Tenugui (手ぬぐい) are narrow rectangular towels. They are 30 cm wide and 90 cm long and made of thin cotton. Tenugui are dyed or printed in different ways. There are two types of motifs: traditional patterns or pictures. Classic patterns are for example dotted mame-shibori or hishi shapes.

Particularly popular motifs are animals or plants, family crests (kamon, 家紋), traditional caricatures (Chôjû-jinbutsu-giga, 戯画) or motifs from woodblock prints (ukiyoe, 浮添え). There are numerous traditional patterns, such as the dotted mame shibori (豆絞り) , but waves or stylized plant leaves are also common.

Kendo fighters wear them under the helmet to catch the sweat. Some particularly beautiful Tenugui are also hung on the wall as pictures.

Tenugui are very useful in shibari as blindfolds. This makes it easier for the ukete to focus on non-verbal communication. Many bakushi use tenugui to practice blindfolded patterns.