white towels

Towels 101

white towels

I remember a set of towels I bought, back in the day, that matched my dusty rose and powder blue bathroom to a tee. But, as my ex used to complain almost daily, they were water proof. And they were; they worked best if we used them as sort of scoops to just push the water off our skin. But they looked pretty good, they were a velvet-like fabric and they were smooth as silk. I think they were about 50% polyester. They didn’t last long in our house, which means they went to the thrift store early.

Is fiber content important?

It’s the fiber that matters most. Cotton is best. There are some man-made fibers that are super-absorbent, granted, but they are not typically found in household towels, they are used in undergarments for outdoor enthusiasts and tiny towels for gym aficionados.

In towels, non-specialty polyester or man-made fibers are added to natural fibers to reduce wrinkles and increase durability, but you sacrifice the purpose of the towel for these features.

It is helpful to decide what you need your product to do and find the one that fulfills that need. ( Ever heard that before?)  If absorbency is the primary quality you want, forego man-made fibers. If softness and a wrinkle-free surface are the primary qualities, find towels with about 50% man-made fibers.

The size of the loop of the terrycloth determines how much water the towel will absorb.  This just makes perfect sense; there is more surface area in a long loop than in a short one. So, that fine velvet-like tiny looped or cut fabric towel will not absorb as much as a towel with long loops made of the same fiber. And towels with fewer loops per square inch will be less absorbent than those with lots of loops.

How to keep towels nice.

Keep your towels at their maximum absorbency after purchase by foregoing fabric softener. Fabric softener works just like hair conditioner, it is an oil-based product that coats, preventing static and making the hair, or fiber, feel smoother. Because cotton and linen don’t naturally produce static, the only reason to use fabric softener is to make the towels feel softer or wrinkle less. The decision is yours- absorbency or wrinkle-less softness. I have a friend who swears by white vinegar as a natural fabric softener.

My favorite? Turkish cotton towels. I have some that are 15 years old and still look new.

Written by