Foot Towel Vs. Bath Mat

When stepping out of the shower or bathtub, having a soft surface to land on is important for comfort and safety.

Foot Towel Vs. Bath Mat

Most bathrooms have either a bath mat or a foot towel for this purpose.

But what is the difference between the two? Which is better – a foot towel or a bath mat?

What is a Foot Towel?

A foot towel is a small, absorbent towel designed specifically for drying your feet after bathing. Foot towels are typically made of soft, plush materials like cotton or microfiber to gently dry your feet.

They are much smaller than a typical bath or hand towel, usually around 16 x 24 inches in size. The small size allows them to be placed right outside the tub or shower entrance.

Key Features of Foot Towels:

  • Highly absorbent to soak up water from feet
  • Soft and plush materials like cotton or microfiber
  • Small size around 16 x 24 inches
  • Meant solely for drying feet after bathing

Key Takeaway: Foot towels are very absorbent, small towels made of soft materials specifically for drying your feet after showering or bathing.

What is a Bath Mat?

A bath mat is a floor mat meant to be placed outside your bathtub or shower. Bath mats provide a non-slip surface to stand on when exiting the tub or shower.

They are designed to absorb water that drips off of you after bathing, preventing puddles or slippery surfaces. Bath mats also protect your bathroom floors.

The standard dimensions for a bath mat are 20 x 30 inches, designed to fit well in the limited floor space outside most tubs and showers. Materials vary significantly, but common options include cotton, microfiber, bamboo, vinyl and rubber.

Key Features of Bath Mats:

  • Provide a non-slip surface for wet bathroom floors
  • Absorbent materials to prevent water puddles
  • Protect floors from drips and spills
  • Standard size of 20 x 30 inches to fit small bathroom spaces

Key Takeaway: Bath mats are floor mats meant to provide traction, absorb water, and protect bathroom floors when placed outside the shower/tub.

Bath Mat and Foot Towel Similarities and Differences

FeatureBath MatFoot Towel
LocationOutside tub/showerOutside tub/shower
PurposeTraction + absorptionFoot drying
Size20″x 30″ standard16″ x 24″ standard
MaterialsVarious, often cotton/microfiberOften cotton/microfiber
PortabilityNot portablePortable

The Case for Foot Towels

Using a foot towel instead of a bath mat offers some nice advantages:

More Absorbent for Drying Feet

The number one purpose of a foot towel is to absorb water from your feet after showering. So manufacturers focus on making foot towels as absorbent as possible. The plush, fluffy materials soak up several times their weight in water.

Bath mats do absorb some moisture, but their main focus is traction for non-slip ability. So they may not dry your feet as effectively. The ultra-absorbent foot towels do a much better job keeping your feet dry.

Stay Fresher and Cleaner

While bath mats sop up drips and spills, they are constantly being exposed to dirty water and grime from your feet. As a result, bath mats tend to harbor bacteria much more easily. You end up stepping back onto the dirty mat after each shower.

Foot towels only contact your clean feet once you exit the shower. Since they don’t get direct contact with dirty feet, foot towels stay fresher for longer. As long as you launder them periodically, bacteria buildup is less likely compared to bath mats.

Easy to Replace and Wash

The small size and portability of foot towels makes them much easier to maintain than larger bath mats. When your foot towel gets dirty, simply throw it in the laundry.

You can easily own multiples and rotate them out. Having a regular rotation of fresh foot towels in your bathrooms helps them stay cleaner. Replacing an old foot towel is quick and affordable.

The Case for Bath Mats

While foot towels have some advantages, bath mats serve important functions as well:

Prevent Slips and Falls

The number one job of a bath mat is providing a slip-resistant surface when exiting the shower or tub. The backing is specially designed to grip most surfaces even when completely soaked.

Some foot towels have slip-resistant bottoms as well, but they tend to slide around more than an anchored bath mat. The superior traction helps prevent dangerous slips and falls in the bathroom.

More Coverage for Wet Floors

With dimensions up to 20″ x 30″, bath mats cover much more surface area outside your tub and shower. This allows them to collect significantly more dripping water compared to a smaller foot towel.

The extra floor space protection also gives you more freedom of movement. You can safely step around without worrying about puddles or slippery spots on the floor.

Protects Floors from Damage

In addition to absorbing water, bath mats provide a buffer between wet feet and floor surfaces. The cushioned material helps prevent direct impact from damaging tile or grout. Bath mats also keep stray drips or splashes from degrading floors and foundations over time.

Other Factors to Consider

A few other things to think about as you choose bath towels or mats:

  • Bathroom Size – Larger bathrooms may be able to accommodate both a bath mat and foot towels. Use bath mats for main walkways to control moisture, and foot towels for added comfort when stepping out.
  • Budget – Multiple foot towels can add up in cost over time. But they may last longer than replacing a moldy bath mat. Consider lifetime costs for your situation.
  • Pets or Kids – Unruly paws and feet may find a foot towel inviting for other uses! Anchor down bath mats instead.
  • Laundry – How often are you willing to wash bath linens? Light, portable foot towels require more frequent washing than sturdy bath mats.
  • Style – Customize your space with design options! Match foot towels and bath mats to your color scheme.

Floor Towel vs Bath Mat – Final Recommendations

When it comes down to it, both foot towels and bath mats serve important roles. Here are some final guidelines on choosing between them:

  • For drying feet – Use highly absorbent foot towels if keeping your feet dry after bathing is top priority. The soft, plush towels excel at moisture absorption.
  • For traction and decor – Choose bath mats for non-slip ability and style. Anchor them properly outside your tub and shower for safety and floor protection.
  • Use both – Have the best of both worlds by using foot towels supplemented with bath mats in key areas. The combo dries feet comfortably while controlling drips.
  • Consider material – Cotton, bamboo, microfiber? Find the right balance of style, absorbency and ease of care.
  • Don’t forget cleaning – Develop a rotation schedule for washing. Keeping damp towels and mats clean is crucial for longevity and health.


Can I use a towel instead of a bath mat?

You can use a standard towel in place of a bath mat, but it won’t be quite as effective. The materials and backing on bath mats are designed specifically for traction and water absorption in bathrooms. For best results, use an actual bath mat.

How often should bath mats and towels be replaced?

Most bath towels and mats last 1-3 years with proper care. Look for signs of wearing, holes, stains or mildew – these mean it’s time to replace them. Have multiples on hand so you can rotate them out when washing.

How should I clean bath linens?

  • Wash bath towels/mats separately from other laundry
  • Use mild detergent and cold water
  • Air dry or dry on low heat
  • Don’t use fabric softener which coats fibers
  • Wash weekly for towels/mats in frequent use

What size bath mat should I get?

The standard bath mat size is 20 x 30 inches. This fits well outside most average-sized tubs and showers. Measure your space to ensure the mat has adequate coverage without bunching up or obstructing walkways and doors.


Foot towels and bath mats fulfill distinct roles when it comes to safely drying off after a shower or bath.

Foot towels excel at moisture absorption to keep your feet comfortable and dry.

Bath mats focus more on traction and floor protection.

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.