Choosing the best bath towels for your bathroom comes down to personal preference. Are you looking for soft, thick bath sheets or fast-drying bath towels for the gym? Do you want to freshen up your bathroom decor and create a luxurious spa experience? With this Home Depot guide, you’ll learn which are the most absorbent bath towels, the difference between Egyptian and Turkish cotton, the different bath towel sizes available, how to choose a bath towel vs. a bath sheet and more.
Cotton and Other Fabrics
Bath towels are made from natural and man-made fibers such as cotton and cotton blends, organics, modal, bamboo and microfiber.
- Cotton is a popular fiber and the choice of many for the best bath towels. This fiber is very durable and resists fading, while a towel that is 100 percent cotton is the softest and most absorbent choice. Everyday towels are made using short-staple cotton fibers and are soft, strong and relatively inexpensive.
- Premium cotton towels are made with the highly absorbent, long-staple fibers like those found in Egyptian cotton or Turkish cotton.
- Organic cotton towels are made with cotton fiber from plants grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
- Modal is a natural fiber made from beachwood that is combined with premium cotton to produce a more absorbant and silkier towel.
- Bamboo towels are very absorbant, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and odor resistant. They resist fading and usually have a plush feel.
- Microfiber is a highly absorbent synthetic. A microfiber bath towel is not as soft as cotton, but is very durable.
How a towel is woven affects its absorption, durability and softness. A towel’s pile or surface consists of short or long loops or twists. Traditionally, some consider the best towels to be the classic cotton terry because of its overabundance of big loops. That’s because the fluffier or denser the loops or twists, the softer and more absorbent the towel.
- A high twist process results in a more durable towel but with less absorption.
- A low or zero twist process creates a dense, but soft, plush pile with increased absorption; however, these dry quickly. A zero twist process works well with large towels where comfort and drying time are equally important, such as with a bath sheet.
- Combed cotton is created by brushing out the short fibers in cotton and leaving the longer ones. It is softer, more durable and has less pilling.
- Ring-spun cotton gets its smooth, silky feel from creating loops of tightly twisted long and short fibers.
Tip: Quality, well-made towels have folded and stitched edges that prevent fraying and increase durability.
Egyptian vs. Turkish Cotton
Made from premium, long stable cotton, both Egyptian cotton and Turkish cotton have a lot in common. But there are differences.
- Egyptian cotton towels are plush, extra soft, and are less likely to fuzz. The more you wash them, the softer they get. They are able to absorb lots of water and can have a longer drying time.
- Turkish cotton towels are known for being thicker, plusher and heavier. These are the towels you'll see most often at resorts, spas and hotels. Rather than absorb water, they tend to wisk the water off your skin. This allows Turkish towels to dry quicker than those made with Egyptian cotton.
- Eygptian cotton grown in the U.S. is called Pima cotton. It has the same qualities of imported cotton, but is more wallet-friendly. (Supima is a brand name of Pima cotton).
Tip: All quality, well-made towels have folded and stitched edges that prevent fraying and increase durability.
Bath Towel Sizes and Use
Towel sizes are standard, which makes it easier to shop across brands for the exact ones you need. When choosing between a bath towel vs. a bath sheet, note that the latter is ideal for both wrapping up and lounging around in.
Bath Towel Weights
Towels come in weights called GSMs (grams per square meter). GSMs measure density and range from 300 - 900. Knowing a towel’s GSM will help you choose the best towels for you based on fluffiness and feel.
- 300 - 400 GSM is lighter, thinner and faster drying.
- 400 - 600 GSM is medium weight and ideal for every day use.
- 600 - 900 GSM is heavier, more luxurious and perfect for a spa-like experience.
Replacing Your Bath Towels
After a while, even the best towels wear out. A worn-out towel may still look okay, but simply doesn’t absorb as well. Frayed edges, bare spots and extreme fading are other signs that your towel has seen better days. A good rule of thumb is to replace the towels you use regularly every two to three years.
Tip: Save money and help the environment by recycling old towels into reausable cleaning rags.
Bath Towel Care Tips
Towels should be washed and dried after about three uses to prevent odor, mold and mildew. A towel warmer can be an effective way to dry and warm towels between use. Follow these simple tips to keep your bath towels looking their best.
- After each use, hang your towels on a hook to dry. Spread out a large bath towel or bath sheet on a bar or shower rod so it can dry thoroughly between uses.
- Sort towels before washing to resist fading and to cut down on transferring lint from lighter colors.
- Keep shrinkage to a minimum by washing in cool or warm water.
- Follow the dryer heat setting listed on the towel's manufactuer's label.
- Wash whites separately. Add a bleaching agent to brighten them if necessary.
- Use dryer sheets but avoid liquid fabric softeners. They leave a film that compromises absorbency.
Tip: Wash new towels before you use them to prevent shedding, to set their color and to improve absorbency.