Bathroom towels are usually made of cotton (linen is also used for towels, but that is usually for tea towels). Terry is the typical weave used in bathroom towels as it is looped both sides (both sides are soft).
Alternatives to the typical cotton towels are microfiber, bamboo, hemp, flax, crash linen and damask linen:
- Crash linen is a fabric made from combining linen, cotton and rayon. It is often used in the kitchen
- Damask linen is a fabric which is good for drying dishes as it doesn't leave lint behind.
- Flax linen is probably the best for kitchen as it has properties such as resistance to bacteria, superior absorption and it doesn't leave lint behind.
- Bamboo and hemp have natural anti microbial properties and are more absorbent than cotton.
- Microfiber is also more absorbent than cotton and softer also.
High quality bathroom towels are made from finer, longer cotton. This cotton tends to come from the well known Egyptian, Turkish or Brazilian cotton producers. Shorter cotton may be cheaper, but you will be able to feel that it is not as soft. The cheaper cotton towels are usually distinctly flat when you touch them in the store. Whereas more expensive, higher quality cotton will feel soft, heavier and the loops will stand up, rather than lie flat.
GSM (grams per square meter)
The GSM is the most reliable way to get an idea of the quality of a towel you want to buy. Anything more than 450 GSM to 600 GSM is quality, 700+ GSM is luxury, but less than 400 GSM is going to be a thin towel. I would recommend looking for hand towels more than 400 GSM and bath towels more than 500 GSM.
A Towel Pile
The pile is the fiber on the surface of the towel. The fibers can be cut or uncut. Cut fibers feel soft, but they don't soak up as much water. Uncut fibers on the other hand soak up more water and the towel will feel fluffier.
12” x 12”: Small face cloth sized.
13” x 13”: Large face cloth sized.
12” x 24”: Small hand towel sized.
16” x 32”: Large hand towel sized.
24” x 42”: This would be a 'motel' sized bath towel.
27” x 52”: Standard bath towel size.
30” x 56” or above: This would be a large, luxury sized bath towel.
34” x 60”: Bath sheet, beach towels and pool towels come in this size.
40” to 70”: Large bath sheet, beach towels and pool towels come in this size.
Matching towel sets
There are many reasons why it is a good idea to buy matching towel sets:
- Matching colored towels will be easier to wash together as the color wont run
- Towels are a permanent feature in most people's bathroom. There are many people who would not consider trying to match their towels, but would match their curtains to the room. Madness! A matching set of towels which is the same will make your bathroom modern and clean.
Dark towels will fade, whereas lighter towels can always be bleached to bring the brightness back.
- Red or pink towels will fade into a grandma-ish pasty pink. Not a wise choice unless you are happy replacing them each season.
- Blue will fade into light blue – this isn't quite as bad as the faded pink look, its a bit more timeless.
- White towels can always be bleached back to new, however in my experience sometimes it is really difficult to get them to look brand new!
- Dark gray towels may not look 'in vogue' as they fade, but they will always be pretty traditionally OK. The problem with any dark or bright colored towel though is that washing them with other colored fabric can dye that fabric.
- Brown towels, sorry I may be biased here because I hate brown with a passion – brown should be left if it is the natural color of the wood, in which case it looks gorgeous, but dying something brown? Unless you are a peasant from a few hundred years ago, don't go there.
The main thing to consider when picking the color of your towel is whether it is light or dark, bright or dull rather than the color itself. The color you choose will either bring the room together with similar colors, or it will add another dimension to the color in your bathroom. Honestly, either works really well, but that is personal taste. Similar colored towels to the bathroom will make the room more relaxing, think whites, pale beige’s, pale woods together. Using your towels to add a pop of color, or a dark accent in a light room, or a light accent in a dark bathroom, will make your bathroom a bit more funky.