Bath towels can be a hard thing to purchase. A lot of companies do not exactly tell you too much about the makeup of the towel, so how do know what makes it good or not? Information like weight (grams per square meter), size, fiber quality and fiber construction are really the cornerstones of a great towel. Here are some things to look for in your next purchase.
In the towel industry, the way to tell one towel from another is based on the weight of the towel. This is generally measured by the GSM or grams per square meter. 400 GSM is a pretty thin bath towel generally, whereas a 600-700 GSM towel is very thick and absorbent. Most companies do not disclose the GSM as they did not want what happened in the sheet world to happen in the towel world, where everyone judges a sheet by the thread count and not the quality. You can have an amazing 400 GSM towel and you can have a terrible 700 GSM towel. Those are just numbers, to understand towel quality, you need to understand that the fiber and finish are really the towel makers.
Bath sheets and bath towels are the two main names that are used for different size bath towels (excluding washcloths and hand towels). A bath sheet usually runs about 35” wide to 60” to 70” long. The bath sheet is made for people who really want the bath towel to wrap all the way around them after a shower. A lot of bath towels are a bit too short in length to fit comfortably around. The general concept behind a bath towel is it is for mainly just drying off. Bath towels range from 27” to 30” (sometimes more) wide and are usually 52” to 58” long. If you want to have ample towel left over that you can really wrap it around and tuck it, and have it stay after a shower, definitely lean towards a bath sheet.
In the towel world, cotton is still king. There are different types of cotton and some are known to be more absorbent than others, but honestly, it’s all cotton. It’s all going to be pretty darn absorbent. The weight of the towel really will determine how absorbent it will be. The more cotton there is, the more it can absorb. Egyptian Cotton, Pima Cotton, Supima Cotton are all long staple, high-quality cotton. The difference is geographical, one is from Egypt, one from the US and North America regions. Turkish cotton is again, a long staple, high-quality cotton grown in Turkey. If you get a cotton towel, I am sure you will be perfectly happy with it and if there is an issue with the towel, it probably has more to do with the construction and weight than the cotton quality.
There are several different types of bath constructions from combed to ringspun to double ply. Combed cotton means exactly what it sounds like. When the cotton is processed, it is combed to removed shorter threads and debris which leaves the best, longest threads to be woven into the actual towel. Ringspun towels are made by twisting fibers together to make a smoother finer yarn. Ringspun is known to be a more luxurious compared to the basic combed towel as only larger staple yarns can be spun in that way.
Double ply takes it a step further by twisting two strands of yarn twisted together to form a strong, thicker, more durable yarn. This also means that double the yarn is used in the manufacturing process, hence a much more durable and dense towel is made.
Combed is considered the basic level, but there is a lower level of towel quality, carded. A carded towel is the cheapest version of processing cotton. It is not combed, so it includes many uneven fibers and impurities and can feel very rough and course as a result. Many companies know better than to label something as a carded cotton towel, but if you see one… run… run the other way.
One of the best qualities of towels you can get is a version of the ringspun towel, the zero twist towel. To make the longest loops of terry on the towel, you must keep the number of twists to a minimum. Twists refer to the number of twists per inch of yarn. Long staple cotton allows there to be a lower amount of twists and as a result, a great high quality, absorbent towel is made. Zero twist is one of the plushest towels you can buy on the market and are usually in the higher GSMs in weight as well. A low twist is another great quality that is a step below zero twists, they are simply towels that have a low number of twists per inch of yarn. Zero and low twist are superior high-quality towels.
As towel manufacturers have perfected the constructions of towels, some have invented their own variations of things that work well. My favorite bath towel that I would recommend is the Hygro Cotton Towel.
$9.99 • SIZE: BATH TOWEL • BED BATH & BEYOND
The Hygro Cotton Bath Towel has a cotton yarn that is hollow that allows air to enter the center of the yarn. This allows the towel to absorb more water and they become extra fluffy after washing. These towels are also 2-ply on the reverse for even more absorption. It is also available in a Bath Sheet.
Splish splash we are taking a bath …. in luxury!