Bath Towels

Sunday, 18 November 2007 | Tags: , , , , ,

No one likes to get dressed while their skin's still damp. The type of towels you buy can affect how quickly and effectively you are able to dry off. We find out if the quality and material really makes a difference.

The Basics

  • 100% cotton is the most absorbent material for towels.

  • Towels with densely-packed and tightly woven looped threads have better absorbency than looser-packed towels.

  • The strength of your towel depends on the construction of the individual cotton fibres. More twists per fibre will be much stronger and do better in the wash and dryer, giving you a longer-lasting towel.

  • A thicker towel will also be heavier and more absorbent (if cotton). This also means it’ll take longer to dry. Confirm a thick-quality towel by separating the loops to try and find the base fabric. If thickly-woven, it will be hard to see.

  • Check that the edges have been well-stitched so they don’t fray after use and washing.

Be Aware

  • Don’t pay full price for towels. They always go on sale!

  • Many manufacturers use premium cotton on the loops and a lower grade cotton for the rest of the towel, so it’s important to read the label if you want 100% cotton.

  • Feeling the towel in the store may help you choose, but some manufacturers apply a finish to make them feel soft, which disappears in the first wash.


We tested a range of cotton towels to find out which dry best:

  • Wal-Mart Mainstays (cotton): $2.73
  • Royal Velvet (American Supima cotton): $19.99
  • Grand Patrician (Egyptian cotton): $29
  • Restoration Hardware (Turkish cotton): $42

Washer & Dryer Test

Since laundering towels can affect their performance and feel, we washed each 20 times in a laundromat. We kept a brand new set of each for comparison.

  • The Restoration Hardware towels looked as good as new.

  • Royal Velvet’s fading slightly but otherwise fared well.

  • The Grand Patrician suffered some fading and shrinkage, which can cause puckering if there’s decorative detail.

  • The Wal-Mart towel faded so much it was a totally different colour. It also shrank, but for the price, we weren’t shocked.

Dry-off Test

After some pretty serious pool play, we asked some swimmers to help us find the best towel.

  • The Grand Patrician and the Wal-Mart towels just didn’t have enough absorption power to interest any of us.

  • Royal Velvet was a little better, but it also lacked absorption.

  • Restoration Hardware’s Turkish cotton left us feeling wrapped in luxury.


Restoration Hardware’s Turkish cotton towels were rich and plush in texture and very absorbent. But for the price, we put them on our wish list and dried off adequately with something more mid-range.


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