We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
While the search for a new bath towel might feel endless, when shopping, it really comes down to how the towel looks, feels, and performs. In other words: “It’s all about the material,” says Sarah Smith, Product Education & Customer Experience Manager at Serena & Lily.
“Choosing a towel that is made from high-quality materials, such as premium cotton that has extra-long staple fibers to enhance strength, softness, and absorbency, is the way to go,” she adds.
To help narrow down your options, we purchased 31 towels to test at The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa. After evaluating each option on its quality, texture, absorbency, durability, and overall value, our winner was the Havly Classic Bath Towel. It’s a luxurious option that’s thick and absorbent without being too bulky.
Read on for our other top picks.
Best Overall: Havly Classic Bath Towel
Limited color range
After days of testing, the Havly Classic Bath Towel was a clear winner. This is a plush, luxurious towel that has a handful of thoughtful features that make it stand out above the rest. During testing, it absorbed an entire bowl of water (a quarter of a cup, to be exact) in just 10 seconds, and dried our hands in one swipe. At 30 by 58 inches, it’s sized slightly larger than your usual bath towel—providing extra coverage without the bulk of a bath sheet.
Havly’s towels are made of 100% OEKO-TEX certified cotton, sustainably sourced in the Aegean region of Turkey. This technically makes them Turkish towels, but they have a thicker feel than one might expect, while still maintaining the material’s quick-drying properties. Each towel also comes with a built-in color loop, which is bleach-proof and ideal for shared bathrooms.
Best Budget: White Classic Luxury Cotton Bath Towels
Plush and soft
On the smaller side
At $50 for a set of four, the White Classic Luxury Cotton Bath Towels are some of the most budget-friendly options that we tested—but that's not their only selling point. Spun from 100% cotton at a weight of 700 GSM (that’s grams per square meter, which correlates with thickness), they proved to be plush and fairly absorbent during testing. Our testers were able to dry their hands after just a few passes, and the towel barely felt damp after wiping.
While they’re not as soft as pricier options, these towels do a great job for the price. They’re a solid option for guest bathrooms or college students—and, because they’re on the smaller side, these towels would also be great for kids.
Best Luxury: Coyuchi Temescal Organic Towels
Variety of colors and sizes to choose from
Depending on your schedule, bath towels are an item that you’ll use nearly every day—so oftentimes, it’s worth it to splurge. Out of the dozens of towels we tested, Coyuchi’s Temescal Organic Towel was one of our top choices for its quality construction and thoughtful design. Made with 100% organic, GOTS-certified Turkish cotton, these towels have a soft and plush feel that you’ll appreciate use after use. They’re available in five colors and a variety of sizes, including a bath mat and a six-piece set.
A main selling point of the Temescal Organic Towel is its absorbency: the lightweight cotton is woven into narrow ribbed channels, which Coyuchi claims contribute additional drying power. During testing, we found that this towel absorbed water from our tester’s hands immediately—and what water it did absorb was barely visible on the towel. After a cycle in the laundry, the towel performed about the same, with little to no changes in its overall look or feel.
Best Plush: Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towels
Large loop pile
Longer than average
Thicker than many of the other options we tested, the Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towel has a luxe, hotel-quality feel that will hold up wash after wash. This is a slightly longer than average towel, which makes it perfect for taller users or those who like more coverage. Available in a whopping 25 colors, it’s made with 100% Turkish cotton, which has been finely combed for a soft, blanket-like texture. The large, loop-pile weave and 700 GSM weight give it a plush feel that’s a step above the rest.
During testing, we were particularly impressed with this towel’s absorbent properties: it was able to absorb up to a quarter of a cup of water in just a few minutes and dried our testers’ hands in two passes. While we weren’t a huge fan of the colorway that we tested—”Mediterranean Blue” looked more like the color of surgical paper towels than the Mediterranean Sea—there are plenty of neutral options to choose from online.
Best Absorbent: Kohler Turkish Bath Towel with Tatami Weave
Great price for the quality
Soft and absorbent fabric
Somewhat limited color options
According to Whitney Thornburg, Design Director at Coyuchi, absorbency is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for towels: "If it doesn’t dry you off post-shower, it’s not doing its job," she says. And in this category, Kohler's Turkish Bath Towel reigned supreme.
Made with extra-long staple Turkish cotton, this towel is soft, absorbent, and made to last. During testing, it soaked up a quarter of a cup of water in less than a minute and dried our testers' hands with ease. We also love the contemporary striped weave, which adds a subtle visual appeal. Besides the bath towel, Kohler also offers bath sheet, washcloth, and hand towel sizes.
Best Turkish: Serena & Lily Fouta Bath Towel
Limited color options
Turkish towels are generally a lighter weight and faster-drying option than terry towels—but if you aren't ready to make the full transition, Serena & Lily’s Fouta Towels are a great option. With woven Turkish cotton on one side and super-plush terry on the other, they combine the best of both options, earning it our top spot for this category. The subtle herringbone weave pattern adds visual appeal, and they're available in a handful of sophisticated and versatile colors.
Thanks to their plush material, these towels proved to be more absorbent than other Turkish towels we’ve tried. In the lab, the terry material dried our tester’s hands in just one pass, while the striped side took a few more tries. After washing, it maintained basically the same look and performance, with no loose threads or pilling.
Best Spa: Riley Spa Towel Collection Bath Towel
Soft, plush feel
Convenient hanging loop
Bring the spa home with the Riley Spa Collection Bath Towels, which are made in Portugal with 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton. Each towel is prewashed for added durability, and the material is Certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX.
Our testers gave this towel high marks for its plush feel and high-quality construction. It was able to remove water from their hands in just one pass, and, after laundering, barely changed in terms of look and performance. Extra points for the handy hanging loop, which works great for maximizing space in smaller bathrooms.
Best Waffle: Casaluna Waffle Bath Towel
Slightly narrower than average
Fabric doesn't lay flat
Made of 100 percent cotton, the Casaluna Waffle Bath Towel flaunts a delicate waffle weave that will add a stylish touch to your bathroom. It’s a lightweight option that’s surprisingly absorbent, drying our testers’ hands in just one pass. At 56 x 28 inches, this lightweight towel is slightly narrower than average, though it folds compactly and takes up minimal space on racks, hooks, and shelves.
One thing to note is that, due to its texture, this towel isn’t perfectly rectangular: when folded or even laying flat, the edges get quite wavey. While this didn’t affect the towel’s overall performance, if you’re a perfectionist about the look of your bathroom, it’s worth keeping in mind.
Best Quick-Dry: Pottery Barn Hydrocotton Organic Quick-Dry Bath Towel
Made with soft, long-staple cotton
If you live in a hot, humid climate or have a bathroom with limited ventilation, quick-dry towels are a must—and Pottery Barn’s Hydrocotton Organic Quick-Dry Towels are some of the best. Made with 100% organic cotton, they have a soft feel that absorbed all of the water from our tester’s hands with just one pat. The long-staple material adds a smooth finish that resists pilling and tearing, so you won’t have to worry about any damage while washing and drying.
Best Oversized: Hammam Linen Jumbo Large Bath Sheet
Variety of colors to choose from
No matter the season, sometimes you just want to wrap yourself up in a nice, roomy towel. Bath sheets are perfect for that, and the Hammam Linen Jumbo Bath Sheet was one of our favorites. At 35 by 70 inches, this towel is large enough to accommodate a variety of body types. It earned high marks from testers for its absorbency and generous size—and the price point is reasonable, too.
One of our only issues with this bath sheet was its durability: after washing and drying, there were a number of snags and pulled threads. While this didn’t affect its absorbency or overall feel, you might want to take extra care when washing.
Best Color Options: Hotel Collection Ultimate Micro Cotton 30" x 56" Bath Towel
12+ colors to choose from
Not as soft as other options
If you’re wanting to coordinate your towels with your existing decor, look no further than Hotel Collection’s Ultimate Micro Cotton Bath Towels. Available in more than a dozen colors, ranging from stark white to blush pink and teal, you can seamlessly keep your bathroom cohesive and Instagram-worthy.
While the design is fairly basic, these towels performed well during testing, drying our testers’ hands quickly and thoroughly without that sopping wet feel when towels are sometimes too thin. Plus, they’re sold in four different sizes—including bath towels, bath sheets, washcloths, and hand towels—so you can stock your whole linen closet with the color of your choice.
How We Tested
To help you make the best choice for your needs, we bought over 30 towels to test at The Lab in Des Moines, IA. Over the course of 2 days, we assessed each pick on the basis of its fabric quality, absorbency, texture, durability, and overall value. For absorbency, we tested how well each towel absorbed water from both our hands and a bowl of water. We conducted each test before and after laundering the towels to see if there was any difference. We then combined these testing results with our writers' and editors' own research to bring you this list.
What to Look for in a Bath Towel
While many people don’t think about the fiber(s) their towels are made from, this is one of the most important considerations, as fibers perform differently in terms of absorbance, softness, color-fastness, and durability. Further, certain fibers are also more or less environmentally friendly depending on how they’re made, and this information may impact your choice if you’re working to reduce your carbon footprint.
You’ll most commonly see towels made from cotton, thanks to their impressive absorbency and softness. There are several types of cotton towels available, including Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton, organic cotton, Pima cotton, and more. (We’ll discuss the nuances of these cotton varieties below.) Plus, there are also towels made from bamboo, a more eco-friendly option, and microfiber, a type of inexpensive polyester.
While perhaps not the most important consideration, you should always check the size of bath towels before you buy them. There’s nothing worse than getting your towels home and realizing they’ll barely wrap around your body! Standard bath towels typically measure between 27 to 30 inches wide and 52 to 58 inches long. Towels that are 27 x 52 inches may be perfect for smaller adults, but they likely won’t suffice for larger adults. Keep this in mind, especially if you’re shopping online and can’t see the towel in person before you buy.
If you want to really bundle yourself up in a towel, look for bath sheets, which are larger, spa-like towels that typically measure between 35 to 40 inches wide and 60 to 70 inches long. As you might expect, they generally cost more than standard towels.
All fabrics, including towels, have a weight that’s measured in GSM, or grams per square meter. In general, towels typically weigh between 300 and 900 GSM—the lower the number, the lighter the towel will be (and quicker to dry).
There’s no “right” towel weight; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. Some people like lighter towels, while others prefer heavy, dense ones. As a general rule of thumb, towels with a GSM of 300-400 are great for humid areas, while products between 400-600 GSM are standard. Towels that weigh more than 600 GSM are often considered “luxury” products.
There are some key performance differences associated with various towel weights that are important to factor into your purchasing decision. For instance, products with a low GSM typically dry faster but aren’t as absorbent. An example of this is a lightweight beach towel. On the other hand, heavy towels with a high GSM are the most absorbent and plush, but as such, they will take longer to dry.
Absorbency is another important consideration when purchasing towels, but this factor is often hard to discern when you’re shopping in-store or online. There’s no way to measure a towel’s absorbency without trying it, but you can look for a few indicators that a towel will soak up plenty of water.
For one, thicker, heavier towels are generally more absorbent, as previously noted. This means towels with a higher GSM will soak up more water—but, remember, they take longer to dry out. Further, towels made from premium cotton varieties, such as Egyptian or pima cotton, tend to be more absorbent, as are products made from a cotton-rayon blend.
Products that use “combed cotton” have literally been combed to remove shorter fibers and any impurities from the yarn, resulting in a fabric made from only the longest fibers. Combed cotton towels are extremely strong and durable, though not as luxurious to the touch. Ringspun cotton, on the other hand, means both short and long fibers have been twisted together to create the yard, resulting in a fabric that’s smooth and soft to the touch.
As you might guess, twisted yarns mean the fibers are twisted together, and different amounts of twist have different benefits. Low-twist yarns are often plush to the touch, while high-twist yarns create an extremely durable product. “No twist” means the fibers are not twisted, yielding a fluffy, absorbent towel.
No one wants to splurge on towels only to have the colors fade or become splotchy. Unfortunately, there’s no precise way to tell if a towel is colorfast, so it’s best to read the reviews on an item whenever possible to see what kind of experience other buyers have had.
What are the different types of bath towels?
There are many different types of bath towels. Egyptian and Turkish cotton towels are the most-high end types you can buy. They are both made from long-staple fibers, so they are super soft and absorbent and typically carry higher price points than other types of towels. Pima cotton towels are similar to Egyptian and Turkish cotton towels, but they are domestically sourced in the U.S.
Then there are bamboo towels, which are a great option for those looking to reduce their environmental impact. Whether they are 100 percent bamboo or a bamboo-cotton blend, these towels are naturally anti-bacterial. Unfortunately, they are not as absorbent as other options and are usually high in price, too. Linen is another great eco-friendly option that dries super fast, just note that they aren't as soft as regular towels.
Microfiber towels are a fast-drying and inexpensive option since they are made from finely spun synthetic fibers. They also prevent mildew from growing, so many people use this type of towel beyond their bathroom and take them to the beach, gym, and other travels.
Then there are Peshtemal, Hammam, or Fouta towels, also known as Turkish towels. These trendy towels are aesthetically pleasing and quick-drying. Like microfiber towels, many people love to take these towels to the beach and other travels. An authentic Turkish towel is made up of 100 percent Turkish cotton.
Finally, there are organic towels. These towels are generally made from 100 percent cotton and are certified by a third-party vendor. The cotton in these towels is made from cotton which is not treated by pesticides. These are very soft and plush but do take longer to dry than other options.
What are the best places to buy bath towels?
Pretty much every home goods store and big-box retailer sells towels, as do a wide variety of online retailers. However, certain brands are known for their high-quality towels. For example, Pottery Barn and Boll & Branch both have organic options that many reviewers love. If you're looking for a touch of luxury, Frontgate, and Parachute are great places to shop at. Cuddledown, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy's are also great options if you'd like to look at various options at different price points.
What's the best way to care for a bath towel?
Believe it or not, caring for your towels is not as simple as just throwing them in the wash. All bath towels should be washed before you first use them as this will wash off the finish they have and help with absorbency.
Bath towels should never be laundered with fabric softener, which will add a film onto the towel and weaken the absorbency. "If you like the scent of fabric softener, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to your dryer balls in the last 10 minutes of the load, after everything is already mostly dry," says Thornburg.
Your towels should be laundered more often than you think (ideally every three uses!) and should be washed with other towels at the highest temperature the label says they can handle. Use a gentle detergent and dry on low or medium heat with wool dryer balls to help speed up the drying time and control static.
How many bath towels do you need?
In general, you should have four bath towels per person. This allows you to have two in use while the other two are being washed. However, the number of bath towels you need will vary from household to household. If you have a larger family, you may need a few more than average.
How do you store bath towels?
How you store your bath towels is up to you. Towel bars and rings, wall shelves, over-the-door towel racks, towel stands, heated racks and bins, and over-the-toilet units are all different types of organizing systems that can hold your towels. You can simply hang them over the bars or rings or fold or roll them and place them on shelves, in baskets, and more.
How often should you replace bath towels?
Generally, you should replace your towels every two years. If your bath towels are not absorbing water as well as they used to, developing odors after one use, or have frayed edges and holes, it is time for you to replace them. However, high-quality towels tend to last longer, so you may get away with more time between purchases.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Lily Sperry, an Associate Commerce Editor at The Spruce. She compiled this roundup based on lab testing feedback and product reviews from our writers, as well as extensive personal research. Each of the featured bath towels stands out in multiple ways, such as absorbency, drying speed, plushness, softness, durability, and affordability.
For extra insight, Lily also spoke with two experts—Sarah Smith, Product Education & Customer Experience Manager at Serena & Lily, and Whitney Thornburg, Design Director at Coyuchi. With 23 years of combined experience in the field, Smith and Thornburg provided helpful advice on what to look for in a bath towel and other tips.