The Good Towel Guide

Good towels are part of providing good hospitality to your guests.  The times I have stayed somewhere to be given a towel that is like a piece of sandpaper are countless.  (Or, and I don’t wish to sound fussy, but the towels are so fluffy or synthetic they don’t absorb anything.)

Together with my colleague Barbara Allred, here are our guidelines for tiptop towels.

1)    Unless the guest room does not have an en suite, have the guests’ towels hanging on the towel rail in the bathroom, rather than placed on the bed.  So many hotels do this, when pretty much all hotel rooms come with bathrooms.  There is no need.  What next?  Pillows in the sink?

2)    Each guest should be provided with: a flannel, one small ‘head’ towel, and one big towel.  Each bathroom also needs: a bathmat and a hand towel.

3)    We prefer white guest towels, as they look crisper and will go with any colour scheme.

4)    Yet we’d prefer a dingy dark brown towel to a rather pathetic looking, faded white morsel.  Keep white towels white by washing with the addition of laundry bleach or a whitening sachet.  Or for a LA-dentistry white, soak the towels overnight in cold water with lemon juice, 60ml (quarter of a cup) of bicarbonate of soda and then wash the next morning.

5)    Whilst biological detergent is more effective, use non-biological for guest towels and bedding as you never know when you’ll have a guest whose skin doesn’t take kindly to the biological stuff.  A teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (US: baking powder) in the drawer with the (liquid) detergent will help boost the power of non-bio products.

6)    If your houseguests are staying longer than three nights, apart from feeling very sorry for you, we suggest you change their towels then.  Or sooner if they ask for it.

7)    When washing your guest towels (or your own) make sure you do it on a 60°C or higher setting or else the bacteria and germs will linger.  Most germs are killed at 62°C.  We know we are told to wash on a lower setting to protect the planet, but your own environment could be compromised if you shun this.  (Especially important if you have young children or the elderly who are more prone to picking up germs.)

8)    Only use a little fabric softener as too much will mean the towels lose their absorbency.

9)    For really bad stains, soak the towel overnight in cold water with a 120ml (half a cup) of bicarbonate of soda and 120ml (half a cup) of bleach.

10) To get your towels fluffy, either partially air dry them and then finish off in the tumble dryer, or put straight into the dryer from the washing machine.


Guest Contributor William Hanson is Senior Tutor with The English Manner

William joined The English Manner in 2008. He began teaching etiquette from an early age and has gained much experience in teaching manners and protocol to schools and businesses. He has worked with and advised large companies such as Bentley, Champagne Bollinger, Fox’s Biscuits, Green & Black's and the National Lottery. He has worked within VIP households and trained business professionals, schoolchildren, and diplomats alike. A perennial voice on the BBC, William comments on matters of taste and critiques social trends for a wide-range of media outlets including Tatler and the Financial Times. He has his own range of Etiquette apps and released his first book in January 2014 to high praise. He is currently penning a second.William is the world’s only Guinness World Record holding etiquette expert.

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