Towels: Everything you need to know

Have a question about washing, maintaining and caring for your towels? We have all the answers.

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Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton or bamboo? Should you be buying something with a low GSM or a high GSM? There are so many different types of towels on the market it can be confusing for beginners.

Whether you're buying your own towels for the very first time, or looking to brush up on your knowledge, this is the buying guide for you. Here at Finder, we've broken down exactly how to choose, wash and maintain towels for maximum lifespan and ultimate fluffiness. To gather an expert opinion, we spoke to Romaine Sutton, the head designer at Sheridan.

What should you consider when choosing a towel?

  • Material: When shopping for a new towel, there are a number of material choices to consider. Egyptian and Turkish cotton towels are expensive for a reason. They're both durable, absorbent, incredibly soft and highly fibrous. Bamboo towels are considered an eco-friendly fibre and are also naturally antibacterial. If you're looking for something quick-drying, microfibre towels are your best bet.
  • Size: There is nothing worse than coming home with your brand new towel, only to realise it's made for a child. Pay attention to size in order to avoid any mishaps. Alternatively, you can choose a towel on the bigger side for ultimate comfort. Larger towels are known as bath sheets and can easily wrap around your whole body.
  • Weight: Towels are measured by something called GSM, which stands for grams per square metre. The lower the number, the lighter the towel will be. The higher the number, the longer it will take to dry. There is no right or wrong number, it all comes down to personal preference. For reference, towels that weigh over 600 GSM are dense, absorbent and considered luxurious.

What's the ideal number of towels to own?

Deciding on the right amount of towels to own is completely dependent on individual circumstances. One person should own at least two sets of towels, that way, as you wash one, you will still have a fresh set to use. Feel free to own more than two if your heart desires.

If you're shopping for a family, it's fair to own around two sets per person. However, if you don't mind sharing and are looking for something cost-effective, just opt for one towel set per family member.

mom and baby

What's the best way to keep towels soft and fluffy?

The one and only way to keep your towels feeling soft and luxurious is to follow the recommended washing instructions. This can differ between different materials and towel fibres, so following what the brand recommends is crucial.

Is there anything else you can do? Not really. Romaine Sutton from Sheridan says to "avoid the use of softeners". Now, you may be confused but there is a method behind this theory. According to Sutton, "softeners repel water and therefore reduce the absorbency of the towel".

What about drying? The way you dry your towels can directly influence how fluffy your towel is.

"It's best to use a mix of line and tumble drying. The sun acts as a natural antibacterial agent whilst tumble drying gives them that soft, fluffy feel," Sutton says.

How often should you wash towels?

Keeping your towels clean and fresh is essential. Washing them at least once a week, or ideally after every two or three uses is perfect. This keeps any build-up of natural body oils and/or bacteria to a minimum.

If you start to notice an odour coming from your towel, it could either be from this build-up or from not allowing the towels to fully dry after use. To stop this from happening, make sure you hang your towel after use in a well-ventilated space, instead of leaving it on the bathroom floor.


How should you wash new towels?

Washing a new towel before use is absolutely necessary. Not only does it set the colour, but it also can improve absorbency.

"You should always wash towels before first use. For best results, use a 40-degree gentle wash. This is the ideal temperature to remove natural body oils, bacteria and chemical detergents," Sutton says.

We recommend to not overcrowd the washing machine and fill it with brand new towels in need of a wash. Washing just a few at a time means it has plenty of water to soak in and properly wash through.

What is the best way to fold towels?

If you have enough room in your storage space, fold the towels into large squares. If you're working with a narrow cupboard, rolling your towels works well as a space-saver alternative.

Looking for other ways to store towels? Sutton suggests "to use them as styling pieces". If you find a towel you're proud to show off, hang it over decorative racks or you can roll a few and stack them in a gorgeous wick basket.

Shop our favourite towels and towel sets:

Image source: Getty

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