Here’s a fun little idea that can lead to you reducing your impact while saving money, simultaneously.
Instead of using a monster-sized towel to dry yourself off when exiting the shower (leaving it just partially wet), just switch to a sleek hand towel instead!
This idea came to me after a series of post biking to work showers, in which I was left no other choice than to use a hand towel to dry (at the time, the locker room was frequently running out of the larger towels).
Each time, to my surprise, the hand towel adequately dried me off. It’s worth nothing that I’m 6’4”, 185 pounds – and we’re talking about some paper thin hand-towels here. Yet, it worked.
This experience left me thinking, “at what point in our bigger, better, faster consumer de-evolution did we settle on a big-ass, super plush, 5′ x 7′ beach towel to dry ourselves off when we exit the shower?“. OK, not those words exactly, but something along those lines.
Now, before you snicker and laugh off the idea, consider all of the personal benefits:
Laundry savings: this is the big one. Lets say you’re in a 2-adult household and each of you only washes your two giant towels once per week. That’s a load of laundry per week right there. Have kids? 2 loads. And with that laundry you are using the electricity to run the washer, the water, the cost of laundry soap, the gas to heat the water, and the electricity/gas to dry it. 52 times a year! Not only is there significant cost involved in all of those inputs (and wear and tear on your washer and dryer as towels retain a lot of water and get very heavy), but there is also a significant environmental impact. With a hand towel, just throw them in with your other laundry. No need for a separate load.
Cost of the towel savings: hand towels can be had for about 25% of the price of a large bath towel, at about $4-5 each. And after a towel loses its plush texture, most people end up replacing them. You could even spoil yourself with increased thread counts and organic cotton and come out ahead. Sure, your savings from buying only smaller towels will be modest, but every little bit helps.
Space savings: Giant bath towels take up a ton of space that many bathrooms simply do not have. And you usually have to scrunch them up on a towel rack in order to get them to fit properly. This can lead to them not drying properly or at all before your next shower. Then there is the backup towel storage in a linen closet. The hand towel will take up significantly less volume in storage. And if you travel or take a towel somewhere for workouts? Less volume to haul around with you. Your inner minimalist will love you for the switch.
Billions of people on this planet have no towels or even clean water to bathe in. And hundreds/thousands of generations before you had no towels at all. So simply right-sizing your towel without losing any functionality seems like a minuscule sacrifice. I hate to even label it as such.
Remember, a towel’s sole reason for existence is to get you dry. And if a smaller one fulfills that goal why waste all of the money on the partial use of a larger one.
The best part is, you probably already have hand towels, and there is no downside to giving it a test run, is there?
Let us know how it goes.
What a great idea! Simple, easy to do, and brilliant! I love stuff like this :)
I think most people use the big towels – myself included – to cover ourselves after we get out of the bathroom, but this can be easily be solved by bringing a change of clothing or walk around naked (I might do the latter).
I’ll give the hand towel a try. I have a “swimmer’s towel” which is super absorbent and you can wash it on the sink. Maybe I’ll try that one instead.
Or a bathrobe.
You must not have long hair : )
I’ll grant you that. How about adding in a second hand towel just for long hair that you only swap out every month or so?
I use a Turbie Twist for my long hair! Got 2 for $10, they’re about the size of a hand towel, so they’re light and quick drying and won’t tug at your hair like a giant towel does. Less breakage!
I love this idea! I do have to point out that anyone who washes 2 towels in a load of laundry by themselves should be restricted to rainwater only since that is horrifically wasteful…
I wash 2 towels with my normal laundry load.
Regardless I love the hand towel idea and its a great way to save time, mother nature, money, and water!
I “pre-dry” using a washcloth before exiting the shower so my towel never gets that wet. I hang the washcloth to air dry.
You’re losing it GE…..towels….I wash mine once monthly.
I’m actually every other week – just wanted to frame up the ‘merican standard.
This is ridiculous.
I’m all for being conscientious about time, money, and all things related to expenses. However, there’s a certain threshold of comfort and just, you know, normalcy, that still exists. If you were going to do a write up on how washing and drying towels is an expensive activity, why not focus on hanging up your towels to dry and using them multiple times. Save doing a load of towels until you have enough, or throw them in with other loads of laundry along the way.
I understand the utility of drying yourself with a hand towel, but why stop there? Washcloths are absorbent too!
People aren’t going to the poor house because they use full sized towels. Equally so, they’re not going to dig themselves out of debt by using hand towels after a shower.
“People aren’t going to the poor house because they use full sized towels. Equally so, they’re not going to dig themselves out of debt by using hand towels after a shower.”
Did I say they would? The object here is a towel, but this is largely about developing a mindset of what is necessary and what is not.
What is “normalcy”? If this functionally works for some folks and there is zero downside and it can save them ~$50 a year, why not?
Maybe this type of thinking prompts 10 additional ways to trim $50 or so?
Sure, this is about #200 on the list of things you can do to save money – but to troll around and call it ridiculous adds no value.
I kind of agree. I’ve read your blog for a long time and this is one of the first times that I really don’t see much logic here. The savings is incredibly small, especially when contrasted with the convenience lost. I thought just recently you posted an article with the time value of money? :)
Will you also be switching to smaller sized clothes because you can fit more of those in the washer/drier?
I guess on the positive side… if you’re to the point that the best way you have to reduce your spending is to downsize your towels, then you’ve really accomplished something!
The ‘savings is small here?’ Really? Have you ever dried a full load of towels and noticed how long it took? Any use of the dryer costs money and will add up over a lifetime.
Besides, much of G.E.’s point is that it reduces one’s impact on the environment. Many of us enjoy doing whatever we can to help with this.
And in my humble experience, ‘normalcy’ = status quo, ‘everybody else does it’, lack of original thought…ad nauseum.
Thanks G. E. for a great article!
This is an interesting idea but I suspect it works much better in the summer than the winter. For the latter, one really needs to be dry quickly to avoid becoming sick.
Washing a towel once a week seems rather excessive to be honest. I wash mine much less than that and prefer a large on to wrap around my long hair since a hand towel isn’t enough to absorb all the water. As long as you dry your towel I think you can get by washing it every 2.5-3 weeks. I’m single and do my laundry like once every 3-4 weeks but I have a lot of clothes so I’m not wearing the same thing over and over. I also work from home which helps.
You had me at “space savings” – totally giving this a try.
I did this last night and it worked just fine :) Gonna keep it up, thanks for the fun experiment.
I just tried this…stupidly simple idea, and it worked great! No noticeable difference from a regular giant-sized towel. Thanks for the tip!
A hand towel is even too big for me!
What I use is the wash cloth that I use during the shower to wash myself. Then I rinse the wash cloth clean, wring it dry with hands, and use it to dry myself, and my super long hair, too. When the cloth gets too damp, just wring it with hands to squeeze out the water and use it again.
You sort of get used to it, and enjoy the simplicity of it all :)
Your High efficiency washer either top load or front load uses anywhere between 6 (small load) and 12 (large load) gallons of water. The average unit assuming ~400 loads per year at ~$13-16/yr cost of usage from Department of Energy certified testing . Switching towels from large loads to small loads would save you only ~$2/ yr. Air drying your clothes would be free thus no delta for savings or losses except for cost of towels which I agree will be cheaper.
Nobody is line drying their towels, so add that huge cost in there.
Also the real estate square footage on wasted space.
AND cost of soap, not cheap.
Hand towels are a fourth of the size or smaller.
It saves money and it works.
Cost of water/sewer has gone way up. Have been finding ways to save. Big bath towels take up a lot of space in washer. Slow to dry when hung outside, very slow in costly electric dryer. I recently switched using hand towel after shower. Works fine. Wondered why I started using huge bath towels to begin with. Also bought a small portable washer and use big, old Kenmore once a month for bedding. I hand wash small items in a bucket, save rinse water for garden, spin only in washer. The small portable washer drains in kitchen sink, I capture rinse water and use for hand laundry or garden. By the way, I’m a retired senior citizen.