What To Do About Au Pair Bath Towels: Folks want to know (Poll)

by cv harquail on September 28, 2012

Dear Au Pair Mom-

What do you think about towels. Should I get my au pair her own personal set of towels?

I expect to provide towels for our APs, but so far both of our au pairs have gone out and bought their own.

I’d told both au pairs not to bring towels from home– they seems too bulky thing to put in your luggage and bring to the USA.221222849_9b9a834057_b.jpg

But then I’ve wondered, when they bought their own, is there something wrong with our family towels?

  • Are our towels are maybe not as nice as I believe?
  • Is it a personal choice thing?
  • Should I provide a “special” towel for the AP?
  • Take her shopping to choose her own?

(Just asking for perspective– the pillow thing seems obvious to me, but the towel thing might be obvious to others… thanks!)

Parents: What do you do for Au Pair towels?

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Au Pairs: What do you expect, regarding towels?

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See also:

Help Your New Au Pair Pack: 5 things to bring, 5 things to leave behind

Your Au Pair’s Room: Give her a choice of pillows

Image: Lana Turner’s bath towel??? Some rights reserved by banlon1964


2nd Year Aupair September 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

In my first hostfamily I had my own Bathroom so I kinda had my own stack of towels which my HF provided. In that family it was just simple “the blue ones are Aupair ones” but in that family the kids had their own towels and the parents as well.
Now in my second family I share a bathroom with the kids. Here the girls just use their robes and the baby still uses the hoodie ones (you know the super cute baby ones with animals and character on them). So even with the fact that the kids and I share the same towels, we actually don’t :) But I wouldn’t mind it because I can understand when the hf doesn’t want to buy a whole new set of towels.
I bought one kind of towels myself because they are the special microfiber wraps that only fit on your head, because they really dry my hair faster, they were super cheap and everytime I travel I take one with me because not every hostel provides towels and they are tiny to pack. Otherwise I would wonder if I would need to buy my own towels…

Emerald City HM September 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

For the second year in a row I’ve asked our au pairs what their two favorite colors are. Then before they arrive we go and get them a sheet set in one of those colors and two towel sets. One of each.

I imagine after hosting a while we will end up with quite the collection of guest towels, but it something that we think of as a welcome to the new au pair and it’s less than $100.

Taking a Computer Lunch September 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm

We occasionally buy new AP towels – bath sheets, hand towels, and washcloths (2 sets – so a guest can be accommodated). Every few years we upgrade. So far we have absorbed the old set into the family linen closet – I know some families donate old towels and sheets to animals shelters, and I’m beginning to think it’s time for some of our stuff. Worn out AP sheets have become guest sheets so far…

Because we have a swimming pool we do monogram an AP swim towel.

PA AP Mom September 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm

We buy 2 sets of towels and a sheet of sheets before each AP arrives. The towels typically get absorbed into our family collection after each year. The sheets and comforters get donated to our local animal shelter.

Daring Au Pair September 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm

While I wouldn’t expect a host family to give me my own set of towels, it would be very nice to be taken shopping to choose my own. Everyone has their own preference. Haven’t you ever stayed at a hotel and disliked the texture its guest towels? Plus, little touches of comfort can go a long way towards battling homesickness. Am I right au pairs?

Evelina, aupair - 2nd year September 29, 2012 at 1:11 am

I wouldn’t expect for my hostfamily to take me out shopping for new towels, but a new set should be in the aupairs room/bathroom when he or she arrives. If you’re a little bit picky or just prefer a different fabric that you think feels better or whatever, I think it’s up to the aupair to go out and get the kind he or she likes :)

German Au-Pair September 29, 2012 at 1:15 am

My host family simply has white towels for everyone.
I have my own bathroom and wash my own stuff of course, so most of the time I use the same towles but sometimes when my host mum empties the dryer when I left the stuff in there, she will put them with the other towles and I’ll just get some out. It’s amazing to me that so many people seem to care about towles. While I do like things with design, it would never occur to me, to wonder about my own towles.
And I certainly would never bring or buy some.

DCAuPair September 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

The only time I would really care If I had my own towels is if I were to share a bathroom with someone else in the house. I have a bit of a pet peeve of someone else using my towel. I don’t mind to use it after i’ts been washed, I just don’t like using a towel that someone else already used.
So to make more sense – I don’t mind sharing the same towels as the rest of the family, but if there is a chance that my towels can get mixed up with someone else’s wile I am using them, I would prefer my own towels that are a different color or something.

I don’t think it’s necessary for the HF to buy new towels for each AP. Perhaps just give them a good thorough wash (along with the sheets) between APs and get new ones if they become worn out.

Only my opinion :)

Taking a Computer Lunch September 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I wash everything between APs: mattress pad, duvets, sheets, blankets & towels. It provides me a good opportunity to check everything over. I usually end up throwing the shower curtain away and replacing it with a new one. Our AP now has an ensuite bathroom, so she has her own towels. Our first AP shared our bathroom and shared the family towels. The kids weren’t old enough to accidentally use hers.

Posie September 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

I have to admit I find this a strange question! We purchased 2 good-quality towel sets for our AP bathroom at Costco when we started hosting about 2 years ago. Since there are two and theyre good quality, they’ve held up great but I’ll probably replace them for AP 3. If we had an AP who was THAT picky about towels, I think we’d suggest she purchase her own…

cv harquail September 30, 2012 at 9:46 pm

It’s funny how some things raise questions for one host parent, but not another. This particular question got it’s very own request, so I thought we’d see what people do.

Now that I think of it, though, no one has ever emailed aupairmom to complain that their au pair is using everyone else’s bath towel. And when we have talked about annoyance re bath towels, it’s been with au pairs who got hair color all over them. Hmmm.

JBLV October 2, 2012 at 1:23 pm

We have a modest house with modest amenities. But, we do have a a closet full of towels, and I do get a fresh towel out every time I shower. Our au pairs are welcome to do the same – though, they usually have one towel that they keep on their rack and use it a few times during the week. We only have white towels, and they are in one closet. Once a week I throw all the towels in the hamper and hanging on the racks in to the washer on the “sanitary” cycle that is almost 2-hours long. The washing machine actually boils the towels and wash cloths. Voila. Everything is clean. No fuss, no muss. And they all go back in the same closet.

Our au pair does not have her own bathroom. She is physically “part of the family,” and we make it clear this is the case before matching.

kat October 4, 2012 at 5:35 pm

and why do you take a new towel every time? cant imagine what the reason could be?

JBLV October 12, 2012 at 1:04 am

Logistics, usually.

With all this said, I went back to my au pair the day I wrote the above and asked her if she would like a towel for herself. She said she would. She now has a towel all to herself. I even monogrammed it for her. She is now responsible for washing her own towel. Never-say-never.

newhostmom October 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm

For our last au pair, we put a set of our towels in her room to make sure she was comfortable before she got familiar with the house and with freely going into our linen closet, but let her know she was welcome to use any towels. For some reason, for this second au pair, I bought a separate set. Maybe because our towels are starting to get old. But I did hesitate – I wasn’t sure if she would take it as “here is a nice new set of towels just for you – how nice!” or “we don’t want you using our towels, so here’s your own set.”

Johanna October 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm

My hostfamily has a set of towels for the au pairs, which is fine with me. I wouldn’t expect them to buy a new set just for me, as long as I have clean towels I’m happy!

Jade Au Pair October 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Not something I was fussed about before I was an Au Pair but it was a really nice touch when my HF dedicated a colour to me – red because it is my favourite. I used the downstairs bathroom which HD used to shower so it was nice knowing that our towels wouldn’t get mixed up. So no, I definitely wouldn’t expect them to buy me a separate set before I got there but it was nice having towels that were ‘mine’ for the time I was there.

AnnaAuPair October 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I think getting your own set of towels is a really sweet thing to do and really makes you feel welcome. And it’s an awesome thing to take home because you will think about your hostfamily every time you use the towels.

IF you are going shopping with him/her to by him/her a personal set, make sure to communicate wether it’s a gift to her or if she has to pay. My first hostfamily went shopping for bed clothing and towels with me on my second day because they didn’t know what I would like” – but I had to pay for it myself. It didn’t really help making me feel welcome and kind of set the tone for the rest of the time.

cv harquail October 3, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Oops– nice idea to let you pick it out, but bad idea to expect you to pay for your own sheets and towels unless these were extra (beyond a set already provided) and optional.

Host Parents: Sheets, towels, pillows, bedspreads and the like are part of the ‘kit’ of things that should be clean, in good condition, and provided to the aupair as part of the ‘room’ in ‘room & board’.

newhostmom October 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I said above that we got our new au pair her own new set of towels (and sheets, pillows, other bedding). But, Anna, I think I would be surprised if she ended up taking them home with her! If she did take the towels, it’s not like I would be angry, but I guess I expect that the things in her room when she arrives will essentially be the things in her room still when she leaves. So just be careful I guess about what you assume your host family has purchased for you to keep and what they have purchased as the “au pair room” stuff that they mean to save for the next au pair.

HRHM October 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I’ll second that! Our AP has her “own” set of towels, washcloths, sheets, a robe, hairdryer, flat iron and comforter. But NONE of that is “hers” in the sense that she is to take it with her when she leaves. It is the “AP”‘s meaning that it is to be used by whoever is filling the position at the time. So while they are for the AP and replaced as needed, just like the furniture in her room, they are for her use while she is with us and then to be left for the next AP.

Taking a Computer Lunch October 12, 2012 at 6:54 am

I often buy things for the AP room from time to time. For example, one year I discovered that the flannel sheets had been ruined (I switch out in August so it’s not usually possible to run to the store to buy a new set). When they went on sale in December, I bought a set that I new my AP would enjoy. I presented them to her, saying “This is a gift for your room,” meaning – please use them while you are here.

From time to time I replace sheets, towels, shower curtains (and liners), blankets and duvet covers as they get worn. When I buy new items, I buy them to match the rooms, not the AP. I either donate the old things or put them into the family linen closet.

In my house, there is one towel that is given to the AP for her to keep – and that is a swim towel (useful for when she travels and stays in youth hostels too) because HK #2 will use any swim towel lying around and the AP gets to say “Don’t use that – it’s mine!”

former_aupair_sv October 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I usually lurk here, but I thought I’d pop out to say something. I remember reading somewhere that in some cultures, it was customary to bring one’s own towels when staying with a guest. IIRC it would inappropriate and personal to ask to borrow towels, almost like a hairbrush or something?? It stuck out in my mind because I would’ve almost been offended if my guest brought their own towels (ie what’s wrong with mine?) Sorry I don’t have more details, but I thought it would be useful to add that it may just be cultural.

anon October 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm

so funny – I had a an AP once (with whom we ultimately rematched, for myriad reasons) use my hairbrush! I really felt that was crossing a boundary….

kat October 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

interesting topic…
in most of my families i was given a towel or a few towels and was told where towels are kept and could pick and use whichever i liked. i end up keeping a couple of sets ( a bath towel and a hand towel) separately as i like to wash my towels at 60 and sometimes families wash them at 40 or even 30. i end up choosing white towels from the airing cupboard which are not anyone elses and i like the texture of and is the right size.

my other thoughts on towels which might be cultural. i come from what is called eastern europian country. when i was a child it was common to bring towels when people went visiting. i think it was to save the host on washing which at those days still could be hard work if you didnt have a spinner (is that what is called? the old mashines didnt have a spin cycles so you had to have a separate maschine for that) or even
you had a maschine when you manually had to draw water out.
even today you usually have to say ‘you dont have to bring towels’ otherwise people feel they should.

thoughts on separate aupair towels. i had that once, and thought it was nice but as the towels were pink i had to wash them separately from the sheets at 60( they would run and ruin the sheets) so it was an extra washing cycle which i wasnt happy about (dont think the family minded at all). i have preference for white or light coloured towels for this reason, while the family liked really dark ones (and washed them at 40 with other stuff).
i guess you might not have problem with the temperature in the us, as i have heard that you just have a cold and a warm wash over there??

i am sure of of the ‘towel stories’ have cultural backround, some are probably just personal preferences or expectations. perhaps it is something to briefly address before the aupair arrives ?
people are different but my way of dealing with this would be give them some towels ( not necesserilly new once or different ones) and said to them they can either keep and use just these or can just pick what they like out of the cupboard (and telling her if there are towels belonging to other people so that she doesnt choose someone elses).

if i was sharing a bathroom i probably wouldnt keep my towel in there as i would be worried that someone else will use it (the worry might go away with time though). certainly it is a good idea to have a space for an aupair to keep her towel. once in a job with share bathroom there wasnt even a place to put my towel while i had a bath /shower, which was annoying.


DCMomof3 October 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I always ask my incoming AP her favorite color. I then buy new sheets, towels, bathmat, etc. in that color. The APs always like to see everything new in their favorite color – I think, anyway! The one AP that we had to rematch with due to driving issues actually took her purple towels, sheets and blanket with her to the new host family. She asked if she could and I said yes of course because I bought them specifically for her.

formeraupair October 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

When I was au pairing there were a couple of family towels that were in my bathroom for my use, I used these while I was there. I don’t think I would have used the other family towels but these ones were ok as they were in my bathroom from the start so they felt like mine. I think the best solution would be to either buy a new set or pick out a couple of nice family ones and put them in the au pair’s room prior to their arrival so they’re there for her alone to use, but don’t be offended if she decides to buy her own.

spanishaupair October 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm

In 3 of the families i have been i had my own set of towels and it was nice and in the other i shared with the family and i also didn¡t have any problem with that. I think while there will not be any problem with whose is this towel in the moment of using before washing again i dont care.
It’s nice that the hostfamilies think about your favourite colour for buying towels and sheets :)

Victoria October 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm

In my host family, I have a set of towels that were given to me for my use. I do have my own bathroom but it’s in the basement and I don’t enjoy using it (too many spiders) so I’ve spoken to my host mom and I just use theirs now.
I was also given sheets but recently bought a flannel sheet for the cold weather (which I’ll leave here) as well as a blanket (which I plan to take with me). A pillow was also given to me but was too flat so I bought another one to supplement it.

au pairs Australia November 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I have a set of sheets, towels, blankets, etc for the au pair in her bedroom so that she takes care of her things and keep them clean and do not feel they have to share same stuff with the family

Maria November 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I think this is a theme that everyone solves in a other way.
I like to have my own towels and so i bring my own one with me.
Sure its gonna be okay, if my Host-Mum should bought me a new set for only me but i´m a person who dont want that other people spend a lot of money for me.

We handle it like this: Before i arrive i askes what i have to bring with me and she told me, that we can buy everything here and i only have to bring these things without i can´t live in this year.

She gave me a blanket and pillows and all what i need.
I have my own bathroom, too. So i can do whatever i want and have to clean it up by myself.

I think you don´t have to be more worry about it, eyeryone is special in they´re own way =)

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