What Are Turkish Bath Towels

Turkish bath towels have become increasingly popular in recent years. Known for their lightweight feel, quick-drying properties, and storied history, these towels offer an intriguing alternative to your average bath towel.

What Are Turkish Bath Towels

But what exactly are Turkish bath towels, and what makes them so special? We will tell you everything you need to know about these unique towels.

A Brief History of Turkish Bath Towels

Turkish bath towels have a long and storied history. They originated in Turkish bathhouses, also known as hammams, which have existed in Turkey since Roman times. These public baths were an important part of social life and personal hygiene. Bathers would relax in a succession of hot and cold rooms, and be scrubbed clean by attendants.

The towels used in the baths needed to be highly absorbent to soak up all the water, while also drying quickly in the humid environment. Turkish cotton was found to be ideal for these needs. The production of towels for the bath cottage industry employs many local villagers, especially women.

Centuries later, Turkish bath towels, sometimes called foutas or pestemals, have traveled beyond the bathhouse into homes and hotels around the world. Their usefulness as multi-purpose towels has contributed to their popularity today.

What Are Turkish Bath Towels Made Of?

Turkish cotton

Authentic Turkish towels are made from Turkish cotton, which comes from the Aegean region of Turkey. This type of cotton has extra-long fibers that create stronger, smoother threads. The long fibers mean there are fewer breaks in the material, resulting in a towel that is more durable and less likely to fray or pill over time.

Turkish cotton is very similar to Egyptian cotton, which is prized for its exceptional softness. But Turkish cotton balances softness with quickness to dry – it doesn’t retain moisture as much as Egyptian cotton. This makes Turkish cotton ideal for bath towels.

The highest quality Turkish towels will be made from 100% Turkish cotton. Lower-quality towels may mix in other cheaper materials like polyester or use shorter cotton fibers. Always check the label to ensure your towel is made from pure Turkish cotton.

How Are Turkish Bath Towels Made?

Authentic Turkish bath towels are still handwoven on looms, just as they were centuries ago. The towels are woven with a flat surface rather than a terry or plush texture. This allows them to dry more efficiently.

The fringed edges of the towels are also hand-knotted for decoration and to prevent fraying. Small family businesses use these traditional techniques to produce high-quality towels that will last for years.

What Is The Difference Between Turkish and Regular Towels?

What Is The Difference Between Turkish and Regular Towels

There are a few key differences that distinguish Turkish towels from regular bath towels:

  • Size – Turkish towels are bigger, usually around 35″ x 65″ or larger. Regular bath towels are typically 27″ x 52″. The oversized Turkish towels provide more coverage.
  • Weight – Turkish towels are lighter and thinner than terry cloth towels. The flat woven fabric doesn’t absorb as much water.
  • Texture – Turkish towels have a smooth, flat surface rather than thick terry loops. This allows them to dry faster.
  • Absorbency – Turkish towels are highly absorbent for their weight, but not as absorbent as regular towels. However, they dry much faster.
  • Versatility – Turkish towels can be used as beach towels, blankets, and even clothing items. Their lightweight nature makes them multi-purpose.
  • Durability – Turkish cotton is extremely durable and gets softer over time. These towels will last for years with proper care.

Turkish towels are oversized yet lightweight, smooth and flat, quick-drying, and extremely versatile and durable. The trade-off is slightly less plushness and absorbency compared to terry cloth.

How Absorbent Are Turkish Bath Towels?

While not as absorbent as thick terry towels, Turkish bath towels are surprisingly absorbent for their weight and thickness. The long Turkish cotton fibers allow the towels to soak up a lot of moisture efficiently.

It’s important to note that the absorbency of the towels improves over time and with washing. When new, the towels may initially feel less absorbent. But after a few washes, the cotton fibers bloom and become more capable of absorbing water. The more you wash and use Turkish towels, the better they get.

Many users say their Turkish towels become their most absorbent towels. Taking proper care of them by washing frequently and avoiding fabric softeners is key to maximizing their absorbency potential.

Do Turkish Bath Towels Dry Quickly?

One of the biggest benefits of Turkish bath towels is how quickly they dry. The lightweight, flat woven fabric doesn’t retain much moisture. It allows air to easily pass through and evaporate water.

Under normal indoor conditions, most Turkish towels will dry in 30 minutes to an hour. Compare that to several hours for a typical terry cloth bath towel!

The quick-drying functionality makes them perfect for travel, outdoor use, and busy households where towels are in constant demand. Even after a swim or shower, your Turkish towel will be ready to use again in no time.

Are Turkish Bath Towels Machine Washable?

Absolutely! Turkish towels can be safely washed in the washing machine, despite their delicate appearance. Wash them in cold water on a gentle cycle with similar colors. Avoid bleach and fabric softeners, as these can damage the fibers over time.

For best results, line-dry your Turkish towels if possible. The heat of electric or gas dryers can be harsh on the cotton. However, if air drying isn’t an option, tumble dry on low. Avoid over-drying, as it can make the towels rough.

With proper laundering, Turkish towels will last for years. In fact, the more you wash them, the softer and more absorbent they become.

How to Prepare Turkish Towels for First Use

It’s important to wash cotton towels before first use to maximize softness and absorbency. Here are a few tips for preparing new Turkish bath towels:

  • Machine wash in cold water with mild detergent before using
  • For best results, wash 2-3 times to fully “break in” the fibers
  • Air dry or tumble dry on low heat
  • Avoid fabric softeners and bleach
  • If needed, reshape towels and trim any loose threads

After pre-washing, your towels will be ready to enjoy! With extra washings over time, they will become even more soft and thirsty.

What Is the Best Way to Dry Turkish Towels?

To protect the integrity of the cotton fibers, air-drying Turkish towels is ideal. Hang them to dry or lay them flat. If air drying is not an option, tumble dry on the lowest heat setting. Avoid over-drying, as too much heat can damage or shrink the cotton.

It’s also best to dry similar colors together. The dyes may bleed if dried with non-colorfast fabrics.

Thanks to their lightweight nature, most Turkish towels will air dry in an hour or less. Drying them flat helps maintain their shape and fringe. Proper drying is key to keeping your towels soft and plush for years.

How Can You Make Turkish Towels Softer?

There are a few tips for maximizing the softness of your Turkish towels:

  • Wash frequently – this helps break in the fibers over time
  • Use mild liquid detergent – powder detergent can be harsher
  • Wash in cold water – hot water can damage the cotton
  • Air dry when possible – reduces shrinkage and roughness
  • Avoid fabric softener – coats fibers and reduces absorbency
  • Use a vinegar rinse – helps dissolve detergent residue
  • Wash towels separately – zippers/buttons cause pilling
  • Handle gently, shake out folds – prevents wrinkles and creases

With repeated, gentle laundering and air drying, your towels will become ultra-soft and plush.

How Do You Fix Pulled Threads or Unraveled Fringe?

It’s common for the knotted fringe edges of Turkish towels to come undone from use, washing, and drying over time. Fixing frayed fringe or pulled threads is thankfully an easy mend:

  • Carefully trim any pulled threads so they don’t snag further
  • For fringe, separate into sections and twist tightly clockwise
  • Take 2 twisted sections and wrap them together counter-clockwise
  • Tie a knot at the end to secure
  • Check other fringe and re-tie any loose knots
  • Avoid catching fringe in zippers when washing
  • Air dry flat to prevent tangles

With some minor maintenance, your Turkish towels will stay beautiful for ages. The fringe adds Decorative charm but can be trimmed off if needed.

What Are Some Other Uses for Turkish Bath Towels?

One reason Turkish towels have gained popularity is their incredible versatility beyond just bathing. Here are some other clever ways to use them:

  • As beach towels – they pack small and the flat surface makes sand shake off easily.
  • As blankets and throws – their thin but cozy nature works well for this.
  • As tablecloths and picnic blankets – the colorful patterns liven up any occasion.
  • As yoga and gym towels – their absorbency and fast drying make them ideal for active lifestyles.
  • As wraps, sarongs, and scarves – the oversized towels can be worn in so many ways.
  • As bathmats – their smooth texture won’t catch bare feet like regular bathmats.
  • For travel – they take up little suitcase space and dry fast.
  • As hair towels – gently absorb moisture from hair without damage.

The versatility of Turkish towels makes them a useful addition to any home. With proper care, they can serve you for years in many different ways.


How can you tell if a Turkish towel is high quality?

Look for these signs of a high-quality Turkish bath towel:

  • Made from 100% Turkish cotton
  • Higher gram weight – around 400-600 GSM
  • Tight, dense weave with minimal gaps
  • Selvedge or knotted edges to prevent fraying
  • Vibrant, colorfast dyes that don’t bleed
  • Soft, plush feel that improves over time
  • Gets even softer and more absorbent when washed
  • Yarn dyed for longer-lasting colors

What size Turkish towel should you buy?

Turkish towels come in a range of sizes. For a standard bath towel, look for sizes around 35″ x 65″ or larger. Beach towels are even bigger – up to 40″ x 70″. For just drying hands or dishes, smaller 20″ x 40″ guest towels are available. Choose the size that suits your needs.

How many times can you reuse a Turkish towel before washing it?

It’s best to wash Turkish towels after 1 or 2 uses. Since they dry so quickly, washing frequently is easy. Towels used daily or post-shower should be washed after each use. For just drying hands or dishes, you may get 2-3 uses before washing.

How long do Turkish towels last?

With proper care, most high-quality Turkish towels will last 5 years or longer. Some users report towels lasting a decade or more. The Turkish cotton and traditional techniques make them extremely durable. Just be sure to launder gently and avoid harsh chemicals for longevity.


Turkish bath towels have earned a reputation for luxury, versatility, and durability. Made from specially-grown Turkish cotton using traditional weaving methods, they are lightweight yet highly absorbent.

They dry in record time and only become softer and more thirsty with repeated use. With such a past intertwined with Turkish culture, it’s no wonder these special towels have made their way into homes and hotels around the world.

For an indulgent everyday towel or a practical multi-tasker, Turkish bath towels fit the bill.

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.