though fingertip towels and washcloths can both be handy to have in a bathroom, they serve slightly different purposes.

Fingertip Towel Uses

The intermediate size of the fingertip towel makes it ideal for:

  • Drying hands, face, and other small areas
  • Quick clean-ups like wiping counters or surfaces
  • Decorative layering with hand towels
  • Liner for breadbaskets, under dessert plates, etc.
  • Small utility towel for kitchen, garage, camping, etc.

Fingertip towels are perfect for any application where a washcloth is too small but a hand towel would be excessive. Their rectangular shape also allows them to fold into neat, compact piles.

Key Takeaway: A fingertip towel’s size makes it great for hand drying, decorative layering, small clean-ups, and utility uses.

Washcloth Uses

The main uses for washcloths stem from their small, square size:

Washcloths are intended for direct contact with the skin, especially the delicate skin of the face. Their size allows them to clean every contour. Many people also prefer using a fresh washcloth each time they wash their face to prevent bacteria buildup that can occur with reusing towels.

Fingertip towels are better for quick hand drying and utility clean-ups, while washcloths excel at face washing and scrubbing thanks to their compact square shape.

Key Takeaway: The small size of washcloths makes them ideal for washing the face and body in the shower, travel, and baby bathing.

Absorbency Comparison

Absorbency is another key difference between fingertip towels and washcloths.

Fingertip towels are usually made from highly absorbent fabrics like cotton, linen, or microfiber. Their construction often utilizes loops or piles that effectively draw in and retain moisture. Since they are intended for drying and cleaning, absorbency is paramount.

Washcloths can also be crafted from absorbent materials, but their small size means they don’t need as much absorbency power as fingertip towels. Often, washcloths are made from materials selected more for gentleness, like rayon from bamboo or soft organic cotton. The material is just as important as the size when it comes to washing delicate facial skin.

Key Takeaway: Fingertip towels require high absorbency for drying while washcloths prioritize gentleness for facial cleaning.

Material Differences

Speaking of materials, let’s take a deeper look at the common fabrics used for fingertip towels vs washcloths:

Fingertip Towel Materials

  • Cotton terrycloth – The terry construction creates loops that excel at absorbing moisture from hands and surfaces. Cotton offers breathability.
  • Linen – Made from the flax plant, linen is highly absorbent, dries quickly, and adds subtle luster.
  • Microfiber – Microfiber fingertips towels quickly absorb large amounts of water. These towels are also lightweight.
  • Cotton/linen blends – Blends combine the absorbency of cotton with the subtle shine of linen.

Washcloth Materials

  • Organic cotton – Gentle and soft yet absorbent enough for light cleaning. Great for sensitive skin.
  • Bamboo rayon – Bamboo fibers create a silky, soft washcloth that is still absorbent. Provides gentle exfoliation.
  • Cotton terrycloth – The terry piles allow washcloths to scrub and cleanse skin. Cotton is comfortable and absorbent.
  • Microfiber – Like fingertip towels, microfiber washcloths absorb a lot of water. The fine fibers also exfoliate.

As you can see, there is some overlap in materials between fingertip towels and washcloths. But in general, fingertip towels prioritize high absorbency while washcloths focus more on gentleness and scrubbing ability.

Caring for Fingertip Towels vs Washcloths

Both fingertip towels and washcloths should be cared for delicately to preserve their softness and absorbency. Here are some tips:

  • Wash in warm or hot water – Heat helps kill bacteria that can build up on used towels and washcloths.
  • Group colors – Wash light and dark linens separately to prevent dye transfer.
  • Line dry or tumble dry on low – Limit heat exposure to protect the fibers.
  • Avoid fabric softener – Softener leaves residue that reduces absorbency over time.
  • Add vinegar periodically – The vinegar naturally removes detergent buildup and deodorizes.

With proper laundering, both fingertip towels and washcloths will remain soft and fluffy for years to come.

Key Takeaway: Fingertip towels and washcloths can be cared for similarly by washing in warm water with like colors and avoiding fabric softener.

Decorative Value

Both fingertip towels and washcloths can add a decorative element to your bathroom in addition to their functional use.

Fingertip towels are specifically designed to layer over hand towels for a polished, put-together look. They come in colors and patterns that complement towel sets.

Washcloths can also provide a pop of color or draped decoratively from a towel hook. Some washcloths have embellishments like monograms or embroidery for extra style.

Ultimately, both linens can help pull your bathroom decor together when coordinated properly with towels and other linens.

Key Differences at a Glance

To recap, here are the key differences between fingertip towels and washcloths:

DifferenceFingertip TowelWashcloth
Size11″ x 18″ usually12″ x 12″ or 13″ x 13″ typically
Main usesHand drying, wiping, utilityFace washing, scrubbing, bathing
AbsorbencyHighLow to moderate
MaterialsTerrycloth, linen, microfiberCotton, bamboo, microfiber
Decorative?Yes, part of layered lookCan be, if decorative style


Are fingertip towels necessary?

Fingertip towels are not a necessity like bath towels or washcloths, but they serve helpful purposes. Their rectangular shape makes them easier to fold and organize than washcloths. Fingertip towels add a polished look layered over hand towels. They’re very useful for quick clean-ups around the home.

What are guest towels?

Guest towels are small linen towels provided for guests to use washing up in the bathroom. Fingertip towels, hand towels, and washcloths can all function as guest towels. Fingertip towels in particular make great guest towels because of their decorative nature.

Should you wash fingertips towels after each use?

It’s best to launder fingertip towels after each use to prevent bacterial growth. Having a stash of multiple fingertip towels on hand makes it easy to toss them directly in the laundry after use and replace with a fresh one.

How often should you replace fingertip towels?

With proper care, fingertip towels can last several years. But lint buildup over time can reduce their absorbency and scrubbability. Replace fingertip towels about every two years, or sooner if they become tattered, threadbare, or stained.

Should washcloths be washed after each use?

Like fingertip towels, it’s ideal to wash washcloths after each use. Alternating two or more washcloths allows you to always have a fresh one handy. Washcloths in particular should be washed frequently since they come in direct contact with facial skin.


Fingertip towels and washcloths both serve important roles in bathrooms and homes. Fingertip towels excel at hand drying, surface wiping, and decorative layering thanks to their rectangular shape and absorbent fabrics.

The small square shape and gentle materials of washcloths make them perfect for facial cleansing and scrubbing.

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.