Washcloths vs Hand Towels: Which is Better?

Washcloths and hand towels are two of the most commonly used bath linens in households today. But what exactly is the difference between a washcloth and a hand towel, and which one should you use?

This article will compare both in terms of their purpose, materials, absorbency, durability, and more. By the end, you’ll know which is better for your particular needs.


A washcloth is a small, thin square cloth used for cleaning and softly removing dead skin cells. They are typically made of cotton, microfiber, or terry cloth. They are designed to be gentle and soft on the skin.

Main Purpose

  • For washing your face, body, and hands.
  • Giving your skin a light scrub to get rid of dead skin cells and make your skin feel smoother.
  • Helping you clean hard-to-reach spots like behind your ears and between your toes.

Washcloths are gentle and flexible enough to be used safely on even sensitive skin, such as a baby’s. Their small size also makes it easier to clean with more accuracy.


Pros and Cons

Compact and portableLimited surface area for larger tasks
AbsorbentQuick wear and tear
Ideal for facial cleansingSmall size
Eco-friendly options

Recommended Uses

Washcloths are used for personal hygiene and are best used for:

  • Washing your face.
  • Removing Makeup.
  • Cleaning Surfaces.
  • Cleaning spills
  • Also used for travel due to its small size.

Hand Towels

A hand towel is a larger rectangular cloth used for drying the hands, body, and other surfaces. They are more absorbent and durable than washcloths. They are often made of cotton, linen, or microfiber.

Main Purpose

  • Drying hands after washing.
  • Drying the face once cleansed.
  • Quickly drying other body parts after a shower or bath.
  • Wiping up spills and messes around the home.

Their absorbent material and larger surface area make hand towels ideal for quicker drying.

Hand towel

Pros and Cons

Larger surface areaCan be bulkier than washcloths
Versatile for multiple usesLonger drying time than washcloths
Durable and long-lastingMay require more storage space
Ideal for hand dryingNot as suitable for facial use

Recommended Uses

Hand towels are meant for drying and absorbing water rather than exfoliating or scrubbing. Here are some top ways to use a hand towel:

  • Drying your hands after washing.
  • Drying freshly washed faces.
  • Decorative display in kitchen or bathroom.
  • Drying off body parts like arms, legs, neck, etc., after a shower.
  • Rinsing and squeezing over dirty surfaces for a quick clean.

Comparison of Washcloths and Hand Towels

Now that we’ve explored the purposes and ideal uses of washcloths and hand towels, let’s directly compare them across some key factors:

washcloth next to a hand towel

1. Absorbency

  • Both are highly absorbent since they are typically made of natural fibers like cotton or microfiber blends. But hand towels are larger and thicker, so they can soak up more water and are better for drying.

2. Size

  • The size of the washcloth is approximately 13 inches by 13 inches. This smaller size allows for more precision cleansing but less ability to dry the body quickly.
  • The size of hand towels ranges from 15″x25″ to 18″x30″. Their larger size makes hand towels better for drying the body efficiently after a shower or bath.

3. Durability and Longevity

  • Hand towels tend to be more durable and last for months or years with proper care. Their thicker fabrics hold up nicely when used and washed repeatedly.
  • On the other hand, washcloths tend to wear out faster. With regular use, you may need to replace them every 3-6 months. This is because they’re made of thinner materials and are not as durable.

4. Environmental Impact

  • Washcloths generally require more frequent replacement, creating more waste over time. However, their small size requires fewer resources to produce.
  • Hand towels are more durable and produce less waste. But they require more resources to manufacture.

5. Cost

  • A single washcloth ranges from $5 to $10 each. They are widely available at discount prices.
  • Hand towels cost between $10 and $20 on average due to their larger size and thicker materials. More decorative HAND TOWELS can cost up to $30.

6. Versatility

  • Washcloths are great for cleaning gently, but they aren’t very good at drying or soaking up big spills.
  • Hand towels can be used to dry your hands, wipe surfaces, and handle unexpected messes. Their versatility makes them handy in various situations.

Which One Should You Use and When?

The decision between washcloths and hand towels ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences.

  • For Personal Hygiene: Use washcloths, when you are taking care of your skin or when caring for babies.
  • For General Hand Drying: Hand towels are the best option for drying hands quickly in bathrooms and kitchens. They are also good for general cleaning.


In short, washcloths are great for cleaning and scrubbing your skin gently without irritating it. Their smaller size makes them handy for precise tasks.

Hand towels are excellent for drying your hands and body quickly because they are made of absorbent materials and are larger. They can also soak up spills and can be used for various purposes.

If you want to cleanse your face thoroughly or apply soaps, opt for washcloths. For a speedy dry after a shower or bath, use a hand towel. Make sure to have both in your bathroom to meet different hygiene needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a washcloth and a hand towel?

A washcloth is a smaller cloth typically used for personal hygiene, such as washing the face or body. On the other hand, a hand towel is larger and primarily used for drying hands after washing. The key difference lies in their size and intended use.

Can I use a towel instead of a washcloth?

Yes, you can use a towel instead of a washcloth for some purposes, but keep in mind that towels are larger and may be less convenient for detailed personal hygiene. Washcloths are designed for a more focused and controlled cleaning, especially for the face and body.

What is the purpose of a washcloth?

The primary purpose of a washcloth is for personal hygiene. It is commonly used to clean the face and body during baths or showers. The texture of a washcloth helps in exfoliation and removal of dirt and dead skin cells, leaving the skin feeling refreshed.

Can I use a hand towel for my face?

Yes, you can use a hand towel for your face, but it’s important to ensure that the towel is clean. Hand towels are generally larger than washcloths, so they may be less convenient for facial use. If using a hand towel, be gentle on the face to avoid any irritation. For dedicated facial care, a smaller washcloth is often more suitable.


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