What to know when shopping for towels

It's hard to understand just how nice it is to have a soft, absorbent towel until you take a shower, reach around the curtain and get a thin, rough towel in return.

Textile expert Kathleen Huddy can help you avoid that situation. She's dishing out what to know next time you're buying towels. Happy shopping!


  • Cotton is both absorbent and long-lasting. The best towels are made of 100 percent Supima or Pima cotton that is combed and ring-spun.
  • Bamboo towels are also absorbent but do take longer to dry than cotton. Bamboo towels have no antimicrobial or antibacterial properties. Remember, it is actually a rayon towel.

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  • The heavier the towel, the more absorbent it can be, says Huddy. However, towel thickness is a personal preference. While quality towels are thicker and more absorbent, thinner towels dry faster and are easier to handle, especially for people with arthritis.


  • “Selvaged edges are best,” says Huddy. “But most makers don’t do that anymore, so look for double-turned edges with double-stitching.” That minimizes fraying, which is usually the first sign of wear in a towel.

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  • Better quality towels have tightly packed, even loops. If you can see the backing when you crease the towel, it’s a poor quality towel.

Place of origin

  • According to Huddy, ultimate quality towels come from Portugal, then Turkey, then India. Over the last few years, India has made great strides in the quality of their towels.


  • According to Huddy, “Anything over $30 is too much to pay for a bath towel. If the price is ridiculous, consider it a red flag and steer clear of it.”