Towel "allowance"

When we have long term guests we let them have access to extra towels.
We offer to wash all linens every 2 weeks. Typically folks are somewhat conservative with their towel usage and hang them to dry between uses.
Recently we had 2 men that went through all 14 towels in 2 weeks.
Not sure what to do besides allowing perhaps only 6-8 towels/ 2 weeks and suggesting reusing them and hanging to dry between.
Any ideas?

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As a rule of thumb, I leave 1 towel per person per 2 days. So for 2 people for a week, I would leave 14 towels. Except I only have 12 towels, so I leave all the towels for the week and wash once weekly. Generally, people go through half in a week. For shorter stays, I leave 2 towels per person, even just for one night - some people like one for their body and one for their head.

Personally, two towels would easily get me through the week, but I try not to be too restrictive.

But if you don’t want people to use all the towels, just leave fewer towels. I don’t think 2 guys using 14 towels in 2 weeks is too over the top, though.

Also, I generally wash all the towels I leave in the apartment, even if they appear to have not been used. You never know when someone walks by and uses it as a hand towel or whatever. We leave ours on an open shelf, so they could get splashed when someone gets out of the shower. I would be less cautious if they were in a closed closet I think.

That’s not crazy excessive. Each man used one towel every 2 days? If it is more than you would like them to use then make fewer available and explain that you have to conserve due to drought/environment.

Hi Corinne,

I err on the side of too many. I buy second grade towels from Costco and they average about $4.50/CAD each. I supply 8 in bins that slide under the bed; beyond that, they’re too bulky.

The overwhelming majority of my guests use one towel per person per day. Most are significantly less. Women with long hair, and certain people who bathe a lot, use more.

Long termers are expected to wash their own linens (on site). My rates are low. However if they are indisposed I offer to help.



I think 8 bath towels a fortnight for 2 people is plenty (with some small ones for hair and hands as well to take the load). That equates to 2 showers per towel, if showers are daily!
It’s shocking people chuck a towel after one use. It’s so disrespectful of the environment.


Definitely put them in a closed cupboard! The guest can just take one from the cupboard. It’s crazy to wash unused towels.

It’s really the same amount of laundry either way - I’m running the same wash cycle regardless.

That’s not really true, modern machines weigh the laundry and add water accordingly. What about drying as well? Also washing things which don’t need washing takes up space in the machine for things which do! I always wait until I have a full load of compatible washing before I put the machine on.

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Do you have enough hooks/rails for the guests to hang up their towels?


I really don’t have an issue with people over or under using towels. Sometimes I have one or two they didn’t use, and I wash them anyway. I wash two loads of whites and 3 loads of colors pretty much for every changeover. I dry the same amount of time in an electric dryer.

I have 5 towel hooks and a rail that holds 2 towels.

I also wash quilts, even if they don’t stink. I don’t care if I wash too much, I’m running a business and part of my model is washing everything every time. People want clean towels and linens. Freshly cleaned is a bonus. I look at it like this: I’ve figured out a pretty accurate accounting of how many towels people need, and occasionally they surprise me and use less. So if I estimate correctly or incorrectly, I’m washing the same amount of stuff every time.

Outlier here …
As a rule of thumb, I leave 1 towel per person per 7 to 14 days.

(as long as they dry completely between use, mildew should not be an issue)


Wowsers! I like your style, but even I would offer 2 towels per person per week. The environment is very important, but people do have different standards and feel differently when away from home. Rather your way than laundry for the sake of it, guests should be discouraged from discarding a towel after one use.

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It’s possible to be very clean and generous without huge amounts of laundry. It’s about being judicious. We need to move more towards a Scandinavian model where guests are encouraged to make decisions about whether they really need a new towel or not.

Scandinavians would probably be appalled at how infrequently I wash my own bath towel and sheets and self and… anyway, that’s besides the point. I try to be environmentally sensitive as I live in a town where the average rainfall per year is 9 inches, water is relatively expensive and we have water restrictions much of the year. But I’m running guest accommodations and so what the guest wants as long it’s not outlandish by some objective standard is what I go by. If a guest thinks it’s gross to bathe and dry off and then use that same towel that was wiping off their private parts yesterday, who am I to argue? And if you have identical all white towels it might be hard to tell them apart further spurring use of more towels to be on the safe side.

“So how many times can you use your towel before before concentrations of your own flora get so out of hand that you need to wash it? ‘If you can dry it completely, no more than three times max,’ Philip Tierno, a microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine…”


Three times, max?!? I am so dirty! I live in a very humid environment. I don’t even understand this concept of towels drying completely after a shower - well, I do because I used to live in SoCal. But that’s just not a thing here.

They are just microbes. Who cares. LOL. I’ve noticed when I visit a humid place that the towels don’t dry overnight. It grosses me out when I reach for a towel to dry with and it’s damp. Not that I’m OCD and demand a new towel…it’s just yuck. And I’m not used to it. The towels are almost always dry between uses in my home.

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So using a towel three times would equate to under 3 towels each per week with daily showering. (Perhaps with a few extra small hand/hair towels). That sounds reasonable. 7 towels a week each? Crazy. Hammam towels are great, they wash and dry beautifully and dry your body just as well.

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One of my teenage sons friends came round once, didn’t ask for a towel, showered and accidentally used the :dog2: dogs towel! He didn’t care lol.


Do you think the guest’s standards should be considered? Or should the guest just conform to the host’s standard. As in you put it in the listing “3 towels per person per week max. If you need more towels this is not the place for you.”

I’m not trying to be snarky, but I think the standard is to think about hospitality and making a guest happy. It reminds me of a heated debate about a stained mattress that’s covered by a mattress pad. Some people think that’s acceptable, some don’t but all that really matters is what the guest thinks and how they review.

I think there was previously a spirited debate in this forum about the wisdom of using dish towels. Some people think they are fine, some think they are nasty.