The Litmus Test for the Best Bath Towels? They Look Brand-New After Years of Use
No pilling or pulled loops to see here.
Updated Sep 22, 2023 1:23 PM
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The best bath towels feel like being tucked into a giant hug, cocooning you in just the right way after a long, hot shower. They should dry you off quickly without getting water-logged in the process. And with more wash and wear than most household items, they also have to go the distance without ending up in tatters. It’s a tall order by any standard.
The right bath towel, if it’s made well, can last as long as five to 10 years with proper care. But there are so many towels on the market that finding the ones that work for you could take a year’s worth of trial and error. So from waffle to terry to Turkish cotton, we sourced seven editor-approved options that’ll keep you dry stylishly.
Our Top Picks
- Best waffle: Cozy Earth Waffle Bath Towels
- Best plush: Brooklinen Super-Plush Bath Towels
- Best patterned: Dusen Dusen Neutral Bath Towel
- Best textured: Parachute Organic Cotton Mosaic Towels
- Best oversize: Tekla Bath Sheet
- Best Turkish: Huckberry Anatolia Turkish Towel
- Best value: Amazon American Soft Linen Towel Set
Best Waffle: Cozy Earth Waffle Bath Towels
Nothing says “spa chic” quite like a waffle-textured towel. Domino’s associate shopping editor, Morgan Bulman, strayed from her usual punchy patterns to test Cozy Earth’s bamboo-viscose waffle bath towels, and she’s never going back. She confirmed that the ultra-absorbent label on these is no joke. But what she found most impressive, she says, is that “despite enduring months of washes and being scorched on high heat in my apartment’s subpar basement dryers, pilling has never been an issue, and they’re still plenty soft to the touch.” So basically, you won’t need to buy towels again for years. They’re dual sided, with one being a mini waffle weave and the other a ribbed terry.
Best Plushness: Brooklinen Super-Plush Bath Towels
Exactly as the name states, prepare for a superplush experience—i.e., these are the towels you’ll want to luxuriate in all day long. “These towels live up to the hype,” says our former commerce content director, Sophie Miura. “I’ve owned a cream set for two years and they’re still ridiculously soft and spongy.” They’re woven with a Z-twist, which is stronger and tighter than the typical S-twist, so you can count on less pulling and pilling, plus they’re constructed from Turkish cotton and strong single-ply yarn, so you’ll feel like you left your home for a high-end spa. Fun hues like seafoam and lavender lend a punch to any bathroom. Miura’s word to the wise: Opt for a lighter weave (like the Classic or Ultralight designs) if your space doesn’t have much ventilation, since they can take a long time to dry.
Best Patterned: Dusen Dusen Neutral Bath Towel
No one does a bold pattern better than Brooklyn-based brand Dusen Dusen. While most of its designs are brightly colored, these ivory and baby blue towels are suited for the neutrals lover, too. We’re drawn to the trippy graphic of the plaid style, but a mismatched set would also be quite charming on a towel rack. The soft, absorbent towels are made in Portugal from 100% cotton terry, and they’re certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex.
Best Textured: Parachute Organic Cotton Mosaic Towels
If you’re bored by solid white linens, you’ll love Parachute’s retro textured towels. Made of 100% yarn-dyed organic cotton, the jacquard pattern isn’t just eye-catching—it actually works to make the towels more absorbent. The desert tones add a nice warmth to a bathroom, without overpowering the space. Parachute recommends mixing and matching with solids in the same color family, and we couldn’t be more into the idea.
Best Oversize: Tekla Bath Sheet
Crafted from Oeko-Tex terry and 100% organic cotton, and delivering a snug, medium-weight 600 GSM, these towels tick all our boxes. “Tekla’s bath towels are my holy grail bath towels,” says managing shopping editor Samantha Weiss-Hills. “Their weight and size feel just right, and I love the available colorways (hello, tender yellow and racing green). I’ve had a set in lunar rock for almost two years—they’re plush without feeling heavy and very absorbent. They’ve held up nicely (no fraying) to regular wear and cleaning in our rudimentary washer and dryer.” The generously sized bath sheet is 39-by-59 inches, so you can be entirely enveloped by the organic cotton.
Best Turkish: Huckberry Anatolia Turkish Towel
There’s a time and a place for a plush towel, but when you’re searching for something a little more lightweight, look no further than Huckberry’s Turkish towel. As the site description says, they “pack down to the size of a burrito,” making them as great for the beach as they are for your bathroom. Plus, because they’re so thin, they have a record-breaking dry time. Hand-loomed in Turkey and made of premium Turkish long-fiber cotton, don’t be fooled by the lower price point—they’re the real deal.
Best Value: Amazon American Soft Linen Towel Set
With bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths (times two), this six-piece set has everything you need for bathing and beyond in one affordable package—and they don’t skimp on quality. Made from 100% Turkish cotton, the 605 to 615 GSM means a superplush feel and quick absorbency. Sixteen color options offer a style for every mood.
Our Shopping Checklist
When it comes to fabric, not all construction is created equal. The plushest towels are 100% cotton varieties, though some rayon blends tend to absorb a touch more water than cotton. “Material is the first thing to look for,” says Sara Simon, president of Handsome Salt Interior Design in Los Angeles. “Anything that is touching my body needs to be soft and plush.” Keep in mind that Pima and Egyptian cotton are considered premium, so they’ll likely cost a bit more. Look at the label for terms like ring spun cotton, which means the fibers have been tightly twisted so the towel loops are smoother and finer (terry cloth, for example, has larger loops and is woven with extra yarn). Combed cotton is another type with which to familiarize yourself. This means that the cotton has been combed through to remove shorter threads, so just the longest and strongest remain—and pilling is kept to a minimum.
Bath towel weight is measured in grams per square meter (GSM) and varies between 300 and 900 GSM. The higher the weight, the thicker and more absorbent the towel. A 300 to 400 GSM towel is considered lightweight (think: for the gym or kitchen), 400 to 600 GSM is medium weight (good for the beach or bath), and 600 to 900 GSM is the thickest density (this will feel the most luxe but may require the most drying time). “Towel weight is a personal preference,” Simon says. “Personally, I do not like thick towels that feel like a blanket, and on the opposite end, I do not like towels that are thin like a paper towel. You really need to find a happy medium.”
Towels come in several different sizes, so it’s a good idea to wrap them around yourself to see how much ground they cover before buying. If you’re tall, for example, you might want a larger towel. “As a 5-foot-9 girl, I have to have a towel that I can wrap around me and cover my booty,” Simon says. “I cannot stand tiny towels, but I will say I am not into bath sheets either—too much fabric.” Similarly, Kate Towill, founding partner and head of design for Basic Projects in Charleston, South Carolina, agrees that bigger isn’t always better. “I prefer a standard bath towel size, which is easier on the dryer and fits on the bathroom shelf when folded,” she says. The standard size for a bath towel is 27-by-52 inches, while a bath sheet offers more coverage at a slightly larger 35-by-60.
Q: How often should I replace my towels?
Good towels can last a very long time, especially if you take good care of them. However, the fewer you have and the more you use them, the quicker you may need to replace them. If you notice that your towels’ threads are starting to pull, they aren’t drying you as effectively, or, in spite of a wash, there’s a lingering odor, then it’s time to replace them. Depending on the quality, bath towels can last five years or longer.
Q: What’s the best way to keep white towels, well, white?
First and foremost, as tempting as it may be to throw every dirty item in the wash together to save time, Simon advises to always separate your whites since colors can bleed. “Bleach is the white towel saving grace,” she says. To keep your white towels bright, use a detergent that has a built-in bleach or a gentle oxidizer in powder form. And to get rid of residue buildup on the towel that detergent can leave behind, add a cup of white vinegar to your wash along with detergent to clear the way.
How We Vetted These Products
Every product in a Domino guide meets this criteria:
- They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
- They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
- They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews to know that they pass the test IRL.