Lower energy towels

Though we probably do less laundry than most households, we do wash a fair number of towels.  My husband is a champion exerciser, and a clean towel is a must every three days or so. The towels we bought shortly after college are starting to wear out, and several of our newer towels have a bit of lingering mankiness to them due to poor ventilation in the bathroom – they sometimes just don’t dry out completely from one use to the next.  We also find we have to dry them in the dryer – probably 2/3 of all our dryer loads are towels, because all shirts and pants get hung up to dry. Not great for our kwh tally…

A while back, I bought some flour sack towels from Lehman’s.  I’m completely sold on them for dishes – terry towels just seem to push the water around.  So one day, I thought, “These things are huge. Would they work on me?” Turns out, the answer is “Yes.” My sweetie likes them, too.  We both have very short hair – if you have longer hair, you might need a second one just for you hair.  We’ve also found it’s best if you crumple the towel up a bit before patting yourself dry – one flat thickness of cloth gets soaked through instantly.  The beauty is that they take up a fraction of the washer space of an equivalent number of terry towels, and they can be air-dried even in our setup (indoors with relatively low air circulation).


Five terry towels (left) compared to five flour sack towels (left). This should reduce laundry by quite a bit around here.

And of course, it’s probably not actually saving any energy to go out and buy these if your existing towels are still good (though they seem pretty low-impact…so maybe it would be a net savings).  I bet you could also hem up a couple sections of old cotton bed sheets to similar effect.  Considering that all our fitted sheets also seem to be biting the dust at the same time, that could be a good next use for them.  But hey, we had these already, so I think we’ll be using them instead of buying more terry towels.  They’re a whole heck of a lot cheaper, too – $2 each instead of $10+ each, which is what you pay around here for towels that don’t evaporate into a puff of lint the first time you wash them.



  1. Ken said,

    June 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    This sounds cool – remind me to check these out when next I see you!

    Are they comfy and satisfying on the skin? “Flour sack” doesn’t sound all that nice, but I’m sure it’s better than what comes to mind when I hear it!

    • Emily said,

      June 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      They resemble cotton bed sheets, or a sarong. They leave no lint, which is my primary gripe about terry towels, especially cheap new ones. They are certainly not scratchy or otherwise uncomfortable. They are not quite big enough to wrap around the torso and wear as a garment, if you’re used to that. Flour sacks were often made of calico fabric and re-used as curtains and dresses – keep in mind that fabric has to be pretty fine to hold flour in, unlike whole grains, which could be kept in burlap.

  2. RHome410 said,

    June 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Never thought of using these on bodies! It doesn’t sound as comfy, but it’s not like I stand around enjoying the plushness of a towel after showering anyway. Great point at how much less bulky they are for washing and drying!

  3. June 13, 2011 at 5:26 am

    This makes sense, considering our ancestors probably used something like this to towel off after baths — linen sheets or some such. Guess we’ve gotten soft, if we think we have to have big plush towels for our wee tender bodies! 😉 I will have to try this — thanks for the tip, E!

  4. Anonymous said,

    June 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    When we were in Italy, the bath towels were the size of our bath sheets but made of a very thin, soft cotton. They dried the body quickly and efficiently….also dried indoors in no time. They were slightly “harder” than the floursack towels we use in the kitchen. I have tried to find them on line with no luck. Might steal them (or put in an offer to buy) from the b and b in Florence.

  5. Starr said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:05 am

    These look great!

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