Illustration for article titled How To Pick The Perfect Bath Towel Because It's Harder Than You ThinkPhoto: Slice of Cake (Shutterstock)

The first time (or maybe every time) you’ve bought towels, you may have based your selection on 1) the cheapest and 2) a towel. However, as it turns out, if you are in a position where you have some degree of flexibility in your towel budget (considering it is a Investment).

Here’s how to choose one that best suits your unique bathing needs, courtesy of Jackie Revere of Wirecutter in an article for the New York Times.

Figure out what you want in a towel

According to Revere, “a good bath towel should do several things at once – dry off quickly, feel good (if not fantastic) against your skin, match your decor, and be durable enough to last for years.” Essentially the same properties as those You are looking at a potential partner.

Let’s address these one by one:


Terrycloth or waffle / grid? That is the question.


  • Thick material with tightly woven loops
  • What do you think of when you think of a classic soft, fluffy towel
  • Long lasting

Waffle / petals

  • Thin and rough fabric
  • Dries faster
  • Takes up less shelf space


There is no standard size for a bath towel, however Revere says that a 28 x 55 inch towel is suitable for an average size person. And while towels seem like something that should be one size fits all, they aren’t. Technically, size doesn’t really matter if you’re only using the towel to dry in your bathroom.

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But if you want to do what people do on TV and in movies, where they wrap a towel under their armpits and wear it like a strapless shift dress while they dance in their living room, then those who are extra bosomical or broader want opt for a larger towel. Or more precisely, a bath towel – a longer and wider version of a bath towel, Revere says.

Your decor

If your bathroom has a particular style or color scheme, consider buying towels that will go with your decor. But that’s not our focus today so we’ll move on.

Buy a single towel and give it a try

Sure, a towel might feel nice and soft when you touch it in the store (if that’s still something people do) or when you first open the package when it comes in the mail, but Revere says that it takes a few washes before the towel reveals its true qualities.

So instead of buying a full set of towels and finding out after you wash them (at a time when it’s unlikely you can return them) that they don’t meet your softness standards, buy a towel of the brand / style you are into Consider and test it. Here is as Revere says to do that:

When washing your test towel, skip fabric softeners which can leave buildup that can change the feel and chlorine bleach which can change color. Wash in cold water and dry on low to medium heat.

Once you’ve landed on a towel that works for you, Revere suggests buying at least three bath towels for each person in your household. “You should change your towel every two to three days,” she writes. “So if you do your laundry once a week, you should have enough time to hold out between wash days.”