About Towels, Picking Battles and Simplifying Life

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 4th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Parenting

I'm not June Cleaver and I'm not Bree Van De Camp. I am not a Stepford Wife. But I do believe my home is less stressful because there is small stuff I don't sweat. Clean towels are one of those things. Read on to learn more...

Stereotypes, Before We Begin

In any argument, there are two sides. Compromise takes place somewhere in the middle of those two sides. And I try to keep that in mind when my house has seen cleaner days.
Today, I'm going to talk about one domestic duty that eludes many men and children (and frustrates wives). I'm speaking stereotypically here, with full knowledge that there are kids who must have things done just so, men who are frustrated by linens, and women who could not care less. If my stereotype or comment in general does not apply to you, feel free to comment and tell me how wrong I am. I guarantee it won't be the first time. And it won't be the last.

Domestic Duties

One example of a domestic duty not understood by men and children, to the frustration of their wives and mothers, is towel-folding. Women fold towels and think towels should remain nicely folded in the linen closet. Seeing June Cleaver or Bree Van de Camp fold a towel makes us think of warm apple pie cooling on a rack, fresh from the oven. Seeing anyone efficiently fold a towel or a basket of them might transport the dreamer back to a world where Leave it to Beaver is real and ginormous problems can be solved in 30 minutes, including the commercial breaks. In the camp of Domestic Order, freshly folded towels in the linen closet show order and attention to detail.

But Wait a Minute

That's right -- I said wait a minute. Unfolded towels should not be the end of anyone's world. You don't leave the house in nothing but a towel (I should hope) so even the most wrinkled towels, so long as they are in clean heaps, should be met with shrugged shoulders and an "eh."
But we don't react this way.

Why Not?

A pile of clean towels does not look discernibly different from a pile of dirty towels. Wives and Moms know this. We've seen the piles -- which probably freak us out as they remind us of mounds of dirty laundry. And unless the cleaner of your house daily sweeps the bathroom floor, towels piled in a heap in the linen closet are an avalanche waiting to be deposited onto a dirty bathroom floor, becoming dirty laundry. Correctly folded towels may not prevent the avalanche -- anyone who has played JENGA knows that a tower can still fall -- but when folded correctly, only the top of an avalanche must be cleaned again.

But I'm a guy (kid). I can't...

Folding towels is easy. There are a number of effective ways to do it. Kids may need to fold on a table, but adults can normally hold the towel and fold it. Here are a couple of different methods -- I would compromise on the fold that best fits your linen closet and the one that is easiest to do.

The 1/2 fold method

►Like the name implies, fold the towel in half a few times.
►If you aren't laying the towel down on a table, then hold a corner of the longer side in each hand.
►Bring the corners together to fold your rectangle in half.
►Adjust your new rectangle so that your hands are once again holding each long end.
►Fold that in half.
►For the third time, find the long side, and fold it in half. Done.

(If you don't understand the steps, use a dishtowel or handkerchief to practice.)

The 1/3 fold method

This is the fold my mother and grandmother both used. They used it to accommodate very narrow cabinets that were tall. This style does avalanche ALMOST as often as the stuff and pile method. But this is also the method used in hotels and department stores to hang towels from the rack, as folding all the loose bits inside can hide frays and show the poofiest portion of the towel to greater sales advantage.

The 1/3 fold method, continued.

◊Lay out the towel as in the 1/2 fold method.
◊ Fold 1/3 of the towel to center.
◊ Fold the opposite 1/3 to slightly overlap the first third -- more or less depending on desired width.
◊ Once each side is folded in, fold either in half twice from the long side, fold in thirds, or fold opposite ends in to the middle.

Do we HAVE to fold them?

Nope. You don't. I fold the towels in the bathroom my husband and I share. For my son, who has his own bathroom for showering (it's the fair-use household and guest bathroom the rest of the time), we have a set of hooks that his towels hang on -- no folding required.
This was made a little easier because two of his towels had hoods. Hoods are harder (a little) to fold, and our son didn't have a cabinet easily accessible from his shower, anyway.

Two? But there are four hoods...

Ah! Good catch! Yes, our son outgrew his first hooded towels by his first birthday. He was given new ones for birthday number 3 (they are the ones in the middle of the rack). After that, hooded towels for children were really skimpy -- they were for toddlers, not big kids. So I found a wonderful set of instructions on ehow for making hooded towels for kids. You can find one here. Then, I got my wonderful mother to sew them for her wonderful grandson, because I'm just wonderful like that. The result is four towels with hoods that add a bit of color to the bathroom and let him show off all his cool towels.

Alternatives and Wrapping Up

Other people talk about using the care tag or attaching a loop so that towels can hang.
You can find those instructions http://www.ehow.com/how_5587960_sew-hanging-hand-towels.html or here (which is more complicated than it needs to be, but I suppose to each their own. I didn't find directions for putting a few stitches in a ribbon and sewing it on the towel as a loop, but that's how I would do it.

My husband and I don't really have a spot for a convenient towel rack in our bathroom. For that reason, our towels are currently housed in a plastic cabinet we'd originally bought to fit in a different room of a different house (it's a garden-shed type cabinet that we originally used in our kitchen for pots and pans and a pantry -- not for towels). But it works for us, and that's all that matters! If you constantly sweat the small stuff, you end up with a lot of extra dirty laundry!!


Chores, Dad, Effort, Frustration, Kid, Kids, Mom, Picking Battles, Time, Towels

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
5th Jun 2013 (#)

Thanks, Mark Gordon Brown, for the suggestions and the moderation!

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
5th Jun 2013 (#)

I like the idea of hooks, this is good for used towels too, they dry out quicker.
We have a stack of folded towels in the bathroom, sometimes you can find a cat laying on top of the pile!

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author avatar philpalm
6th Jun 2013 (#)

I generally have no clue if I am a guest to use or not use the guest towel.

Guest towels are for decoration and if you are a frequent visitor it soon becomes apparent you are no longer a guest but part of the family.

Whether or not you fold a towel in halves or 1/3 still the big no no is folding a slightly damp towel. Never fold a damp towel period.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
6th Jun 2013 (#)

HA Philpalm! I have a pile of washcloths next to my son's sink and the dirty hamper plainly visible. I used to have paper towels in the bathroom for guests, not as environmentally friendly, but more sanitary. I also never know whether the small towels are for function or decoration. As a result, as a guest, I often wipe my hands on my pants!!
MGB -- Stacks of anything often attract cats, so I have been told. I don't have one myself, but I would believe they would hang out on clean stacks of towels. Thanks for sharing!

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author avatar philpalm
6th Jun 2013 (#)

My mother had all sons and she did neglect to teach us how to fold towels. Towels just magically appeared in the towel cabinet and the towel racks were used to dry the towels.

Karma can get revenge, I now live at my brother's beauty salon and one of my duties is washing towels and folding them.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
6th Jun 2013 (#)

Oh. Wow. Have you written an article about life in the beauty salon? You could write hundreds. And I expect they would all be hilarious!

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