Best Bath Towels of 2021
The Hammam Linen 100% Cotton 6-Piece features all the desirable traits of the ideal bath towel set — cozy, soft, absorbent, and also quick-drying. During our test period, these towels showed no signs of wear, which bodes well for their long-term durability. The fibers are shaggy and soft but not so thick that the towel feels heavy; we appreciated the airiness of the lightweight, thin material used. The washcloths and hand towels dried our hands without leaving a drop and had no trouble absorbing water off bathroom counters. Their ability to dry quickly is a huge plus, especially with frequently used hand towels. These perform and feel like a much more costly set, so we were pleasantly surprised by their affordable price tag.
Though the Hammam set was the fastest drying set we encountered, it did not receive the highest marks in the softness metric. Instead, these towels shine as all-around performers, which means that they provide reasonable softness and comfort while also absorbing water with ease and drying quickly. The tradeoff for the supremely comfortable, soft-as-a-cloud towel sets is that many of them took much longer to dry than these.
The Amazon Basics 6-Piece Fade-Resistant Towel Set is the ultimate budget option. They're not outstanding in any particular metric, but they get the job done for an affordable price. These come in a plethora of set configurations and color options; bath sheets, bath towels, washcloths, or hand towels — any combination seems available. Additionally, compared to some of the more luxurious options out there, the Amazon Basics towels were fairly absorbent.
The downside to this set is the towels' overall feel, which was underwhelming to our tactile senses. They also did not soften up with laundering; in fact, they became stiffer and even a bit rough out of the wash. We found towels made with either Turkish or Egyptian cotton to be much softer in general. If comfort is not your top priority, these towels work well at absorbing water and are entirely functional. This set is our recommendation for those on the tightest of budgets.
For anyone on a budget who still wants soft, highly functional towels, this lightweight towel set is our go-to. The Pizon 6-Piece Blended Egyptian Set is one of our favorites across the board for its absorption rates, durability, and relatively quick drying time. This set also holds its own in terms of comfort and softness, thanks to the cotton blend used in its construction. These towels have lasted over a dozen washes, without any signs of wear — no shedding, fading, or unraveling.
The main drawback to this option is the overall feel of the towels. We found them to be a bit stiff compared to some of the competition, especially after washing. "Stiff" isn't exactly the adjective you want to describe the towel waiting to embrace you after a shower. However, these weren't the roughest nor stiffest material we tested, and in many ways, the Pizon is an averagely soft and comfortable towel. For the price, we'd recommend them.
The 100% cotton set from Wonwo makes a great option for those looking for the lightest towels out there. The Wonwo 100% Cotton towels are packable and lightweight — perfect for folks with small spaces or those low on storage space. Though they are not the fluffiest towels in the bunch, they are durable and absorbent. We greatly appreciated that the seams on this set are tightly sewn and showed no signs of unraveling. We also liked how light they were and found them to be great towels for hot weather.
We were surprised to find that, considering their light feel, these towels had an unfortunately prolonged drying time. We found they took almost two hours to dry completely. Additionally, they are some of the more expensive towels in this review. We were impressed by their durability and liked their overall feel, which helped sell us even with the expensive price tag.
Don't be fooled by the name of this towel set — the American Soft Linen 6-Piece Set is actually made with 100% Turkish cotton, and it shows. Although not our absolute favorite (due to slower drying times and lower absorption rates), the American Soft Linen set is incredibly comfortable and soft while still showing respectable absorption capabilities. This towel set earned a place as one of our top picks because it has some of the softest towels we tested, and it's a great overall option.
Unfortunately, these towels take quite a while to dry. We hung them out in the dry desert air for 90 minutes, and at the end of their time on the line, they were still a bit damp. Compared to other towels of similar material and size, this set seemed to hold onto water longer than we'd have liked. Also, early in the testing process, these towels showed a few minor signs of unraveling.
Nothing compares to the softness that the Chakir Turkish Linens Luxury 100% Cotton Premium towels delivered in our tests. Wrapping yourself up in one of these towels is like being hugged by a teddy bear or swaddled in a blanket as an infant. This towel set is seemingly unbeatable in terms of comfort and softness. The tight-knit threads and thick weave that highlight these towels provide a cozy, dense feel that is borderline blanket-like. This towel can't be beaten after a hot bath on a self-care day or those cold days where you need some extra plushness.
Of course, all this plush, cushy goodness must come with a downside — you can't win them all, right? A much longer drying time is the drawback to such a thick, warm towel. During our 90-minute drying test, the Chakir Linens towels were still quite damp, especially compared to some of the lighter-weight towels in this review. Another small issue we had with this set is that it only comes in a 4-piece option that excludes hand towels or washcloths.
Though it didn't receive any awards, this set deserves a notable mention due to its overall high scores across the board. The Cotton Paradise 6-piece Turkish Set is up there with the best Turkish cotton towels in this review. These towels' absorption rates, softness, and relatively fast drying time make them a great option, but their best attributes are, by and large, their comfort and softness.
To come up with the downsides to this set, we had to dig deep. The Cotton Paradise Set is a fairly solid across-the-board product. In this sense, these towels are average in every way — neither poor nor outstanding. We noticed that these towels are just a little thinner than other Turkish cotton options we've tested, which takes away from their overall softness.
Before even taking them out of the box, we could tell that the Superior Egyptian Cotton Solid Towel Set came with some seriously fluffy towels because they came in a package double the size of other sets we tested. After unboxing them and putting them to use, we were impressed by the lofty, fluffy, soft material they were constructed with. For those who want a spa vibe for their home bathroom, the Superior towel set is for you.
The downside to such fluffy towels is that they take ages to dry. The Superior Set was one of the slowest drying towels we tested. This towel set may feel like overkill for folks in warm climates due to its thick, cushioned feel. For those environments, a lighter-weight set may be more suitable. We recommend using this set when you want your towel to feel more like a blanket when you step out of the shower on cold wintery days.
The White Classic Luxury 8-Piece Set is an average towel set with a few exceptional qualities. For one, it's very affordable, falling in the middle of the pack in terms of price. Second, it is very durable. We saw no signs of shedding or unraveling during our testing period. These towels gave a middle-of-the-road performance in other ways, being somewhat absorbent and taking an average amount of time to dry. Although they weren't entirely dry by the end of our 90-minute test, they came close.
The major downside to these towels is their texture. We found this set to be fairly rough, scratchy, and less than pleasant on the skin. This was more apparent in the bath towels than in the washcloths and hand towels, which tend to stay softer in general. We also found that the rough texture and stiff feel got worse after washing.
Our least favorite towel set is the Utopia Set. These towels fell short in our metric comparisons but are still fully functional towels nonetheless. They fell to the last place mainly because their texture was a bit off-putting, and they lacked the suppleness of our favorites.
The Utopia towels also took a surprisingly long time to dry, especially considering their thin material. Finally, they lacked durability — we noticed unraveling seams and stray threads almost immediately after their first use. On the plus side, these towels were reasonably absorbent.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our bath towel tester Jane Jackson is excited to turn her fine-tuned, product-comparison brain away from outdoor products and apply it to the world of household goods. She has spent almost half a decade assessing the performance of all matters of technical fabrics and equipment for in-depth outdoor gear reviews. As a trained historian, Jane is no stranger to research. She applies the same attention to detail on her journey through the universe of bath towel sets as she does to examining primary documents.
With that in mind, we kicked off this review with hours of online research, learning the ins and outs of everything towel-related. After serious consideration, we selected ten bath towel sets to test side-by-side. Dozens of showers and loads of laundry later, we were able to highlight our favorites for specific uses and features. We wiped down counters with washcloths, patted our faces with hand towels, and dried off after showers with bath towels to assess their absorbency, drying time, and softness levels. Plus, we took note of shedding fabrics or unraveling seams to evaluate the durability of each product. After all this effort, we're ready to share the best (and worst) of our findings to help you on your own journey to bath towel heaven.
Analysis and Test Results
We thoroughly tested and assessed the performance of these towel sets across several categories. We measured how they performed at their primary job of absorbing moisture off wet surfaces and drying out after use while providing comfort and softness. We assessed their softness by asking our testers, housemates, and friends to feel each towel and pick their favorite. We also tested their performance in this metric by using each towel after showering. Next, we washed all the towels in the washing machine and let them air dry to obtain a reliable drying time for each towel. To test absorbency, we wiped the water off a countertop and observed which towels quickly soaked it up and which ones just pushed the water around. Additionally, we considered the overall impact of daily use on the durability of each product and kept an eye on unraveling seams and pilling.
This metric's results are definitely subjective, so we asked as many folks as we could to try each towel and tell us which ones they liked the most. We also used each towel after washing them and after a shower to get a read on which options felt the best against the skin. Their softness, when damp and dry, was taken into consideration. Weave, materials used, and fabric thickness all influenced this metric.
In general, the towels made with 100% Turkish cotton perform best in this metric. This is because Turkish cotton tends to have a longer staple fiber length, which adds loft and fluffiness to the towel's weave. Our top choice here was the Chakir Turkish Linens Luxury 100% Cotton Premium Towel. This towel is hard to beat for softness and a plush feel. Additionally, we liked the Cotton Paradise 6-Piece Turkish Set and the Hammam Linen 100% Cotton 6-Piece Set for their high comfort scores.
The Superior Egyptian Cotton Solid Towel Set provides the thickest, cushiest material but has a rougher feel than the Turkish options mentioned above. Both the Amazon Basics 6-Piece Fade-Resistant Set and the White Classic Luxury 8-Piece Set are made with neither Turkish nor Egyptian cotton. Both of these towel sets feel stiffer and less soft to the touch than the other products we tested. If a soft, cushy feel is what you're after, we recommend choosing a Turkish Cotton bath towel set.
This metric was conducive to a standardized test where we could obtain some solid numbers in order to rank the towels. This limited variables and personal opinions and allowed the towels to speak for themselves. We washed all ten towels in the same washing machine and hung them out to dry on a warm evening in arid Bishop, California. We then assessed the level of dryness of each towel at 30-minute increments. Our results were a bit all over the place and not easily summarized by cotton type. The fastest drying towel was the Hammam Linen 6-Piece Set. This towel was already semi-dry when we removed it from the washing machine and dried almost completely in 1 hour and 30 minutes. Most of the other towels were not dry by 90 minutes, even those made from thinner-feeling material. The Cotton Paradise Turkish Set was our runner-up in the drying test. As these towels received very similar scores to the Hammam Linens products in our testing, this makes sense.
The thicker towels, which provide softness and cushion, tended to take longer to dry. After 90 minutes on the drying line, many of these towels, like the Chakir Turkish Linens Luxury Towels and the Superior Egyptian Cotton Set, ended up with patches of wetness.
Sometimes when a towel gets water on it, the water just beads off rather than absorbing into the material. As towel testers, we find this very annoying. This is certainly not the purpose of a towel. That is why we included this metric in our towel-testing procedures. To test absorbency, we placed a portion of each towel in water to see how well it absorbs. This metric goes hand-in-hand with our drying time metric because any towel that absorbs water will also need to dry out promptly. The top-scoring towels in the absorbency metric were, for the most part, towels that fall into the "Turkish cotton" category. The Chakir Turkish Linens Luxury towels as well as the Hammam Linen and Cotton Paradise Turkish Set all absorbed water at an impressive rate.
Following those top contenders were the American Soft Linen Set and then the White Classic and Pizon sets. Though these two aren't made from Turkish cotton, they still have a soft, supple feel and dried easily.
We made sure to study each towel set's seams and weave before the first wash, after the first wash, and after multiple uses. We checked to see if any of the towels unraveled or left us with bits of fabric stuck to us after showering and drying off. In general, most of the towels we tested seemed to be well-made and built to last. A stand-out in this metric was the American Soft Linen 6-Piece Set, which seemed to only get better with age. Additionally, the Pinzon 6-Piece Blended Egyptian Cotton Set has lasted us months with no unraveling or shedding.
Some of the less impressive performers in this metric were also some of the plushest, softest towels in the review. The Wonwo cotton set surprised us by being both durable and lightweight. The Chakir towels and the Superior Egyptian Cotton towels both saw some shedding after the first wash. The Utopia Towel Set also had some shedding issues. Unfortunately, the Chakir towels had a few seams that looked like they were threatening to unravel, as did the Cotton Paradise Set. These unraveling issues are minor, and in our experience, tend to resolve after a few washes.
We've put in the dirty work to rank these towels according to their performance during our hands-on test period. We hope all of this research and documentation will guide you toward the perfect bath towel set to round out your bathroom accessories. From the softest, spa-like towels to the utilitarian sets that get the job done, we have used them all. Hopefully, our findings will help you on the hunt for the perfect bath towel set.
— Jane Jackson