Folding Towels

For the first eight or so years of my life, I didn't realize that bath towels should be folded.

See, here's the thing.

My Mama, who was the single hardest working person I've ever known, just didn't do things that didn't have any sort of actual practical purpose.  So in the midst of working on the farm all day, taking care of all four kids, working as a waitress to make ends meet, and doing laundry, cooking and keeping house for us all, some things were deemed, I assume, unnecessary.  Like folding towels.

The towels were washed every day in one of these:

Then hung on the line to dry.  

After they were dry, Mama would bring them inside and unceremoniously shove them into the largest cabinet in the bathroom, where they would all be used and dirtied again by the next day so she could do it all over again.

Folding them was never even on the radar, until my oldest sister went off to college and came home that first weekend all full of high-falutin' stories of classes, professors, new friends and folded towels.

It seemed so foreign and fancy, this towel folding business.   I mean, really, what was the point?  They were all going to get used in just a few hours to dry someone's butt anyway, so why spend all the time putting them into neat little squares?

But my sister was adamant that this was how the rest of the world lived, so my Mama gave it a shot.  Results were mixed, to say the least.  It never really became a strength of hers, and I guess it was part of my legacy.  

Some things I learned from my Mama were how to make really good biscuits and gravy, how to make dressing from scratch, how to paint a room without taping a single thing, how to can, and how to sew, but I never, ever really mastered the art of towel folding.

For years I folded them exactly into quarters, no matter the size of the towel.  After RJ came into my towel folding life, he did some sort of complicated "fold it once lengthwise then into thirds" maneuver that I have never quite mastered despite my best efforts, and I even went through an unfortunate "rolling" phase once when I saw a picture of some in a magazine, but unlike some things that just come naturally to me that I learned at a young age, like using baking soda on a bug bite or sting, I just never really got my towel groove.

I took a load of towels out of the dryer the other day, and after I folded them I realized that every single one of them was folded differently.

So I Googled it, and it seems like everybody has an opinion, even Oprah, but opinions vary wildly.  I even wasted minutes of my life watching several YouTube videos about it, and I'm still not sure what right looks like.

So what do you think? Quarters? Rolled? Lengthwise first? Surely this is a skill that someone out there has mastered.  Please share.  

My linen closet thanks you in advance.

UPDATE:  My bloggy friend Janet over at Monkey Business has provided this fine photo essay on how towels SHOULD look after being folded.  Thanks Janet!


  1. Mine look like yours - folded every which way. Mu husband's mother used to fold hers in perfect thirds because that was the only was they'd fit in her narrow bathroom cabinet, and I did try that for a while. When I have company I get all fancy and roll them up and put them in a basket on the floor like a bouquet of flowers. I figure it will distract guests from the dog-fur tumbleweeds floating throughout the house.

    1. I went through a rolling phase, too, but I found myself screeching at my kids and hubby "NO NOT THOSE TOWELS!!! DON'T USE THOSE! THEY'RE JUST FOR SHOW!!!" and then I would make them use the ratty, holey ones that were shoved in the cabinet every which-a-way. Then I decided maybe life is too short not to use the good towels. I totally agree about using distractions when guests are over. I have a LARGE collection of throw pillows that I like to spread around to keep people from looking at the 1/2 inch of dust that covers everything.

  2. half length-wise, then in thirds, then in half length-wise again...this makes it so there's a fold to face out so that your'e sure you only grab one from the shelf...but since i dont' have a linen closet i like your mama's way much better

    1. Ok, I seriously just tried this and it would not stay. I think my towels are too small to fold this way. Maybe I need all new towels. Yes!!!! I NEED new towels! Target, here I come!

  3. Depends on the towel(hand,bath or wash cloth) ;-) I have a basket of them to fold today, maybe I'll take pictures of the finished product for you......

    1. I love your photo essay! And yeah, if someone else does it, I'm not going to complain, either :-)

  4. I fold them differently for every different closet space I have... so that they fit in there perfectly. I get 'towel-overachiever' from my mom. One house I lived in had on open shelf in the bathroom with insane dimensions. The bottom of the shelf was about three inches deep. But i made it work with a wave-like pattern that displayed my towels perfectly.

    The shit I waste my time on.

    1. Wow. I'm pretty OCD about a lot of, ok, MOST things, but towels just don't make the cut. I think it's because I can shut the door on them and not look at them.


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