Part of being a home editor is testing out products—a lot of them.
As such, I’ve tried and owned many sets of towels from a wide variety of brands spanning from barely launched startups to centuries-old textile houses. So while the internet is debating the appropriate number of towels and others are swearing off the terry cloth bath essential for good, I say: it’s not the quantity that matters but the quality.
I’ll admit that my linen closet—or, more accurately, the storage baskets under my bed I use as a linen closet—is like an extensive study in home linens. There are the classic terry cloth bath sheets, waffled robes, embroidered hypoallergenic washcloths, and Turkish Fouta beach blankets. There are towels made from Aerocotton, Turkish cotton, Egyptian cotton, and Portuguese cotton. Some are low-linting, quick-drying, extra-absorbent, antimicrobial, or even self-cleaning.
But only one towel set is as soft and plush, now three years in, as it was on day one: The Matouk Milagro. The centenary Massachusetts brand makes a strong case for nearly 100 years of experience in crafting high-quality bath and bedding products. But before you add a dozen bath sheets to your cart, let me preface that Matouk isn’t exactly cheap: A single regular bath towel will set you back $49, while a simple washcloth will cost you $11. As for the ultra-indulgent bath sheet, it will knock you back $78—a high price for drying off after a morning shower.
But there’s a reason Matouk services linens for Relais & Châteaux properties and five-star hotels around the US—from New York City to the Hamptons, Aspen, Napa Valley, and even Bermuda: Its product is unparalleled (and yes, this is my honest, unpaid, and unsponsored opinion). “It’s easy to see why Milagro is Matouk’s best-selling towel collection,” reads its website’s product description. “Long-staple ‘zero-twist’ cotton yarns create a thick, plush feel that’s surprisingly lightweight,”—a promise the brand doesn’t fail to deliver on.
Here’s the twist: While some towels may start losing their absorbency after two years or so, good towels can last much longer. Especially when rotated with other sets, a good towel can last five to 10 years, according to Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s laundry expert. So while you may be tempted to buy towels at big-box retail prices, there’s value in investing in something you’ll keep for almost as long as your sofa.
If you do decide to invest in a luxurious set of towels, there are steps you can take to preserve your towels and give them a long, healthy life so they retain peak plushness. “Machine wash on warm temperature and wash similar colors together,” recommends Mindy Matouk, creative director for the brand. “Stay away from fabric softener. If your towels have been sitting around for a while or are looking or feeling lackluster, try washing them with some vinegar to freshen them up. Make sure to not over-dry your towels—using dryer balls can help facilitate quicker drying and help keep them soft and fresh. ”
As for treating pesky makeup stains: “Flushing a stain with water is the best technique,” reads the Matouk website. “Make certain that you have enough water to thoroughly flow through the stain. Avoid rubbing the stain without enough water, as this may cause damage to the fabric. Making a paste or using a concentrated solution of detergent will help to remove a stain. When working a stain, it’s best to dab it with a very wet cloth, and then flush with water.”
Or, do as I do, and buy your washcloths in a dark color that’s a little more forgiving with mascaras, blushes, and concealers and keep the stark white color for your larger bath and hand towels. If you do decide to make the switch to eternal plushness, we handpicked a safe linen laundry kit to help better care for your newly minted towels.
This story was originally published in March 2019 and has since been updated.
Discover more linen knowledge, courtesy of our editors:
Hear Me Out: Bath Towels Are Completely Unnecessary
You Can Now Buy Towels That Clean Themselves—Really
Laundry Experts Do These 4 Things Before Tossing Their Linens in the Wash