Posted by Lotg on September 17, 2004
In Reply to: Bath cloths posted by R. Berg on September 15, 2004
: : : : : : : : : : : : Hello
: : : : : : : : : : : : Is it a "washcloth" a kind of towel but smaller in size?
: : : : : : : : : : : : thanks a million
: : : : : : : : : : : I thought it was a flannel.
: : : : : : : : : : : DFG
: : : : : : : : : : It's "washcloth" in the U.S.
: : : : : : : : : Both are made with the same material as towels, so yes, a wash cloth is a small towel. I have yet to see a flannel made of flannel fabric however. Does anyone know if they ever were? It sounds like it would have been rather nice in that fabric.
: : : : : : : : A washcloth is made of terrycloth, like most towels. (There are also fancy guest towels made of other fabrics, such as linen, and not very useful. Then there are dishtowels.) But that doesn't make a washcloth a towel. A washcloth is used for washing, a towel for drying.
: : : : : : : Every towel is a potential washcloth in my book; just add soap and water. For example, if I took two big towels to wash my car, the one that got wet and soapy would become the washcloth and the other, used for drying, would remain a towel. Conversely, those little towels, often called washcloths, that hang over the big towels on a "towel" rack are "towels" when used for drying one's hands.
: : : : : : Seems to me that the washcloth was largely a US thing. I can recall travel worldwide in the early 70s, and even in the best European, South American, and Asian hotels, you would not find a washcloth. Some of my traveling buddies started cutting the towels into smaller pieces, and leaving the smaller ones behind to give the message to the hotels --(this may have contributed to the Ugly American theory).
: : : : : : It seems that in the 80s, there were washcloths in most of the better hotels all around the world.
: : : : : I stayed in a cheap hotel in New York that didn't provide washcloths. When I told the desk clerk of this omission, she said people steal them. If I recall correctly, you could get a washcloth on request.
: : : : I've stayed at places where this was woven into the texture of the towel. :)
: : : Also called a washrag (pronounced worsh-rag).
: : This does seem to be a geographic thing. It is my impression that in the UK a small cloth used to apply soap to the body is called a 'flannel'. A (usually) larger cloth used to dry the body thereafter, is a 'towel'.
: : The use of the flannel is, I think, dying out with the growth in the popularity of the sponge and/or the loofah.
: : DFG
: The pronunciation "worshrag" (I would have spelled it "warshrag") is regional. In my part of the U.S., inserting an R sound early in the word would mark one as a hick.
I grew up in Victoria and we always called them flannels. The first time I visited rels in NSW (New South Wales), and asked for a flannel, they had no idea what I was talking about. After I expained, they offered me a 'facewasher'. I remembered asking if there was any reason why I couldn't use it on any other part of my body and they laughed at me.
I am now living in NSW. I still call them flannels because I'm not comfortable with the other term. I've even taught my stepdaughter to 'speak Victorian' so she understands me (terrible immigrant aren't I?).
But if I'm visiting other people in NSW, I HAVE to call them facewashers otherwise they really won't know what I'm on about.