Choosing the Best Bath Towels

Sally Painter
bath towels

Bath towels are some of the most heavily used linens in the home. A quality bath towel needs to be more than just attractive. These linens must be able to withstand repeated washings. You want a towel to be soft as well as absorbent. With so much use with water, towels can easily absorb odors and even mildew if damp or wet for long periods of time.

Step One for Finding the Best Bath Towels: Fabric Choices

A good bath towel starts with quality materials. The top four materials that high end or luxury towels are constructed from are Turkish cotton, bamboo fiber, Egyptian cotton and organic cotton.

Turkish Cotton

When most people think of quality luxurious towels, Turkish towels come to mind. Turkish cotton is considered the very best cotton to use for towels since it doesn't hold on to moisture the way Egyptian cotton does. Too much absorbency can cause towels to retain the moisture longer. According to Turkish Towel Company, ". . . towels that are too absorbent tend to become wet in humid climates all by themselves." It's no wonder that Turkish towels are so coveted.

  • The extra long cotton fibers give towels a nice softness and absorbency.
  • With each successive washing, Turkish cotton will become fluffier, softer and even more absorbant.
  • Peshtemal towels are a traditional type of Turkish bath towels. They are thinner than modern towels, but are acclaimed for fast-drying, carrying and take up less storage space.

Thick spa-like Turkish towels are also a favorite of many buyers on Amazon. Customers like the thickness, softness, colors and absorbency of the towels. Many comment the towels are the best ones they've ever owned.

Dana at House Tweaking reviewed her recent purchase of Peshtemal Turkish towels. After experiencing towels that never seemed to dry out after use, Dana purchased a couple of peshtemal towels and fell in love with their quick drying properties. She was further impressed with their absorbency and that the towels never had the mildew smell of her former ones. She admitted that the thinness of the towel took some getting used to.

Bamboo

Bamboo is well-known as an eco-friendly material used to make household items such as furniture. Bamboo can also be used to make textiles, which are constructed from bamboo yarn (also available as organic bamboo). Bamboo makes the top of the list for quality materials because of the benefits that occur naturally within the fibers of the bamboo plant itself:

  • Bamboo is anti-bacterial, which makes it resistant to odors and mildew, also making it a good choice for people who suffer from allergies.
  • The bamboo yarn is extremely soft and is often compared to cashmere.
  • The fibers are very strong and will be a durable fabric choice.
  • Bamboo fabric is breathable and absorbent.
  • Many bamboo towels are a blend of bamboo and other yarns, such as cotton or rayon. Read labels to know fabric content.

Customers of Cariloha Bamboo give a bamboo and Turkish cotton blend towel high marks. The towel lives up to its signature softness. Many customer reviews comment they purchased additional sets for themselves and as gifts. The Wall Street Journal also praises towels made from bamboo, noting their softness and absorbency.

Egyptian Cotton

In the textile industry, Egyptian cotton is considered the finest type of cotton available. Its extra-long cotton fibers, called staples, allow the cotton fiber to be spun into very fine yarns that are:

  • Soft, durable and more absorbent than regular cotton.
  • Egyptian cotton absorbs dyes well, resulting in bright, vividly colored textiles.

Kris at Driven by Decor found Egyptian cotton towels with zero-twist yarns to be what she called, "super soft and plush with the perfect combination of thickness and lightness." Consumer Reports also recommends Egyptian cotton for both softness and absorbancy.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is grown using ecologically friendly standards. The United States and Europe have strict regulations over how the cotton is grown. Some of the pros for selecting organic cotton towels include:

  • Organic cotton is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides found in commercially grown cotton.
  • Organic cotton is especially ideal for people with allergies, sensitive skin or certain dermatological conditions such as eczema.
  • You can find high quality organic cotton towels completely free of bleaches and dyes that overtime weaken fibers.

sheknows contributor Katie Kavulla points out that organic towels are grown chemical free. She states that organic towels are softer than chemically treated ones. She does point out that organic towels are an investment since they aren't cheap.

Step Two: Towel Sizes

Towels come in standard sizes. The size of a towel indicates its purpose. For many people, the size of the towel is an important factor when making a purchase decision. This can be especially true for taller and/or larger people. For example, a bath sheet is an oversized bath towels feature extra material and can typically wrap around the average adult body.

Towel Sizes
Bath Towel 27" x 52" - 30" x 58"
Hand Towel 16" x 28" - 18" x 30"
Finger Towel 11" x 18"
Washcloth 13" x 13" (average size)
Bath Sheet 35" x 60" - 40" x 70"

Best Sizes to Buy

Not everyone will use or appreciate every towel size. It's wiser to purchase only those towels you know will be used rather than fold and place on a linen closet shelf to be forgotten.

  • There are some people will never use a finger towel, much less a hand towel. For this person, the best purchase options are the bath towel and/or bath sheet and washcloths.
  • For a growing family, the hand towels and finger towels are great sizes for the smaller members of the family and guest bathrooms. These are often decorative additions to a bath décor. Holiday themed towels in these sizes make nice decorative touches.
  • Almost everyone will use a standard bath towel and washcloth.
  • A bath sheet can be wrapped around your body after a shower or bath. Many people prefer this size over a bath towel.

Step Three: Colors

Towels come in all types of patterns and colors. Organic fabrics will have a different range of colors based on organic dyes. Narrow the many color choices by selecting colors based on the color scheme of your bathroom. Answer a few short questions to get you started thinking color and pattern:

  • Will the towels be used for accent colors? If you chose an accent color for your bathroom, add a couple of hand towels and finger towel rolled up spa style and placed in a basket on the sink counter for guests.
  • Will the towels be used to introduce a pattern or repeat a specific geometric pattern? Consider whether you have other patterns in the bathroom and whether they will clash.
  • Do you want solid colored, two colors, or multi-colored towels? Determine the number of colors and look for a towel set that fits.
  • Will you need decorative, embossed or embroidered ones? You can drape a single decorative towel from a towel rack or layer a bath towel with a hand towel centered over it for an elegant touch.
  • Is your bathroom style formal or informal? White towels are always a great choice that will go with any decor. As an added bonus, they can be bleached for extra cleanliness (avoid bleach with organic towels).

Each bathroom will have a different color scheme and style and personal preference always factors in.

Monogrammed and Embroidered Towels

embroidered towels

Monogrammed and embroidered towels are often made to order and can be customized to suit your needs. These types of towels are often used for guests or set out as a decorative display.

  • Most monogrammed towels can have up to three letters in a variety of decorative fonts.
  • Embroidered towels feature a decorative design stitched into the towel.
  • The embroidery is often stitched over a fabric border, such as satin, silk, rayon, cotton, and more.

Step Four: Weight

Towels are measured by weight. The Turkish Towel Company explains that towels are graded according to the Grams per Square Meter (GMS). The GMS defines the density of the towel. This standard weight measurement is used to further assess the fabric quality. The website states, "High quality Turkish cotton towels are generally heavier and are more absorbent." A lower GMS number indicates a lighter and thinner towel.

The range of weights for towels is 300 GSM to 900 GSM. The Turkish Towel Company and popular retailers Macy's and The Company Store all have similar notes regarding weight, characteristics, and towel types.

Weight Characteristics Towel Type
300-400 GSM Lightweight and thinner Kitchen or gym towel
400-600 GSM Medium weight Bath, guest, beach, etc
600-900 GSM Heavy weight Luxury

Step Five: Brands

Depending on the type of fabric you wish for your towels, there are several outstanding brands for shopping choices.

Turkish Towel Company

You can find quality and style at the Turkish Towel Company featuring spa and peshtamel Turkish towels (guideline on how to wear). You can purchase individual towels or opt for savings when you buy a set. Check often for website sales, often featuring 50% off. Also offers an organic towel collection for eco-minded buyers. Price: Around $30 to $50.

Cuddledown

You can choose from 23 solid colors. The website also features a couple of cotton towel sets. Price: Around $10 to $114.

The Wall Street Journal dubbed Cuddledown's bamboo towels as "Best in Class". Fine Linen and Bath, and high-end luxury designer bedding, bath, and table linen retailer, named Cuddledown in its 38 top rated luxury towel manufacturers.

Frette

Established in 1860 (France), Frette has an outstanding reputation for quality and 21 years later the company became the official "Purveyors to the Italian Royal Family". This was followed by commissioned linens for over 500 nobles of European royalty. The company serves the hospitality and designer industries as well as wholesalers. You can often luck up on 50% off sales on the company website. Price: Around $50 to $150.

Into The Gloss ranks Frette's Superb Bath Towel as one of "the world's best". Fine Linen and Bath also includes Frette in their list.

Turkish Towel Collection (TTC), a Forza & Home Company

The Turkish Towel Collection is known worldwide for quality and its prestigious clientele, such as President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush, Gianfranco Ferre, Giorgio Armani, and Bill Gates, among many others. Go with the coveted Turkish Towel Collection featuring 2-PC, 3-Pc, 4-PC, bath sheet, bath towel, hand towel, guest towel, beach towel and peshtemal. Price: Start around $50 (sets).

In addition to their renowned customer base, the company has reaped industry awards, such as:

Step Six: Prices

Towel price ranges are wide and are determined by the quality, size, type of fabric, GMS and brand. You don't necessarily have to pay full retail for high quality towels. There are lots of bargains to be discovered. When you find your dream towel, sign up for email alerts and flash sales. Add the company's social media to your feed. You may need to be patient, but you can always luck up on a big discount during a sale.

Many quality blended towels can provide good durability, style and absorbency that are cheaper than a high-quality and brand name towel. It just requires a little time investment to find these and other bargain deals.

Step Seven: Reviews

Once you've narrowed down your towel choices to just a few, you'll want to check out reviews to help make that final decision. A few places to look for reviews include:

  • The Sweet Home: This New York Times company tests home products. Check out their current reviews for the best towels after testing real time for 42 hours.
  • Best Reviews: This website doesn't take any free products, but purchases every product they test and review. For towels, the website presents a Best of the Best and a Best Bang for the Buck.
  • Viewpoints: This website features reviews by consumers. Along with the reviews of different types of bath towels, you can information on the fabrics, sizes, brands and price ranges of over 1400 different towels. If you've found a towel, but it has little to no reviews, enter the information in the search box to read what fellow consumers think.
  • Top Best Reviews: The top 10 best bath towels are listed by rank starting with number ten and working down to number one. The towels are selected according to the top trending ones.
  • Good Housekeeping (GH): With a decades-old reputation for finding and presenting quality home products, GH presents a wealth of review choices for bath towels.

Shopping Finds

Pick up on of these great bath towel options.

Pinzon by Amazon

The 6-piece towel set by Pinzon is rated #1 by Best Reviews Guide and "Best Bang for the Buck" from Best Reviews. The towels are made from 100% blended Egyptian cotton that are "Made in OEKO-TEX Standard 100 factory, an independent certification system that ensures textiles meet high safety and environmental standards."

  • Towels are available in 10 solid colors.
  • Set includes, 2 bath towel (30" x 56"), 2 hand towel (18"x 30") and 2 washcloths (13" x 13").
  • Machine wash and dry.
  • Price: Around $20 (Prime free shipping).

Over 4,000 Amazon customer reviews give this set high ratings. Some customers comment on the absorbency being high, towels plush and soft. One customer compared her new set to a high-end set, stating the Pinzon towels made her more expensive ones look cheap. A few customers complained about pilling and fading, but overall customers are pleased with their purchases.

Fieldcrest Luxury Bath Towels

Plush terry towels made from 100% cotton, Target's Fieldcrest Luxury Bath Towels are available in four sizes (bath towel, bath sheet, hand towel and washcloth).

  • Available in 13 muted colors.
  • Price: Around $9 to $20.

Awarded The Sweet Home's winner of "The Best Bath Towel", the website states the towel was consistently almost as soft as towels twice as expensive. In addition, the review found the towel to be nearly as soft as the more expensive ones. This towel also proved to absorb water and dry faster than towels more plush. Hundreds of Target customers reviewed the towels favorably, stating the towels are soft, fluffy and absorbent. Several customers have bought the towels previously and are highly pleased.

Utopia Towels Bath Sheet

Utopia Towels' Extra Large (35-Inch-by-70-Inch) Gray Cotton Bath Towel is Amazon's #1 Bestseller in bath towel sheets. This luxury cotton bath sheet is made from 100% ring spun cotton and is free from any harmful chemicals. Made from natural materials, this towel doesn't have any synthetic materials.

  • Seven other colors are available.
  • Machine wash and dry (low heat).
  • Price: Around $32 (sale around $18)

Over two thousand reviews made this a #1 Bestseller. Amazon customers state the towel is a medium weight that is durable, soft, thick and absorbent. Some customers commented that after the third wash, the towel no longer sheds. The four-piece set also made it onto the Best Reviews list.

Cuddledown Bamboo Towels

The bamboo and rayon blended towels by Cuddledown are a customer favorite. The towels are made in Turkey. Features include:

  • Towels are available in 23 solid colors.
  • Sizes include bath towel, bath sheet, hand towel and washcloth.
  • Monogramming is available but must be requested by phone to place order.
  • Price: Around $10 to $60.

With over 300 reviews, Cuddledown customers are pleased with their purchases. Several purchase one set or one towel then return to purchase more. Customers talk about having bought the towels years ago and are still using them. Some customers were looking for a specific towel color and pleased to find it. Fine Linen and Bath also include their towels on their Best list.

Best Bath Towel Choices

Choosing the bed bath towels for you and your family will ultimately depend on your individual likes and needs. If you have sensitive skin, organic bamboo or cotton may work best for you. If you are a large or tall person, you may want to go with towel sheets. If you like a thick, plush towel, a 700 gram Turkish cotton towel might appeal to you. If you're looking for decorative towels to display in your guest bathroom, you may prefer monogrammed or embroidered towels. Determining what you want in a bath towel and setting a price range will help you find the best bath towels for you.

Choosing the Best Bath Towels