June 26, 2021 7 min read

Towels are one of those handy household goods that you likely don’t often think about until you need them in the moment. You trust that your towels will always be there when you need them, and in the times when they’re not, it’s extremely irritating. It isn’t a stretch to say that without a few well-placed towels in our home, most of us would be incredibly inconvenienced.


And yet for all that we rely on towels, how much do we really know about them? Most of us trust our towels to dry us off after showering, bathing or washing our hands and never take the time to think of them beyond that. But the truth is that there’s plenty to know about towels. And by taking the time to learn these things, we can become more informed about these invaluable items and better able to buy quality models next time we go shopping for replacements.

Today, we want to provide you with an overview of one of the most useful and versatile types of towels out there — the bath towel. We’ll talk materials, uses, sizes and plenty more as we learn everything there is to know about these essential towels. Next time you head out to buy some new bath towels, you’ll be much more knowledgeable and ready to make the informed decision about the towel that’s right for you and your home or business.

Here’s everything you need to know about bath towels.

What Are Bath Towels?

There are actually two separate categories that make up what we might casually refer to as bath towels in our everyday lives — bath towels and bath sheets. The difference between the two is slim, but there is a difference all the same. Bath sheets are very similar to bath towels, but what makes them different is their larger size. To distinguish the two, think of a bath sheet as an extra-large bath towel — so large that it deserves its own category.

Bath towels, on the other hand, are the towels you use to dry off after a bath or shower. These large, rectangular towels that are the perfect size for drying off after a long soak in the tub and for this reason, most of us keep a tall stack of them in our linen closet. There can be slight size variations, and these towels may come in any color of the rainbow, but they still meet the qualifications for a bath towel.


What Do We Use Bath Towels For?

You can use bath towels for anything you can imagine. They’re large enough and versatile enough that no matter what use you dream up for them, your bath towels can typically meet these needs with no problems. Still, there are a few very common uses for bath towels, most of which you’ve probably participated in yourself.

Here are the most common ways people and businesses use bath towels.

1. Drying off After a Shower

After stepping out of a nice hot bath or a refreshing shower, there’s nothing better than drying off with a soft fluffy bath towel. They’re large enough that you can dry your entire body off without running out of dry towel-space to use. Many of us will even choose to hang our towel back up after we’re finished, where it will dry until we take our next shower and use it to dry off again. Most bath towels can handle several cycles of this pattern before they need a wash.

2. Covering up After a Shower

How often have you got out of the shower and needed to walk back from the bathroom to the bedroom while still preserving a little modesty? Most likely, you experience this all the time. If you’re like most of us, you probably just wrap the towel around yourself and think nothing of it. You might even continue to hang out in your towel as you do things like comb your hair, put on makeup and get ready for the day. Because of their large size, bath towels are perfect for this use, and most of us find they’re large enough to cover us with no problems.

3. Keeping Water off the Floor

You may also choose to double-up on the towel usage after a shower. In addition to drying off and then covering up with a towel, you may want to lay one down on the floor as a bath mat before you get into the shower. Then, once you get out, you can stand on this towel as you dry off, preventing the water from dripping directly onto the floor and causing puddles. This makes cleaning up after the shower infinitely easier — now all you need to do is pick the towel up and throw it in the wash.

4. Wrapping Your Hair

Plenty of people, particularly anyone with long hair, prefer to keep their wet hair out of the way while drying off and getting dressed after a shower. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is by wrapping the hair in the towel and tying it up on the head. This strategy also gets the hair to start drying faster than it would if it were left to hang free, giving many people a jump-start on drying and styling their hair for the day. Even if you choose not to wrap your hair, a towel can still be a great way to pat your hair dry and get started with the styling process.

5. Hanging out at the Pool

Most of us will use beach towels at the pool, but bath towels will work equally well in a pinch. If guests are flooding your pool and there aren’t enough beach towels to go around, or perhaps if all the beach towels are in the wash, then bath towels are an excellent backup solution.

6. Stocking a Professional Space

While we all need and use bath towels in the comfort of our own home, there are also plenty of businesses that require the use of bath towels. If you own or manage any of these types of businesses, the odds are that you’ll need to stock up on plenty of these handy towels. Just a few of the businesses that might rely on bath towels are:

  • Spas, salons and barbershops
  • Hotels
  • Gyms
  • Fitness centers and yoga studios
  • Country clubs and golf courses


How Large Are Bath Towels?

Bath towels can vary slightly in size, but the general rule is that they will be somewhere around 24 inches by 48 or 50 inches. If the towel is very much bigger than this, we would classify it as a bath sheet, and if it is very much smaller, it becomes a hand towel. This size is important since it is needed to provide enough drying area for both drying off after a shower and wearing as a cover-up after that shower.

Anytime you buy a bath towel, it’s worth checking to make sure it falls somewhere within these common dimensions. If you’re ordering online, check the listed dimensions. If you’re buying in person, don’t be afraid to unfold the towel and check. Otherwise, you may end up with a strange hybrid hand-bath towel that isn’t large enough for its intended purpose.

What Are Bath Towels Made Of?

While bath towel materials will differ from one towel to another, there are few common materials that you’ll frequently encounter in your shopping. Let’s look at these different materials now.

1. 100% Cotton

Towels made from 100% cotton are notable for their extreme softness. These are the towels that will be fluffy and oh-so-soft. They’re terrific for drying off with, as they feel luxurious and cozy against the skin. It’s also worth noting that there are many different types of cotton, several of which are commonly used for towels. The major types of cotton you may encounter in the world of towel shopping include:


  • Cotton: This is what we would just call ordinary cotton. Towels made of this material are usually quite inexpensive, and while they’re soft, they usually don’t last very long. This makes them a great choice for situations where you’re looking for easily disposable towels.
  • Egyptian Cotton: Egyptian cotton is a very popular choice for bath towels. This type of cotton produces long fibers that are exceptionally soft and much more durable than ordinary cotton. This allows them to keep their luxurious shape and feel for far longer than the average cotton towel. For your master bathroom or guest room, Egyptian cotton towels are a must-have.
  • Turkish Cotton: Turkish cotton is like Egyptian cotton in that it is highly soft, luxurious and outperforms ordinary cotton almost every time. The long threads also make for a very tightly woven fabric that is exceptionally absorbent. Lastly, Turkish cotton is also known for having an extremely fast drying time, making them great for situations where you don’t always have the time or means to dry your towels.

2. Cotton/Poly Blend

The exact appearance and performance of these towels will be different depending on what percentages of each material are present. The higher the percentage of cotton, the softer the towel will be. In general, however, you can expect a cotton and poly blend to be nearly as soft as a 100% cotton towel. The major additional benefit that comes from adding the polyester is the extra durability. Towels with polyester included in their makeup tend to last longer and perform better over time.

3. Bamboo

Because bamboo is a renewable resource, you will frequently see bamboo described as the most eco-friendly option. These towels are also soft and absorbent, although often not quite as luxurious-feeling as more high-end cotton towels. They do have the added bonus of being naturally antibacterial and mildew-resistant, so they make an excellent option for anyone eager to pick the sustainable choice.

It’s also possible to make towels out of materials like microfiber or linen, but these are more common when it comes to hand towels or other smaller towel varieties. You’re far less likely to see these materials represented in the world of bath towels. It’s far more likely that any bath towel you encounter will be either cotton, bamboo or a cotton/polyester blend.