So you’re soaking in the bath, the bath salts and the aroma in the bathroom all add to the delight of the bath. You realise it is time to dry up and reach for the towel, only to realise that it is in bad shape. The whole experience of taking a nice bath goes down the drain when you don’t have the right towel to dry up after.
So you, plan a trip to the towels aisle and soon realise that you are overwhelmed with the options that are available. So many fabrics, so many types, how do you know which towel works best for you? Do you go for the most expensive towels or the ones that you think are the most durable? Or do you simply do with thickness and go with something that is thick and heavy?
Picking a towel doesn’t have to be hard. However, if you are like me, you put extra emphasis on the little things in life and having that perfect towel to dry up just makes your day. You want something soft, something that absorbs the moisture, something that is large enough to wrap yourself around and of course, something that is durable. You want the best and when considering the best, there are various parameters that you have to take into consideration.
One of the first things you should be asking is, where am I going to use this towel? Am I going to use it in the bath, at the gym or looking for something that will provide a quick dry after a quick shower? There is a towel for every purpose and you don’t want to be stuck with a gym towel after a nice long bath.
Regardless of how you came across us, you are at the right place, for we have a great guide on picking towels for you. We will list out everything you need to know, to make an informed purchase next time you are buying towels.
When picking towels, you don’t want to only go with size and thickness, you want to consider all the parameters and more importantly, find the right towel for the right purpose.
Further down this article, we talk about picking the right towel for the right purpose, ‘Towels for Every Purpose.’ Do read that section of this article if not anything else, for it will give you a good idea of the type of towel you should pick for every purpose. However, we do recommend that you read this guide word to word, for it will give you the intel that you require to be an expert towel buyer and pick those towels like flowers on a beautiful spring day.
Before we go into the depths of picking the right towel, there are a few things that you have to take into account when picking towels. Here is a list of things that you have to consider, to ensure that you have at hand a reliable towel that will serve the purpose.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Towel
When picking a towel, one of the first things that you have to consider is the fabric content. The fabric composition of the towel is one of the most important things to consider, for it will tell you how absorbant the towel is. At the end of the day, you don’t want to pay for an expensive towel to realise that it doesn’t work to absorb moisture too well, making it darn right useless as a towel.
100% cotton is considered the softest and most absorbent. You can consider premium cotton like Egyptian cotton or Supima cotton, but I wouldn’t look too into it. The premium cotton doesn’t really have much variance by way of softness, absorbency or durability and standard 100% cotton works just fine. Another good option is a cotton and polyester blend. This option is often less expensive and is a quick-dry towel, perfect for those who are always on the run. They are also considered more durable than cotton towels.
We will look into the various material for towels in further depth in the below sections of this article, hence keep reading this word to word.
Towel Lingo – Construction
With the fabric being the first thing that you need to consider, you also have to look into the production highlights (construction) of the towel. By this, we mean the tricky towel lingo that acts as a keyword to help to decide on the type of towel. Combed cotton, ring-spun cotton, twist, aerocotton and microcotton are all brand names for towels that offer various attributes.
- Combed Cotton – The cotton is brushed to remove short fibre, making it more durable and softer.
- Ringspun Cotton – The short and long fibres in the towel are twisted, enabling the towel loops to have a strong and smooth finish.
- Twist – The twist defines how much the loop’s yarn is twisted. The higher the twist count, the more durable, while a lower twist count makes the towel plusher and more absorbent.
- Aerocotton and Microcotton – These are names given to the manufacturing process to help increase the softness and absorbency.
Inspect Your Towels
Apart from checking the softness of your towels, you want to ensure that the towels that you are picking are of good quality. Oftentimes, just going by the softness isn’t enough to ensure good quality. This is because manufacturers usually put finishes on the towels to make them feel softer, but the coating using comes off after a wash.
Hence, you want to look for other signs of quality, such as neatly folded and secured edges, which would be a sign of good stitching. This is often a sign of good quality and good craftsmanship that will prevent it from fraying and will ensure greater durability.
Check the Weight of the Towel
Apart from quality, you would also want to check the weight of the towel. Towels are usually measured in GSM, which is grams per square meter. The higher the GSM count, the more dense the towel will be which means it will be more absorbent.
300-400 GSM is considered a lightweight towel with 400-600 GSM being medium weight. The heaviest is between 600-900 GSM with top performers being between 500-700 GSM.
Check Your Preference
Knowing the type of towel that you want is very important. That is why we highlighted the section on ‘Towel for Every Purpose.’ You should have a good idea about where you will be using the towel, which will give you a better idea of the type of towel that you need.
If you want something that is quick-drying, you would best do with a cotton-polyester blend. If you are looking for an absorbent towel, you would want to pick something with fluffy loops.
Bottom line, you need to know the type of towel that you want to pick. Are you in the search of something that is super absorbent or something that is more durable? Oftentimes, you can’t have everything you want. The super-absorbent towels may not be as durable as the less absorbent towels. Hence it is important that you understand your requirements, so you have a better idea about the type of towel that you should go for.
The Rule of Surface Density
This is a good rule to remember when picking towels. In general, the higher the surface density of a towel, the more absorbent, but will take a longer time to dry. A towel with a lower surface density will be less absorbent but will be easier to dry and won’t stay wet for too long.
By surface density, we mainly take into consideration the weight, GSM. It can range from 300 to 900 GSM. If you are looking for an absorbent towel, you should go with something in the mid-range. You don’t want to go with too high of a GSM, for it will mean that your towel stays wet for a long time and will be harder to dry.
Using the GSM is a great way to understand a towel’s absorbency. Hence, keep in mind the surface density rule, the higher the surface density, the more absorbent, but slower to dry.
Types of Material
Considering how important the fabric is in making the decision of picking towels, you should familiarise yourself with the various types of fabrics that are usually available in the market.
Here is a list of all the fabrics that you should familiarise yourself with, so you have a better idea of the fabric when choosing towels.
- Cotton – This natural fabric is differentiated in quality based on the length of the fibre, known as staples. The longer and finer the staples, the plusher the towel will be. There are various types of cotton that you can consider when picking fabric.
- Egyptian cotton is handpicked and sourced. It is a luxury, premium fabric that places less stress on plant fibres. This yields extra-fine yarn which results in an ultra-soft and super absorbent towel.
- Turkish cotton is durable and thin and has extra-long fibres produced in a flat weave. The towel as a result is lightweight and dries quickly.
- Pima cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton and is made from extra-long and fine staples that make for a plush and absorbent towel. It is considered more affordable than Egyptian cotton and provides great quality.
- Organic cotton is harvested from plants where pesticides have not been used. They have also been manufactured without toxic or harmful chemicals. When picking organic cotton, look for certification and global standards to ensure that they are ethically sourced and produced.
- Microfibre – This is made from superfine synthetic fibres, often using polyester and is known for greater durability and produces an extremely smooth texture. They have a quick dry property making them ideal for quick showers and for use at the gym.
- Linen – This natural fibre woven fabric is lightweight but durable and works as a great alternative to cotton towels. They are quick to absorb water and the antimicrobial fabric means it is less likely to mould and fall prey to mildew.
- Modal – This fabric is made from naturally derived cellulose sources such as macerated wood pulps of birch or beech trees. They are known to be a little more absorbent than cotton and can be a good alternative to cotton or linen towels.
- Bamboo – Made from bamboo, this eco-friendly option is soft and absorbent, however, does take a little longer to dry in comparison to other materials. It is still a good option to entertain, especially if you are an eco-conscious buyer.
Construction of Towel
The method by which the towel is woven will decide on the quality and feel of the towel. Some of the more popular construction techniques include:
- Combed cotton – where the cotton is combed before weaving to remove debris and shorter threads, which leaves behind a fine and long tread count. This makes for a durable, fluffy and resistant towel.
- Ringspun cotton – This involves the twisting of short and long fibres to produce a more fine and durable yarn. There is a more luxurious feel to this construction and the quality of the towels are usually high.
- Zero-twist fibres – This is a towel that is comprised of long-staple cotton that is woven without any twisting. It makes for a softer and lighter product that is equally absorbent as twisted towels.
- Waffle weave – This construction may not be as fluffy as standard cotton towels, however, are as absorbent and fast drying. They have a honeycomb pattern, which makes for a greater surface area, enabling fasting drying.
- Terrycloth – This construction makes for super absorbent and soft towels and is typically made from cotton. They have visible fabric loops that cover the towel’s surface area, which is how they are characterised.
Size and Weight of Towel
If you’ve struggled with a bath towel that was just too small, you would know how important size is. There is a difference between bath sheets and towels. A standard bath towel is between 27″ x 52″ to 30″ x 56″ in size. While bath sheets are generally larger between, 35″ x 60″ to 40″ x 70″. Bath sheets offer a greater surface area, which makes drying easier.
Apart from the size of the towel, you also want to take into consideration the weight of the towel. The weight is usually measured in GSM and is what we discussed in the surface density rule. The weight is determined by the density of the loops and the thickness of the yarns. The heavier the yarn and closer the loops, the greater the weight of the towel will be.
The range of weight for towels usually run between 300-900 GSM. The low GSM doesn’t mean lower quality. It just means that the towel will be less fluffy. Low GSM towels are great for the gym or when you are looking for a quick dry. They can be lightweight and practical. If you are looking for more of a spa-like feel, you want to consider towels with GSM 800+.
Added Details of Towels
When it comes to the added details, you do want to take these things into consideration too. The thickness of the towel doesn’t have a direct correlation to the absorbency. While the construction plays a significant part in the absorbency of the towel. For instance, waffle weave will absorb fast and will feel slightly wet after use, while terry towels will absorb almost as quickly, but will dry much faster.
The details of the towel will give you a good idea of the quality of the product. You will be using your towels every day, hence you want to ensure that you have something reliable.
Here are a few details that you should consider when picking towels.
- Loop density – You should look for bigger, longer and denser cotton loops when you are looking for more absorbent towels. This is because, the bigger cotton loops will have a greater GSM, making them more absorbent.
- Double-turned edges – You also want to ensure that the towel is double-stitched to prevent fraying. This is a tell-tell sign of high quality and a well-finished product.
- Sewn-in loops – Towels with sewn-in loops are easier to hang which is a great option for thinner towels. This makes for quick-drying, which is always great for towels.
Most Absorbent Bath Towels
The towels with a high GSM, which is weight or density will have greater absorbency. Hence, when you are looking for a towel with greater absorbency, you want to pick something with a high GSM, usually 700+. Cotton terrycloth would be your best bet for a super absorbent towel.
The lower GSM towels are also absorbant, just not as much as the higher GSM towels. When picking fabric, Egyptian cotton would be the premium fabric to choose for absorbency. Egyptian cotton towels with a GSM which is 800+ will give you a towel that is at the quality of a spa towel. It will bring with it an element of luxury.
That being the case, most super absorbent towels are usually slower to dry. You want to look into the construction of the towel to find something that is absorbent and at the same time fast-drying. The waffle-weave construction is usually is more fast-drying and is also quite absorbent based on GSM.
Most Durable Bath Towels
Microfibre which is made from polyester provides great durability when picking fabric for towels. Apart from microfibre, any fabric that has a blend of polyester makes it more durable. Linen too is a great durable fabric and so is Turkish cotton.
These durable towels are perfect for the gym. You can use them for a long period of time and does provide good absorbency.
When picking construction, combed cotton provides good durability.
A cotton-polyester blend for a towel will also work well as a durable towel.
Fast-Drying Bath Towels
A waffle weave towel is the fastest drying type of towel. When considering the fabric, you want to go with a cotton-polyester blend for fast drying properties.
Usually, the higher the GSM, the slower it will be to dry. This is because higher GSM towels usually have a greater thickness, which makes them harder to dry. A low GSM towel will dry much faster due to the lightweight of the towel.
When picking a towel on the basis of fast-drying, you want to consider the GSM, the fabric and the construction too. The waffle weave construction is usually the best when considering fast-drying.
Towels for Every Purpose
There are towels for every purpose. What you use at the gym will not suffice after a long bath. Certain situations call for specific towels and it is important that you are aware of the purpose for which you are looking for a towel.
As mentioned, personal preference is important and you should always consider why you need the towel. This will help you pick the best towel for the job, thereby ensuring that you make the right decision.
- If you are looking for super-absorbent towels, you want to go with a cotton terrycloth towel. These towels have more cotton terry loops which means there is more room for the water to go to, making it more absorbent.
- If you are in it just for the fluff and you like the fluffy feel of a towel, you want to go with a high GSM towel which is usually thicker. Go for a combed or ringspun cotton towel with a high GSM.
- If you like long baths and you want your towel to have a spa-like feel to it, you should go for a zero-twist towel that has extra-fine and long staples which results in a luxurious and soft towel.
- If it is a good dry after a quick shower that you are after, you want to go with a waffle weave, since there are the best fast drying towels. You also want to pick a low GSM towel that is lightweight and thin, making it quick-drying and practical.
- If you prefer durability over anything else, you want to consider linen or Turkish cotton which is made from high-quality material. Microfibre and polyester fabrics are also durable and offer a lightweight alternative to linen or Turkish cotton. If you are looking for durability, you want to pick something that has long-staples and single-ply yarns. These types of fabrics are considered the most durable.
- If you are looking for the best type of towel to take to the gym, you want to go with microfibre. It has fast-drying and anti-microbial properties, which makes them great for a quick dry.
Don’t Buy Too Many
When picking towels, do not buy too many towels at once. This is a good rule of thumb to follow. Buying a few towels gives you the ability to test out the fabric and see how it works. It will allow you to gain more experience when it comes to picking towels and will leave you the option to experiment with other constructions and fabric.
You don’t need more than two towels per family member and a handful of guest towels. Hence, don’t go overboard and buy too many towels.
So long as you are committed to frequently washing them, you don’t need a huge supply of towels.
Environmental Impact and Consumer Safety
Lastly, you want to consider the environmental impact of your purchases. Sustainable shopping is important and it is good to be aware of the companies that abide by the standards. When it comes to these certifications, it is good to be aware of what these certifications mean, so you have a better idea of your impact when making a purchase.
Made in Green Certification – This certification recognises that the product is made using sustainable practices and doesn’t use harmful substances.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) – This label ensures that the towels that you purchase are free of harmful chemicals and are made from organic materials. They incorporate fair practices in making the products and adhere to certain sustainability and pollution standards.
Fair Trade Certification – This certification ensures that the production of the towel complies with social, environmental and economic standards and ensures that the product is brought to market in a sustainable manner. It also ensures that the people making the goods are working in safe conditions.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Certification – This certification ensures that the textile or product has been tested for harmful chemicals.
Though picking towels isn’t hard to do, if you don’t have the right information, you could find yourself disappointed with your choice.
We aimed to provide you with all the information that you need to go about picking the towels that you would need for a specific purpose. Whether it is super absorbent towels, fast-drying towels or the most durable towels, you should now have a good idea of how to go about picking the best towels for the job.
We hope you found this article useful and that reading this word to word has helped you better understand how to go about picking towels. Remember to take into consideration everything we discussed in this article and you are sure to have a winner to dry with, next time you step out of the shower or bath.