To start this mission I suggest rounding up all the towels you've got in your home, and putting them in one place to see how many you really have.
This can be an eye opening experience.
Don't forget that you probably have some dirty ones that are currently getting ready to be washed, so make sure they get accounted for when making your decisions, or you'll still have too many once the wash is done.
Obviously you need to keep some of these towels. You and your family need some of them after all.
The issue is how many should you keep, meaning, what is a reasonable amount?
There is no hard and fast answer to this rule, although I will provide some guidance below.
But the first step is to get rid of any old ratty, gross towels that you really don't want anymore, and don't want to use anymore for drying your body. You should examine body towels, hand towels and wash cloths.
Get rid of those that are worn and thin, have holes, or are severely fraying. You could also get rid of the ones that have faded, always cause lint to accumulate on everything else in the wash, or otherwise that you never have liked.
Those are what I call the low hanging fruit -- the obvious things to declutter.
Then, check out the ideas below for how to decide, of the nicer towels you've got left, how many of those to keep.
Plus, I've also provided ideas for what you can do with the towels you do decide to get rid of, including ideas for reuse and repurposing, and ideas for where to donate them.
Guidelines For How Many Towels You Need In Your Home
The question I get most often when this Declutter 365 mission comes around is, "how many towels should I keep?"
I almost always cringe at questions like this, mainly because I want to be helpful, I really do, but at the same time there are so many factors to consider when making this decision, and it is very personal.
Therefore, in an attempt to be helpful I'm going to list first some basic guidelines, and then some factors you should consider that could change the guidelines for you, when making this decision.
You can use this thought process either when you are buying a new set of towels for your home, or are doing this mission and deciding how many towels to get rid of versus to keep.
Each person in your household should have at least two full sets of towels, plus two additional sets for guests. A set includes a bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth.
This allows for one set to be in use while the other is being washed.
Many people don't mind using a body towel a few times before it is washed, assuming it is hung up to dry after use as opposed to laying on the floor and staying wet. (I know this grosses some people out. It personally doesn't bother me, but if it bothers you and you don't care about doing laundry more frequently and wearing out your towels sooner, I'm not going to argue with you.)
On the other hand wash cloths should be washed more frequently, I personally suggest after each use. Therefore, you may want to get more wash cloths per person, assuming people in your house actually use wash cloths.
Hand towels need to be changed at a minimum every few days, and I suggest daily, just like kitchen towels. This is especially important in highly trafficked bathrooms. Consider how many hand towels you need based on how frequently you wash towels.
Factors To Consider
The factors to consider when figuring out how many towels you should have in your home include:
How many people are in your household.
How many towels your household uses within a week period, including of all the various types of towels, such as body towels, hand towels and wash cloths.
Once you've decided how many towels to keep versus to get rid of, you've got to do something with the towels you've decided won't be used for their intended purpose anymore, which is to wash and dry your family's bodies.
Ways To Reuse & Repurpose Old Towels
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways you can reuse and repurpose towels that no longer make the cut to clean and dry your body anymore.
Especially if you've got kids or pets I suggest keeping a stash of old towels at the ready for clean up projects, from the planned ones to emergencies.
You can keep old towels ready for spills, drying pets or kids coming in from the rain or mud, and more. Just make sure to keep them in a separate area, away from those used in the bathroom.
These old towels can also become cleaning rags, for either use in the house or perhaps in the garage, such as to clean up the car or for other extremely dirty jobs.
I've even seen old towels turned into reusable covers for dust mops or Swiffers, to help clean your floors.
Places To Donate Towels
While keeping a certain number of old towels for dirtier jobs or other repurposing projects is a good idea, you may also want to completely get rid of some of these towels from your home.
In this situation I'm going to distinguish between really worn out towels, and those which are perfectly good for use for their intended purpose, but that for whatever reason you don't want anymore.
A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't wash your face with a wash cloth, or dry your body off with a bath towel, yourself, don't expect someone else to either. Still usable towels that you have too many of can be donated lots of places, but I suggest places like homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters, where they will be appreciated.
Those towels that have holes, are getting frayed, or are worn are a different matter. They don't have to be thrown away though, but instead those older towels I suggest donating to an animal shelter, vet's office, or to a wildlife rescue organization. Places like this can use these towels for the animals, washing them between uses, and it doesn't matter as much that they aren't extremely high quality.
I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions below, in the comments, for even more ways to reuse or repurpose old towels, or more places you could donate them.
Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?
I hope these ideas have inspired you to get rid of your towel clutter.
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!