Bath Towel Tips: How to Choose and Care for This Bathroom Staple

Have those bath towels hanging on your towel rack seen better days? Replacing worn, faded bath towels may seem like a daunting task, but a few tips can help narrow the options. Before long, you’ll be wrapping yourself in a soft, high-quality towel and bidding adieu to those scratchy substitutes.

Consider three main attributes in the search for your top-notch towel: fabric, construction, and weight.   

Bath Towel Fabric

Cotton towels are the most common choice, but not all cottons are on the same shelf, quality-wise. Some towels are entirely cotton, while others may have other natural fibers added for softness. Bath towels made from Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton feature extra-long fibers. These superior towels are highly absorbent, strong, and durable. Egyptian cotton is, of course, grown in Egypt, while Pima cotton is usually grown in the United States (but can be grown in other locations). Bath towels labeled as Supima® (Superior Pima) cotton are made of 100% American Pima cotton. Be particular with percentages; if you select Egyptian cotton, look for towels labeled “100% Egyptian cotton” to be assured of quality.

Bath Towel Construction

Combed cotton, ringspun, terry… Just what do all these towel terms mean? Combed cotton has been combed to remove impurities and short fibers, resulting in longer, more uniform cotton. Ringspun cotton has a smoother, more refined feel and is made from tightly twisting long and short threads together. Terry cloth bath towels are woven with extra yarn to make absorbent loops. Dense, longer loops create a more absorbent towel.

Bath Towel Density

You know to look for thread count when shopping for sheets, but what about bath towels? Look for the GSM number, which refers to grams per square meter. This number indicates the fabric density of the towel; the higher the number, the better quality the towel. Good-quality cotton bath towels have a GSM of at least 500; for luxury towels, select a GSM of at least 600. Keep in mind that dense, heavy towels may take a longer time to dry.

Bath Towel Care

Now that you’ve found your dream towels, keep them looking their best with proper care. A little kindness goes a long way, so opt for warm water over hot, and select mild, liquid detergents instead of harsh ones. These simple steps from Style at Home can help to preserve those pretty colors and prevent fiber breakdown. Fabric softener might seem like a logical choice, but it can build up a waxy coating on towels that affects their absorbency. If you find yourself tempted to reach for the fabric softener, try some distilled white vinegar instead. Add a quarter cup to half cup to each load to keep your towels soft and snuggly. 

Decorative Towels

These towels are usually embellished with embroidery or trim. Decorative towels may have a lower GSM and are best for light use or display. These towels may require special care, so look to the manufacturer’s label for laundering instructions.

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