how to select bath towels

We expect our towels and washcloths to keep us clean, dry us off, add to the look of our bathroom and, occasionally, wipe up after mud tracks into the house. However, despite their versatility, towels are often underappreciated,

with many people putting little thought into which type of towel they buy and bring home.  But with a little knowledge, your towels will look, last and perform better in their many roles.  Let’s do a deep dive on how to select bath towels.


All towels have a fabric weight, measured with a GSM (grams per square meter) number. This refers to the density of the fabric used to make that particular towel. Lower GSM towels are lighter and thinner, making them a great choice for a gym bag or trips to the beach. You’ll likely want to save your heavier, thicker, higher GSM towels for use in the master or guest bathroom.


Most towels are made of cotton, but the look and feel of towels largely depending on what type of cotton is used. Towels designed and priced for everyday use are made of standard cotton, while Egyptian cotton is considered the crème de la crème of towel fabrics. These more expensive towels have longer, more-fibrous threads, meaning that each towel will have more moisture-sucking loops per inch. The ultra-soft, super-fluffy bath towels found in high-end spas and hotels are typically Egyptian cotton or increasingly, the American-grown version, called pima cotton, which offers a similarly luxurious look and feel.


But buyer beware, some manufacturers sell towels advertised as “made with” Egyptian or pima cotton, when in fact the fabric may have other materials in its makeup.  When shopping for better towels, be sure to check the labels and look for fabric of 100 percent Egyptian cotton, or for the Supima trademark, which guarantees a towel is made of 100 percent American pima cotton.


Examples of Pima cotton towels:

Calcot Growers Supima Cotton 3-Piece Sets

Calcot Growers Supima Cotton 3-Piece Sets

Pinzon Pima Cotton 6-Piece Towel Set

Pinzon Pima Cotton 6-Piece Towel Set

Eco-conscious buyers can look for organic cotton towels or towels made from bamboo, which have a looser, velvety-soft texture compared to cotton towels. Bamboo, along with the newer hemp towels, has natural mildew-resistant qualities.


Examples of Bamboo towels: 
Premium Bamboo Cotton 6 Piece Towel Set Premium Bamboo Cotton 6 Piece Towel Set Chakir Turkish Linens Bamboo Rayon Bath Towel Chakir Turkish Linens Bamboo Rayon Bath Towel
Unlike towels made from these natural products, microfiber towels are made of engineered fibers. They are lighter and thinner than cotton towels, with a suede-like texture and excellent absorbency. These specialty towels are popular for wringing water from wet hair without being too heavy.
Examples of microfiber towels:
Hope Shine Microfiber 3 Piece Towel Set Hope Shine Microfiber 3 Piece Towel Set Fina Microfiber Waffle Towel Set Fina Microfiber Waffle Towel Set


Because towels offer a relatively painless and inexpensive way to complement or change the look of your bathroom, decorators say they’re a great way to have fun with design. Rather than trying to precisely match your towels to your wallpaper or paint, use them instead to draw out or accentuate the look you want.  No matter what the bathroom backdrop, an abundance of bright, colorful towels placed around the room provides stylish punch.


Orange Bath Towels

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Green Bath Towels

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For a more classic look, nothing says total luxury like a bathroom fully stocked with freshly laundered, fluffy white towels. It’s a timelessly posh look that never goes out of style.

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Bath towels of all types will look fresher and last longer if they are cared for properly. Manufacturers often coat new towels in a special fabric softener, which means the towels look extra fluffy and soft on the shelf, but don’t absorb water well when you first bring them home. For this reason, it’s best to wash your new towels before first use.


For the first wash, add a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle.  This will help set the color and prevent fading, especially of deep tones.  Dark and brightly colored towels should be washed separately. For your special, more expensive towels, using Woolite or another gentle-care detergent will keep them at their fluffy best longer. Lastly try using a lower heat setting on your dryer, or alternate between air and heat drying.

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