What Is A Bath Towel

A bath towel is a vital part of any bathroom. It’s the absorbent fabric you wrap yourself in after a shower or bath to dry off. But how well do you really know this bathroom essential?

What Is A Bath Towel

There are some key differences between bath towels and similar-sounding bath sheets that provide extra coverage. Understanding bath towel sizes, materials, care instructions and more can help you find the best pick for your needs.

The Main Purpose of Bath Towels

The primary function of a bath towel is to absorb water from your body after washing. It conveniently wicks moisture away, preventing you from dripping all over the floor. Bath towels are designed to be ultra-absorbent, keeping you comfortable and dry once you step out of the tub or shower. Their soft, plush piles soak up water quickly.

Bath towels are commonly used to wrap around parts of your body like your head, torso, or legs. Some people prefer to remain wrapped in a towel for a period of time after bathing. The soft fabric can provide warmth while you finish other tasks like styling your hair or applying beauty products.

Common Bath Towel Sizes and Dimensions

Bath towels come in a range of sizes, but there are some standard dimensions to be aware of:

  • Standard bath towels are typically around 27 x 52 inches. This is the most common bath towel size found in many homes.
  • Oversized bath towels measure approximately 30 x 56 inches, providing a little more coverage than a standard size.
  • Extra large bath towels are around 34 x 60 inches. This plus-sized option offers even more fabric to wrap up in.
  • Bath sheets are the largest size at 35 x 70 inches or larger. They can fully wrap around your body with excess fabric.

If you’ll be sharing towels, consider the height and size of family members. Larger towels provide more coverage and absorbency for bigger bodies. Kids usually manage fine with standard sizes. Also, account for available storage space. The bigger the towel, the more space it requires.

Different Materials and Fabrics

Bath towels today are made from various materials:

  • Cotton is a popular choice since it’s very absorbent and affordable. Types like Egyptian or Turkish cotton provide luxury softness.
  • Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial and absorbs moisture well. It’s also very soft against the skin.
  • Microfiber dries quickly and is quite budget-friendly. It’s not as absorbent as cotton though.
  • Linen has a fast drying time and crisp texture. It becomes softer over time but isn’t very plush.
  • Rayon from bamboo or cotton has a silky feel. It’s absorbent but less durable than cotton.

Consider factors like softness, absorbency, drying time, and durability when selecting a bath towel fabric. Cotton is best for absorbency and softness at an affordable price.

The Difference Between Bath Towels and Other Towels

The Difference Between Bath Towels and Other Towels

It’s easy to confuse bath towels with similar products like hand towels or bath sheets. But each style serves a unique purpose:

  • Bath towels are the largest of the three and are used for drying off your body.
  • Hand towels are smaller and placed near sinks to dry hands and face.
  • Washcloths are the smallest size, used for washing the body in the shower or bath.
  • Bath sheets provide more coverage and absorbency with their oversized dimensions.
  • Beach towels are similar in size to bath sheets but thinner with less absorption.

Bath towels specifically refer to medium-large towels for drying your body after bathing. Hand towels, washcloths, and bath sheets serve other primary purposes.

The Pros and Cons of Bath Towels

Bath towels provide convenient full or half-body coverage after washing:


  • Offer medium absorbency for most people
  • Fit easily over towel bars and shelves
  • Less expensive than oversized options
  • Easy to wrap in hair or around shoulders


  • May not cover larger bodies fully
  • Less absorbent than bath sheets
  • Can feel skimpy for some people
  • Limited warmth wrapped in after bathing

For many people, the pros of the common bath towel outweigh any cons. However, those who want more coverage and absorption may prefer upgrading to bath sheets.

Caring for Your Bath Towels Properly

Here are some tips for keeping bath towels in great condition:

  • Wash towels every 3-5 uses or when they smell musty. Use cold water to preserve color.
  • Avoid fabric softeners to maximize absorbency. It leaves an oil coating.
  • Tumble dry on low heat to prevent shrinkage. Remove promptly to prevent wrinkles.
  • Never use bleach as it weakens fibers over time. Opt for an oxygen bleach alternative if needed.
  • Fold neatly and store in a dry, ventilated space between uses.
  • Wash dark towels separately to prevent lint transfer to lighter ones.
  • Disinfect periodically by washing with hot water and vinegar or tea tree oil.

Proper laundry and storage habits give bath towels a longer lifespan. Handle them with care for best results.

Key Factors When Selecting Bath Towels

Keep these criteria in mind when shopping for the perfect bath towels:

  • Intended use – Will they be for drying the body, hair, or hands? Consider size and absorbency needs.
  • Budget – Set a spending limit before comparing quality across price points.
  • Material – Choose one that meets your preferences for softness, absorbency, and durability.
  • Weight – Heavier towels tend to be more absorbent and plush. Lightweight ones dry faster.
  • Design – Make sure the color and pattern coordinate with your bathroom decor.
  • Texture – Compare different weave styles like waffle or fluffy cut pile.
  • Accessories – Get hand towels and washcloths to match for a coordinated set.

Keep these factors and your own priorities in mind to selecting the ideal bath towels.

Why Bath Towels Are an Essential Household Item

Here are some of the top reasons bath towels are a must-have in every home:

  • Allows you to conveniently dry off after bathing or swimming
  • Provide a layer of warmth and coverage when wet and cold
  • Absorb moisture instead of remaining damp post-wash
  • Softer and more absorbent than improvised towel substitutes
  • Designed specifically for drying off bodies versus dishes or hands
  • Available in ranges of sizes to suit children to adults
  • Prevent slippery accidents that can occur when walking around wet
  • Provide a comfortable background to finish grooming or dressing
  • Made of fabrics like cotton that grip moisture and dry skin gently
  • Feel luxurious when made from soft, high-quality materials
  • Help complete the look of a well-coordinated bathroom

Bath towels are an affordable essential that makes bathing much more pleasant. The fabrics conveniently do the hard work of absorbing water so you don’t have to air dry.

The Luxury of High-Quality Bath Towels

Treating yourself to high-quality bath towels can elevate your bathing routine. Here’s what to look for in luxury bath towels:

Luxuriously Soft Fabrics

Opt for super soft, long-staple cotton like Egyptian or Pima. Bamboo and microfibers also offer next-level softness. Touch and feel samples in person when possible.

Generous Weight and Density

Heavier, denser towels contain more fibers to absorb increased moisture. They also provide a plush feel. Target at least 600 gsm weight.

Oversized Dimensions

Bath sheets provide more material to wrap up in. For ultimate luxury, look for 40 x 70 inches or larger. The excess size is indulgent.

Special Weaving Patterns

Unique weaves like waffle ribs or honeycomb add visual and tactile interest. They make towels feel less flat and plain.

Vibrant, Rich Dye Colors

Deep, saturated cotton dyes feel more upscale than faded ones. Make sure the colors coordinate well with your bathroom palette.

Coordinated Sets and Accessories

Complete the look with hand towels, washcloths, and bath mats in matching colors. A unified set looks polished.

Treat yourself to the luxury of ultra-soft, vibrant bath towels. They’ll make you feel pampered and special each time you use them.

Caring for Bath Towels to Prolong Their Lifespan

Bath towels get used frequently, so proper care is key to keeping them fluffy and absorbent. Here are expert tips for making bath towels last:

Rinse Away Excess Dirt Before Washing

Rinsing towels by hand first prevents soils from directly contacting your washer interior. Start by running them under cool water and wringing out excess moisture.

Use a Gentle Laundry Detergent

Harsh detergents with brighteners or enzymes can degrade fibers over time. Opt for a mild liquid detergent without additives. Never use bleach.

Wash Towels Separately

Wash white, light, and dark colors separately to prevent lint transfer or dye bleed issues. This preserves their appearance and maximizes lifespan.

Occasionally Wash With Vinegar

Run towels through a hot water cycle with 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar now and then. The acid helps remove residues and disinfect them.

Avoid Overloading the Washer or Dryer

Crowded washers and dryers lead to wrinkling and uneven cleaning or drying. Leave space for items to move around freely.

Line Dry Outside When Possible

The sun naturally bleaches and disinfects towels. Air drying outside prevents shrinkage from machine heat.

Fold Properly After Drying

Neatly fold towels right after drying so they hold their shape. Improper folding leads to creasing and wrinkling over time.

With the right practices, you can keep bath towels looking and feeling like new for years of daily use. Handle them with care for best results.

DIY Hacks for Refreshing Old Bath Towels

Do your bath towels feel rough, thin, or smelly? Try these DIY tricks to restore their softness and absorbency:

Wash With Baking Soda

Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the washing machine drum before adding towels. Let soak 15 minutes before completing the wash cycle.

Soak in Vinegar Solution

Fill a tub with cool water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Submerge towels and let them soak for 30 minutes before washing them as usual.

Use Clarifying Shampoo

Wash towels with a small amount of clarifying shampoo containing citric acid. It removes buildup that reduces absorbency.

Rub With Tennis Balls

Place two tennis balls in the dryer and dry towels for 20 minutes on air fluff. The agitation lifts piles.

Sprinkle With Baking Soda

Scent stale towels with baking soda. Sprinkle it on, let sit for 1 hour, then shake off excess before washing normally.

Steam With Shower Power

Hang damp towels in the bathroom while showering. The steam smooths wrinkles and rejuvenates fibers.

Bring new life back into your tired bath towels with these easy DIY restoration methods. They’ll save you money on replacement costs.

When It’s Time to Replace Old Bath Towels

As much as we try to care for them, there comes a point when bath towels have reached the end of their lifespan. Here are signs it’s time to replace yours:

  • Towels feel stiff, rough and non-absorbent
  • Musty or sour odors persist after repeated washing
  • Fibers appear thinned out and you can see through them
  • Towels leave lint all over you and the bathroom after use
  • Permanent stains or holes have developed in the fabric
  • Towels fray heavily along the edges and hems
  • They never fully dry and stay somewhat damp
  • Mold or mildew is growing on towels even after disinfecting washes
  • The colors have badly faded or the dyes bleed onto your skin

When towels display these obvious signs of wear, it’s best to retire them and avoid the transfer of bacteria. Replace them with fresh, highly absorbent ones.

Finding the Best Deals on Bath Towels

Here are some tips for scoring bath towels at wallet-friendly prices:

  • Shop sales holidays like President’s Day or Memorial Day weekend for major discounts.
  • Clearance or outlet stores often offer better prices on last season’s towel colors.
  • Check overstock stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for surprise name-brand finds.
  • Use coupons from home goods stores like Bed Bath & Beyond to save on big purchases.
  • Buy towels as part of a bundled bath accessory set for lower combined pricing.
  • Consider buying in bulk packs online to reap price-per-towel savings.
  • Opt for thinner, lower-pile towels that provide decent absorption for less.
  • Stick to basic colors like white as opposed to trendy prints that often cost more.

With some smart shopping strategies, you can outfit your bathroom with quality bath towels without overspending.

Common Places to Buy Bath Towels From

Here are some good places to purchase bath towels:

  • Department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Dillard’s that carry a wide variety of home brands. You can often feel samples.
  • Specialty linen stores like Bed Bath & Beyond offer extensive towel selection across styles and prices.
  • Big box stores like Target or Walmart for very affordable standard towel options to stock up.
  • Home goods stores like Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn for higher-end, designer towel brands.
  • Manufacturer websites of brands you like for direct access to full product ranges. Sign up for e-mail alerts on sales and deals.
  • Amazon for the convenience of shopping many brands in one place, reading reviews, and benefiting from free shipping.
  • Overstock retailers like HomeGoods for surprising designer finds at discounted outlet pricing.

Shopping around lets you easily compare quality, pricing, and designs to find your perfect match.

Final Tips for Choosing the Best Bath Towels

Keep these final tips in mind when selecting bath towels:

  • Soak up towel textures in person whenever possible to assess softness and feel.
  • Look for luxe details like heavyweight density, long-staple cotton, and jacquard weaving.
  • Choose larger bath sheets if you want enough fabric to fully wrap yourself or have excess to spare.
  • Get help accessing towels on high shelves when needed to properly feel their quality.
  • Buy two to three towels per family member so some can be in the wash while others are available.
  • Coordinate colors with your shower curtains, rugs, and other bathroom textiles.
  • Select solid colors and overprinted patterns to easily match towels to bath accessories down the road.
  • Wash new towels prior to use to maximize softness after initial machine washing.

With knowledge of what makes an exceptional bath towel, you’re sure to find the ones your whole family loves. Enjoy the bliss of wrapping up in ultra-soft, absorbent towels after every bath or shower.


How many bath towels should you own?

Most experts recommend having at least two bath towels per family member. This allows you to wash towels regularly while always having a spare on hand. Depending on storage space, you may want to own more.

How often should you wash bath towels?

Ideally, launder bath towels every 3-5 uses. Washing them frequently is key to removing bacteria and odors. If towels are only used once between washes, you can wash them weekly.

Should you wash new towels before first use?

Yes, it’s advisable to launder new towels prior to first use. This removes any residual chemicals or dye from the manufacturing process. After the initial wash, towels are safe to use.

What is the best way to dry bath towels?

Either machine or air drying is a fine option. For machine drying, use the lowest heat setting to avoid damage. Air drying prevents shrinkage but takes more time. Hang towels fully extended to dry fastest.

How do you disinfect bath towels?

Periodically disinfecting towels helps kill bacteria. Wash them in hot water and add either white vinegar or tea tree oil to the rinse cycle as natural disinfectants.

How do you fold a bath towel?

Folding towels properly maximizes storage space. Place the towel face down, then fold it in thirds lengthwise. Next, fold the towel in half widthwise. Finally, fold it in half lengthwise again or roll it up.


A quality bath towel is designed specifically for convenient drying of your body after washing up. Key factors like material, size, weight, texture and weave all contribute to absorbency, softness, and durability. While bath towels come in standard smaller sizes, oversized bath sheets offer full-body coverage.

Understand your own bathing habits and household needs to select the best ones. Take proper care of bath towels by washing them frequently and drying them thoroughly between uses. With the right towels for your lifestyle, you’ll have a comfortable way to dry off after every shower and bath. Invest in plush, absorbent bath towels and add an extra touch of luxury to your daily routine.

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.