How many towels do MeFites own? February 18, 2019 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Because of this and similar towel counting, I suddenly have towel-ownership issues. How many do you own, or think you should own? How does it break down e.g. beach towel, bath towel, hand towel, toilet towel, face towel? And are there mitigating (and not private) factors that affect this number e.g. large family, pets, run a hotel, your job requires lots of towels? (note that if this is a security question for any account you should of course not answer)
posted by Wordshore to MetaFilter-Related at 10:49 AM (164 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

as a senior employee of the National Strategic Towel Reserve i am barred by law from answering this question, but will be recording everyone else's answers for, uh. reasons.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:55 AM on February 18, 2019 [28 favorites]

I am so perplexed by this discussion. It seems like it would totally vary, based on the size of your household, how often you do laundry, whether you regularly have houseguests, and what have you.

I think I own four full-sized bath towels (plus some old ones that I use for non-person stuff like cleaning up floods in the basement), four hand towels, and two special microfiber towels that I use to dry my hair. Also a zillion dish towels, because I hand-wash my dishes. But I don't understand why anyone would care, because this topic doesn't seem interesting? Except apparently it is, because it's all anyone on Twitter is talking about?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:56 AM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I defer to Jolie Kerr (Some Actually Useful Information about Towels).

I have two primary towels for me - one for me to use, and the other to be in the laundry. I don't like having to wash my towel and dry it in order to have a fresh towel. I have two towels for my partner, as well - and we both use bath sheets! Then we have our second string of towels, which are our older ones - I think we have 2-4 of these - useful for guests, dog bathing, etc - they are still in good shape!

We have at least two hand towels for each bathroom, but in reality, we have far more, as again, we have kept the old ones that are in good shape. And then we have 10+ kitchen towels, but they are multi-purpose, and we normally have 2-3 out at a time.

And then, of course, there are the seasonally decorative hand towels, some of which are for use, and some of which are simply for display (we have a handle on our bottom drawer freezer, and that is where pirate Santa hangs during the holidays..).
posted by needlegrrl at 10:58 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

2 Bath Sheets and wash cloths per person living in the house (one in the laundry, one in use)
2 spare sets of same for guests
2 hand towels for each bathroom in the house (same reasoning)
posted by deezil at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, I have no idea what a bath sheet is. What is a bath sheet? Do people lie on beds in the bath, covered by a sheet?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:04 AM on February 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

hoopyfrood to the chartreuse courtesy phone.
posted by zamboni at 11:05 AM on February 18, 2019 [14 favorites]

the real question is how long people think a single bath towel, used by a single individual human flesh person in their usual schedule of bathing* activities, is good for.

*"bathing" in this sense is used to describe any activities, be it sitting immersed or standing beneath a spray or anything in between, in which the human flesh person is cleaning their human flesh body with water and -- i realize this is a matter of some debate here on metafilther -- soap.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2019 [18 favorites]

0 - I drip dry. Sure it takes a bit of time but nothing but the best for my skin.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:20 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Face, arse.
posted by lucidium at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

13 is the perfect number for a household of 2 adults: 4 for laundry rotation. 3 for guests (one each for couples, and one more as an emergency spare/guest beech towel). 2 for beachware. 4 more for hand towels in the downstairs and upstairs baths.

Not including dish towels or shop towels as those are different species of linens, obviously.
posted by bonehead at 11:35 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Came for the inevitable Douglas Adams references, am satisfied.

This strikes me as a very strange and random thing to try to force a meme out of, and while I know where mine are I flat-out refuse to go count them.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:38 AM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

Each human person in my household has two large towels. We also have several cheaper/smaller/thinner towels that are used for things like lining cat carriers and cleaning up large spills.

Honestly, I've been more distracted today by Twitter's assertation that you're meant to wash your towels--like your shower towels, with which you dry off your freshly cleaned body--every time you use them. I've polled my twitter friends and every single person says that they wash weekly, ish...but I'm still very concerned about it.
posted by mishafletch at 11:39 AM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

What is a bath sheet? Do people lie on beds in the bath, covered by a sheet?

ooooh Is it that the huge ol sheet that people in ye olden times that had servants would drape all over the bathtub so as to line it and protect their wealthy skin?! Because if you have one of those, I have questions. Like, don't they get a little chilly and soppy, like sitting on a wet terrycloth handtowel? Do they collect silt if there's a lot of dirt, like you can see how dirty that person actually was? What happened when women have their periods, do they have period bath sheets that are already a bit stained? How often do you launder them? What about laundering them? Do you wait for them to dry a little before laundering them, or can you launder them right in the tub? How many sheets do you need? Are they actually really comfortable? If Marat hadn't been in the habit of putting bath sheets in his tub would he have been so uncomfortable he might not have stayed in tubs so long that he would receive visitors - did he die because he liked bath sheets?
posted by barchan at 11:39 AM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Bath sheets are simply larger towels!

The Turkish towel company says that sizes vary, but their standard towels are 28" x 55" and their bath sheets are 35"x60".
posted by needlegrrl at 11:44 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just counted up here; one is the sole owner of:

- 1 absurdly large beach towel.
- 2 shower/bath towels.
- 1 sex towel.
- 3 hand towels.
- 1 round towel, of surface area larger than a hand towel but smaller than a shower towel, that was given as a gift and is annoyingly impractical.
posted by Wordshore at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

My household has 10 large bath towels, 4 hand towels, 2 washcloths, but this is mostly because my PARTNER THROWS USED TOWELS ON THE HAMPER LIKE AN APOSTATE, which means we are washing towels after one use instead of the righteous 2-3.
posted by corb at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Wordshore, I'd make that round towel the backup sex towel. Or the primary.

For any of y'all wondering why the bath sheet is more practical, if you're tall or large or you like your towel having dry spots on it for the inevitable spot on your body you forgot to dry until you have half your clothes on, get a bath sheet. There's more room therein.
posted by deezil at 12:22 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

It is impossible for me to know this number, because my husband is always producing ugly but usable towels that he has used to wash the car, which he washes and then puts away in various places. We could have 3 of these towels; we could have 10. It's probably not 10, though, because our storage situation is... bleak.

We have 2 nice bath towels which we use. If we expect company, we wash and fold them nicely and haul out the previously mentioned uglies for ourselves for the duration of the visit.

We used to get a dishtowel restock just at the right time - my grandma embroidered them and gave them to me just as the others were developing serious holes. But she died in December and to be quite honest it will break my heart to buy my own.
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have at least 36 towels. They are almost all small ones though, and I almost never use paper towels except for things that would completely ruin a cloth one, so I have a lot of cloth cleaning towels. I have a set for the kitchen, a set for the bathroom, and a set for general housecleaning. They're different types of towels so that the ones that I use to clean the toilet don't end up being the ones I use to dry my hands while I'm cooking. Plain white for cleaning, blue stripe for kitchen, fun colors for bathroom.

When it comes to bath towels I have five. I have one that I've used for a long time (which is also my beach towel) and then four that my aunt gave me when I moved in here. That's plenty for me plus the occasional guest, more than enough really.

And then I have a smaller towel that I take camping if I think I'll be lucky enough to take a dip in a pond or a river.

And that's all I have to say about my towels.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

- 10 bath towels (most are less than 10 years old, a few kept for when accidents happen, like when my husband's iced tea spilled and realized the house slants so it was running across the room like a veritable river of iced tea and threatening go under the couch, or that time the toilet overflowed and our bathroom at the time was right next to the living room and the floors there also slanted) We each have a favorite one and wash those regularly;
- 8 hand towels (we used to have 2 bathrooms, some were spares for such);
- 8 washcloths;
- 2 beach towels;
- 12 dish towels, some of which are kept for things like covering rising bread and keeping rolls warm, etc. Spares due to purchasing new towels in packs of 4;
- 8 bar towels (terry cloth, useful to lay on the counter when washing up a few dishes, no need to get the rack or drying mat out, I keep one folded up in front of the microwave because... I don't know why I do this, exactly, but I like one there);
- 8+ microfiber towels for dusting and mopping up spills, mainly unused because I was on a cleaning binge in my head and bought a bunch and said, this pink one will be for dusting, this blue one for washing windows, etc. when in reality it is too cold for washing windows, but I'll be ready should I ever choose to do so;
- 1 actual bar towel from a trip to the UK, that says "Baa....rrr Towel," from the Black Sheep Brewery, which makes very good beer, so I think that's where I got the idea to put a bar towel in front of the microwave, but then it got dirty, so I had to put another one in its place, folded in half to look the same.

I have some cloth-covered boxes, ala Marie Kondo style, that I ordered recently, and was planning on rolling up the towels and putt them in those. So far I have done my sock drawer. I guess I don't get as much excitement from sorting through and rolling up sheets and towels as I do socks. Also: I want to get all new towels but that's another story that involves me getting to a store and shopping without my husband present, because it bores him, he doesn't see the need for new towels, and while I did manage to get a giant hand towel from Amazon last year when we had guests coming for a cookout, I need to touch them, compare prices, etc. and I assume I'll get maybe 4 bath towels and 2 hand towels, and maybe 4 wash clothes and force myself to only have 2 spare bath towels for iced tea emergencies. But, oh, we live on a lake, so I should really have extra in case people come down to swim...

My Mom wouldn't throw away towels, ever. She had disintegrating ones on her bathroom shelf. Probably due to growing up during the Depression, things got saved and repurposed, and I suppose I have a little bit of that, but I'm willing to get rid of some, because I don't have the excuse of owning a dog.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:40 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

So even though they were an unlikely source of food for the moth infestation, the towels were among the many textiles that were moth-storage'd then mercilessly culled. We have left over:

* one matching set (bathmat, full-size towel, 2 hand towels, one washcloth) for the guest bath
* one set (bathrobe, bath sheet, bath towel) for me
* one spare bath towel that serves no purpose
* one set (two bath towels) for Spouse
* twenty bamboo washcloths
* three sets hand towels for the master bath
* four beach towels for going to the beach
* bucket full of old washcloths and washcloth-sized remnants of towels for a variety of cleaning duties
* 8 dishrags for the sink
* some number of kitchen towels that we are in the process of sorting, culling, and possibly replacing.
posted by crush at 12:44 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh - if anyone is inspired to cull their towels from this, often animal shelters will accept them, as they always need them.
posted by needlegrrl at 12:48 PM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]

Since I cut the tags, I really don't know.
posted by clavdivs at 12:51 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was hoping the question was going to be "How many, collectively, across the site?" and not "How many per person?"
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:01 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

If all the towels belonging to all the MeFites were stretched out end-to-end, would they reach the moon? This is definitely a very important science fact that we should all learn the answer to.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]

Good question. It would, alas, be difficult to estimate as even in the small sample of answers so far, we go between the extremes of 2 and 57+.

Need more data!
posted by Wordshore at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

MeFites own 500,000 towels. At an average of 55", that would be equivalent to 441 miles, stretched end-to-end.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

My initial twitter feeling was "we don't have that many towels" but I guess it depends on what you mean by "towel"?

Husband and I have 3 bath sheets in our bathroom, just so there's always a dry one. Often just two are in rotation and the third says nicely on the rack until the two get rounded up for the wash and then the third one jumps in and then the other two come back and we're at 3 again.

We have capacity for two guests, and have two guest bath sheets for them that stay put away when there are no guests (99% of the time).

I have a pair of "display towels" for the hall/guest bath, where nobody bathes unless we have actual overnight guests, who would then use the guest bath sheets rather than the show towels. These towels match the hand towels, of which there are four total with only two out at any given time. I am my mother.

Additionally I have probably half a dozen regular sized bath towels, none of them match, they're probably all left from previous iterations of display or guest towels. They are mostly used for emergencies, protective purposes, or if they've been demoted enough, dog situations.

We have four beach towels, mostly used when we have pool guests or visit another pool/beach.

I have about 40 each white washcloths and white flour sack towels. The washcloths are sometimes used for washing, the flour sack towels are used for hair-drying (including a special subset that are badly stained with hair dye that even bleach won't get out, so I use for stainy things and additional hair dyeing), but they are also used for dusting, cleaning, kitchen towels, wrapping breakable things for transport, dinner napkins, dog bandages, emergency curtains/tablecloths, and many other household applications. These all get rounded up together for washing + Oxyclean or bleach depending on how bad things are, usually only once a month. I have a stack of actual kitchen towels, but I can't bleach the attractive ones so they're mostly display towels with flour sacks doing all the actual hard work.

So I guess my answer is "somewhere between 8 and 100."
posted by Lyn Never at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, bath sheets are big bath towels! A friend of mine in high school got everyone a bath towel with their name embroidered on it (at some "Things Remembered"-type store) for graduation, and they. were. fucking. awesome. for dorm living, since you could walk down the hall to the bathroom in a big warm towel AND it had your name on it in case it wandered off. They cost her like $20 each 20 years ago, it was great, I still have mine, it has held up well to frequent laundering!

Now it's just in the rotation with the other bath towels, but it was the best towel ever in college.

When it was just me I had three bath towels -- the big bath sheet for my body, a regular bath towel for my hair, and a spare bath towel for when one of the others was in the laundry. (Plus assorted hand towels and washclothes.) Now that there's five of us, I have no idea, when it seems like we're running out of them too fast, I buy another couple of them. Some day my children will not leave wet towels in their beds/on their floors/wherever it suits them, and I will once again know how many towels I own and own some nice ones. But that day is not today!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:40 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I was just thinking about this out loud the other day because it came up in conversation for some reason, likely because we were talking about available audio gear for a project, and I realized this:

I have a very strange ratio of towels to other things.

I have more (small) audio speakers than towels. I have three sets of remarkably high fidelity desktop/bookshelf speakers and two mini-amps. Oh, no, wait, no. I have four sets of speakers, including my little bluetooth stereo boombox. Wait... technically it's five now because my friend bought me a little subwoofer unit and a pair of classic 70s/80s era all wood Sonys I told him about at the thrift store, and I told him I can't have them yet until I have less speakers and/or finish moving and resetting my studio space.

I have more computers than towels - right now I have two functioning computers, one needing a reinstall and one borrowed netbook for video projection for shows - and I use them all and/or have studio/music plans for them. Heck, I have more MIDI keyboards than towels - which is currently two. I also have three USB audio interfaces, one DJ controller and two Korg NanoKontrols, plus an M-Audio 2x2 USB midi box. I have more USB keyboards than towels. I'm pretty sure somewhere I have more cannabis implements than towels.

I have more water bottles and canteens than towels. More bike tires than towels. More boots than towels. More books than towels.

I have one bath towel. One hand/face towel. And two or three wash cloths for scrubbing face and bits and stuff.

The towels are decent quality and serviceable. Nothing fancy. My current bath towel will probably last me for years. I had the last one for 4-5 years and it wasn't new when I got it or anything, and I finally tore while vigorously toweling off my back as one does by stretching it between your hands over your back.

This is all amusing to me because I live in a (rather nice) shed. I'm technically still unhomed and I'm technically supposed to still be on a bike tour and able to ride away from it all whenever I want. I mean, I still can but at this point I'm going to have to have a garage sale before I can take off.

All that being said I am not at all displeased by this ratio of speakers and music gear to towels. For me it's just about right and makes me feel like I'm living my life and my priorities.

I don't even know what I'd do with another towel, but I sure know what I'd do with another tasty pair of little hi-fi bookshelf speakers from the thrift store. Especially since the thrift store speakers might be cheaper than a good new towel.
posted by loquacious at 1:41 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I now have Annie Lennox singing 'Sex Towel' incessantly in my head so thanks for that. What the hell is a toilet towel?

We have about a trillion towels of varying sizes and levels of wear and yet somehow there always seems to be one short when we're going swimming (because you need one to dry with as well as one to sit on if you're too lazy to change outta your togs after swimming).

Douglas Adams was completely correct, towels are amazing and you must always know where yours is (or are, as the case may be).
posted by h00py at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

Let's see. We have... probably 4-5 old brown towels, plus 5-6 newish blue ones. Brown towels are mostly used for rubbing down animals and soaking up disaster spills like when the washing machine started leaking; when we were doing weekly baths for all five cats in the house plus the dog, they were getting a ton of use for this purpose. (There are a couple of thin beach towels pressed into similar service.) I think one roommate brought in 2-3 tealish old towels + one enormous red cotton-waffle thing pressed into service as a towel, and I think she's since bought a couple of red towels to match the blue/brown ones. For the life of me I cannot remember my other roommate's towel situation. I have never mastered the hair towel thing and usually just rub myself down with mine, starting at the head and working my way downwards, so I really just need one for me.

Recently I threw a fit because I could not find any of my towels except the two that my spouse and I were using, and we needed them, and a roommate sheepishly yielded a hoard of like... eight of them that had been lurking somewhere in a room. Now I just need to make room in the linens chest to store them all again.

We've got probably 50-odd white washcloths bought in bulk from Costco which are used to do all sorts of chores, plus a couple of flats of microfiber cloths and easily thirty or so dish towels of varying fabrics and origins. The best are the flour-sack ones.

the real question is how long people think a single bath towel, used by a single individual human flesh person in their usual schedule of bathing* activities, is good for.

IDK. A week or so? before I got married I was terrible about letting it go up to a month or so, usually because laundry was a right pain in the ass before I had in-home washing machines
posted by sciatrix at 1:47 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

oh also towels are indispensable for anyone who owns a cat and occasionally has to do noxious tasks to the cat like inserting pills or cleaning ears; I'm not good at purritos but I admire people who are because one of my cats will flip from "content purring" to "whirling hell dervish" surprisingly quickly if she panics, and she has so many spikes you guys.

The two remaining cats are thank fuck easygoing in all situations, including "shove cat into onesie and elaborate Elizabethan Collar between all meals because of recovering abdominal surgery" and "insert eye drops." But the towel is useful in case of panic and restraint.
posted by sciatrix at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

Also, I am someone who just doesn't understand show towels, even after setting aside and skipping that it's kind of a traditional thing in American homes as decoration and interior design, like decorative soap.

They just make me feel so awkward. Am I supposed to use them after washing my hands? Is there a hidden functional towel I should be using? I don't see one. I guess... I'm delicately drying my hands inside of the hidden parts of the show towels and hoping no one notices or gets upset?
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2019 [18 favorites]

I am trying to answer this, but first I need to know:

Do I have to count the towels which live several thousand miles away at my mother's house but which are nonetheless still thought of as 'mine', either because they were my assigned towel when I was a child (pink and white stripes, beach towel with the hot air balloon on it) or because they were purchased with my needs specifically in mind (teal striped swim towel that is really a deck chair cover that only I use when I go to the pool when I visit)?
posted by jacquilynne at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]

2 humans and 2 cats - We have 2 beach towels, about ten bath towels, 2 hand towels, 3 hair towels (larger than hand, smaller than bath), and like 10 ratty, thin towels for the cats. We don't bathe the cats, though sometimes they get a foot rinse if they have a clump of litter or something. I also put one or two in the carrier with them when we go to the vet. We don't need ten, but we have ten cat-level towels. I just did a purge on towels last fall and now I realize I have no idea where the rejects went.
posted by soelo at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, also, does your answer to my question above change if any of those towels now mostly gets used to dry the dogs after rainy walks? I am not sure if that changes ownership of the towel from me to the dogs or from my mom to the dogs or if it's still my towel because jeez, mom, why do you have to use my beach towel to dry the dogs?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two humans (additional housemate sequesters his towels in his bureau when not in use, unsure how many he has): We have...a bunch, but none of them match. I think I have eight bath towels my own self and the other human probably has six or seven, but they've accrued over the past fifteen years or so. I'm not sure how many washcloths we have - maybe eight? No bath sheets. Maybe six hand towels, but two are pretty old and ratty.

In terms of how many towels I feel that you actually need: Bath towels are washed weekly or if smelly and/or dirty in some way, whichever comes first. Hand towels ditto. For me, I don't want to get into the water usage that comes with washing fourteen towels every week instead of two to four.

I read several articles on the internet in which people explain that you should wash your blankets weekly. Not your sheets, not your duvet cover, not anything that is actually next to your skin, but your actual blankets. Not because you had a terrible cold and were sweating and hacking all over everything. Just...wash your blankets weekly along with your sheets. Also you're supposed to wash your curtains monthly.

I assume that all these pieces, including the "wash your towels after one use" ones, are written by people in the pay of Big Laundry and probably Big Linens as well, since that much washing will destroy your stuff.
posted by Frowner at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

I have way too many towels because I never know when a bunch of people is going to come stay with me and have to use a lot of them. I have two bath towels for me in my house and two in the gym. One face cloth. One hand drying towel by the bathroom sink. One kitchen towl non-grotty, one grotty kitchen towel. When I do laundry they all go in.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:34 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also re: Frowner I Have Opinions about people who Have Opinions about how often people should do laundry of various sorts but those opinions are mostly 'You should probably not come over and visit me if you feel that way"

oh right and sex towel
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:37 PM on February 18, 2019 [13 favorites]

posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:48 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

(There was an old AskMe answer from Jessamyn referring to that towel as a zamboni, but I can't find it now)
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:01 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I would like to note that I am not anti-towel. When I house sit somewhere that has laundry, or the rare times I've been in a hotel room I'm not shy about being free with the towels. My friends were recently house sitting somewhere and they had fancy heated towel racks. Hot fluffy giant towels? More than one? Yes please.

And I frankly wish I could do more laundry but right now we get our water trucked in and I'm currently living on melted and filtered snow because our driveway is still blocked, so laundry just isn't even on the table.

I wouldn't be opposed to owning more towels but I don't really have the space for them nor the need for them. Everyone I know that might visit knows where their towel is because most of us live in the countryside or some other mobile way of life ranging from RVs to boats to tiny houses or farms. A major fraction of the population around here showers at a gym, or the boat yards, town pool or other public places.

I'm not actually an ascetic or anything, I'm just practical and a cheap weirdo, and I live in a tiny place. Too many towels just ends up being a problem and liability.
posted by loquacious at 3:02 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ah! Having puzzled at various tweets, and a few MeFi mails, politely pointing out that 'sex towel' and 'after sex towel' are two different things, though the terms are confusingly used interchangeably. And, being English anyway, some of us use water e.g. a shower, or some other form, instead of the latter.

As well as protecting your best cotton threaded bedding, I'm not sure how people who don't have a 'sex towel' manage when e.g. at the beach (sand) or in a treehouse (wood splinters) or lost in nature (rhododendrons), but each to their own.

I have altered the tags on this post accordingly.
posted by Wordshore at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Some day my children will not leave wet towels in their beds/on their floors/wherever it suits them

From experience, this never ends, no matter how old the children are.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:41 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not sure how many towels we have altogether, but we definitely have towels for drying off our dog after walks in the rain (she loves it and it's adorable to watch her lean in for snuggly towel time). The only problem is that there aren't specific ones that are hers; basically it's whatever towel my wife picks out of the closet and hangs on the special dog towel bar any given week. Sometimes the towel fails to go back to its bar after use and I have definitely accidentally used the dog towel for myself on multiple occasions.

You'd think that the experience of adhering dog hair all over your freshly washed body would be pretty upsetting, but apparently it's not been memorable enough for me to avoid repeat experiences. I suppose on the upside, it's winter here now and the dog hair probably provides an extra bit of warmth ...
posted by DingoMutt at 3:45 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

i just realised that my after-sex towels don't match my sex towel
on a scale of 1 to Emily Post Will Haunt Me Forever Now, how big a faux pas is this
posted by halation at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2019 [9 favorites]

As with my other clothing items, the amount is "enough to survive if I actually don't do laundry for a whole month pleasedon'tjudgeme"
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2019 [7 favorites]

I forgot the most important towel of all, the bath towel from Bath. I know it's touristy and kitschy, but I was tickled pink to find this at the gift shop in Bath. I have a spot in my bathroom where I'm going to hang it.

Also, the spa water in Bath tastes awful
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:49 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Metafilter: easily a trillion and ten towels, enough to make a Möbius strip that circles both the Earth and the moon.
posted by Oyéah at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I keep seeing sex towels, is this a thing people do after college?!?!?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

It really depends on how many cats you own and their age and health status.

I recently got a bath and a hand fouta for going to the pool, and I cannot wait until the pool reopens tomorrow.
posted by jgirl at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

42, for varying definitions of towel. 3236 if you include individual paper towels after bulk costco visit. Wait do paper napkins count?
posted by sammyo at 4:07 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Don't you people have guest towels???

posted by jgirl at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

One to wear; one to wash.
posted by jjray at 4:15 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I keep seeing sex towels, is this a thing people do after college?!?!?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:02 PM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]

It really depends on how many cats you own and their age and health status.

I recently got a bath and a hand fouta for going to the pool, and I cannot wait until the pool reopens tomorrow.
posted by jgirl at 4:03 PM on February 18 [1 favorite +] [!]

I like to think the second is in response to the first.
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:32 PM on February 18, 2019 [17 favorites]

I have like 6, and who knows how many facecloths. One of those I bought on a trip because I forgot to bring one, and another was given to me for similar reasons. Actually, the one I bought away is the only one I bought myself, the rest just sort of accumulated. And now that I think about it I’m not too sure that I even bought a that one, I did go to a store but a friend may have paid for it. Or maybe their friend who was working there just let us take it? Towels are mysterious.
posted by rodlymight at 4:39 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

This obviously depends on how you define towel and whether or not you use the disposable paper products with "towel" in the name.

and how you cleans your plates of beans.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:40 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I keep seeing sex towels

You should see a doctor about that. Or a psychiatrist.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Or maybe a sexorcist?
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I keep seeing sex towels

i keep hearing sex towels, myself: Tom Jones & Mousse T's Sexbomb, except instead of 'sex bomb' it's 'sex towel'

this towel's for LOVIN'
posted by halation at 4:50 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

We have a grand total of eight bath towels for four people. I guess there’s probably a guest bath towel or two around somewhere, but the main rotation is eight. Son, 14, uses the two lime green towels. Daughter, 16, uses the two lemon yellow towels. Wife uses the two white ginormous bath towels that my cousin embroidered with the first initial of my last name and gave us for our wedding nearly 20 years ago. I use the scratchy generic blue towels that abrade my skin wonderfully, flaying it with rough and tumble goodness. The oldest bath towels are almost 20, the youngest are maybe 15. Wash once per week or when smelly, whichever is earlier.

We also have about a dozen dish towels of the tea towel variety that my wife’s Aunt Liz bought at the Tower of London or Stratford on Avon or Rome or Florence or wherever and doles out to us each Christmas like they’re amazing and they’re thin and don’t sop stuff up and we go through many, many of them each week.

Hand towels that match the kids’ green and yellow towels... car/puke/Christmas tree towels from college, a quarter century ago... some newer microfiber towels for car washing and so on... it’s actually a lot of towels when you get right down to it. But it’s mostly the same 8 ancient bath towels and the goddamn unending goofy-ass Aunt Liz tea towels that I do in the laundry every week.
posted by cheapskatebay at 4:53 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Towel-adjacent at best, but I'm here to tell you that a piece of old carpet makes a surprisingly versatile tool when kept in the back of your car and nearly forgotten about. You can cover things with it, you can pad things with it, you can put it under your tires when you're stuck in the snow. You can use it as a blanket in an emergency.

A very wise friend gave me mine when I was helping him pack for a move. "What do I want with a piece of old carpet?" I asked. "Keep it in your car, it comes in handy," he replied. And oh boy does it ever.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:00 PM on February 18, 2019 [7 favorites]

Somewhere around 20, because of throwing big social events that can have ten people randomly staying with me overnight, the fact that when you have that many they don't wear out fast, and having a bunch that are stained/bleached that are reserved for messy projects.

And yes, if anything, sex towels are more useful after college in my experience due to an increase in fluid bonded partners leading to fewer condoms being used. Who wants to sleep on the wet spot?
posted by Candleman at 5:05 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

-1 absurdly large beach towel
-3 regular sized beach towels
- 8 bath towels
- 1 sex towel
-3 old undershirts that have been converted into hair drying "towels" by cutting them open
- an uncountable number of hand towels, some in the bathroom, some in the kitchen, with extras stashed in odd places that turn up periodically, as well as the hand towels that got stained or ragged and are now rag towels, and get stored rolled up on top of the microwave.

This is for a household of three, with occasional guests. (Usually 2-3 people visiting at a time.) Sometimes when people are sick, I'll change the hand towels daily instead of weekly and it's nice to still do the wash weekly.
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Who wants to sleep on the wet spot?

Who is so ill-bred as to make their partner do so?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Who is so ill-bred as to make their partner do so?

Every guy in America? That is why we have sex towels. So we don't have to sleep on the wet spot.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

So there's a designated reserved sex towel, rather than just grabbing one? That always worked fine.
posted by jgirl at 5:31 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

So there's a designated reserved sex towel....?

Better make your reservation now, too, for anybody who needs it. From the sounds of this thread, it really gets around.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2019 [12 favorites]

We each have a towel that we like (that are totally opposite, she likes soft fluffy towels and I like them scratchy and brutalist), plus a short stack of guest/dog/mess towels. None of them are really all that great and I think we should probably do some towel shopping.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can buy embroidered sex towels, so no mixups occur.

I'm more of a towel prepper. I have several hundred pounds of raw cotton, along with vintage spinning wheels and looms, buried in an undisclosed desert location. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I will barter terry towels for food and medicine.
posted by peeedro at 6:34 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]

Well! This certainly has been educational. And I'm not just talking about you people and your sex towels. Thanks to Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The's comment about car carpet, I realized that I at all times have a huge stack of dog towels in my car (because my idiot dog chases anything that moves and that includes water so we rarely don't come home encrusted in mud) and I can use them for traction when I get stuck in the snow! Brilliant!
posted by HotToddy at 6:36 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I only have a couple, which is more than enough because I don’t do that much masonry work.
posted by TedW at 6:55 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Nobody should be having sex around fresh cement anyway!
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:17 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

When I was younger and single, a gentleman always slept in the wet spot.

We (married, 2 kids) have approximately 500 towels and neither my wife nor I can recall ever purchasing one. And that doesn’t count the 50 or so that have come home from the gym over the years. Hell, we have *eight* of those weird REI packable towels.

So, I’m having luxurious sex on like ten towels every night.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:19 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]

So there's a designated reserved sex towel, rather than just grabbing one? That always worked fine.

I actually have a sex towel for sex during periods. So it's specifically an old black towel that won't get stained when it gets blood on it.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:30 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

I only have bath sheets because they are luxurious. I currently have 4. 2 hand towels, 2 beach towels, 0 washcloths. Husbeast has an additional 3 bath towels.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:53 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am a single person living alone. I have 7* bath towels, 4 hand bath towels, and 8 washcloths (and 3 dog towels and probably 6-8 kitchen hand towels).

I started college almost 15 years ago with the exact same towels and washcloths, except back then there were 8 bath towels. Everyone made fun of me a lot about the quantity of towels I had. I grew up in a house where a bath towel was used one time and then washed, but laundry happened on the weekends, I didn't know any different. 8 towels seemed normal to me. (My parents have dozens and dozens and dozens of towels.) Since I've only had to invest in towels one time in my life, and these towels are pretty much still just as good as the day I got them, the haters can all eat me.

These days I use a bath towel 2-3 times before it goes in the wash. Hand towels 2 days. Washcloths are always one and done.

*The 8th bath towel got thrown away. The plumbing wasn't great in my first after-college apartment and our toilet clogged if you looked at it sideways. A "friend" was over and the toilet overflowed, and rather than ask for help he sopped up all the diarrhea water with my bath towel that was hanging in the bathroom then threw it in the shower and closed the curtain and walked away. Walked into the bathroom and hour later to a bad smell and lingering poo water in the corners, and absolute horror on the floor of the tub. Rest in peace, towel #8, you didn't deserve your fate.

Note 1. Seriously Jonathan wtf, a decade gone and still really not cool.

Note 2. If nothing else this is a really good use case for having PLENTY of towels.
posted by phunniemee at 8:32 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

There are two of us, and we have I think maybe ten bath towels, two or three beach towels, and an assortment of towel miscellany and ephemera.

If it can be stood on, it's a bath mat.

If it's sufficient to dry my body and hair after a shower, it's my shower towel, and if I just let it fall to the ground after I'm done drying off, hey, that's tomorrow's bath mat in the bag!

If I wipe my hands on it after washing them, it's a hand towel, even if it's a shirt, or just...the wall.

If it's at the beach, it's a beach towel, and usually my girlfriend's, after she's done with it. Washcloths? My hands are my washcloths. Sex towels are whatever you find that's absorbent, after scrabbling around near and beneath the bed. Consider me a towel dilettante, if you will.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:42 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have about 10 bath towels, and two beach sized towels, three hand towels, the kitchen stuff is a different category, thank you very much. I keep three towels on the rack, and a hand towel by the sink. I rotate the towel that is the dampest to the far side. If it is too damp, I hang it on a hook, outside my back door, between the security door and the closed back door. The sun shines on that area, and it dries well there. I dry all my clothes on a clothes line, in So Cal, it is a possibility all winter. I love crispy, cotton, towels, sun dried. Yes I do!
posted by Oyéah at 8:48 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

We have three bath towels in standard rotation, plus an old ugly green one in the cabinet that comes out when the rest are missing, along with a kid-sized dinosaur bathrobe that doubles as a towel for kids. And a bunch of lesser towels.

But really, I'm in this thread to spread the gospel of the electric towel drying rack. Coupled with a timer plug so you don't have to remember to turn it off, the towel rack will dry your wet bath towel without risking that funky-smelling state that happens when towels don't dry out fast enough. It is a game-changer.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:58 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


everybody didn't have matching towels???
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:31 PM on February 18, 2019 [25 favorites]

Nobody should be having sex around fresh cement anyway!

But that gets me so hard!
posted by hippybear at 9:44 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

As a single woman I own enough two-towel sets to last me a week. One towel is for my hair, the other for my body. I reuse my towels maybe twice, then into the laundry bin they go. I have been told I am weird for having so many towels many many times and my answer is always the same: leave me and my lovely clean body alone.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:22 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

We're a household of two; my dude is a lot more towel-minimalist than me and has one primary bathing towel and one bathrobe made of towel material.

I have a primary hair towel, a secondary hair towel (currently in the back of my car for some reason), three former primary body towels, a microfibre towel that I use to dry my legs, a towel-material bathrobe and a microfibre bathrobe.

I'm sitting in my current-preference drying arrangement as we speak - hair bundled up in primary hair towel, body wrapped in microfibre bathrobe, legs wrapped in microfibre towel. The microfibre switch was an attempt to significantly reduce the amount of time I spend rubbing my damp body with a towel. I hate the act of physically drying myself, all of that awful rubbing and standing around all damp, so now when I get out of the shower I cocoon myself in hair towel + microfibre products and sit on the bed reading for five minutes or so and let the water leech off me slowly. This is so much more relaxing than frantically trying to towel myself off in as short a time as possible and then immediately pulling clothes on top of my still-damp body (I have a wide range of sensory issues that I suspect are shining through in this description of my methodology).

However, microfibre's days might be numbered as I just purchased a pack of four Turkish towels to see if I like them better than microfibre as a fast drying experience. Microfibre has been fine at best but I don't like the way it smells after a few uses before washing it, nor do I love the feel of it against my skin.

In addition to these personal towels, we also have at least two hand towels and at least two guest towels; possibly more but I couldn't tell you without rifling through a cupboard.
posted by terretu at 10:28 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

MetaFilter: sit around and let the water leech off you slowly.
posted by hippybear at 10:42 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

4 new good towels, 6 more older/less good towels, 3-4 "emergency spill only" towels. No bath sheets. Maybe a dozen washcloths?

I only have 4 new towels because everything in my apartment had to get treated/specially cleaned for smoke damage due to a fire next door. I basically had to re-buy all my bathroom stuff, which meant switching the color scheme to grey and teal cause that's what's out there now. My old colors were white and blue.

My grey and teal new towels are VERY fluffy though.

I don't know how many dishcloths I have, just that it's too many for the storage I have but not enough for all the spills I make.
posted by emjaybee at 10:42 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Grey and teal is a lovely smoke-damage sort of color scheme.
posted by hippybear at 10:44 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Far too many towels, but why not?
When they get really nice and soft, they are donated to the local vet, or pet rescue. Makes perfect sense to me.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 1:09 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's not a security question, but... I... why... are there so many towels in the tags?
posted by redrawturtle at 2:27 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have an over-the-door rack in the bedroom with four hooks on it, so four towels, natch. I rotate daily and launder once a month. It's clean water.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:29 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

my god but life is full of mysteries.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:41 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

For my single-person household that's three bath towels for the bathroom (Muji medium fluffy), couple of guest ones same size but different colours, plus around six hand towels for the loo because those tend to fall into the litter box and thus get changed more often. Handful of face cloths that I only use for travelling because at home I want something more exfoliating.

I remain perplexed by the notion of "used towel". Do Americans not have heated towel racks to dry things out without mold getting involved? I guess it might make sense if there's 5+ people in the household and laundry done every/every other day, with a dryer involved?
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:25 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here in the urban subtropics I have seven cotton waffleweave bath towels, each of which I use exactly once, hang to dry to a crisp on the laundry rack in a closed room with the dehumidifier on, and then wash as a batch at the end of the week.

Mould conquers all other moist-fabric situations here and when I visit someone with a plush tapestry-level bath sheet in their bathroom I assume every surface in their home is covered in a fine layer of fungal spores.
posted by mdonley at 3:33 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

(if we're getting into bath mat wars, the only correct answer is cork - never stand on a damper-than-you-expected towelling bath mat ever again; cork is always warm and dry)
posted by terretu at 3:37 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have SO many towels. Way too many, both bath and dish. And, like everything else in my life, they are a complete mishmash, no matching sets whatsoever. The towels my husband had when I moved in were mostly novelty beach towels, so there are still lots of those around. All towels around here are multi-use, no designated body/hair/dog/sex towels.

*Reading through the entire thread, 'towel' doesn't even look like a word anymore

**This past weekend, I was just thinking that I need to purge all towels and start over again. Most are my husband's and I don't even really like them, I'm just using them out of habit.
posted by Fig at 4:30 AM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I have too many towels because they seek me out.
posted by Namlit at 5:20 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

As it happens, we just updated our bath towels in the House of K because the old ones were a bit threadbare and scratchy. So, we now have 2 bath sheets, 2 regular bath towels, and 2 hand towels per person (3 people in the household until the child wanders off to college in the fall). Plus an irregular assortment of face cloths, several beach towels, and half a dozen bath mats (for two bathrooms).

As we were paying for the new towels at Bed Bath and Beyond, the lady at the checkout suggested that we donate our old towels to an animal shelter rather than merely throw them out, so we're scouting local animal shelters that might like to have them.
posted by briank at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Two humans and one cat. We have six large bath towels, four hand towels for the bathroom sink, and a nearly infinite number of bar towels and kitchen towels, which are inexpensive and which we use in place of (expensive/wasteful) paper towels, (bacteria-spreading) sponges and (unnecessary) oven mitts as well as for bread/cornbread/biscuit/tortilla basket liners, etc. -- and once they get grotty we re-purpose them for dirtier jobs such as bathroom cleaning, furniture dusting, silver polishing, etc. until they're too horrible to contemplate.
posted by slkinsey at 7:44 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

the lady at the checkout suggested that we donate our old towels to an animal shelter rather than merely throw them out, so we're scouting local animal shelters that might like to have them.

When I inherited a house full of too-many towels (father had six bathrooms, four with showers or tubs or both, and seasonal nonsense towels as well as formal towels and a house full of beach towels and boat towels, lord help me) I was super excited to bring them to the local animal shelter. Not only are they stoked to have them, they let you come in and play with all the cats, dogs and rabbits!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:57 AM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

For a household of currently 2ish people, think I've got about 4 normal decentish towels, 1 Turkish towel that is my personal towel and which I adore for many reasons, including because it is big enough to discreetly cover my fat body so I can walk around in a towel without flashing the neighbors. Turkish towels are also great if you ever need to travel with a towel! About 4 medium-old towels and a couple of really old towels. So, about 10 bath towels which seems like a good amount of bath towels for a small family; I have not enough hand towels because they tend to get used for cleaning tasks and become unpresentable; only a couple of washcloths as we are a nylon poof peoples. I am a sentimental person and I have strong memories--some good, some sad--associated with all my towels. My PITA daughter is a towel hoarder, and of all the PITA behaviors that have led me to christen her a PITA, her towel hoarding is very high on the list.
posted by drlith at 8:13 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

...and seasonal nonsense towels as well as formal towels and a house full of beach towels and boat towels...

{sighs} Updating the tags on this post, again. One is a completist-librarian, trapped inside the body of a cake-seeker.
posted by Wordshore at 8:24 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

{sighs} Updating the tags on this post, again. One is a completist-librarian, trapped inside the body of a cake-seeker.

Guest towel
posted by jgirl at 8:43 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Our household of two adults has 6 of those giant bath sheets (Costco! Cheap but really nice!), two very ratty old bath towels that we use for large spills, a few hand towels that only get put out when we have company, one million washcloths for some reason, several knitted dishcloths even though we never use them, and several microfiber makeup-remover towel thingies that only I use. I still feel like we need more bath towels, but have no idea why.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:48 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Formal towels? I'm failing to resist the urge to ask if they have little neckties or whatever, but really, what does this phrase mean?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:49 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Don't you people have guest towels???

That would imply that I had guests. Should I ever find myself in that situation, I would call an exterminator, not provide them with towels.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:49 AM on February 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

We never have overnight guests -- no room in our condo -- so we have no guest bath towels. The hand towels are the closest we get to guest towels, since I only put out a hand towel if we have guests, because I figure no one but us wants to dry hands on our bath towels.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:51 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Back when I lived with a business of ferrets I had a whole set of towels just for them. These had to be laundered separately because they threw off a truly prodigious amount of hair into the lint screen.
posted by slkinsey at 8:55 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

We have TOO many towels, I think somewhere like twenty, maybe a bit more. About half of them are in regular use. I have one towel for my body, another larger one for my hair because I'm fancy like that. We do have a fair number of family members that will visit from time to time, so the extra towels do get used.

One thing I will say though, is that within the last 10 years I stopped caring about whether or not a towel was a "guest towel", hoarding softer fluffier towels that never get used seem stupid, like why have a nice towel if you're not going to use it. I'm not saying I want to give my guests shitty towels, but damnit I'm also worth that extra soft and fluff. So I started to throw those towels into my towel rotation.
posted by Fizz at 8:59 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I figure no one but us wants to dry hands on our bath towels.

posted by jgirl at 9:07 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saw the "ElbowTowel" tag and was deeply dismayed; fortunately nobody in the thread seems to have mentioned them and the tag was simply precautionary.

Please don't burst my innocent, niche-towel-free bubble.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:11 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have eight decent bath sheet sized bath towels.
Four beach towels.
5-6 decent hand towels.
5-6 wash cloths
An untold number of tea towels ( I really have no idea).
A whole pile of old towels/wash rags/dust rags for clean-up, cat emergencies, weird kitchen/bathroom disasters (my plumbing is really interesting, friends!), silver/brass/copper polishing/etc.

I entertain a lot and don't have a dishwasher, which makes the tea towels super handy (it's not unusual for me to go through 4-5 cleaning up before/after a dinner party) . I also have a full guest room that's usually occupied at least a few days out of the months by guests with a variety of towel towels. Some friends use 2/per shower (one for hair, one for body). Some one 1/per visit.

I have a tiny linen closet. It is packed to the gills.
posted by thivaia at 9:49 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

Animal shelters will also often take old blankets/comforters, and sometimes pillows/cushions. I had a huge ratty old king-sized comforter go be a cuddle bed for the BIG dogs at the shelter. Check first, but anything soft your pets like to sleep on at home may be needed at your local shelter!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:21 AM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've got some tags for you! Beyond the wedding set of four bath towels, four hand towels, four washcloths, I have 2-3 thinner towels and some fingertip towels and washcloths that I inherited, a beach towel for each adult, and 4 extra-absorbent beach/pool towels. Family of 2 adults and 2 kids.

But I also have:
Mud towels (aka utility towels), for sopping up dirty messes or plumbing incidents, etc. Raggedy, stained and cut up, don't care.
Sharky towel and crabby towel: children's towels with hoods, decorated in various characters. Currently a shark and a crab in the rotation. Used to have more but the kids outgrew them.
Camp towel: My towel that I always used to bring to sleepaway summer camp. Sturdy; will never die. In an ugly color so no one would ever steal it.
posted by Liesl at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I should note that I also have a Speedo watershed chamois sports towel. It's hot pink!

But my foutas will cover me up and dry me better than the chamois and the raggedy soon-to-be-demoted-to-household-cleaning hand bath towel I've been using, and they will take up the same amount of room in the swim bag.
posted by jgirl at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

House of 3, with a swimming pool:

Easily 20-25 white bath towels, a dozen hand towels and a dozen or more washcloths
NOT exaggerating when I say about 50 beach towels - everyone brings a swimsuit, no one brings a towel
posted by ersatzkat at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

(I also have a tea towel problem in that I have way too many tea towels and can't say no to another one)
posted by ersatzkat at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've no idea how many towels I own, but it's probably more than one would expect from a lifelong bachelor with no kids. Even worn out towels come in handy - like, say, when something goes horribly awry in the plumbing in the apartment above you and you come home to a mini-waterfall in your kitchen NOT THAT THAT HAPPENED TO ME LAST WEEK OR ANYTHING - plus a highly erratic work schedule means I often don't have time or spoons to do laundry on any kind of regular basis. (Yeah, I own a lot of socks and underwear, too.)

Of course all this talk of "sex towel" immediately earwormed me with the original "Sex Bomb" by Flipper. So I figured I'd share it. You're welcome.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't know how many towels I have (~4 bath and 1 "beach" one in regular rotation, plus I think there are some ratty ones in the closet, plus 5ish hand towels? idevenk.) but I never use any of them post-shower because terry robes are frankly superior for that. I am of the type that doesn't believe in a towel rubdown, just a gentle towel wrap. Why would you try to wrap yourself in a flat thing that just keeps falling off (admittedly I may be a bad wrapper) instead of snugly luxuriating in towel for as long and as many activities as you please?
posted by mosst at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two person household, one bathroom, semi-frequent guests, have around a dozen bath towels/sheets and at least a couple dozen hand/kitchen/dish towels. We don't have special guest towels, they're directed to the clean towel shelf in the bathroom.

I believe bath towels should be washed about every third use. Before I moved in, my partner was washing hers about every other month.
posted by bagel at 12:02 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm single and live alone. I have 8 bath towels, 8 hand towels and about half a dozen washcloths (I lost a couple) for my use. 2 guest bath sheets, 6 guest towels and 6 guest hand towels. 12 kitchen towels. 2 decorative towels for the powder room (I have 3 bathrooms) that actually get used--they're basically hand towels with a colorful pattern, whereas all my bath and guest towels are white. And finally, 8 microfiber towels that I use to dust, swiff the floor, remove fingerprints from mobile devices and glasses, and clean my TV. I also have 2 towels that serve as bath mats.

So....I guess that makes about 60 towels.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:16 PM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

We (a household of 4) have just ... so many towels, and yet yesterday my child couldn't find one for going to the pool, so I'm not sure what happened, but I can't currently count our towels. I will say that we probably have at least 40 washcloths.

Someone's comment on here reminded me that Melissa Ferrick on a live Drive video said something about how if your girlfriend uses more than 1 towel (after a single shower), she's actually straight, and I remember thinking "What would you use 2 towels for? What's wrong with one?"
posted by freezer cake at 12:43 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

...and this thread just inspired me to add a Turkish towel to my collection for travel.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:13 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Live alone and rarely have guests. I have:

2 glorious bath sheets
4 bath towels I never use anymore that should probably be KonMaried
1 beach towel
8 hand towels which actually get used as towels (4 would probably be sufficient)
2 hand towels used for light cleaning (in addition to 20+ microfiber cloths, which I am not counting)
12 wonderful new washcloths, thanks to the people who contributed to this recent AskMe
8 old washcloths in a "can I donate these somewhere or should I just throw them out" pile
2 microfiber towels (one about the size of a small bath towel, one about the size of a small hand towel) which take up very little volume and are used only for travel or hiking
3 dish towels that get used
possibly some other dish towels way in the back of the pantry which also need to be KonMaried, if they exist
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:11 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

For me personally, I have 2 bath towels, plus two hand towels. (Like others, one for current use, one in the laundry, so I can rotate them.)

Then there are the second string towels (aka recently retired from being primary bath towels), which I have a couple of, that could be guest towels, but mostly, they're for drying clothing that I hand wash or similar tasks.

Then there are the older, third string towels, which are used for misc cat and dog needs.

Then for none personal towels, there are a number of smaller kitchen towels, for drying hands, drying dishes, etc, but I honestly don't know off the top of my head how many I have of those.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:21 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and actually, my bath towels are technically bath sheets. I'm a recent convert to the bath sheet. It's just so much nicer than the smaller, standard sized bath towel.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:22 PM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

My gosh, I think I must be alone in not liking bath sheets! Granted, I’m not a huge person, but what do you need all that extra real estate for? Takes more space in the washing machine, takes more time and energy to dry. I dry myself off in the shower and then use the same towel to turban up my hair while I brush my teeth. If I have to use a bath sheet as a hair turban I become comically top-heavy and the whole thing unravels.
posted by Liesl at 3:39 PM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by MountainDaisy at 5:39 PM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

SO MANY TOWELS. The plan was to limit the frequency of having to do a load of laundry but that’s not how it worked out.
posted by CMcG at 5:58 PM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]

I live with my large adult son, two large dogs and a large cat who isn’t really large, just spherical. We have, I believe, umpty squillion towels. The dogs’ towels say DOG TOWEL on them in faded sharpie. The human towels don’t. Some have polka dots, some flamingos and there’s one in the camper with llamas. I have no idea where most of them came from; I sort of assume they breed in the depths of the linen closet. I don’t approve of hand towels - I find them confusing, just use a regular big towel. Yes if you’re a guest they’re clean, if you’re family they might be. If any hand towels mysteriously appear they become dishtowels, of which there are also an inordinate amount.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:30 PM on February 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not counting but we have a 30x30 linen closet with 3 shelves/4 compartments and it is stuffed full to the point our cats can't squeeze in when all the towels have been washed. The shelves are our triage witht he nicest/newest towels being on the shelf at mid height and they get worse as the shelf becomes less handy until the ones at the back of the bottom compartment barely pass as towels (and really probably should never be used because they are used so infrequently they tend to be covered in cat hair).

poffin boffin: "the real question is how long people think a single bath towel, used by a single individual human flesh person in their usual schedule of bathing* activities, is good for. "

Wash it once one can no longer bend it over the shower curtain rod. I kid, I wash my towels every 3-5 uses.

Wordshore: "I'm not sure how people who don't have a 'sex towel'"

Vinyl backed plush fleece picnic blanket. Also protects from melting snow and other wet ground. And is large enough to cover up with if stumbled upon while naked.

jgirl: "So there's a designated reserved sex towel, rather than just grabbing one? That always worked fine."

Sex can trigger (or maybe make apparent is the better term) menstruation. Having a dedicated towel or two can confine staining.
posted by Mitheral at 12:58 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, there are also eight regular bath towels assigned to the shower in the wood shop that don't mix with our house towels.
posted by Mitheral at 1:00 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

The towels we had when we got married. The towels I inherited when my parents passed away. I saw one of them at my youngest daughter's house the other day. It has to be at least 50-plus years old.
The towels we bought on vacation -- "We need a couple of dark towels to cover up the stuff in the hatchback! And towels for the swimming pool/lake/beach."

The towels for our daughter's house when it went on the market. No ratty towels during a showing! So for the first time I have lovely soft matching bath towels and washcloths in turquoise and sand. These are the ones I keep folded in our bathrooms.
The impulse-buy towels in hot pink and tangerine (what was I thinking?) went to my youngest daughter's roommate, who took them with her. Hence the ratty half-century towel over the shower pole.

The light-colored stained towels at the trailer at the lake that we use during our current house construction project. Nothing can make them look worse, and bugs can't surprise me just as I pick one up to dry off.
Older navy, brown, dark green and burgundy towels that will replace the stained towels once the cottage is finished. If they wind up used while filleting a catfish, that's fine.

Bags of towels do get purged and taken to the garage for all the grotty projects and then get thrown away, but somehow the old beach towels, dish towels and washcloths still turn up. I'll open a box, and a small towel is wrapped around a glass dish or framed picture.

And microfiber turbans are a thing. It doesn't fall off, it gets my hair past the dripping stage until it can air dry, and that's one less towel on the rack.
posted by TrishaU at 1:34 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

So, for a single person I own quite a few towels. When I split from my partner I took a selection of the towels we had bought for our tourist accommodation. I wasn't going to let those thick Egyptian cotton beauties go to waste.

I recently received a whole set of boxes of fragile items from my late mother's house. Many had been packed with worn-but-not-too-much towels from her cupboard. Some of those I remember from my childhood over 40 years earlier. It was she who taught me to buy the best house linens you can afford, because they last. When I went into hospital recently for cancer surgery, I took one of those old but good towels of my mothers. Even though she was dead, I could still have a towel with me that she had washed and dried. It made me feel loved.
posted by Thella at 2:02 AM on February 20, 2019 [6 favorites]

As a single person who rarely has guests BUT who needs a second towel for her hair when she washes it, I have 6 towels (bath sheet size), which is about the number I need. I think I have 2-3 hand towels and a few washcloths, but I usually use other things to wash than a washcloth. I love being profligate with towels, I use 3 regularly for a beach day.
posted by jeather at 7:37 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is a fascinating question in that I have no earthly idea how many towels we have. We have enough! Some are purple. Some are green. (Almost everything we own, textile-wise, is either purple or green.) One is blue. (That's the dog towel.) We have an indeterminate number of varicolored kitchen towels because every time my wife's mom stays with us, she sneaks more into the drawer. I have appropriated the powder-blue ones for use as shop towels. We used to have a dedicated sex towel (a white(?!) bath towel monogrammed with the obsolete logo of a now-defunct former employer of mine) but I think we decided not to move it cross-country.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:56 AM on February 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have no idea how many towels we have. There is a giant ... hole ... in the top of our bathroom closet that is full to the ceiling with towels. Mounds and mounds of them. At least a cubic meter, if not two. I have no idea how we ended up with so many, I assume they have bred and multiplied over the years. Every so often I will reach into the very back bottom and pull out some towel that I don't remember owning. My wife is short, so she has me put away towels by stuffing them up into the top of the heap. If you aren't careful handling Towel Mountain you will be buried by a Towel Avalanche.

Those are just the bath and beach/pool towels. Face and hand towels lurk on lower shelves of the bathroom closet and in drawers under the sink. There is a giant bin with dish towels skulking under the kitchen sink. I don't know if anyone has seen the bottom of that in years.

Anyways, lots 'o towels.

So, in conclusion, I think we have a problem?

The appropriate number is fewer towels than that, but enh, who has time for towel sorting. Life is short. Stuff 'em into the closet and move on.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

My default has always been twice as many towels as people, twice as many sets of bed linens as beds. That way laundry is never an emergency, and you don't have to store a bunch of towels and sheets.

But, as long as you've got one towel per person or more (at least for people with income in the top 50%, globally), you're doing it right in my book.

I'm afraid to ask what a toilet towel is. Is this some new kind of "shitknife" thing?
posted by eotvos at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

Household of 2, with very infrequent guests:
7 bath towels in regular rotation
4 bath towels that are retired for bath duties but get used for cleanup (basically the towels I had from college)
12 hand/kitchen towels (because Costco sells cheap kitchen/hand towels in packs of 12, and they don't take up much space)
12 washcloths (because Amazon sells cheap white washcloths in packs of 12, ditto)
posted by Aleyn at 1:31 PM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think I might have fingerbowl towels, in the box of beautifully embroidered linens carefully handed down. No fingerbowls though. Possibly the family never had fingerbowls -- the fingerbowl towels wouldn't wear out, then.
posted by clew at 6:39 PM on February 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Not enough. My only decent bath towel at this point is one that a guest of my law school roommate's left at our apartment about ten years ago, and that I kept as even then my towels weren't great. Probably there's a recent-ish ask on where a person buys good towels these days, because if I'm going to give in and actually BUY TOWELS for the first time in my broke-ass punk rock life, I'm going to get good ones.

Now I'm contemplating whether I should get bright pink to bother all my future guests.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:46 PM on February 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, there are also eight regular bath towels assigned to the shower in the wood shop that don't mix with our house towels.

A wood shop with a shower? I am completely jealous, that sounds ideal to me.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I had no idea people used their robes as wearable towels. It bothers me a little! Maybe because I am one of those people who hates to have any damp patches un-dried whatsoever when putting on clothes, and I think of robes as clothes.
posted by emjaybee at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dip Flash: "A wood shop with a shower?"

I made a couple mistakes have a few things I'd do differently if I ever build another shop but the 3/4 bath with walk in shower was definitely not one of them.
posted by Mitheral at 9:55 PM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

I did not count them, but this thread motivated me to face all of my towels at once and do a huge load of laundry. So thanks, I guess.

I have the right amount of towel.
posted by Vesihiisi at 3:25 AM on February 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not the keeper of towels in the house, though I have a few. Mostly for drying off and cleaning my glasses. They're ... not all used for my glasses. (And I can't bring myself to make the obvious joke, here.)
posted by redrawturtle at 3:48 AM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

He always needs two bath towels; I, with the long hair, need one. They all fit easily in the stupid big heated towel rack I had installed in the bathroom. The bath mat has 3 rails for itself. I hate and fear wet towels.

I go thru tea towels quickly; he tears thru the stack of microfibre cloths in the studio.

6 bath sheets
4 hand towels
6 face towels
12 tea towels
1 squajillion microfibre cloths
1 Christmas towel with a jolly Santa

And the guest bathroom has previously adored towels.
posted by lemon_icing at 3:58 AM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hmm, I can't believe I read all the way to the bottom of this thread, and now I feel compelled to add in my own inventory of towels.

I love towels, and have enough washcloths and hand-towels to keep a small army dry. But I use at least 10 of those each week wiping mud and detritus off my amazing pupper dog. About half of my washcloths are permanently stained and are not used for anything but dog or painting or other messy activities. (The Algot is perfect for sorting said towels.)

As for bath towels, I have 4 in the guest bath that hang up looking nice, and being used rarely. Why not let them hang there - otherwise there's just two empty towel racks looking lonely. We probably have about 4 more towels - I use one, and it gets washed weekly or bi-weekly. Then we have two large bath sheets. My husband uses one of those, and it also gets washed weekly or bi-weekly.

I don't like the larger bath sheet. It's unwieldy. I use a standard bath towel, and have considered switching to a hand towel for drying myself. I'm not sure it has enough surface area though.
posted by hydra77 at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mitheral, what kind of drain filter does a shop shower need? Fascinated.
posted by clew at 11:02 AM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is a sex towel closer to "brand new towel" or "one step from the rag box" on the towel lifespan? Or is it its own thing? I am confused, curious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:40 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is a sex towel closer to "brand new towel" or "one step from the rag box" on the towel lifespan?

It turns out there was, and is, much confusion and ambiguity on this, as sex towel is meant by some as a towel used during sex (for e.g. providing a layer between the intimates and either the bed sheets, ground, or other surface), and by some as a towel used after sex (for cleaning up).

I always took it to mean the former. So, the (during) sex towel would be a good and clean towel, and usually one of a decent size. If you used what I and some others would describe as an "after sex towel" then that would be whatever rag was at hand.

But, everyone has their own personal towel taxonomy, so someone else will tell you something entirely different.
posted by Wordshore at 3:13 PM on February 21, 2019

I have these fingerbowl towels, never used....
posted by clew at 3:22 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Single person living alone. I have:
1) 2 very large bath towels. One in use, one in the laundry.
2) 2 normal size bath towels (one is brown and used when dying hair but also works for just drying off)
3) Two pieces of an old bath towel which come in handy when I do things like spill coffee on the carpet.
4) Two hand towels - one in use, one in the laundry
5) A beach towel

Several tea towels and wash cloths.

Can we talk sheets now? I've downsized to two sets (this doesn't count sheets that are used for non-bedding purposes) and I'm wondering if I did the right thing. Maybe I need 3 sets. So far my favorite sheets are from Target.
posted by bunderful at 5:58 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can we talk sheets now? I've downsized to two sets (this doesn't count sheets that are used for non-bedding purposes) and I'm wondering if I did the right thing.

It depends on whether you switch sheets with the seasons or use the same type year round. But having one set on the bed and one in the wash is about right. If you also need flannel sheets for winter and cotton for summer, or whatnot, then 4 sets in all.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:03 PM on February 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sigh. Two it is.
posted by bunderful at 6:07 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

clew: "Mitheral, what kind of drain filter does a shop shower need? Fascinated."

Nothing different than a regular house drain in my case. At worst it might get some saw dust washed down.
posted by Mitheral at 8:23 PM on February 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

We have, for myself and my partner:
10 bath towels: 5 are our favourites and regularly used, 2 are not liked and used only if the first 5 are in the wash, 1 is a guest towel and 2 are extremely disliked and rarely ever used
4 hand towels/face towels/wash cloths: Not sure what the difference is and we don't use these anyway, preferring to use loofahs for washing ourselves
5 tea towels: By this, I mean kitchen towels. Again, not used all that much. We prefer to use J-clothes for just about anything kitchen and cleaning related
1 old cleaning towel that is actually used for heavy-duty housecleaning

Our baby who is 12 weeks old has:
4 towels, 2 of which are hooded
30 washcloths
posted by spicytunaroll at 7:00 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

This reminded me of the stackexchange discussion on `what is the American for tea towel?'. Oddly, the answers don't get very clearly at the real difference, which is that Americans mostly don't have the cultural category for tea-towels that Australians and British apparently share.
posted by clew at 10:48 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


posted by jgirl at 11:18 AM on February 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

The new, blue, fast-fashion line from your friends at Johnston and Johnston.
posted by bonehead at 11:32 AM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


posted by zamboni at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

4 towels, 2 of which are hooded

A what?! A towel with a hood?! Surely that is, well, a coat?

(looks up hooded towels)
(shakes head, sadly)
(adds yet another tag to the post)
posted by Wordshore at 3:21 PM on February 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have too many towels, 6 maybe, and so two are permanently living at work. I made 8 "unpaper towels" from old t-shirts and an old towel that make me very happy, and mean that I don't have to buy paper towel as often.

My mother insists on regularly gifting me handtowels. I don't use handtowels, so they are in the linen closet collecting dust.

We have many tea towels. A plethora of tea towels. This is as it should be, tea towels being inherently useful.
posted by kjs4 at 5:03 PM on February 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

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