Beginner’s Bath Towel Guide

Bath towels – we all use them, we all love them, but none of us really invest much thought behind bath towels. Although that is totally understandable, there is a lot more to bath towel than meets the eye. These are deceptively simple objects as we shall soon see.

These towels have been used since time immemorial. However, over the ages, they have evolved along with our lifestyle. Nowadays, you will hear about many different varieties of bath towels, starting from the inexpensive micro fiber blend bath towels to the highly luxurious 100% Egyptian Cotton baths towels.

So, which type of towel is best-suited to your needs? What are some of the things you should consider before purchasing a new bath towel? We will answer all these questions and more! So stay tuned to find out everything you need to know about bath towels.

What is a bath towel and what are some of the different types of towels available?

Simply put, a bath towel is a rectangular fabric which is mainly used to dry up your wet body after a bath or swimming session. Sometimes they are also worn around the waist like in spas or during a massage.

These towels are primarily made of cotton and offer much higher levels of absorption compared to a standard piece of fabric. Moreover, they are a lot softer than your run–of–the–mill cotton fabric and that protects your skin from abrasions.

Now that we have successfully defined a bath towel, let us move on to the second part of our question. Towels come in a variety of sizes, and each of them serves a certain purpose. The following are the various types of towels available in the market today:

  • Finger Towels – These are the smallest towels of the lot. They are mainly used for drying your hands. This towel measures in at 11 inches X 18 inches (28 cm X 45.7 cm).
  • Wash Cloth – When it comes to functionality, it is quite similar to the finger towels mentioned above. However, unlike the rectangular finger towels, these are squarish in shape. This towel measures in at 13 inches X 13 inches (33 cm X 33 cm).
  • Hand Towel – Hand towels are a fair bit larger than the towels mentioned above. Although its name suggests that it is used for drying hands, it is also used for drying up your face. The size of this towel ranges from 16 inches X 28 inches (40.6 cm X 71.2 cm) to 18 inches X 30 inches (45.7 cm X 76.2 cm).
  • Tub Mat – Tub mats are quite different from the rest of the towels in our list. It is primarily used for protecting the floor from getting wet once you step outside the shower. This towel measures in at 22 inches X 34 inches (55.9 cm X 86.4 cm).
  • Bath Towels – Since we have already defined bath towels earlier in this article, we will only focus on its dimensions. The size of these type of towels ranges from 27 inches X 52 inches (68.6 cm X 132.1 cm) to 30 inches X 58 inches (76.2 cm X 147.3 cm).
  • Bath Sheets – These are the largest towels of the lot. They are oversized to provide maximum coverage. These towels are commonly used in spas or massage centers to cover up the body. The dimensions of these towels ranges from 35 inches X 60 inches (89 cm X 152.4 cm) to 40 inches X 70 inches (101.6 cm X 177.9 cm).

What are the different types of bath towels?

Now that you know about the different types of towels, let us explore the vast variety of bath towels available in the market today. So how do bath towels differ from each other? Well, bath towels can be distinguished into different categories according to their fabric material, yarn construction, and GSM ratings also.

Based on the fabric material, bath towels can be distinguished into the following types:

  • Cotton – When it comes to bath towel fabric, cotton reigns supreme. There is surely no other material which can match the popularity and convenience of cotton when it comes to absorbency and softness. The following are some of the different types of cotton used in making bath towels:
  • Egyptian Cotton – This form of cotton is grown along the fertile Nile river valley and is considered to be the most luxurious form of cotton available in the world. So, what exactly makes them special? Well for starters, this cotton is surely one of the finest cotton fibers available in the market today. Not only are the threads extra-long and fibrous, but they also have superior moisture absorbing capabilities compared to other cotton variants. Moreover, the extra-long length allows the fibers to remain exposed during the weaving process. This results in an incredibly soft and luxurious texture.
  • Turkish Cotton – While it may not be as luxurious and soft as the Egyptian Cotton, it holds its own when it comes to the quality. This variant of cotton has extra-long fibers which result in increased levels of softness and absorbency, just like its Egyptian counterpart.
  • Pima Cotton – This variant of cotton is very similar to the luxurious Egyptian Cotton. In fact, it is the same Egyptian Cotton plants which are grown in the American Southwest instead of the native Nile river valley. Hence, it is not much of a surprise that towels made from this variant of cotton exhibit identical properties as the Egyptian Cotton ones. Pima cotton towels are often sold under the label “Supima”.
  • Micro Cotton – Micro cotton is an extra-long staple cotton which is grown in the Indian subcontinent. It is primarily known for its softness and impressive levels of absorption. In fact, it is one of the most absorbent towels available today. Hence, it is no wonder that many hotels prefer this variant of cotton towels over the rest.
  • Eco-Friendly Materials – Although cotton is a natural material, it is by no means eco-friendly. In fact, the process of manufacturing cotton poses not only significant risks to the environment, but also has grave socio-economic effects like inhuman working hours, measly wages, gender discrimination, and worst of all, child labor.

However, for those who are extremely concerned about these issues, there is still hope. The following towel fabrics aim to eradicate these pressing matters.

  • Organic Cotton – It is essentially the same as conventional cotton and only differs in the manufacturing process. The process is not only safe for the environment, but it also follows modern labor laws. However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows as the price of organic cotton towels is significantly higher than a standard one.
  • Bamboo – The manufacturing process of bamboo is a lot more environment-friendly compared to that of cotton. Moreover, bamboo towels have great absorption qualities in addition to providing a soft and luxurious feel.
  • Synthetic Materials – While synthetic materials are not as popular compared to cotton towels, they make up a significant share of the market. When it comes to functionality, these towels are clearly outperformed by the natural fabric towels. However, one of the few redeeming qualities about these towels is that they are generally less expensive when compared to their natural counterparts. Here are some of the types of synthetic materials used in making bath towels:
  • Rayon (Viscose) – Rayon, which is also known as viscose, is a partially synthetic material which is made by chemically treating natural material like bamboo and beech trees. Towels made from this material is extremely soft to the touch. However, they just cannot match the absorption levels of 100% cotton towels.
  • Microfiber – Unlike Rayon, microfiber is a fully artificial material. This fabric is usually a blend of polyester and polyamide fibers, and hence, it should not come as much of a surprise that this fabric is not nearly as luxurious as a high-quality variant of cotton. However, it does have more than a few redeeming qualities. For starters, microfiber towels are typically lighter, more durable and quicker to dry compared to 100% cotton towels. Moreover, they do an excellent job of removing makeup and dirt from your face.
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Now that we have categorized bath towels according to the fabric used let us now move on to the next distinction criterion.  Bath towels can be divided into the following categories according to the yarn construction:

  • Combed – Combed yarn construction towels are known for their high tensile strength, along with a smooth texture. So how is that possible? Well, just as the name suggests, the cotton is combed to remove short and uneven fibers, and that is exactly what is responsible for its unique characteristics.
  • Hollow –  This yarn construction has a hollow core, and that results in making it more absorbent as well as allowing it to dry up a lot quicker than other types of yarn construction. Moreover, the hollow yarn construction makes the towel feel more soft and plush after you take it out of the dryer.
  • Ringspun – In this case, the fibers are twisted cohesively to ensure that the towel is highly durable and smooth. In fact, it is not only more durable than its combed counterpart, but it is also smoother as well.
  • Twist – Zero-twist, low-twist are some of the terms you must have come across while shopping for towels. So, what does it mean? Well, lower the value of twist per inch of yarn, the softer the towel is. When the value of twist density increases, the durability of the towel increases at the cost of softness.

Defining Factors to Help You Choose the Best Bath Towel for You

We believe after reaching this point, you are now beginning to get a little perturbed by the complexity of these towels. However, there is no need to worry. With the help of the following factors, you will be able to lock down on the towel of your choice with ease.

Fabric Material

Choosing the right fabric can be a tricky ordeal indeed. However, it all comes down to your personal preference. If you want a highly absorbent, luxurious towel, then the 100% Egyptian Cotton towel is the one to go for. On the other hand, if you are an environment lover, then you should go for the more eco-friendly options like Organic Cotton towels or 100% Bamboo towels.

Yarn Construction

After reading our section above about different types of yarn construction, you will already be familiar with the different qualities which are affected by it. As a rule of thumb, if you want your towels to have a balance between durability and smooth texture, then go for the ringspun or combed towels.

On the other hand, if you want your towels to have a luxurious feeling, then go for a low-twist or zero-twist towel. If you like your towels to be highly absorbent and quick to dry, then the hollow yarn construction towel is the one for you.

GSM Rating

Towels can be distinguished by their GSM rating as well. So, what does it exactly mean? Simply put, it stands for grams per square meter. In other words, the higher the GSM rating, the higher is the density of the towel. Lightweight towels fall south of the 500 GSM rating, while medium-weight towels fall in the 500 to 600 GSM range. Finally, the luxurious and heavy towels fall in the 600 to 900 GSM rating.

Is higher GSM better? Yes, absolutely. The higher the GSM rating, the more luxurious a towel is. 900 GSM 100% Egyptian Cotton towels stand at the pinnacle of luxury.

Colors

While the choice of color may not be as important when you are buying a pair of headphones or a rucksack, it has paramount importance when it comes to bath towels. Not only do they decide the ambiance of the bathroom, but they can also decide how gracefully they will age. As you might expect, light colored towels, do not fare well over time compared to their darker counterparts.

Conclusion

With that, we bring our extensive guide to an end. We believe that after reading this article, you are now ready to purchase the perfect bath towel set. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and spruce up your bathroom.