Does Cooling Towel Work?

Staying cool on hot summer days or during intense workouts can be a challenge.

Does Cooling Towel Work

As temperatures rise, our bodies struggle to regulate internal heat, leading to discomfort, fatigue, and even illness.

This is where cooling towels can provide welcome relief through the natural process of evaporative cooling.

But how exactly do these towels work? And are they really effective at lowering body temperature?

How Do Cooling Towels Work? Understanding the Science of Evaporative Cooling

Cooling towels operate on a simple scientific principle known as evaporative cooling. When a liquid evaporates into a gas, it requires energy. This energy is drawn from the towel and the surrounding environment in the form of heat. As heat energy is sapped, it creates a cooling sensation.

More specifically, cooling towels are made from ultra-absorbent synthetic materials that hold moisture well. When you soak the towel in water, the fabric retains the liquid. But when exposed to airflow, moisture at the surface of the towel evaporates. This endothermic reaction draws heat away from the towel which makes it feel cool to the touch.

By placing the chilled towel against your skin, the evaporating water also pulls heat away from your body. This makes you feel considerably cooler than if you used a regular cotton towel. As evaporation continues, the cooling effect keeps going. When the towel starts to dry out, just re-wet it to trigger fresh evaporative cooling.

Key Takeaway: Cooling towels use the process of evaporation to create an endothermic reaction that draws heat away from the towel and your skin, creating a cooling sensation.

What Makes Cooling Towels Different from Regular Towels?

While traditional cotton towels can also create evaporative cooling when damp, cooling towels take this effect to the next level with their advanced materials and design features.

  • Fabric – Cooling towels use synthetic materials like polyester and nylon mesh that retain moisture very well to prolong cooling compared to cotton. Some feature additive finishes that enhance performance.
  • Weave – Many cooling towels have an open cell construction or mesh design to maximize breathability and airflow. This promotes greater evaporation.
  • Size – Cooling towels come in an array of sizes from small kerchiefs to large body wraps that provide more coverage area to cool down larger portions of the body.
  • Reusability – Cooling towels are highly reusable when cared for properly. Just soak in water to reactivate for fresh cooling relief.

Thanks to these enhancements, cooling towels often provide 5x longer-lasting evaporative power compared to standard towels. The more advanced the fabric and intelligent the design, the greater the cooling power and longer it will last per soak.

The Many Benefits of Using Cooling Towels

From athletes to outdoor workers to those with medical conditions affected by heat, cooling towels offer multifaceted benefits:

Thermal Relief

The primary benefit is the cooling relief itself. Cooling towels can lower skin temperature by up to 30°F to keep you feeling chilled for hours. By placing them around pulse points at the neck, wrists and ankles, they lower overall body temperature to safe levels.

Moisture Control

The ultra-absorbent fabric also serves to wick moisture away from skin to keep you drier compared to regular towels. This moisture control makes cooling towels more comfortable for long-term wear against the body.

UV Protection

Some cooling towels also provide ultraviolet protection as an added benefit. This shields your skin from sun exposure that could lead to burns or long-term skin damage.

Anywhere Access

Thanks to their lightweight fabric, cooling towels are highly portable. Stash small versions in your gym bag or backpack to access cooling relief anywhere anytime.

Health Support

By keeping body temp in check, cooling towels can assist with recovery, prevent overheating illnesses like heat stroke, and help manage conditions exacerbated by heat like MS.

In these ways, cooling towels offer multi-pronged solutions perfect for fitness, work, or medical needs.

Choosing the Right Cooling Towel – What to Look For

With many types of cooling towels on the market catering to different needs, it helps to consider a few factors when selecting one:

Desired Use

Think about when and how you plan to use the towel – sports, work, medical reasons, etc. This will dictate what size and features will suit you best.

Fabric Material

Synthetics like polyester and nylon mesh promote evaporation and airflow most effectively. But towels also come in absorbent natural fibers like organic cotton for gentle cooling.

Size & Shape

Cooling towels range from small neck kerchiefs to oversized body wraps and everything in between. Choose a size that matches your body coverage needs.

Special Features

Some towels offer handy extras like UV sun protection, antimicrobial tech to inhibit bacteria growth, or multifunctional wearability as a bandana, hood, cape, or more.

By keeping usage needs and preferred features in mind, you’re sure to discover the perfect cooling towel match.

Proper Techniques for Using Cooling Towels

To leverage the full cooling power of specialty evaporative towels:

  • Soak it thoroughly – Wet the entire towel in cool water for 1-2 minutes. This activates the cooling properties.
  • Wring it lightly – Gently wring out excess moisture so it’s damp but not dripping. Too much water will make it heavy and ineffective.
  • Shake it open – Give the towel a flick to unfurl the fabric. This enhances evaporation power.
  • Apply to skin – Drape around neck, shoulders or head for instant skin cooling from any angle.
  • Re-wet as needed – When drying out, repeat soak & wring process to reactivate the chilling effect.
  • Air dry after use – Hang to fully dry before storing to prevent bacterial buildup in bundled fabric.

Following this simple wet, wring, shake, wear, re-wet, dry process will keep your cooling towel in top chilling condition for relief anytime the heat index rises.


Are cooling towels only for athletes and outdoor workers?

Absolutely not! While popular with active sets, cooling towels can benefit anyone dealing with hot temps from expectant moms to medical patients and more. If heat is a problem, cooling towels are a solution.

Do cooling towels require special care or have limited reuse?

Basic care helps cooling towels provide reliable performance over many years. Wash regularly in mild detergent, air dry thoroughly after each use, and avoid harsh chemicals or fabric softeners. Follow included care instructions to maximize longevity through countless chilling sessions.

What temperature difference can a cooling towel provide?

Tests show cooling towels can lower skin temperature by up to 30°F thanks to rapid evaporation from specially designed fabric. Results depend on towel quality, humidity, airflow and other factors. But used properly, most see a noticeable chilling effect.

Can you put a cooling towel in the freezer for enhanced cooling?

You can pre-chill a towel in the fridge or freezer before use. But take care not to let it freeze completely solid. This could damage more delicate synthetic fibers. For those made of durable cotton, freezer time can provide bonus chilling power.


Cooling towels provide the welcome ability to drop skin temperature quickly using the simple science of evaporation.

Made from advanced fabrics that hold moisture for rapid heat-sapping reactions, they confer safer body temps and relief from heat issues.

Easy to use, carry and care for, cooling towels equip anyone to stay cooler and continue comfortably despite rising mercury.

Whether you run hot naturally or face sweltering external environments, this innovative accessory leverages nature’s endothermic reactions for chilling you can count on.

Emma Kellam
Emma Kellam

I'm Emma, and I run Towels Edition, a website for fellow home goods enthusiasts who, like me, are passionate about textiles. After working in high-end retail, I was amazed by how little most people (myself included!) know about all the towel options out there.

I research and write all the content myself. Whether it's specialized towels like bar mops, Turkish cotton production methods, or comparing hair towel absorbency, I cover it. My goal is to share my knowledge and enthusiasm to help others.

Running Towels Edition allows me to constantly expand my own expertise too. I love learning about innovations in bamboo fabric or ideal bath towels. It's so rewarding to receive emails thanking me for recommendations that improved my readers' routines.

I want Towels Edition to be the ultimate online towel resource, making this overlooked necessity far more fascinating. My aim is to open people's eyes to how specialty towels can thoroughly enhance hygiene, cleaning, recreation and self-care.