Waffle and terry towels actually have quite a few differences when it comes to absorbency, drying time, softness, durability, and more.
What is a Waffle Weave Towel?
A waffle weave towel features a textured, woven pattern that resembles a waffle. The fabric has a grid design with recessed squares that create extra surface area. This unique structure makes waffle towels lighter and thinner than terry cloth.
Waffle weave is also sometimes called honeycomb weave or lattice weave. It’s been around for a while but has recently grown in popularity compared to traditional terry towels.
Some key features of waffle weave towels:
- Made from cotton, linen, or cotton/linen blends
- Thinner and more lightweight construction
- Absorbs and releases moisture quickly
- Dries faster than terry cloth
- Takes up less storage space
- Provides a massaging texture
What is a Terry Cloth Towel?
Terry cloth is the most common towel fabric. It consists of loops of piled yarn on one or both sides. The piles are formed by weaving extra threads through the cloth and then leaving them uncut.
Longer, looser terry cloth loops provide more surface area for absorbing water. However, all those nooks and crannies also take longer to fully dry after use.
Some characteristics of terry cloth towels:
- Made of 100% cotton typically
- Looped piles add thickness
- Very absorbent due to high surface area
- Bulkier so takes up more storage space
- Dries slower than waffle weave
- Soft, plush feel
So which towel fabric reigns supreme? Below we compare waffle and terry towels across a few key categories.
Absorbency refers to how effectively a towel soaks up moisture. This is likely one of the most important factors you consider when choosing bath towels.
- Waffle weave – The waffle pattern increases surface area, allowing waffle towels to absorb a significant amount. However, testing shows they generally absorb slightly less than terry cloth overall.
- Terry cloth – With all those piled loops, terry towels tend to be exceptionally absorbent. The high surface area lets them soak up lots of moisture. Terry cloth is often ranked highest for absorbency.
So for the absolute best absorbency, terry cloth towels have a slight edge. But waffle towels still absorb plenty of water to get the job done.
No one wants to reach for a still-damp towel. So drying speed is another key consideration.
- Waffle weave – The thin, breathable fabric allows waffle towels to release moisture easily. This means they dry out much faster than terry cloth, often in just a few hours.
- Terry cloth – All those piled loops trap more water. So terry cloth holds onto moisture longer, needing at least 24 hours to fully dry in many cases.
For quicker dry time between uses, waffle weave is the clear winner.
Who doesn’t love a super soft, plush towel to wrap up in after a shower? Softness often comes down to personal preference, but here’s how the fabrics compare:
- Waffle weave – Waffle towels offer a smooth, textured feel. They tend to feel fairly soft, especially when made with fine materials like Supima cotton or linen. The woven grid can provide gentle exfoliation too.
- Terry cloth – With all those uncut loose piles, terry cloth has an ultra-soft, fluffy feel. The bouffant loops lend a lush, plush quality. Most people find terry towels to be softer.
For ultimate softness and plushness, terry cloth is preferable. But waffle towels can still offer a decent degree of softness.
You want your towels to stand the test of time. So durability through repeated use and laundering is essential.
- Waffle weave – These towels are generally durable if cared for properly. However, some users report issues with shrinkage, linting or loose threads over time.
- Terry cloth – The tightly woven piled loops are built for longevity. Terry cloth withstands frequent use and laundering quite well in most cases. It tends to be more durable overall.
Terry cloth seems to have superior staying power as towels age. But waffle weave can also last for years if gently laundered.
Storage and Portability
Do you have limited linen closet space? Do you travel a lot? Towel portability may guide your choice then.
- Waffle weave – These towels are thinner and smaller when folded. So they consume far less storage space. Their compact size also makes waffle towels easier to pack in a suitcase or gym bag.
- Terry cloth – With their fluffy piled construction, terry towels take up much more space when stored. They’re also bulkier to pack if you’re traveling.
If storage and portability are key concerns, waffle weave towels have a big advantage. Their convenience makes them great for trips or small spaces.
Budget can also be a factor when deciding between towel fabrics. Here’s what to expect cost-wise:
- Waffle weave – These towels are often moderately priced since they use less fabric. Expect to spend around $15 – $50 for one waffle towel.
- Terry cloth – With more fabric bulk, terry cloth towels tend to cost a bit more. Plan on spending $20 – $70 for one quality terry towel.
There’s definitely overlap between towel types price-wise. But overall, waffle weave towels tend to retail for less on average.
Choosing Between Waffle and Terry Towels
To recap the key differences:
- Waffle weave – Better for quick drying, storage, travel; moderate absorbency and softness
- Terry cloth – Superior for maximum absorbency and plush softness; takes more space
We can see pros and cons to both towel fabrics.
For those short on storage space or often on the go, we recommend waffle weave. The thinner profile and quicker dry time make waffle towels super convenient.
However, plush terry cloth is the best choice if your top priority is a soft, thick, über-absorbent towel.
What About Waffle-Terry Hybrid Towels?
Some brands now offer towels that combine both waffle and terry fabrics. These hybrid towels have a waffle side for scrubbing and fast dry time with a terry side for maximum absorbency.
So if you just can’t decide between fabrics, a split personality waffle-terry towel gives you both!
Shopping Tips for Waffle and Terry Towels
Use these tips when shopping for either waffle or terry towels:
- Consider fiber content – Look for 100% cotton or a linen/cotton blend. Long-staple cotton like Egyptian or Pima generally feels softer. The finest linen is smooth and strong but more costly.
- Choose appropriate weight – Higher grams per square meter (gsm) equates to more fabric bulk and greater absorbency. Waffle towels often range 240-500 gsm while terry cloth is 400-900 gsm usually.
- Mind the laundry instructions – Most are machine washable but may need gentler cycles to prevent excessive shrinkage over time. Tumble dry low or line dry.
- Read reviews – Check what actual verified buyers say. Well-made towels should receive feedback about good absorbency, softness, durability from experienced bathers.
- Consider price – While higher price doesn’t automatically mean better quality, beware super cheap towels that seem too good to be true. Prioritize reputable brands known for quality linens.
Are waffle towels more absorbent than regular towels?
In most cases, regular terry cloth towels absorb a bit more moisture than waffle weave. All those piled terry loops create tons of surface area to soak up water. However, waffle towels still absorb plenty to dry off effectively after a shower or bath.
Are waffle towels softer than regular towels?
In general, terry cloth towels tend to feel softer and more plush due to all the uncut piled loops. The loops create a very soft, cushy handfeel. However, waffle weave towels can also offer decent softness depending on the fabric. High-end materials like Supima or Egyptian cotton, linen, and microcotton waffle towels feel smooth and gentle on skin. So while terry cloth is usually softer, waffle towels are not necessarily scratchy or rough.
Which towel is better for sensitive skin?
For those with sensitive skin, waffle weave towels may cause less irritation in some cases. The flat woven fabric has a smoother texture than puffy terry cloth loops which could aggravate conditions like eczema. Linen and microcotton waffle towels tend to be extra gentle options. However, some sensitive skin types still prefer soft terry cloth. It comes down to personal preference.
Which towel fabric is more durable over time?
Terry cloth often proves more durable as towels age, withstanding many cycles through the laundry. The tightly constructed piled loops are built to last. Waffle weave can also offer longevity but may experience more issues like loosening threads, holes forming, or shrinkage over years of use. Proper laundry practices help waffle towels maintain integrity. But terry cloth seems to have an edge for lifespan.
Do waffle towels take up less storage space?
Absolutely! When folded, waffle weave towels consume far less linen closet space due to their thinner, smaller profile. They can be stocked in greater quantities and also pack down much easier for traveling. So if storage space is limited, waffle towels are the more convenient choice.
Deciding between waffle and terry cloth towels ultimately comes down to personal preferences and priorities.
If having the softest, plushest, most water-absorbent towel is most important, then terry cloth is likely the best choice. The piled loops help create an exceptionally soft and fluffy hand feel while soaking up bountiful moisture after a shower or bath. However, the tradeoff is longer dry times and bulkier storage.
For those wanting a more textured, exfoliating feel, quicker drying, and space-saving convenience, waffle weave towels make an excellent option. Though they don’t absorb quite as much as terry, waffle towels still effectively get the job done while taking up less room and drying faster.