Fingertip Towel vs. Hand Towel: The Never-Ending Confusion

Every sort of towel has its own use and purpose. As a result, it can be a little difficult to remember all the ‘towel etiquette.’ Failing to do so might even result in embarrassing situations when you’re visiting a place with that degree of hospitality.

This is why we decided to address the confusion regarding fingertip towel vs hand towel. By going through the article, you will be learning about the proper use of the two. So stay with us till the end as we explain in detail why and how the two towels differ from each other.

Fingertip Towel

The names of the towels are quite literal. So defining them isn’t that hard. A fingertip towel straight-up means the towel that you’d use to dry your fingers. That’s it, and we’re not even kidding! Now, if we were to discuss what they are used for, then the discussion can get a little lengthy.

Here’s a brief explanation to simplify the entire concept – Fingertip towels can be both functional and ornamental. So if you spot one on the corner of the basin, then it’s there for you to dry your fingers. However, a printed fingertip towel on the tea table is just there because of the looks.

The overall use of fingertip towels would depend on how you perceive its purpose. Or on how your host intends on presenting it in front of you if you’re the guest. We know that understanding the theme of this towel can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s the same difficulty as remembering which hand to hold the fork with.

If you’re unfamiliar with a fingertip towel, then it’s quite normal to mistake these as modern-day napkins. But that’s not the case. These towels have been in use across fine dining and pleasantries since the beginning of the medieval age. In fact, they used to be a symbol of aristocracy and elegance back in the days.

Hand Towel

Hand towels are the much more popular counterpart of fingertip towels. You won’t find a fingertip towel everywhere, but a hand towel is present in every household. You’re most likely to spot one beside the sink or hanging from the towel bar on the wall.

RELATED: Best Hand Towel

More often than not, the very first set of things that you will receive as pleasantries while checking into a hotel will contain a hand towel. Remember that a clean hand towel is one of the best ways to welcome a guest into your accommodation. Not only is it a symbol of warmth but hospitality as well.

A bath towel has a specific use of drying you after your baths. But with hand towels, the uses can get pretty diverse. Even though the main purpose always roots down to absorption of moisture, the situation may vary largely. For instance– you might come across the same product of hand towels in both a gym and a hospital!

Since they are ever so present in popular infrastructures, users can get familiar with the uses quite easily. Many hosts even go to the extent of folding hand towels in unique ways for their guests. Why? Well, that’s simply so that the guests have a much more pleasant experience during their stay.

Fingertip Towel Vs. Hand Towel – What’s The Difference?

If your search engine has led you to this page, then we’re sure you’re suffering from the common towel dilemma. Well, you may be a little relieved to know that you’re not alone in this struggle. Therefore, we’ll be walking you through the basic differences you ought to know about these rectangular clothes.

Shape and Size

The very first difference you’ll notice between the two towels is their size. Hand towels are larger than fingertip towels but smaller than a bath towel. The convenient size of a hand towel gives users the perfect balance between carrying and absorption.

Also Read: Best Bath Towel

Fingertip towels are larger than napkins, but they have come in a specific size of 11” x 18” (width x length). Despite their difference in size, both the towels are rectangular in shape.


Even though users widely confuse the two towels as almost the same thing, their uses are very different. Of course, they both come in various colors and prints, but they both have very specific and different uses.

The uses of hand towels are limited to drying your hands after a wash. However, it’s also okay to wipe your face after a refreshing wash. So, you’ll mostly notice them beside the sink or neatly folded in the kitchen. But it’s not just water that they absorb. Users like to pat their sweat dry after a routine workout or run as well.

Also Read: Best Workout Towel

Although hand towels have both commercial and home use, they are not as diverse as fingertip towels. That is because fingertip towels are not limited to bathrooms and sink. Rather, they are used as fine dining apparel, wipe cloth, and for other cleaning purposes.

The small towels that you see sportsmen carry in their pocket during matches are also fingertip towels. These towels eliminate the bulk use of paper towels during parties. And that gives it a big advantage over its counterparts!

Weaves and Fibres

A hand towel is meant to absorb more moisture and water, so it has wider weaves and thicker fibers. So you will come across cotton threaded hand towels in luxurious households and posh hotels. Linen and microfibers are also two common go-to for both hand and fingertip towels.

On the contrary, fingertip towels for personal use, so weaves are naturally constricted. If you have sensitive skin, then try going for bamboo fiber ones as they are gentle on the skin. Finding the right weave and fiber for use can be a challenge sometimes, but the user experience is worth the effort.

Cleaning Purposes

As the name suggests, hand towels are mostly used to clean your hand after you’ve washed them. In contrast, fingertip towels aren’t limited to drying your fingers only. You can also use them for cleaning the counter or inside the oven.

Patrons may or may not use hand towels as a washcloth. But their counterpart plays a vital role in cleanliness. Since the size is quite convenient and handy, users also like to carry them to picnics and outings. Often luxury cars have a pair of fresh fingertip towels placed in the glove box for hygiene purposes.

Gifts and Decoration

The two sorts of the towel aren’t only limited to functions. Both the towels come in various colors and patterns. In luxurious hotels, the authority folds hand towels in the shape of lilies and swans as an exciting way to welcome guests. Print a towel with your preferred monogram or message, and voila! You have a perfect present.

Remember that hosts place various printed fingertip towels on shelves just for cosmetic purposes. Those towels have no functional use. So if you spot one of them, then steer clear of using them, or your host wouldn’t be too happy.

Which One Should You Use?

The entire discussion of this article trickles down to one common question – Which one should you use? The answer to this question depends on what do you need the cloth for and whether you’re the guest or the host. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind–

If you’re the host, then use hand towels beside sinks and water sources. Offer a fresh one to your guests in their bedroom and clean it daily. Use the fingertip towels at the dinner table. If you own a restaurant or spa, then offer both fingertip and hand towels to your guests after making sure they are clean.

If you’re the guest, then dry your hands with a hand towel after using the sink. Is there involvement of sweat? Then carry a fingertip towel with you. Make sure to work your way from the top of the towels are in a pile. And refrain from using hand and fingertip towels that are there for ornamental purposes.

Fabric Towels, Paper Towels, or Air Drying: Which One Is Better?

A statistic published in January 2021 says that the sale of paper towels in the US amounts to USD 6.47 billion. And that is only for the year 2020! This bulk of sales indicates the amount produced and used as well.

Paper towels are a popular option for hygienic purposes. It’s also popular in sectors where the authority has to serve several people regularly. But in households and small-scale restaurants, hand and fingertip towels can come in handy.

Whether crossing over of germs from one person to another will happen or not largely depends on the cleaning process. In other words, if the hand and finger towels go through cleaning after every use, then we can reduce the chances of contamination.

To add more to this matter – A research from 2013 states that Air drying your hand increases the risk of bacterial cross-contamination. At the same time, towels mitigate the threat by many times. So, just by transitioning from air drying and paper towels to fabric ones, we can save the world from misery.

Step Up Your Hosting Game Today!

If you’ve read through the entire article, then you’ve successfully deciphered the unabating confusion between Fingertip Towel vs Hand Towel. So the next time you’re in a posh household or restaurant, you won’t need to worry about their individual uses anymore.

It’s always admirable to see someone know the proper sanitary etiquette. And from this point onwards you’re one of them learned ones as well. This set of skills is not for you to become a better guest only. Rather you should take this opportunity and turn your hosting skills up a notch as well!