After several weeks of comparing 10 sets of towels side by side, we recommend the Lauren Home – Wescott Bath Towel as our top pick. Middle-range plush, thick and posh-looking, it’s a towel you would be proud to hang in your guest bathroom. We suspect, however, that it will quickly become your favorite and you may not want to share. Priced on the higher end for a single towel, we think it has enough value in terms of luxury and longevity to make it worth the initial investment.
Top Pick: Lauren Home - Wescott
Preferences in towels can vary, but the quality craftsmanship and high absorbency of the Lauren Home make it universally appealing. While more expensive than our other finalists, the Lauren Home holds its value after repeated washes.
A close second (and significantly less expensive) is the Superior – 900 GSM Bathroom Towel, with a density and softness that rivals our winner. This towel provides a spa-like experience every time you step out of the shower. It has a heavy drape, so it may not be your choice if you prefer thinner towels, but the luxe sensation makes it feel like you live in the penthouse suite of a luxury hotel.
Runner-up: Superior - 900 GSM
The plushness of this towel makes wrapping up in its thick and soft cotton an indulgent experience. It was the most absorbent of the towels we tested; the downside is that this means it takes longer to dry than a thinner towel.
At four dollars per towel (when you purchase a set of six), the Cotton Craft – Ultra Soft gives you a good value for your money. Despite its name, we thought it ended up somewhere in the middle range of softness. If you like a pleasantly scratchy texture and a thinner feel, you’ll especially like the Cotton Craft. As a low-priced towel with durability, we recommend the Cotton Craft set as our budget pick.
Budget Pick: Cotton Craft - Ultra Soft
An extremely affordable towel with the kind of durability you would expect in a more expensive option. It is a great option for stocking up a rental, or for a new college student headed to the dorms.
Table of contents
- How we selected finalists to test
- The 10 best bath towels
- How to pick the best towel
- How to wash bath towels
- Important features to consider
- How we tested
- Best overall: Lauren Home – Wescott
- The runner-up: Superior – 900 GSM
- The best for the price: Cotton Craft – Ultra Soft
- Other finalists we tested
- The bottom line
How we selected finalists to test
Since the debate on soft versus scratchy towels will forever be an ongoing discussion, we know that purchasing towels can be a highly subjective and personal process. On the other hand, criteria such as quality and absorbency are factors nearly everyone looks for.
To this end, we looked at towel-buying guides such as those found in Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports and the Home Shopping Network to learn how to best determine these qualities before purchasing. From this research phase, we narrowed down our finalists to those with 100 percent cotton and focused on towels with a higher weight.
Once we had our criteria in mind, we looked closely at reputable reviews on sites like Wirecutter and Business Insider. The information we found on these sites gave us some additional parameters for our selections, focusing our attention on towels with longer yarn loops with more surface area and a denser weave.
Once we had a good grasp on fabric technology and picked up a few tips from textile experts, we considered customer testimonials on Reddit – Buy It for Life and big-box retailers like Target and Amazon. This helped us cull our list and narrow our finalists down to the top ten. Once we had our finalists in hand, we conducted additional research on how to care for towels and dove into some real-world testing.
The 10 best bath towels
|Product||Price||Size (WxL)||Fabric||GSM||Loop Construction|
|1. Lauren Home||$$||30"x56"||100% cotton||578||Low twist|
|2. Superior||$$$||30"x55"||100% long staple cotton||900||Combed|
|3. Cotton Craft||$$||30"x54"||100% cotton / rayon trim||Not listed||Ring spun|
|4. Chakir||$$$||27"x54"||100% Turkish cotton||750||Not listed|
|5. Fieldcrest||$||30"x56"||100% micro-cotton pile||610||Not listed|
|6. Threshold||$||33"x63"||100% cotton pile / polyester ground||598||Not listed|
|7. Amazon Basics||$$$||30"x52"||100% cotton||Not listed||Ring spun|
|8. Martex||$||30"x54"||100% cotton||400||Zero twist|
|9. Utopia||$$||35"x70"||100% cotton||Not listed||Ring spun|
|10. Pinzon||$$||30"x56"||100% blended Egyptian cotton||600||Ring spun|
How to pick the best towel
Manufacturers often coat towels with a fabric softening finish that makes them feel soft in the store, but this finish wears off after two to three washes. So instead of going by feel, you may be better off looking at the fabric and visually inspecting it for durability and quality craftsmanship. Durable towels will of course have strong fabric, but you should also look for a towel with double-turned edges and double stitching — these are more likely to stand the test of time.
If you choose a towel that is made of quality fibers and is well-constructed, other factors such as size, softness and weight come down to personal preference.
Fabric terminology can be tricky, but you don’t need a degree in textiles to read the labels with our breakdown on fabrics. Here are some examples of lingo you may see when searching for the best towel.
Long staple cotton: Long staple or extra-long staple (ELS) cotton has fibers that are 1 ⅛ inches and longer. This equates to smoother, stronger and more flexible yarn. Shorter fibers produce yarns that are rougher and tend to pill or attract lint, while longer fibers make for stronger and softer towels that can stand up to repeated washes and retain color longer.
Pima or Egyptian cotton: Pima, Supima (the trademark for American-grown, ELS cotton) or Egyptian cotton are a different species of cotton plant with longer fibers. The yarn is silkier, smoother, and towels made of Pima cotton are more absorbent and softer. However, the Cotton Egypt Association (CEA) reports that not all Egyptian cotton is labeled accurately, so you may want to look for the CEA’s Gold Seal certification to make sure you’re getting the real thing.
Turkish cotton: Similar to Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton produces extra-long fibers. The cotton grown in the Aegean region is soft, strong and absorbent. While towels made with Turkish cotton aren’t as absorbent as Egyptian cotton, they are lightweight and dry more quickly, making them ideal for humid climates. Quality varies depending on the weaver, and you’ll still need to be wary of manufacturers making false claims to authentic Turkish cotton.
Combed cotton: This means that the cotton has been combed to remove shorter fibers and impurities, leaving only the strongest and longest threads.
Ring spun cotton: The short and long fibers of ring spun cotton are twisted together to create a smoother, finer yarn. The process requires long staple cotton, so you know you’re already starting with a quality base.
Twist: This refers to how much of the yarn loop is twisted. A high twist makes for a more durable towel, while a low or zero twist makes for a plusher, more absorbent towel.
GSM: This stands for grams per square meter, or the weight of the towel. Under 400 GSM is considered a lightweight towel, 400-600 GSM is medium weight, and above 600 GSM is the heaviest.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100: The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is a worldwide certification system of raw and finished textile products. Articles such as yarns, fabrics and towels undergo independent testing to ensure they are free from harmful substances such as banned Azo colorants, formaldehyde and pentachlorophenol. Certification also means they must be free of chemicals that are known to be harmful to human health, but are not yet legally controlled. Textiles used close to the skin, such as towels, are more closely regulated than articles not in direct contact with skin.
How to wash bath towels
You should clean your towels when you first purchase them. Doing so will remove the silicones and other finishes they are coated with to make them feel softer in the store. (While these finishes may feel nice, they block absorbency.)
Step 1 – Use vinegar for first wash:
For the first wash, Better Homes & Gardens recommends you use white vinegar, which helps to both set the colors and remove excess detergent residue. Since vinegar doubles as a cleaning agent, you can use half the recommended amount of detergent plus a half to one cup of white vinegar. We washed the colored towels and white towels separately.
Step 2 – Check manufacturer instructions:
You should check the manufacturer’s washing and drying instructions to get the most longevity out of your towels. Washing them separately from other clothes is the most hygienic method and makes it easier to follow the care instructions for your towels. Liquid fabric softeners can decrease absorbency and increase flammability, so skip the fabric softener completely or use dryer sheets instead.
Step 3 – Wash often:
Since towels absorb body oils and collect dead skin cells, and a moist towel is a breeding ground for bacteria, your towels should dry thoroughly in between uses and be washed frequently.
Step 4 – Avoid overdrying:
Shaking your towels out before placing them into the dryer can fluff the yarn loops to aid absorbency and reduce drying time. While you don’t want to overdry, which can wreck the cotton fibers, you want to make sure that they are dry enough to prevent mildew. With proper care, high-quality towels can last you a decade.
Important features to consider
Density: If you want a denser, plusher, more absorbent towel, you’ll typically want to look for a towel above 500 GSM. Keep in mind that heaviness does not always equal quality, so you’ll want to consider the fabric as well as the GSM.
Softness: Not everyone wants a super plush towel; some people prefer a scratchier towel with a more exfoliating surface. If you do prize softness above all else, you may want to look for a towel made of long staple or extra-long staple yarn.t
Durability: A towel with double-turned edges with double stitching will prevent fraying and have a longer life span.
Weaving technique: The weaving technique determines the durability of your towels. A poorly woven towel can stretch or even tear and the thread loops can fray.
Fabric: According to Good Housekeeping, 100 percent cotton is the softest and most absorbent. If you want a faster-drying and more economical option, a cotton/polyester blend is a good choice.
Size: Bath towels typically range between 27-30 by 52-58 inches. Some towels are available oversized for more coverage.
Bleach or benzoyl/peroxide resistant: Some acne treatments use benzoyl peroxide, which can leave bleach spots on your towels. If you use acne cleansers or creams, you may want to consider purchasing white towels, or a product that claims to be benzoyl peroxide safe.
How we tested
In addition to real-life testing where we used these towels as you would at home, we conducted specific tests to determine softness, absorbency and durability.
In all our testing, we washed the colored towels in warm water and the white towels in hot water since Real Simple reports that hot water can fade colors and make the texture more scratchy. On the other hand, white towels keep their brightness better in hot wash. All the towels were washed with Tide Regular on a 10-minute normal/casual cycle and dried on the low heat, economy setting. After testing eight laundry detergents, we chose Tide as our top pick for best laundry detergent.
Softness and thickness
|Product||Out of Package||Out of Package||After Vinegar Wash||After Vinegar Wash||After Wash/Dry 5X||After Wash/Dry 5X|
|Lauren Home - Wescott||5||5||5||5||5||5|
|Superior - 900 GSM||5||5||4||5||4||5|
|Cotton Craft - Ultra Soft||3||2||3||2||3||2|
|Chakir - Luxury Hotel Spa||3||4||3||4||3||4|
|Fieldcrest - Luxury Solid||5||3||4||3||4||4|
|Threshold - Performance Solid||4||4||3||4||3||4|
|Martex - Commercial Bath Towel||2||2||2||2||2||3|
|AmazonBasics - Quick-Dry||5||2||5||2||5||2|
|Utopia Towels - Extra Large Bath||3||3||3||3||3||3|
Towels are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the softest and thickest.
Before we started washing or using the towels, we used our non-dominant hands to feel the softness of the fabric when first out of the package. According to Wirecutter, our dominant hands are more rough and therefore we can get a better sense of softness by using our nondominant hand. Then we gripped it to determine how thick the towel felt in our hands. We rated each towel on a scale of one to five, with five being the softest and thickest.
The fabric softener finishes used by the manufacturers make the towels soft to the touch, but also make them less absorbent. Just to put this to the test, we used each of the towels without washing them first.
While a majority of the towels felt softer than they did after the first wash, we didn’t note a major difference in absorbency. The one exception was the AmazonBasics – Quick-Dry Towel. It was super soft, but had zero absorbency and felt like we were drying off with a fleece blanket. Subsequent washes greatly improved the absorbency, although this was one of our less absorbent towels in the final results.
For the first wash, we used detergent and white vinegar to set colors and remove any finishes the manufacturers might have coated the towels with. After the first wash with vinegar, we compared each towel to a duplicate fresh from the package that had never been washed. Once most or all of the manufacturer’s finishing was removed, we again rated each towel on a scale of one to five for softness and thickness.
Our softest and thickest towels were the a rel=”noopener”>Lauren Home and Superior, both fresh out of the package and after five rounds of washing and drying. The AmazonBasics also rated among the winners in the softness scale, making it a good option if you prefer a soft towel that is on the thinner side. If you prefer a scratchier towel, the Chakir – Luxury Hotel & Spa Bath Towel is on the coarser side, while still nice and thick.
Durability and color retention
|Lauren Home - Wescott||5||4||5|
|Superior - 900 GSM||5||5||5|
|Cotton Craft - Ultra Soft||5||5||5|
|Chakir - Luxury Hotel Spa||4||5||5|
|Fieldcrest - Luxury Solid||5||5||5|
|Threshold - Performance Solid||5||4||4|
|Martex - Commercial Bath Towel||5||5||5|
|AmazonBasics - Quick-Dry||3||5||3|
|Utopia Towels - Extra Large Bath||3||4||3|
Towels are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the most durable, least linting, and best color retention.
Pulled threads can occur if they are caught on sharp objects, so for durability we looked more at hem fraying. A visual inspection of the hems, with an eye on neatly folded edges and secure stitching, can give you a good indicator of durability even before you purchase a towel. To test durability of hems over time, we washed and dried each towel five times on the cycles mentioned above.
We inspected the hems again after five rounds in the washer and dryer. We examined each towel to see if the stitching held up, if there were any worn spots, and whether the hems were frayed, then rated it on a scale of one to five.
After washing for five cycles, we once again rated the towels on a scale from one to five for softness and thickness. We also looked at whether they began to collect lint (not to be confused with the moulting process of new towels) and rated how much lint each towel accrued on a scale from one to five.
In terms of durability and linting, the Lauren Home, Superior and Cotton Craft appeared practically new despite multiple washes. Their seams were intact and there was very little to no wear on the yarn loops. The AmazonBasics showed the most overall wear, and the Pinzon had collected a large amount of lint that we would need a fabric shaver to remove.
We also compared the towels for a color match and rated them on a scale of one to five (five being best) for how true they stayed to their original colors after washing and drying five times. For the white towels, we considered brightness and whiteness versus fading.
All of our colored towels matched their original color perfectly, even after five cycles in the washer and dryer. Of the towels we purchased in white, the Lauren Home and Utopia fared less well. We washed them in a separate load from the colored towels. After five rounds in the washer and dryer, they both looked white when viewed alone or next to each other. However, they appeared slightly gray when viewed next to their unwashed match.
Towels are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the most absorbent.
Since you want a towel that stands the test of time, we considered absorbency after the five wash-and-dry cycles. As we tested, we kept in mind that fiber loops should brush water off the body and that absorbency is impacted by a number of factors such as: the number of loops, length of the loops, thickness or coarseness of the yarn and how tightly the loops are packed together.
The most absorbent towels will have the most surface area, which means you should look for longer and thinner loops in a deep pile. We took two showers with each towel, then rated them on a scale of one to five for for absorbency based on how well they dried the entire body.
The majority of our finalists rated a four or five in absorbency. The thicker, plusher towels like Lauren Home and Superior wicked away moisture. A thinner, coarser towel like Cotton Craft was still effective thanks to the scratchier yarn that brushed water off the body and absorbed the remainder. The AmazonBasics was the only towel that left us feeling less than dry.
|Product||Dryer (minutes)||Hanging (hours)|
|Lauren Home - Wescott||40||11|
|Superior - 900 GSM||50||11|
|Cotton Craft - Ultra Soft||40||10|
|Chakir - Luxury Hotel Spa||40||11|
|Fieldcrest - Luxury Solid||40||7|
|Threshold - Performance Solid||30||7|
|Martex - Commercial Bath Towel||40||7|
|AmazonBasics - Quick-Dry||30||8|
|Utopia Towels - Extra Large Bath||40||9|
To begin with, we cleaned our dryer air exhaust vent to avoid clogging (which could make the towels tested at the end take longer to dry and skew the results) and cleaned it again halfway through testing. We changed the dryer lint trap after each use for the same reason. Then we washed towels and dried them in the dryer on the low-economy setting.
Towels were split up into two groups of five, in order to give them an appropriate amount of space in the dryer. We checked the dryer every 10 minutes and pulled out the towels that were fully dry. We recorded how long each towel took to be dry to the touch. Since we didn’t want to overdry our towels, we pulled them out at 97 percent dry. While not an exact science, we gripped each towel with our hand to see if they were dry to the touch, without being bone dry (which might harm the fabric).
We also tested how long each towel took to dry in the bathroom. We used each towel to dry off after a shower and then hung it in the same bathroom to dry. We hung the towels to dry over the shower curtain rod (sans the curtain), with a window and door open to ensure air flow. Then we checked hourly and recorded how long it took the towels to be fully dry to the touch.
To account for temperature and humidity in the bathroom, we tested each morning at the same time and used an analog hygrometer to measure the amount of moisture in the air. Our tests were conducted over a period of days (between 8 to 9 am each morning), with the internal room temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity after the first hour (80 degrees and 70 percent humidity immediately post-shower). We conducted our dryer and hang-dry tests five times to ensure consistency in our recorded results.
Under these conditions, all of our finalists were dry to the touch in 11 hours and under. Our fastest drying towel was the Pinzon, a scratchier, thinner towel with high absorbency. Perhaps because it absorbed less moisture in the first place, the AmazonBasics lived up to its name. It dried in 30 minutes in the dryer and in eight hours when hung to dry in the bathroom.
Not surprisingly, some of the plusher and denser towels like the Chakir, Superior and Lauren Home took longer to dry, especially when hung. In the end, we found the difference in dry time in the dryer to be minimal (a difference of ten minutes max). Since all the towels we hung dry in the morning were dry before night, it didn’t weigh heavily on our final choices. However, if you live in a humid climate, this may have more impact on which towels you choose to purchase.
Best overall: Lauren Home – Wescott
The plushness and softness of the Lauren Home – Wescott Bath Towel earned it our highest recommendation, especially since it was just as plush and soft over time as when it was first purchased. Made of low twist cotton, it was one of our most absorbent towels and gathered no lint after multiple washes. The Lauren Home is available in a wide array of colors, so you can match nearly any color scheme in your bathroom.
Not only does the Lauren Home have a sumptuous feel, it has a quality look and understated design that made it stand out from the other finalists when simply hanging over the towel rack. It is more than just a display towel, however. Its softness, fluffiness and durability after multiples uses and washes was unparalleled by the other finalists we tested. While priced slightly higher than our other finalists, we felt it provided enough value to recommend the investment.
A thick, soft and thirsty towel that stays true to form over repeated washing and drying.
Despite how much we loved this towel, there are a few things we would change. As a dense towel with a 578 GSM, it was one of the slowest to dry when we hung it in the bathroom. Since this was also the case with our other plush towels, we didn’t consider it a deal breaker. However, it may be something to think twice about depending on the climate in which you live.
Secondly, we tested this towel in white and it had already become less bright. You can prevent white laundry from turning gray by using a detergent with a bleaching component, a mild oxidizing agent or even by simply line drying it in the sun. As we didn’t want to compromise our tests, we didn’t take any of these steps at home, but they are an easy solution to keeping white laundry white.
Other than these two considerations, the Lauren Home is a high-quality towel that feels as good on your skin as it looks good hanging on the towel rack.
- The Lauren Home is an ultra-soft towel with a 578 GSM, making it dense, plush and absorbent without being too heavy.
- It is made from 100 percent cotton with a low twist loop construction, which adds to the plushness and absorbency.
- This towel outperformed all of our other finalists in terms of softness and thickness over multiple rounds in the washer and dryer.
- It comes in 20 vibrant color options and has a slightly textured band for subtle design.
The runner-up: Superior – 900 gsm
A higher GSM makes for a denser and plusher towel, and the Superior – 900 GSM Bathroom Towel was the heaviest towel we tested. The drying power was remarkable thanks to a high GSM and double-ply construction, and 100 percent long staple, combed cotton made it a luxurious experience. It comes in a coordinating six piece set of washcloths, hand towels and bath towels and is available in a wide range of colors. Because of the style of its fibers, the supeior was more absorbent than a lot of the other towels.
Superior - 900 GSM
Thick and indulgent, these are a premium upgrade if you don’t mind a heavy towel.
While we tested in summer, we imagine this towel would be ideal for keeping away a winter chill. No one wants to step out of a warm shower into a cold bathroom, and the Superior’s ability to absorb moisture in an instant, combined with a heavy drape, would help you retain the heat from the shower.
We loved how pampered we felt using this towel, which is a big reason it was our runner up pick. It narrowly missed being chosen as our overall winner, because some testers found the heaviness to be overwhelming. It could almost double as a bath mat. Since it is so thick, it also takes a long time to dry. It took 50 minutes to dry to the touch in our dryer, ten minutes longer than any of the other towels we tested. That being said, it also excelled at retaining its color and texture after the drying process was complete.
- Long staple, combed cotton leaves only the finest and longest fibers, so it was no surprise that the Superior was among the coziest and most absorbent towels we tested.
- It has a 900 GSM and double-ply construction, so if you prefer a heavier towel, this is your best option.
- The Superior retained is softness, thickness and color in our tests, making it one of the best towels we tested.
- While it takes a long time to dry, we can easily say it was the most absorbent towel of our finalists.
The best for the price: Cotton Craft – Ultra Soft
Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice quality. Priced well below our other finalists (per towel when you order the set), the Cotton Craft – Ultra Soft is an inexpensive towel that still looks and feels good after multiple uses and washes. In fact, it rated right up there with our number one and luxury pick in terms of color retention, linting and durability.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive option that still provides value, choosethe Cotton Craft.
It is made with 100 percent cotton, a ring spun loop construction and a rayon band. Since ring spun yarn requires a long staple cotton that is smoother and less likely to lint, you can be confident you’re getting a good value for your money. After repeated washes, the Cotton Craft had attracted no lint or fuzz, nor did it appear frayed or faded.
The Cotton Craft is a good choice for those who prefer a thinner, textured towel that is durable and functional. It’s not as ultra-soft as advertised, but it’s not uncomfortably rough either. Since it is so affordable and easy to care for, it’s also a good option for a student headed off to college or for stocking a summer rental.
- For such an economical towel, the Cotton Craft remained attractive after multiple uses.
- It experienced no fading or fraying after repeat washes.
- Made with ring spun cotton, the yarn loops remained smooth and attracted no lint even after extended testing.
- The Cotton Craft is thinner, has a soft yet textured feel and rated well for absorbency.
Other finalists we tested
Chakir – Luxury Hotel & Spa
The Chakir – Luxury Hotel & Spa Bath Towel had the best balance between softness/scratchiness and heaviness/thinness of all our finalists. With a 750 GSM, it was dense but not too heavy. While plush and soft, the fabric loops also had a nubby texture that would please those on team scratchy. If you live with a significant other or roommate who doesn’t agree with your towel preferences, the Chakir is likely to make both of you happy.
The Chakir strikes the perfect balance with a medium weight and soft yet textured feel.
Despite being labeled as Turkish cotton (typically a faster-drying towel), the Chakir – Luxury Hotel & Spa towel was one of the slowest-drying towels we tested. It also had the smallest width (by a few inches). Despite these few drawbacks, which prevented it from becoming our number one pick, the Chakir is a luxurious towel that we confidently recommend.
The deep hue held true after multiple washes, the seams stayed intact and there was very little linting.
Fieldcrest – Luxury Solid
The Fieldcrest – Luxury Solid Towel is a solid option (no pun intended) in terms of softness, absorbency and durability. It is OEKO-TEX certified and designed to resist color fading (it still looks brand new after all our testing) and benzoyl peroxide stains. If anyone in your household has sensitive skin and/or uses acne treatments, this is an excellent option for you.
It offers high absorbency and hang dries quickly, so it’s also a good choice if you live in a humid climate. The Fieldcrest is exceptionally soft, a medium weight and thickened up after washing. We really don’t have anything bad to say about this towel, but our top picks were just a little plusher and denser than the Fieldcrest.
Threshold – Performance Solid
Right out of the package, the Threshold – Performance Solid Bath Towel was one of the softest towels we tested, and it retained most of its softness after washing and drying five times. Multiple washes made it feel thicker, and it didn’t accumulate any lint.
If softness is high on your priority list, this towel is a good choice. However, we didn’t choose it as our top pick since it had already begun to show wear after washing and drying five times. Its seams held up well, but the edges started to look somewhat fuzzy and worn. The color faded slightly, as well.
AmazonBasics – Quick-Dry
If you’re looking for a cozy feeling and lightweight towel at a reasonable price, the AmazonBasics – Quick-Dry Towel is a good option. However, if you don’t want your towels to show their age, you may want to look elsewhere.
The AmazonBasics is made of 100 percent cotton and meets OEKO-TEX standards so you can feel confident that it is free from regulated and not-yet-regulated (but known to be harmful) substances. It was the least absorbent of our finalists, since the loops were too soft to brush water off our body.
It kept its color well, but overall appeared fuzzy after repeated washing and drying. Both the cotton loops and the trim suffered wear. This fact took it out of the running as the best towel. For a mid-range price, we expected this towel to hold up better.
Martex – Commercial
Pleasantly scratchy and thin, multiple washes improved the thickness of the Martex – Commercial Bath Towel without changing the texture. Advertised as a commercial quality towel, we could easily see how this could be a good choice for a public pool or gym as it retained a like-new appearance after many washes. Despite its thinness, the Martex has high absorbency and dries in a moderate amount of time.
While extremely durable, the course texture and thinness of the towel gave it a dormitory or beach rental vibe. It didn’t have the feel of a towel you might invest in at home, which prevented it from being our top choice. However, if you’re sending a student off to school with the basic necessities or need to stock the bathroom your AirBnB guests use, the Martex is easy to care for and will likely stand the test of time.
Utopia Towels – Extra Large
If you’re looking for a bath towel that can double as a beach towel, you’ll appreciate the oversized width and length of the Utopia Towels – Extra Large Bath Towel. Made with ring spun cotton, the Utopia was absorbent and dried relatively quickly for its large size. Despite the extra yardage, we found the price to be high for its middle-of-the-road performance.
While it offers a good compromise in terms of softness/scratchiness and weight, it had already begun to look discolored and linty after a few washes. The seams stayed intact, and while it may not keep its original beauty, it didn’t appear as if it would fall apart or tear any time soon.
After the first wash, we thought the Pinzon – Bath Towel Set would be a great budget choice. There’s the fact that it meets stringent safety and environmental standards with OEKO-TEX certification. It leans toward the scratchier side, a bonus for some people, and has a nice medium weight with 600 GSM that would please most. The Pinzon was also absorbent and the fastest drying towel in our staged tests.
The downside, and the deal breaker on naming it a top pick, was the lint. It started to collect after the second wash and became progressively worse. By the sixth wash, the ring spun yarn that originally gave it a sleek appearance was nearly unrecognizable.
The bottom line
In the end, quality and durability were metrics that reigned supreme in our decision-making process. Factors like softness, weight and size can all depend on personal preference, so we weighted our decision toward longevity. However, we don’t think it hurt our top picks that they were lush and comfortable to use.
On the downside, their high absorbency and plush nature meant that they took longer to dry. If you live in a region where that could be an issue, you may want to take a look at our other finalists. That said, the affordable luxury of the Lauren Home – Wescott Bath Towel and the Superior – 900 GSM Bathroom Towel make them well worth a try. We feel confident recommending the Lauren Home as an ideal choice for most households, and we suggest the Superior if you don’t mind a heavy drape.
For those on a tighter budget, the Cotton Craft – Ultra Soft provides excellent value with ring spun cotton that retains a smooth feel after multiple washes.
Top Pick: Lauren Home
A combination of fluffiness, absorbency, and durability made this our top performer and number one pick. It is a dense towel with a subtle design that makes it look as good as it feels.