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The Best Bath Towels, According to Textile Experts

They're soft, absorbent and surprisingly affordable.

best bath towels soft absorbent towels
Mike Garten

Nothing feels better than wrapping yourself up in a cozy towel after you get out of the tub or shower. If your towel is feeling rough or isn't drying you off quickly, chances are it's time for an upgrade. The problem is there are so many bath towels to choose from at a wide range of price points, so it's not exactly easy to shop for bath towels, especially when you're unsure of how they'll hold up over time. Luckily, our product experts tested a ton of towels and reviewed thousands of data points before picking these winners as the best bath towels on the market.

How we tested

The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab evaluated over 80 towel styles for absorbency, drying time, washability, fabric strength and more using our in-lab equipment. We then had dozens of real consumer testers use them and share feedback on their experiences, including softness. All in all, we reviewed over 10,000 data points before making our recommendations. Before we dive in to our top picks, here are some things to keep in mind when you shop.

How to find your best bath towel

Towel shopping is largely based on your personal preference.

  • If you want a super soft, ultra-absorbent towel, look for 100% cotton with dense, plush loops of yarn on the surface. You can also look at fabric weight, which is shown in GSM. Over 600 GSM is considered heavy, so these will typically be the plushest. Lighter towels like waffle weaves or ribs weren't typically as soft in our test.
  • If you want a towel that's quick-drying and more durable, consider a cotton-poly blend or a lighter fabric with a low pile (short loops). Fluffy loops help the towel feel soft and absorb water, but they can take longer to dry and may show more wear from laundering.

    Are Turkish or Egyptian cotton towels better?

    It’s not a rule of thumb, but towels labeled as “Turkish cotton” or “Made in Turkey” performed better in our tests than those claiming to be made of “Egyptian” cotton. In theory, they’re very similar: Both are long-staple fibers, helping to make the fabrics softer and more durable. However, Turkish cotton is more popular in bath towels and is known for drying faster than Egyptian cotton.

    How do you stop towels from shedding fluff?

    Wash them before use! Sometimes there are loose fibers leftover from the production process, but laundering the towels a few times should help get rid of them. Pro tip: Washing them also makes them more absorbent because it gets rid of leftover finishes from production.

    Here are the best bath towels to buy in 2022:

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    Best Overall Bath Towel
    Hydrocotton Quick-Dry Towels
    Danielle Occhiogross Daly
    Pottery Barn

    • Super soft, plush, and absorbent
    • Held up to 20 wash cycles

    • Takes longer to dry

    These 100% organic cotton towels earned the highest overall score in our test and stood out for being super soft and ultra absorbent. Though the name claims these towels are quick drying, they still took longer to dry than other not as plush towels in our test. If you're looking for a top-notch towel that will last, this one looked and felt great even after 20 wash cycles.

    Best Value Bath Towel
    Luxury Performance Bath Towel 2-Pack
    Amazon Basics
    Amazon Basics

    • Inexpensive as a set of two
    • Absorbent and soft
    • Low linting

    • Slow drying time in tests

    This two-pack costs less than other individual towels, yet still had impressive performance in both Lab and at-home consumer tests. It soaked up most of the fluid in our absorbency tests and users told us it felt both soft and absorbent when they used it after showers. The downside was that it took longer to dry both in our evaluations and at-home reviews. Still, it held up well to laundering without shedding lint, which is impressive for 100% cotton towels.

    Best Quick Dry Bath Towel
    Diamond Jacquard Bath Towel 2-Pack
    DANIELLE OCCHIOGROSSO DALY
    Everplush

    • Cotton and microfiber blend for a plush feel and fast dry time
    • Aced absorbency and drying time tests
    • Available in a set

    • Showed signs of wear in laundry evaluations

    This editor-favorite towel has a unique construction of cotton on the outside so you feel the softness, but microfiber on the inside for enhanced performance. The result makes it absorbent, quick drying, strong and shrink-resistant. The fabric surface showed fuzzy signs of wear faster than others in our laundering evaluations, but it was a top performer and the only towel to ace both absorbency and drying time tests. We're also big fans of the brand's Ribbed Towels for those who prefer a textured feel.

    Softest Bath Towel
    Plush Bath Towel
    Mike Garten
    Riley Home

    • Perfect softness rating from all testers
    • Strong fabric
    • Highly absorbent

    • Some shrinkage after laundering

    Riley's towel uses a zero-twist combed cotton construction, meaning the fibers are longer and stronger so it's softer, more absorbent and more durable. At-home users unanimously gave it perfect scores for softness and raved about its luxurious feel. In fact, our analysts were amazed by how soft it remained after repeated laundering cycles, though it did have some shrinkage. It also earned perfect absorbency scores in the lab and dried fairly quickly, which is impressive for a plush, 100% cotton towel.

    Best Heavyweight Bath Towel
    Super-Plush Bath Towels 2-Pack
    Brooklinen
    Brooklinen

    • Plush and thick
    • Super absorbent
    • Year-long return policy

    • Some shrinkage in the wash

    This towel is ideal for anyone who prefers the comfort of a soft, dense towel: Its 100% cotton fabric has the heaviest weight of all our picks at 820 GSM. It had excellent absorbency and testers unanimously said it felt soft. Though it had some shrinkage in the wash and wasn't quick-drying, both of those areas were still average. It also didn't shed lint in the wash.

    Best Lightweight Bath Towel
    Organic Cotton Terry Towel
    Mike Garten
    Haven

    • Absorbent yet not too plush
    • Less costly than others
    • Low linting

    • Some shrinkage
    • Not for those that prefer fluffy

    This 100% cotton towel stands out for being soft yet not overly plush. It's also more affordable than other top performers — plus, you can use a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupon. Testers gave it perfect scores for overall satisfaction. Though it didn't earn softness scores as high as others, users told us it felt great against their skin. On top of that it was absorbent in Lab evaluations and didn't take long to dry. It shrunk somewhat in the wash, but the loops stayed intact and didn't create lint.

    Best Bath Towel Variety
    Resort Cotton Bath Towels
    Mike Garten
    Frontgate

    • Many colors and personalization
    • Soft and absorbent
    • Testers loved the appearance

    • Not quick-drying

    If you're looking to add a pop of color to your bathroom, this 100% cotton towel is available in 24 shades with the option to personalize it at no added cost. It's soft, dense and uses zero-twist construction, helping it earn high scores throughout Lab and consumer tests. At-home users said it was incredibly soft and looked great after repeated use, while analysts found it to be highly absorbent in our evaluations. It had moderate drying-time scores plus some shrinkage in the wash, but it had overall good durability scores.

    Best Organic Bath Towel
    Temescal Organic Towels
    Mike Garten
    Coyuchi

    • Certified organic
    • Soft and absorbent
    • Low linting and looks great after washing

    • Not quick-drying
    • Some shrinkage

    Coyuchi proves you don't have to sacrifice performance to go green: It had a perfect absorbency score in our tests, was highly rated among testers, and held up to laundering despite some shrinkage. And while many towels claim to be made with organic cotton, this one's certified by GOTS (GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARD) so you know the entire manufacturing process follows strict standards. Like some other 100% cotton fabrications, it wasn't quick-drying in our evaluations.

    Best Waffle Bath Towel
    Waffle Bath Towel
    DANIELLE OCCHIOGROSSO DALY
    Parachute

    • Lightweight and quick-drying
    • Thin and not bulky

    • Low absorbency scores
    • Expensive

    The waffle-weave construction on this 100% cotton towel is super light and dries quickly. It won't dry you off as fast as plush towels with loops: In fact, this one had the lowest absorbency score in our test. The trade-off is that it's not bulky like a traditional towel with loops. If you're looking for one that's plusher, the brand's Classic Towel was highly absorbent and an overall great pick.

    Most Absorbent Bath Towel
    Ultra-Soft Turkish Bath Towel
    DANIELLE OCCHIOGROSSO DALY
    RH

    • Top absorbency scores in Lab tests
    • Thick and fluffy

    • Takes a while to dry

    Our panel loved the feel and gave these towels the highest rating in a blind comparison. In the Lab, the 100% cotton towels were by far the most absorbent. On the flip side, they took a while to dry and shrunk a bit in our wash test. If you want to wrap yourself in a thick, plush towel that dries you off quickly, this is the one for you.

    Best Bath Towel Set
    Hygrocotton 6-Piece Towel Set
    Mike Garten
    StyleWell

    • Good value for a set
    • Soft and absorbent
    • Fade-resistant colors

    • Some signs of wear after laundering

    This basic all-in-one set is a total steal for bath towels, hand towels and washcloths, plus you can buy it in 12- and 18-piece configurations. They're 100% cotton and were fluffy, soft and absorbent in our tests, yet they're made with a hollow core design so they don't feel too heavy. Plus, the set comes in a variety colors that proved to be fade-resistant.

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