What is a Towel Steamer?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Towel steamers are devices that are utilized to keep towels moist and warm for use in various situations. A towel steamer is often employed in restaurants as a means of affording diners the opportunity to wipe the hands with moistened towels before or after eating. Barber shops and hair salons also often make use of a towel steamer as an amenity for their customers. Even massage parlors and practitioners who employ therapeutic touch as part of alternative health treatments may have a towel steamer on hand for use during or after the administration of a treatment.

Towel steamers have been around at least since the early 19th century. The earliest models relied on the creation of steam in an enclosed chamber to gently maintain moist heat that would permeate a clean towel. Steam could be created by adding a small amount of water to rocks that were heated in an oven or over an open fire. The end result was a warming towel that could be used to quickly clean the face and hands while also providing a pleasant experience for the user.

Over time, towel steamers became more sophisticated. Instead of heating and providing moisture for a couple of towels, many of the towel steamer models of today are capable of holding forty to fifty towels at a time. This makes them ideal for use in spas, salons, and all sorts of settings where massages, therapeutic touch, and personal grooming takes place.


High-end restaurants often make use of a towel steamer in order to provide more personal comfort for their guests. The small towels are kept in a modern towel steamer that is operated with the use of a thermostat. This allows the towels to maintain a constant temperature. Diners are provided with towels at the beginning or the end of the meal based on the tradition of the restaurant in question. The moist but warm towel is ideal for refreshing before dining as well as allowing for a simple cleanup after enjoying dishes that may be messy, such as lobster.

Businesses are not the only location for a towel steamer today. There are home models available that allow people to also make use of a warmed towel with meals or as part of a relaxation therapy application in the home. Models for the home are relatively inexpensive and usually rely on electricity to operate. Home stores often carry versions of the towel steamer that will fit well into any size house or apartment.


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