Germans Like Scratchy Towels

-- Image Credit: Missy Meyer ( -- Subject to CC 2.0 License.
“I’m gonna dry you so hard…” — Image Credit: Missy Meyer ( — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

Now, I’m not saying all Germans like scratchy bath towels, but my wife sure as hell does.

I first noticed this scratchy towel phenomenon in the bathroom of a student apartment building in Marburg, Germany. After emerging from a token-operated shower with exactly 10 minutes of hot water, I reached for the towel my wife had given me. It was thin, worn and so extraordinarily coarse it felt like sandpaper upon my American man-teets. I winced as I dried myself, feeling for all the world like Richard Pryor having his third degree burns hilariously scrubbed clean.

All of the towels I encountered in Germany were scratchy. Even my German teacher at Portland Community College warned me to bring my own towels for my trip; a little piece of advice I likely missed because I was picking my nose at the time. My wife claims these towels are good for my skin — all exfoliating and what not — but she also enjoys scouring herself raw with the Marquis de Sade’s shower luffa. I suppose I could claim my skin feels good after using German towels, but this would be like thanking a hot iron because it was all done burning me.

To be fair, however, American towels aren’t perfect; they’re oversized, overly soft and they leave lint in your overly abundant chest hair. Seriously, after using a new towel from Bed, Bath and Beyond, I look like Burt Reynolds lost a tickle fight with the Cookie Monster.

At present, my wife is converting all of my fluffy bachelor towels into face-scouring hurtcloths. She does this by leaving them out to dry for several days after washing; a process which somehow kills them and strips their souls away, leaving nothing but husks of coarse fiber and German cruelty. Even now I can hear their tortured banshee wails.

And this, my friends, is why The Wife and I can rest easy; confident that bump we hear every night isn’t an intruder at all. It’s just our haunted bathroom.


23 thoughts

  1. Rough towels are good for you – so are hairshirts, daily whipiing and having your mouth washed with soap. It´s called “strict Prussian unbringing”. Not pleasant but it makes a man out of you. Also if you happen to be a woman:)


  2. After you ‘liked’ my recent post and I saw the title of your blog I had to check it out. Being from a very German family myself I found myself laughing out loud at your posts. Love it. Keep up the great work. I’ll keep checking back for my daily laugh. Prost!


  3. Loving the post – made me chuckle, especially about the towel lint – been there done that & my other half is hairy too. Poor you, poor towels and oh so sorry to hear the bathroom is haunted:)


  4. Loving the post – made me chuckle, especially the towel lint – been there done that! Poor you, poor towels and too bad to hear the bathroom is haunted:)


  5. fantastic post – I laughed from the beginning to the end. also, I kinda fell in love with your author portrait ;) happy halloween to you and your haunted bathroom!


  6. It’s not just the Germans that like scratchy towels. The Scots do too. It drives me insane! My other half loves drying off with a towel as coarse as a piece of sandpaper, but it’s overwhelming to me. I’d rather air dry in -20C weather than use those towels.

    Loved your story!


  7. Thanks for the like. I stopped by here and immediately started giggling. The lint thing with American towels is a constant source of consternation ever time I visit home. I dry my own towels here in Germany and they don’t harden into sandpaper, but ask me again in 5 years and maybe things will have changed. :)


  8. Now I know why it was always important to pack a towel in the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy… hilarious post, and good heads up should I visit Germany!


  9. My mum is from Germany. I went to go stay with my Oma, and it made for an interesting trip. They, funnily enough, also owned scratchy towels. Also, very tiny towels. I can’t imagine wrapping it around anything except for maybe as a bandage for my knee.
    I love Germans though. haha.


  10. It makes me wonder if all German wives do something similar. When my wife and moved in together, all my briefs suddenly disappeared to be replaced by boxers (that’s a pretty big change for someone who’s worn briefs since leaving diapers). Then all my white (ok not so white, more like grey) tube socks disappeared for socks of different colors, patterns, and heels. To this day it is still my lament that we have to actually sort socks instead of having a giant pile of socks that look exactly the same and easier to sort.


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