Microfiber Towel vs. Normal Towel

When it comes to drying and cleaning, both microfiber and normal cotton towels have their advantages. But what exactly sets them apart?

Microfiber Towel vs. Normal Towel

Microfiber towels are made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. They have an incredibly fine weave that allows them to absorb up to 7 times their weight in liquid.

Normal towels are usually made from cotton or bamboo fibers. They tend to be thicker and plusher, but take longer to dry.

Microfiber Towel Benefits and Uses

Microfiber towels offer a few key advantages that make them well-suited for certain applications:

High Absorbency

The ultra-fine synthetic fibers allow microfiber towels to soak up huge amounts of water very quickly. Just a small towel can often get the job done. This makes them fantastic for:

  • Drying off after swimming or showering
  • Cleaning and detailing cars, RVs, boats etc. The high absorbency lifts dirt and grime easily
  • General cleaning/dusting around the home
  • Gym/sports towels – their ability to absorb sweat fast keeps athletes comfortable

Key Takeaway: Microfiber towels absorb up to 7 times their weight in liquid, making them ultra-absorbent for cleaning, drying, and sports.

Fast Drying Time

In addition to high liquid absorption, microfiber towels also dry extremely quickly. The synthetic materials simply don’t retain moisture. You can wash a microfiber towel and have it dry in just an hour or two. This makes them great for:

  • Travel and camping – they hardly take up any pack space and dry fast even in cool/humid conditions
  • Reducing mold/mildew growth around the home
  • Frequent cleaning tasks where you need to reuse towels quickly

The fast dry time does come with a tradeoff though – some people find microfiber lacks the plush, luxury feel of cotton.


The incredibly fine strands are smooth to the touch. Microfiber towels are less likely to snag or damage surfaces than normal terry cloth or cotton towels. This gentle quality makes them ideal for:

  • Drying and styling hair – no more frizz or breakage!
  • Cleaning glass, computer screens, optical lenses etc.
  • Dusting around the home without scratching furnishings


Due to the tight weave, microfiber towels don’t shed lint or fibers easily. This prevents debris ending up on the surfaces you’re cleaning or items you’re drying. Microfiber’s lint-free properties are great for:

  • Keeping car windows, mirrors, and trim looking spotless
  • Cleaning electronic devices like phones and tablets
  • Removing makeup smoothly without residue


While very high-end microfiber can be pricey, most microfiber towels are inexpensive – especially compared to luxury cotton towels. The synthetic materials and machine production keep costs down. This makes microfiber towels very budget-friendly for:

  • Equipping an entire sports team
  • Keeping tons of rags/cleaning towels on hand
  • Having backup towels for guests and travel
Microfiber Towel ProsIntended Uses
Ultra absorbentCleaning cars, RVs, boats
Fast dryingTravel and camping
Home cleaning
GentleDrying/styling hair
Cleaning glass and electronics
Lint-freeCleaning windows and mirrors
InexpensiveEquipping sports teams
Guest and travel towels

Key Takeaway: Microfiber towels dry quickly, are gentle, lint-free, and affordable making them versatile for cleaning, sports, travel and more.

Normal Towel Benefits and Uses

While microfiber excels in many areas, normal cotton and bamboo fiber towels still have a place. Here are some of their notable benefits:

Softness and Comfort

The natural fibers of cotton, bamboo, and other materials give normal towels their signature soft, plush feel. There’s nothing quite like wrapping up in a big cotton bath sheet fresh from the dryer! This natural coziness makes normal towels the top choice for:

  • Post-shower routine – who doesn’t love that luxury hotel towel feel?
  • Lounging on the couch or beach
  • Curling up with at bedtime

Yes microfiber dries faster, but normal towels give you that snuggly comfort.


Natural fiber towels like cotton are extremely durable. With proper care, a quality cotton bath towel can maintain its look and absorbency for years or even decades of regular use. Durability makes cotton ideal for:

  • Daily showers and baths – cotton stands up to regular washings
  • Guest bathrooms – cheaper microfiber may need frequent replacing
  • Kitchen messes and cleanups – cotton won’t fall apart with tough stains

While microfiber’s gentleness is ideal for some tasks, cotton’s ruggedness gets the tough jobs done.


Natural fiber towels made from cotton, bamboo, and other materials are biodegradable and reusable. Although pesticides used in cotton farming can be concerning, organic options are available. Responsibly-grown natural fiber towels are a good choice if you want to:

  • Avoid plastics and synthetics entering waterways and landfills
  • Use materials from renewable sources like plants
  • Compost towels at the end of their lifespan
Normal Towel ProsIntended Uses
Soft and plushPost-shower routine
DurableDaily showers and baths
Withstanding kitchen messes
Eco-friendly optionsAvoiding synthetics in landfills
Using renewable materials

Key Takeaway: Normal towels made from natural fibers offer unmatched softness and durability. Organic cotton options provide an eco-friendly choice.

Microfiber vs Normal Towels: Key Differences

Now that you know the primary benefits of microfiber and normal towels, let’s recap a few of the key differences between them:

FactorMicrofiber TowelNormal Towel
MaterialsSynthetic (usually polyester or nylon/polyamide blend)Natural (usually cotton, bamboo)
Weight when wetUp to 7 times towel weight2-3 times towel weight
Drying timeVery fast – often <2 hoursLonger – can take 4+ hours
Durability2-4 years with careOften 10+ years with care
TextureSmooth, suede-likeTerry loops provide plush feel
Eco-footprintNot biodegradable, emits microplasticsNatural options biodegrade
CostVery inexpensiveAffordable to luxury prices

Caring for Microfiber vs Normal Towels

To get the most out of either towel type, proper care is essential. Here’s a quick guide to washing and drying microfiber and normal towels:


  • Machine wash cold with gentle detergent
  • No fabric softener or dryer sheets
  • Air dry or tumble dry low

Normal Towel

  • Machine wash warm with regular detergent
  • Avoid overloading the washer
  • Tumble dry medium heat
  • Avoid line/air drying (can create stiffness)

Take extra care when prepping microfiber towels for the washing machine. The delicate synthetic fibers are prone to damage from heat and harsh cleaners. But if you care for both towel varieties properly, they can deliver years of service.

Microfiber and Normal Towel Environmental Impact

Both microfiber and normal towels come with certain environmental considerations. Here’s a quick comparison of their ecological pros and cons:



  • Made from recycled plastic bottles in some cases


  • Not biodegradable
  • Emits microplastics when washed
  • Made from fossil fuel-derived materials

Normal Towel


  • Made from renewable plant materials like cotton and bamboo
  • Compostable at end of lifespan
  • Organic options reduce pesticide use


  • Cotton farming uses significant water
  • Pesticides can be concerning if not organic
  • Transportation impacts from global supply chains

As you can see, both microfiber and normal towels have tradeoffs when it comes to ecological footprint. Organic cotton towels or those made from recycled microfiber provide more eco-friendly options. Being mindful of how many towels you own and washing them only when needed can also reduce environmental impacts.

Choosing the Right Towel Type

With all of their unique benefits and intended uses, here are some quick tips for choosing microfiber vs normal towels:

Microfiber Towels Are Best For:

Cleaning cars, windows, lenses, screens Drying hair gently Ultra-absorbent gym/sports towels Travel and camping Affordable cleaning rags

Normal Cotton/Bamboo Towels Are Best For:

Luxurious post-shower routine Cuddling up on the couch or beach
Withstanding daily use and abuse Compostable and biodegradable options

Of course, many households find a need for both towel varieties. Having some of each on hand lets you enjoy microfiber’s superpowers as well as cozy up with normal towels when needed. With proper care, both types can deliver years of drying power.


What are the main differences between microfiber and normal towels?

Microfiber towels are made from synthetic materials like polyester and absorb up to 7 times their weight in liquid. Normal towels are usually made from natural fibers like cotton and are softer and more plush, but take longer to dry.

What are microfiber towels best used for?

Microfiber towels are great for tasks requiring high absorbency like drying cars, windows, and lenses, cleaning around the home, drying hair gently, using as sports towels, and travel/camping.

What are normal cotton towels best for?

Normal cotton towels are best used for comfort and luxury after showering, lounging on the couch or beach, daily bath and shower use, guest bathrooms, and compostable/biodegradable options.

Which towel type is more durable?

Normal cotton towels are more durable, often lasting 10+ years with proper care compared to 2-4 years for microfiber. However, microfiber towels are very inexpensive.

Which towel choice is better for the environment?

Organic cotton towels have the edge as a renewable, compostable choice. But recycled microfiber made from plastic bottles also has environmental benefits. Using towels responsibly and reducing overall numbers owned makes the biggest eco impact.

Should I choose microfiber or normal towels?

Most households can benefit from having both microfiber and normal cotton towels. Use microfiber for cleaning and quick drying. Have cotton towels ready for comfort and luxury after bathing.


When choosing between microfiber and normal cotton towels, there are good arguments to be made for both.

Microfiber offers unmatched absorbency and cleaning abilities with its ultra-fine synthetic fibers.

Yet classic cotton still provides the soft, luxurious feel that some tasks call for.

Most households can benefit from having both towel varieties on hand.

Keep microfiber towels for window cleaning, drying cars, quick post-gym showers, and camping trips.

Have plush cotton towels ready in the linen closet for pampering yourself after a long bath or getting cozy on the sofa.

Towels Edition
Towels Edition