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 Oct 20, 2021 9:32 AM
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 waterlogged 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 towels, if made well, can last as long as five to 10 years with proper care. But there are so many on the market that finding ones that work for you could take a year’s worth of trial and error. So from waffle and terry to Turkish cotton, we sourced 10 editor-approved options that’ll keep you dry stylishly.
- Best color: Tekla Bath Towels
- Best design: Baina Roman Organic Cotton Pool Towels
- Best value: Amazon American Soft Linen Towel Set
- Best lightweight construction: Morihata Puchi Puchi Towels
- Best plushness: Brooklinen Super-Plush Bath Towels
- Best waffle: Casaluna Waffle Bath Towels
- Best quick-dry: Amazon Basic Quick-Dry Bath Towels
- Best organic cotton: Glamburg Organic Cotton Bath Towel Set
- Best wearing: Parachute Classic Turkish Cotton Towels
- Best oversize: Coyuchi Mediterranean Towels
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Material: When it comes to fabric, not all construction is created equal. The plushest towels are the 100 percent 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 cottons are considered premium, so they’ll likely cost a bit more. Look at the label for a term 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.
Weight: 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,” says Simon. “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.”
Size: 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,” says Simon. “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 at 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.
Our Top Picks
Best Color: Tekla Bath Towels
Crafted from Oeko-Tex terry and 100 percent organic cotton, and delivering a snug, medium-weight 600 GSM, these towels tick all of our boxes. “Tekla’s bath towels are my holy grail bath towels,” says commerce deputy 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.”
Best Design: Baina Roman Organic Cotton Pool Towels
Made from Portuguese organic cotton, these double-looped terry cloth towels are not only soft and absorbent, they’re designed with the planet in mind. Constructed from recycled yarns and eco-dyed fabric, they are produced in small batches to avoid overproduction. “I appreciate investing in products that are made consciously and support local mills versus being mass-manufactured—plus Baina is a female-owned business,” says Erin Cunningham, deputy editor, creative studio. “The check pattern, in particular, is the right mix of trendy and timeless—it’s something that feels of the moment, but not a palette or pattern that will easily tire.” They’d make even the most neutral of bathrooms more design driven without having to change a thing.
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 percent Turkish cotton, the 605 to 615 GSM means a superplush feel and quick absorbency. Sixteen color options offer a style for every mood.
Best Lightweight Construction: Morihata Puchi Puchi Towels
In Japanese, puchi puchi means “bubble wrap,” which is the best way to describe Morihata’s towels’ playful raised-dot pattern. And if you subscribe to the M.O. that less is more, you’ll adore the lightweight luxuriousness of these as much as Domino general manager Tracy Cho does. The fast-drying fabric means you can use them multiple days in a row and they’ll completely dry in between showers. And thanks to the anything-but-hefty feel, they’re ideal for wrapping up your just-washed hair (so you won’t feel like your head is about to topple from the weight).
Best Plushness: Brooklinen Super-Plush Bath Towels
Exactly as the name says, 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 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 Waffle: Casaluna Waffle Bath Towels
Nothing says “spa-chic” quite like a waffle-textured towel. And this iteration proves you don’t have to shop the most expensive stores to find some that are both stylish and substantive (thanks, Target!). Our editors love the soft, lightweight feel and modern color palette that goes from muted pink and pale gray to dark charcoal. For $12 a towel, you can collect them all.
Best Quick-Dry: Amazon Basic Quick-Dry Bath Towel
You’ve got 99 things to do and one of them should not be sitting around waiting for your towels to air-dry. Crafted from 100 percent cotton, this lightweight yet still fluffy towel dries lightning fast, so moisture doesn’t hang around for mildew to set in. A two-pack is available in eight colors, from classic white to petal pink—you really can’t go wrong.
Best Organic Cotton: Glamburg Organic Cotton Bath Towel Set
Certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, this eco-conscious set is crafted from natural, organic fibers (meaning no synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, or GMOs were used in the making). Each one contains four 30-by-54-inch bath towels weighing in at 550 GSM, a just-right thickness that’s both soft and absorbent. They come in eight pretty jewel tones and white, but what really makes them a bathroom standout is their texture.
Best Wearing: Parachute Classic Turkish Cotton Towels
Parachute’s towels weigh in at 700 GSM, and our editors found that they strike just the right amount of plushness—not too thin yet not too dense. Loomed from sturdy, long-staple Turkish cotton, the construction is meant to be durable. Even through wash after wash, associate editor Lydia Geisel has seen no random strings or shedding situations. The six colorways include a modern, minimalist pale blue-gray and a dark charcoal.
Best Oversize: Coyuchi Mediterranean Organic Towels
“There’s literally nothing worse than a gym-style towel that doesn’t wrap around your entire body,” says deputy editor Julie Vadnal. She loves the weight and size of Coyuchi’s Mediterranean beach towels, which clock in at 39-by-71 inches, even bigger than a standard bath sheet. “These are massive and the kind of towel you want to nap in after a shower,” raves Vadnal. Made from Turkish flat-weave organic cotton, they are as light as they are absorbent. “I was gifted a set nearly seven years ago,” she adds. “A couple of tassels have come loose, but they’ve lasted way longer than anything I’d buy (and then have to replace).”
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 the 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.
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 towels 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
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- They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
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