Quality bathroom towels are a simple pleasure, but we don't give them much thought until it's time for a new set. When shopping for new towels, confusing terms often prevent us from finding what we need. Are you simply replacing old, worn towels? Do your current towels clash with a new color scheme? Or do you need extras for pool season? Our concise guide will help you cut through the jargon so that you can find the best towel set for your bathroom. Our favorite set is from Superior Cotton- its fluffiness and quick dry cotton beats out the rest of the competition.
Considerations when choosing towel sets
Redecorating usually calls for a new set of bath, hand, and face towels. If you've recently upgraded your bathroom, you'll probably want thick, spa-style towels to go with your improved fixtures.
If you're replacing faded, shabby towels, we recommend sticking with classic white. They're easy to add to your existing mix, you can bleach them when they lose their new look, and they never go out of style.
However, spa-style towels are ideal for the bathroom but not for the pool or beach. If you simply need more towels for summer, skip thick towels and look for a material that dries efficiently.
Towel manufacturers often claim that their type of cotton is the best. But in reality, different types are suited for different situations.
Egyptian cotton is a variety of extra-long staple cotton that thrives in the Egyptian climate. Its long fibers are known for being exceptionally soft and smooth. Egyptian cotton towels have a silky surface with fewer exposed ends, and they are less prone to pilling and tearing. These highly absorbent towels typically cost $40 to $50 for a six-piece set.
Turkish cotton is another ELS cotton that grows in Eurasia. Since Turkish cotton grows near the Aegean Sea, its fibers are accustomed to humidity and dry more efficiently. Turkish cotton towels are less absorbent than Egyptian cotton but also less prone to mildew. They have a similar price point to Egyptian cotton towels.
Pima cotton, also an ELS cotton, is usually Peruvian but named for Native Americans who propagated it in the southwestern United States. It thrives in a climate similar to Egypt, so Pima cotton shares many of Egyptian cotton's advantages but runs $30 to $40 per set.
Blended cotton towels mix higher- and lower-quality cottons to produce more affordable towels. Blended Egyptian cotton towels, for example, feature some ELS cotton advantages but less than towels using 100% Egyptian cotton. Blended cotton towels typically cost $20 to $30 per set.
Q. How can I keep towels feeling new?
A. Wash your towels in water that's around 100°F with quality laundry detergent. Use slightly less detergent than recommended because leftover soap makes towels feel scratchy. Avoid fabric softeners--they deposit silicones that make towels repel water. Instead, wash towels with a cup of white vinegar every six weeks to help retain softness and absorbency. Finally, drying on a lower heat protects the cotton's structural integrity.
Q. What does a towel set's GSM rating mean?
A. A towel's GSM rating, or grams per square meter, tells you its density, which helps you determine its absorbency and performance. Towels range in GSM from 300 to 900. Those with a higher GSM rating are denser and more durable than those with a lower rating. Towels with a GSM rating of 620 to 900 are considered premium quality, while those rated 420 to 600 are considered medium weight and suggested for bath or guest towels. Lightweight towels with a GSM under 400 will not be very plush, but they will dry more quickly.
Towel sets we recommend
Best of the best: Superior Luxury Cotton Six-Piece Bath Towel Set
Our take: Sumptuous and absorbent, these oversized bath towels come with matching hand towels and face towels that are equally luxurious.
What we like: Thick, double-ply, long-staple cotton construction. Weighty yet fluffy. Available in a rainbow of colors.
What we dislike: These towels sometimes harbor a chemical odor when they first arrive, but the smell dissipates with time and laundering.
Best bang for your buck: Pinzon Blended Egyptian Cotton Six-Piece Towel Set
Our take: Luxury on a budget: these thick, durable towels outperform many higher-priced sets when it comes to absorbency.
What we like: Oversized, medium weight, and made from blended Egyptian cotton. Set of two bath towels, two hand towels, and two face towels comes in several colors.
What we dislike: These towels are known for shedding lint, and it doesn't stop after the first washing.
Our take: Spa-quality, ring-spun cotton bath towels that are also excellent for drying off at the pool or beach.
What we like: High density with impressive absorbency. Four-piece set of bath towels comes in a handful of neutral tones.
What we dislike: Frequent washings cause these towels to fade over time, but a gentler laundry detergent can extend their life.
Kristin Yarbrough is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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