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 right for you?
Here is what you need to know:
How absorbent is it and how does it look and feel?
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 water.
Better quality towels are made from Egyptian or Pima combed cotton. Combed cotton is a type of cotton that has been produced by removing all the short fibres 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 a lot more durable.
A towel is woven in the same way as most fabrics except that 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 will seem to lack body.
Weights in grams are always shown for quality towels and this is the amount of cotton used per square metre. 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.
But please note. There is a trade off with weight. The heavier the towel the costlier it is to launder.
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 towelling
In the end buying is very much a matter of personnel choice. Trust your own judgement and feel the towel with your own hands.
As well as the aesthetic appeal, look at the quality of the finish, the hemming, the quality of the loops. If you hold it up to the light can see through it? If so, then it’s too thin. How does it feel to the touch?
Consider the end use of the towel. You might want luxuriously thick and soft towels in your bathroom but something thinner and quicker to dry for carrying around in a sports bag or on holidays. Equally, after sports many people prefer a harsher “friction” towel to improve circulation. The best towel will be the one that does what you want it to do.