The best absorbent towels regardless of individual manufacturer share certain characteristics. They are highly absorbent, able to move moisture away from the body and through the towel's surface. They are made of fine natural fibers. They are woven in a process that includes extra sets of yarn. The extra yarn contributes to the towel feeling soft and cushioned. Several factors contribute to a bath towel's absorbency.
Cotton is the natural fiber most used for towels. The quality of the cotton is related to the length of its fiber, also called its staple. The longer the staples of cotton, the more absorbent and durable the woven fabric will be. Egyptian cotton from the Nile River Valley, due its long staples, is known as a source for very strong, absorbent fabric. Turkish cotton, grown in Turkey, is a long staple cotton that is especially known for durability. Pima cotton, grown in South America and the U.S. Southwest, is still another long staple cotton of high quality. A brand of long staple cotton called Supima®, meaning superior grade Pima, is grown by farmers in the U.S. who are certified in its cultivation. When bamboo fiber is blended with cotton, the fabric can be highly absorbent and also have a silky sheen.
The weave of the towel contributes to its ability to absorb. Towels in the United States are commonly made from terry cloth. Terry cloth is a fabric that is pile woven. In simple terms, that means the fabric is woven with at least one and often more extra yarn sets running in lengthwise through the fabric. These extra lengths yield the loops that are characteristic of terry cloth. Using very fine yarns enables towel manufacturers to weave more loops and deeper loops. More loops increase the towel's absorbency and help the person using the towel feel drier. The greater the surface area of the loops is, the more absorbent the towel. The loops act like tiny sponges as they wick moisture. Deep loops of about one-eighth of an inch offer another advantage. Twisting, tugging, pulling and rubbing are strains a fabric with deep loops can usually withstand, so it is durable as well as absorbent. A good test of the density of the fabric weave is to hold the towel up to light to see how much or how little light penetrates. Less light means greater density.
It stands to reason that the more fabric in the towel, the more absorbent the towel can be. Bath towels, which are the standard for after-bath or shower use, are usually sized from about 27 by 52 inches to 30 by 58 inches. Bath sheets, on the other hand, are luxuriously larger, about 35 by 60 inches. A bath sheet is large enough to wrap generously around an average adult, the way a bath towel wraps around a small child.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
How to Choose Bath Towels
Skinny towels are fine for the pool or beach, but your bath deserves thick, absorbent, soft, luxurious towels.
The Best Kitchen Towels
If you have ever grabbed a kitchen towel to wipe up a spill or hand-dry your dishes, you might have noticed that...
The Best Rated Towels for Luxury & Absorbency
The top-rated luxury bath towels are highly absorbent and are typically made from 100 percent cotton. All towels have a fabric weight...