How to choose towels
We know when you’re in the shop or online, with stacks of towels if front of you it’s hard to choose one. Every towel claims to be the most absorbent, the quickest drying, and the softest to the touch. So how do you pick which one is good for you?
Probably the main question you should ask yourself is -How absorbent is it and how does it look and feel?
So, what should you be looking for when you go shopping for towels?
Generally, towels should be made of 100% cotton as cotton is naturally absorbent and in fact can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in liquid water. There are now some other natural fibre options on the market made from such as bamboo and linen which both have excellent absorbance rates but have a very different handle to cotton. For a very lightweight alternative, there are micro modals fabrics, man made from cellulose.
The best quality towels are made from Egyptian or Pima combed cotton, as it is a naturally much longer fibre, so integrally stronger and smoother.
Combed cotton is often found on towel labels. These are different blends of cotton that has been produced by removing all the short fibers and impurities in the manufacturing process to produce a cotton that is finer, stronger and softer.
Often you will see on towel labels ‘zero’ twist and this means there is no twist in the processing of the cotton thread. When it is used in a towel, the towel is very soft to the touch and absorbent but the down side is that it will not be as durable and the towel is likely to produce lint when you tumble dry it.
We would usually recommend looking for something that says low twist which will be almost as soft and absorbent but more robust.
A towel is woven in the same way as most fabrics except instead of the weft threads lying flat, they create rows of loops. The loops in the weave of the towel should be quite long and densely packed and should feel firm and self -supporting. Lesser quality towels will feel thin and a bit lifeless and seem to lack body and have a very open construction
Weights in grams are always shown for quality towels and this is the amount of cotton used per sq metre used. Generally, the denser and heavier the towel the better quality it is but after a certain point it does come down to personal preference . Short tight loops, in the American style or longer, softer loops preferred by the weavers in Europe.
Absorbency is probably the most important question when buying a towel. How well will it dry you?
A simple test to check the absorbency, if you can, is to pour a small amount of water, say a capful directly onto the towel. If it disappears into the towel immediately and is relatively dry to the touch then the towel has good absorbency characteristics. But beware, some towels feel very soft and silky to the touch but water sits on the surface of them in beads as they have been treated with excessive softener while being manufactured. They are not absorbent, and the softener is often used to disguise lower quality toweling. This is also the rule for laundering. Follow the washing instructions as per the label and if you must use fabric softener, use very sparingly as this coating can start to affect the absorbency of the towel
In the end choosing and buying a towel is very much a matter of personnel choice but as with most things, it’s better to invest in the best you can afford.
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