Towels — they’re the unsung hero of the household. Don’t believe me? Just take stock of how many towels you use — in the bathroom, kitchen, and even the gym. Although they’re an item we use all the time, we never put a lot of thought into buying them. Personally, I used to grab any random towel from the store as and when I needed it. After all, a towel is a towel, right? As it turns out, if you want a good quality towel that lasts, you need to put some thought into it.
What do you need?
You may be asking yourself, ‘How many towels can one person need?’. At least two or three at any given time, depending on why you’re using them — something you should always keep in mind while shopping. You wouldn’t use a bath towel in the kitchen, for example, so the size and quality of your towel should match its utility.
- Kitchen towels: look for towels that are absorbent, durable, and easy to clean
- Bath towels: the bigger and softer the better — here, breathability and absorbance is key
- Hand and face towels: you’re looking for soft cotton towels that are small and easy to wash
- Gym towels: they need to be small enough to carry in a gym bag and strong enough to soak up the aftermath of a vigorous workout
It’s all in the material
There’s no feeling as luxurious as wrapping yourself up in a big, soft towel after a warm shower. That’s why when you choose a bath towel — or any towel for that matter — material is a major criterion. Without a doubt, the best (and most common) fabric for a towel is cotton, since it is highly absorbent, breathable, and super soft to the touch. So we just have to pick cotton towels. Simple, right? Not quite. Not all cottons are equal. Combed cotton towels, for example, have better breathability; ringspun cotton towels are more absorbent; and terrycloth towels are exceptionally soft. Other materials such as bamboo or hemp have their own benefits, such as resistance to mildew in damp or humid climates. Ultimately, for the best towel experience, it’s all in the material.
Look for strength
Ideally you want your towels to last, no matter how often you use them. As tempting as it is to walk out of the store with the softest towel they have in stock, if it can’t stand up to heavy use, it’s just not worth it. That terrycloth towel may feel like a cloud, but if you’re looking for something to dry the dishes, you may be better off picking something in linen. At least you know it can survive a little mistreatment — and several wash cycles. On the other hand, not only can a thick turkish towel turn bath-time into a mini spa day; it’s also more likely to last you longer than a thin handloom one. So shop with the future in mind — buy towels you know are going to last.
Keep it clean
Towels are there to help us clean, but we rarely think of how we keep them clean. Bath towels soak up more than just water when we use them, and let’s not even think about what kitchen towels have to deal with on a daily basis. So, when picking out your next towel, choose one that is easy to clean and has anti-microbial properties. After all, you don’t want to be harboring a colony of bacteria in your gym towel! If you live somewhere that’s damp or humid, you may want to skip cotton entirely. Bamboo or hemp towels that naturally resist mildew growth are a better option. And don’t forget to keep hygiene in mind at home too. Wash towels in warm water to retain their fluff, and never use fabric softener — no matter how tempting. A waxy coating may be great for a surfboard, but for a towel? Not so much.
While functionality is all well and good, style is equally important. Choosing a color that accentuates your decor can turn a towel from a tool to an accessory. Nothing says “I’ve got my life together” like a hand towel that matches the curtains. And if you choose to go the printed route, it’s a great way to showcase your personality — a quirky printed towel in your gym bag can brighten up even the most brutal workout session. In the end, remember that it’s your choice — if you like a towel’s look and feel, it’s probably the best choice for you.
A towel is probably the most massively useful thing a homeowner can have, and it’s time we started giving them the importance they deserve. So, the next time you find yourself in the market for a new towel, don’t panic. Keep these criteria in mind, and you’ll be sure to discover the perfect towel for your needs.
Shivangi’s interests include video games, psychology, and everything in between. Certified night owl, official nerd, and purveyor of fun facts. Follow her on instagram (@stixer11) if you want to meet her dog.