The linen shelf life of a bath towel isn’t as long as you think. Like pillows, towels are one of those household items that look fine but might actually be harboring bacteria. If your towels have that faint damp basement smell — even after washing — it’s time to toss. While you can extend the life of a cheap bath towel by avoiding fabric softeners and not drying on hooks, it’s best to start with quality, durable bath towels that dry quickly. We’ve rounded up our favorite towels for every style and budget, from cozy waffle towels to luxurious plush towels to the best bath towel monograms. Take a look at our picks below and outfit your bathroom with these top-rated towels.
Turkish? Plush? Organic? What makes a towel good? One way to measure quality is GSM, grams per square meter. GSM is a lot like sheet thread count or silk momme count. The higher the GSM, the more dense the towel is and the better quality, which also means more expensive. Anything under 400 GSM won’t be very absorbent post-shower, and it also won’t be that soft. Most medium-weight towels fall between 400 and 620 GSM. Super plush 620 to 900 GSM towels are typically sold as luxury linens. And, oh, are they soft! But they’re so heavy, and they take forever to dry which is an open invitation for mold.
Beyond GSM, the material is important to consider. Most bath towels are made from cotton, though modal and bamboo are gaining interest. The world of cotton is vast, and there are a lot of words used to describe towels. Terrycloth isn’t a type of cotton, but a weaving technique that uses cotton to expose loops and make the fabric more absorbent. Turkish cotton, however, is a specific type of cotton, and it’s often called out in product names because Turkish cotton is considered the best quality in the world. However, sometimes retailers will get sneaky and call towels “Turkish-style” or simply put the word Turkish in front of product names when towels aren’t even made from cotton. Always check the product description to verify that towels are 100-percent Turkish cotton.
Parachute’s Classic Turkish Cotton Towels check all the boxes. At 700 GSM, these towels are fluffy without being too heavy. They’re made from 100-percent Turkish cotton and come in six different serene colors. If you need more convincing, just look at the 1,000+ five-star reviews. The towels have been dubbed everything from the “perfect bath towel” to the “best purchase ever.”
If you love waffle robes and PJs, you can get the same cozy vibes with waffle towels. Parachute’s waffle bath towels are just as lightweight as a waffle robe with 240 GSM. And they come in some seriously gorgeous neutrals such as the new terra cotta color.
Nothing says spa-style at home more like a big, fluffy bath towel. There’s just something incredibly luxurious and relaxing about wrapping yourself up in a towel that’s as thick as a blanket. Brooklinen’s Super-Plush Bath Towels have a whopping 820 GSM and truly feel like a weighted blanket for your bathroom. Even better: They just dropped a handful of new trendy colors for spring, from bright goldenrod to an incredibly serene mossy-green hue.
If you like the idea of cozy waffle towels, but want something that’s plusher, Boll & Branch’s Spa Towel is the best of both worlds. The organic cotton ribbed channels are ultra-absorbent and feature incredibly fluffy yarn.
Plush towels are super soft, but they’re also super heavy. If you don’t want your towels to feel like weighted blankets, check out Brooklinen’s Ultralight towels. These are only 320 GSM, but they’re made with 100-percent Turkish cotton.
This is one of PB’s best-selling towels, to the point that fans are sharing Instagrams just of their towels. But the product name is misleading as it’s not really fast-drying at all. It’s slow-drying. But it is fast-absorbing. Like really, really fast. If you want a towel that’s actually a giant sponge, this is your buy. And it comes in more than a dozen colors, from soft neutrals to preppy pastels.
While ultra-plush towels dry your skin fast, they retain all that moisture and can take hours to fully dry. Alternatively, quick-dry towels absorb fast and dry fast. This is because most quick-dry towels use a cotton-polyester blend of microfibers. Everplush towels have earned rave reviews from Amazon shoppers for their loom within a loom system. Think of it as a soft cotton towel with a quick-dry core. But pet owners beware: Microfiber holds pet hair just as well as water. Several reviews note that these towels are like sticky pads for dog hair.
Towels don’t have to be boring. Anthropologie has a series of funky, 70s-inspired bath towels that we’re obsessed with, and over at Society6, you can shop printed bath towels from designers all around the world. The towel possibilities are endless.
Love a good monogram? Crane & Canopy has a nifty preview tool that lets you see exactly how each style and thread color will look on their super-soft 600 GSM towels.
More and more big retailers are committing to organic cotton, but we love Coyuchi’s organic cotton towels because the company’s packaging is sustainable, too. The Cloud Loom towel is made from 100-percent organic Turkish cotton and, true to name, is incredibly fluffy.
In addition to Turkish cotton, Turkish towels have become popular as everyday bath towels. And while a Turkish towel could be made from Turkish cotton, a Turkish towel refers to the style of the towel. Also known as Fouta or Hammam towels, these super-thin towels could be mistaken for a beach wrap, but don’t let the lightweight design fool you. Turkish towels absorb just as well as thick towels, they dry even faster and take up less space. These tassel towels from West Elm are under $30 and have matching hand towels, too.
If the bathtime/bedtime routine with your kiddos feels like an absolute odyssey, cool towels from The Company Store might help. Not only do these designs, from dinos to superheroes, make bathtime fun, but the 100-percent cotton terrycloth is super absorbent — even the hood — which makes drying time faster.
If you’re in need of new bath towels but you’re on a strict budget, the IKEA SALVIKEN is a great deal at just $7 a towel. At 500 GSM, these towels are pretty thin but feature a dual design to please multiple tastes. One side is a flat waffle and the other is scruffy terry.
Shopping for more than just a couple of towels? Brooklinen has move-in bundles that are perfect for wedding showers, housewarming gifts or just overhauling your linen closet. Each bundle includes four towels, four hand towels, four washcloths and it even includes a matching bath mat! And when you bundle, you can save up to 17 percent on individual towel prices so there’s a perk in stocking up. Any of Brooklinen’s signature towels are available to bundle, from waffle to our favorite plush.
If you’ve scrolled through this entire guide and thought, “Sounds great, but I want more terry square footage,” say hello to bath sheets. Yep, these babies are so big they’re not even called towels. Our favorite bath sheet is from Parachute. It’s everything we love about Parachute’s classic towel, but bigger. Check out our full round-up of bath sheets for every style and budget.