How many bathroom towels do we need?

I was visiting with a friend this week and we were talking about minimalism, she said, “I’m interested in minimalism, I need to find out some more information.”
And I was like, “Well, what do you want to know? Because I could tell you!”
And she said, “For example, how many towels do I need?”
And I know she’s not the only one asking because I remember having the same question, so that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today.

Minimalism is a tool, it’s not supposed to constrain you, it’s supposed to help you.

Everyone has a different lifestyle, we have different people living with us, different people have different habits, different climates require different things.
If you’re in a very humid climate, you can’t use a towel for as long because it doesn’t dry out in between, it needs to be washed and dried, or they start to smell and get funky. And some of us have regular visitors.
So you have to consider all of that when you make your decision.
But I’ll tell you what we have.

  • 9 Bath towels
  • 2 hand towels
  • 10 washcloths
  • 1 bathmat

We live in a very dry climate, we’re in Montana, so things dry quickly.
We have five people in the house, and everyone has their own color towel.
And then I have four extra bath towels. I found that having four extra is the sweet spot for us if someone gets their hair cut and they use the towel afterward, of course, don’t want to dry with that towel again.
I have two hand towels (we always use our color-coded towel to dry our hands, as it’s right next to the sink, so the hand towels are for anyone else).
So I found this works really well for our family, and I wash the towels once a week.
On Saturdays, I make it a point to grab all of the towels and the bath mat and wash them. This saves on folding, because then I can just hang the towels right back up when they’re done.
I have two hand towels so I can switch one out immediately, I don’t have to wait for it to wash and dry and then put it back.
The washcloths, I tend to just grab whenever they’re dirty and throw them in the washing machine, so they get washed at random.
So I found this to be a sweet spot for us. The extra four towels come into play, if someone gets a haircut or if we give the dogs a bath, etc. I found that four extras cover it sufficiently.

So what are the guidelines that we use to determine what our needs are?

The main goal of Minimalism is to make our lives easier, ease of use.
If you have too many towels, then it’s a challenge to get them all folded and fitting properly in the linen closet. And we may be tempted to not do laundry as frequently, which means the laundry piles up, and then we have a daunting task ahead of us.
On the other hand, if we only have exactly what we need, we wouldn’t have an extra one we would have to be overly vigilant on our laundry routine.
It’s always finding that balance between too much/too little, easy/difficult.
That’s what we’re trying to find.

I have approached minimalism like one big life experiment.

For me it has been peeling back the layers, one layer at a time getting rid of more and more until I get to the point where I feel, “Yep, this is great, I’m comfortable, this is easy for me.”
For other people, they might just stick with the bare necessities, put all the extras aside for a month and just use it to see how life is and if they ever feel the need to go get that extra towel.
So think about your habits:

  • How many towels do you use on a daily basis, and a weekly basis?
  • What are your laundry habits?
  • Do you need to wash your towels every other day?
  • Do you wash your towels once a week?
  • Can they air out and dry or do they need more attention than that?
  • And realistically, how many visitors do you have? Not the idea of like, “Oh, but I could.” But how many visitors do you actually have coming and spending the night that needs a towel to use?
  • And how often does that happen?

Once you consider all of that, then you can make a decision on how many you need for your life and for your household.

What about beach towels?

I have a stack of beach towels, we again have one per person.
We do not have any extra beach towels, we just have the five. I keep them all in a bag with our summer stuff.
In the summer we go to the lake, we can grab our floaties, our life jackets, and our beach towels, and go.
When we come home, I wash the beach towels, dry them, fold them up, put them back in the bag and then put them back with the summer stuff, so it’s ready next time we want to go on an outing.

I just strive to make my life easier.

What is going to make my life easier?
Is it easier to have two per person?
Or is it easier to have the bare minimum?
Maybe it’s just easier to have two extra towels total.
There’s no right or wrong answer, there’s no perfect way to do minimalism, it’s going to look different in every household because of all the different things we have going on.
And if you’re worried about getting rid of too much and being uncomfortable without it, then try and experiment.
Put those extras aside, keep them in and out of a way place, set a reminder on your phone so when a month comes up, you can reevaluate and decide what makes the most sense for your household.
What is going to make my life easier? Is it easier to have two per person? Or is it easier to have the bare minimum? #minimalism

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Nikki on 05/19/2021 at 1:38 am

    This is very helpful. Thank you!
    I’m curious about one thing you mentioned though. Why do you need to wash the towel after a haircut? Do you mean you use the towel as a haircutting cape?

  2. Lori Grundmeier on 06/07/2021 at 4:24 am

    I can so relate to you in 2008 or that period when you were living in constant ‘overwhelm’! You have thrown me a life raft of sorts. This week will be my first.
    I might like to get in on the boot camp, but that may be too intense. My back injury does get in the way of steady progress, but I’m willing to try.
    Please send me info and costs on getting started. Thank you so much!

  3. Joan Millard on 07/12/2021 at 5:22 pm

    I really enjoy your encouraging posts, and also watch you on youtube. Your inspiration helps a lot!!

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