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What is a Towel Rack?

By Brad Cole
Updated May 16, 2024
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A towel rack is a device that is used to hold towels. Most towel racks hang towels so that air can pass easily over them, allowing the towels to dry and not become moldy; other models, however, simply hold folded towels. Towel racks come in many different styles and types, and are common in most North American households.

The most common type of towel rack is the towel bar. The towel bar is simply a rod held roughly two and a half inches from a wall by posts attached to the wall. Towel bars can hold either hand towels or bath towels depending on their style, and are found in both bathrooms and kitchens.

Another type of towel rack is a standing towel rack. Standing towel racks are primarily for large towels, and are generally only found in bathrooms or next to swimming pools. Unlike towel bars, standing towel racks are not attached to anything, and can be moved as needed. Standing towel racks come in various styles: some models only have hooks, and resemble coat racks; others are made out of numerous bars, and can hold multiple bath towels; still other models look like miniature cabinets without doors, and giving the room extra storage space.

A countertop towel rack is designed specifically for hand towels. They look like miniature standing towel racks. Countertop towel racks can be found on bathroom or kitchen countertops.

A towel ladder is a towel rack that looks like a section of a climbing ladder. Towel ladders are designed to hold multiple towels, one on each rung. The racks are usually angled outward so that the towels above do not drip on those below. Towel ladders can either be attached to a wall or free standing.

A towel shelf is a combination towel bar and storage shelf. Folded towels are placed on the shelf aspect. After use, the towels can then be hung from a towel bar that is attached below the shelf. Note that having a shelf above a towel bar accomplishes the same thing as a towel shelf, but the two items are now combined into one unit.

Towel hooks are often found alongside towel racks, and serve similar purposes. A towel hook is simply a hook attached to a solid object that a towel can be hung from. Hooks do not allow air to circulate as well around a towel, but do take up much less space than a traditional towel bar or towel rack. Many towel hooks are secured into walls with screws, but some towel hooks are simply strong magnets that attach to stoves or refrigerators.

Other, more imaginatively designed towel racks also exist. Hinged towel racks have arms that are pulled out to hold towels, then tucked to the side when not in use. Over-the-door towel holders are towel bars, towel hooks, or towel ladders that do not affix to a wall but instead have brackets that fit over a door to hold them in place. Towel warmers are towel racks with heaters built into them in order to dry wet towels.

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