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What is a Fingertip Towel?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 16, 2024

A fingertip towel is a small towel which is typically designed to be primarily ornamental, rather than specifically functional. However, such towels can technically be used to dry the hands after washing, and they are sometimes displayed in small bathrooms where hand towels would be too bulky, but a host still wants people to be able to dry their hands after washing. Many home supply stores carry fingertip towels, and they can also be ordered through companies which specialize in bathroom supplies.

As you might imagine, a fingertip towel is smaller than a hand towel, but larger than a washcloth, and these towels are typically rectangular. The fingertip towel is small enough to be draped over full towels and hand towels when it is are displayed on a rack, and they may also be hung separately on small towel racks. Especially in a one bathroom home where the host does not want guests using shower towels to dry their hands, fingertip towels may be displayed prominently.

In addition to being used in the bathroom, fingertip towels can also be paired with finger bowls at a formal dinner party. While the use of finger bowls is dying out in many communities, they do appear now and again, and fingertip towels are ideally suited to drying one's fingers after a dip in a finger bowl. Often, the towels may be warmed when presented with finger bowls, for a note of extra comfort.

Some people also use fingertip towels in the kitchen, as general utility towels. Some fingertip towels are specifically designed for the kitchen, with loops which can be wrapped around the door of a fridge or a kitchen towel rack to secure them. Typically the material used to make fingertip towels for kitchen use is thinner than that of towels for bathroom use, and the towels may be decorated or embroidered to make them aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

In some homes, fingertip towels are primarily ornamental, and they may be artfully placed in the bathroom during various seasonal holidays. This can sometimes be confusing for guests, who may assume that towels placed in the bathroom are meant to be used; if a fingertip towel is especially small or folded over a hand towel, it is a strong sign that the fingertip towel is meant to be ornamental, rather than functional. Some decorative fingertip towels are even sewn together or trimmed to unusually small size, another tip-off that they are not meant to be used.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon88978 — On Jun 08, 2010

I'm not sure where you are, or even when you posted this because there isn't a date on it, but I found regular fingertip towels (non decorated) at Sears. Hope this helps!

By caring — On Dec 16, 2008

What I have a hard time with is finding the specific one I need. Linen N' Things have gone out of business,and that is where I found them. Have scoured the internet trying to find (affordable) (Peace Rose) colored fingertip towels for my client. Any ideas?

By BananasRUS — On Sep 02, 2008

This may sound strange to many of you, but I like using fingertip towels as washcloths! Not only are they larger, so they hold more soap, but you can also wash your entire back with them, due to how long they are. The only problem is trying to find some that are just plain, or in a solid color. Since they are usually not meant to be used, the ones with embroidery, monograms, embellishments, or any other fashion designs can be rather coarse and hard on one's skin.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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