Washcloth vs. Hand Towels – a comparison

Like many people, you likely don’t give much thought to washcloths and hand towels when shopping for them.

But to find the perfect option, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between these two types of towels.

In this blog post, you can find all the information needed to select between these two types of towels, plus the differences and what makes each style unique.


What Is a Washcloth and What is a Hand Towel

Washcloths are typically constructed from absorbent materials like cotton or microfiber. They can be used with soap to cleanse the body or to wipe down the skin.

Hand towels also fall into this category but tend to have more decorative designs. Hand towels serve two purposes: drying hands after washing them and decorating bathrooms or kitchens.

Different Types of Washcloths and Hand Towels

Washcloths and hand towels come in a range of styles. Some popular options include:

Cotton Washcloths: Cotton is an absorbent and soft material that’s gentle on the skin. It makes an excellent option for those with sensitive skin or those prone to allergies. Cotton washcloths can be machine washed and tumble dried on low heat settings.

Microfiber Washcloths: Microfiber is a synthetic fiber renowned for its extraordinary absorbency. Microfiber washcloths can be used dry to cleanse skin without water or with water and soap.

In addition, Microfiber hand towels are often more cost-effective than cotton hand towels and can be machine washed on cold settings and tumble dried on low heat settings.

Bamboo washcloths: Bamboo is an environmentally friendly, naturally antibacterial, and hypoallergenic material. Bamboo washcloths are perfect for those with sensitive skin or who want an eco-friendly option.

Although more expensive than other hand towels, bamboo hand towels can last longer when properly cared for. After washing in cold water and hanging to dry or tumble drying on low heat settings,” say the manufacturers.”

Considerations When Selecting Between a Washcloth and Hand Towel

Washcloths typically measure 12×12 inches, while hand towels usually measure 16×28 inches.

While washcloths are smaller and lighter, they require less effort to transport and use.

On the other hand, hand towels tend to be larger and heavier, which makes them harder to move around but provides more excellent coverage.

Fabric and Texture

Washcloths are typically made from cotton or linen, while hand towels can be constructed using materials such as cotton, linen, microfiber, or terry cloth.

The type of fabric you select should depend on your preference and requirements; cotton is soft and absorbent, while linen has more durability in the wash; microfiber absorbs quickly but dries slowly; terry cloth offers thick and absorbency and takes longer to dry.

Color and Pattern

Washcloths and hand towels come in an array of colors and patterns.

You may select a hue or design that complements your bathroom decor or opt for neutral shades that will blend in with any scheme.

Patterned towels add personality to the space, while solid-colored towels offer greater versatility.


Washcloths are cheaper than hand towels due to their smaller size and need for less material production.

However, the price difference between washcloths and hand towels is often insignificant.

Tips for Selecting the Appropriate Washcloth and Hand Towel

Consider your practical requirements when deciding whether a washcloth or hand towel is best suited for you.

Consider how often you will use it and what it will serve – if only drying hands is the primary purpose, hand towels might be more suitable.

On the other hand, if multi-tasking is desired such as being used as a washcloth, dishcloth, or cleaning rag – then washcloths could serve you better.

Quality should always take precedence over quantity when selecting between a washcloth and hand towels.

Having fewer high-quality towels that won’t break apart after several uses is preferable to having lots of cheap ones that won’t hold up as well.

On the other hand, don’t go broke on your towels either; look for durable options made with suitable materials at an affordable price point.


Finally, the decision between washcloths or hand towels comes down to personal hygiene preferences, environmental considerations, and convenience.

Washcloths are eco-friendly as they can be washed and reused multiple times, though this requires more frequent laundering to maintain hygiene.

On the other hand, hand towels may be more convenient for some due to their larger size and absorbency; however, this may lead to more waste and require frequent replacement.

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons and choose to meet their needs and values best.

Both options have their own benefits and drawbacks, so you must consider both carefully before making a final decision.

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.