Susan Sundwall
(featured guest article)

Towels - Beyond the Bath

by Susan Sundwall


I spotted them from a long way down the aisle, a 'super bundle' of bath size towels. I made a beeline for them and plunked them into my cart. I grabbed a bundle of the hand towels too. There were ten in each bundle and the price was a bargain I couldnít pass up.



What on earth are you going to do with all those towels?" asked my husband. He was right behind me with his curiosity up. This was our monthly trip to the local discount warehouse and Iíd had my eye on the towel bundles for a couple of months now. And this time they had the color I wanted, balsam, a sort of muted gray-green.  My plans for them went way beyond the bathroom and I put them to good use as I had done with other towels over the course of many years. The following are some examples of what you can do with these inexpensive, plentiful pieces of cloth.

Kid Stuff

When my kids were little my mother-in-law made bibs out of old hand towels. She simply folded them in half, cut up the middle on one side and then a bit to each side to make a sort of T. Then she whipstitched the edges and added a ribbon tie. I used them until they were shreds. So I made two of them recently for my granddaughter and used seam binding to cover the raw edges. I also made a smock from one of the bath towels for those extra fun times of finger painting. They work so well because theyíre amazingly thirsty. And you can grab the corner of the smock for an instant clean up of bright blue fingers because they get tossed into the washer with the other towels and wash up beautifully.  Whenever my granddaughter sees the smock hanging on the chair, she knows weíre in for a good time, albeit messy, with the paints.  


When I invite friends or family for dinner and itís a casual affair itís quite charming to give each guest a hand towel instead of a napkin. I drape them over the backs of the chairs or roll them and lay them across the plates. Men, in particular, seem to appreciate this idea especially if Iím serving a big spaghetti feast or fried chicken with all the trimmings. They have no qualms about using these man-sized napkins to wipe away the traces of spaghetti sauce or chicken drippings. I also use one towel placemat style in the middle of the table under a big bunch of wild flowers to finish the casual appeal. If I really want to go all out, I use one or two of the towels folded up to use like a hot plate. You may want to use a square potholder in the folds to increase the protection for your table.


Towels arenít just for bridal shower gifts anymore. The guys like them too! When my three sons were teenagers it seemed the bathroom towels got a real workout. One year I gave them each an extra long bath towel as a birthday gift. Of course they looked at me like Iíd just dropped down from Mars but they used that towel almost exclusively! They werenít monogrammed or anything, but they were different colors and they soon became prized possessions. It was easy for them to pick out their own towel among those that may have had contact with the unsavory hide of a brother.

Iíve also used towels as gift-wrap. Theyíre colorful, textured and useful. Gift-wrap that can be used again and again, so to speak. It works especially well if you can roll your gift in the towel and tie the ends with colored ribbon. A t-shirt rolled in a hand towel is a great gift for a niece, nephew or a friendís child.  A pair of new shoelaces separated and used to tie up the ends will have everyone chuckling at your creativeness. Or take several new kitchen gadgets, roll them in one or two bright hand towel and tuck into a pretty vase or cookie jar. This makes a lovely bridal shower or house-warming gift. I never knew a woman who couldnít use an extra towel.  

The Car

Except for the spare tire thereís nothing quite so handy as a nice thick towel tucked into the car for various emergencies. Itís amazing the things you can use it for. Here are a few.

Keep one or even two towels in a plastic or canvas bag underneath the car seat. That way youíll have a place to put the soiled towel until it can be laundered.

Fun and Comfort

Years ago I worked for a physical therapist and she taught me the nifty trick of using a bath towel for a neck roll. Fold the towel in half and loosely roll it, then tuck into the hollow of your neck. Put two plump bed pillows under your knees and donít be surprised if youíre snoring away in a few minutes! We frequently found patients in exactly that state. Itís a remarkably comfortable position.

When my granddaughter was a toddler, one of her favorite games was to play Ďtentí. I used two large bath towels draped over her mothersí ladder-back chairs. We had marvelous fun playing camp out and sleep over. And of course we all know that thereís nothing quite like a towel for a super heroes cape. Dollies love to swing in towel hammocks and what could be better for a spur of the moment picnic than a pretty towel for a blanket? 

Towels for All Seasons

Nothing is quite as charming as seeing bright beach towels dancing on the summer clothesline, unless itís that delicate snowflake pattern on the guest towel in your best friends bathroom over the holidays. The varieties and colors of towels seem endless. When one season ends and another begins, I head for the bargain bins to pick up a few new towels to tuck away for gifts or simply to give a bit of a fresh look to the kitchen or bath.

Eventually these towels will get old and their uses will change. We have a local veterinarian who takes all donations of old towels and uses them as cushioning for the animals recovering from surgery. My husband loves an old towel to use on his greasy hands after heís done an oil change. We keep two or three old towels handy near the back door for wiping the dogsí feet on those nasty weather days. If you cut up an old towel to use for a rag you may want to use pinking shears. This reduces the amount of 'fliggles' that come off of terrycloth when itís torn or cut.

Just think of it. A towel is simply a bound piece of sturdy terrycloth. There are uses for them well beyond the bath. You canít beat them for versatility and economy. So look for those bargain bundles and put them to good use! 

*  *  *


Copyright © 2009 by Susan Sundwall. All rights reserved.

Susan is a freelance writer and children's playwright. She writes from her home in upstate New York and is a boundless bargain hunter.

Want more money-saving tips?  Get a FREE Subscription to our monthly newsletter!

Are you a writer who enjoys sharing your money-saving tips with others?  If you'd like to be a featured guest writer at please contact Michelle at