Best Bath Towels of 2020
The Hammam Linen 100% Cotton 6-Piece has everything we want in a bath towel set. These towels are soft and cozy, but also quick-drying and absorbent. They are reasonably priced and showed no signs of wear throughout our testing period, which bodes well for their long-term durability. The fibers are soft and shaggy, but not so thick that the towel feels heavy. The hand towels and washcloths absorbed water off counters and dried our hands without leaving a drop. Plus, these towels dry quickly, which is a huge plus, especially with frequently used hand towels.
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 comfort and softness, while also drying quickly and absorbing water with ease. Many of the towels that received higher scores in the softness metric took ages to dry. That seems to be the trade-off for maximum comfort. We also appreciated the airiness of the thin, lightweight material used in the Hammam set.
The AmazonBasics 6-Piece Fade-Resistant Towel Set is the ultimate budget option. These towels are nothing special, but they get the job done. We recommend this set for those on the tightest of budgets. We also appreciate the plethora of color options and set configurations with this choice. Bath towels, bath sheets, hand towels, or washcloths — any combination seems available. Additionally, the AmazonBasics towels were fairly absorbent, especially compared to some of the more luxurious options out there.
The downside to this set is the towels' overall feel — they don't feel great. They were also a bit rough and stiff after washing. We found towels made with either Egyptian or Turkish cotton to be much softer in general. If comfort is not your top priority, these towels are entirely functional and work well at absorbing water.
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 lightweight and packable — perfect for small spaces or folks low on storage space. Though they are not the fluffiest towels in the bunch, they are absorbent and durable. The seams on this set are tightly sewn and showed no signs of unraveling, which we greatly appreciated. We also liked how light they were and found them to be great towels for the hot summers in California.
Unfortunately, these towels had an incredibly slow drying time, which surprised us considering their light feel. We found they took almost two hours to dry completely. Additionally, they are some of the more spendy towels in this review. We liked their overall feel and were impressed by their durability, 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 soft and comfortable, while still showing respectable absorption capabilities. This towel set earned a place as one of our top picks because it's a great overall option and has some of the softest towels we tested.
Unfortunately, these towels take quite a while to dry. We hung them out in the dry desert air for 90 minutes, and it was still a bit damp at the end of its time on the line. Compared to other towels of similar size and material, this set seemed to hold onto water longer than we'd have liked. These towels also showed a few minor signs of unraveling early in the testing process.
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 swaddled in a blanket as an infant, or hugged by a teddy bear. This towel set is seemingly unbeatable in terms of softness and comfort. The thick weave and tight-knit threads that are the highlight of these towels provide a cozy, dense feel that is borderline blanket-like. For cold winter days or after a hot bath on a self-care day, this towel can't be beat.
Of course, all this plush, cushy goodness must come with a downside — you can't win them all, right? The drawback to such a thick, warm towel is a much longer drying time. 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 washcloths or hand towels.
This lightweight towel set is our go-to for anyone on a budget who still wants soft, highly functional towels. The Pizon 6-Piece Blended Egyptian Set is one of our favorites across the board for its durability, absorption rates, and relatively quick drying time. Thanks to the cotton blend used in its construction, this set also holds its own in terms of comfort and softness. These towels have lasted over a dozen washes, without any signs of wear — no fading, shedding, or unraveling.
The main drawback to this option is the overall feel of the towels. We found them to be a bit stiff, especially after washing. "Stiff" is not exactly the adjective you want to describe the towel waiting to embrace you after a shower. However, these weren't the stiffest nor roughest material we tested, so in many ways, the Pizon is an averagely comfortable and soft towel.
This set, though it didn't receive any awards, deserves a notable mention due to its overall high scores across the board. The Hotel and Spa Quality 6-piece Turkish Set is up there with the best of the Turkish cotton towels in this review. Its softness, absorption rates, and relatively fast drying time make it a great option, but it's best attributes are, by and large, its softness and comfort.
To come up with the downsides to this set, we had to dig deep. The Hotel and Spa Quality Set is a fairly solid across-the-board product. In this sense, these towels are average in every way — neither outstanding nor poor. We did notice 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 that was double the size of the other sets we tested. Once we unboxed these and put them to use, we were impressed by the fluffy, lofty, soft material used in constructing these towels. 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. Additionally, this set may not be great for warm weather use. Instead, we recommend using this set on cold wintery days when you want your towel to feel more like a blanket when you step out of the shower.
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 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 matter 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 order these towels from best to worst — highlighting 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 to see 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 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.
The results of this metric 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 were the most comfortable to dry off with. Their softness when damp and dry was taken into consideration. Weave, materials used, and fabric thickness all had an influence on 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 weave of the towel. 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 Hotel and Spa Quality 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 AmazonBasics 6-Piece Fade-Resistant Set and the White Classic Luxury 8-Piece Set are made with neither Turkish nor Egyptian Cotton and 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 towel set.
To test drying time, we tried to establish a standardized methodology to limit the number of variables at play. 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 Hotel and Spa Quality Turkish Set was our runner up in the drying test. This makes sense, as these towels received very similar scores to the Hammam Linens products in our testing.
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. 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 in a timely manner. 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 Hotel and Spa Quality 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. These two are not made from Turkish cotton, but they still have a soft, supple feel and dried easily.
We made sure to study each towel'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. Some of the stand-outs in this metric were the American Soft Linen 6-Piece Set, which seemed to only get better and 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 this 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 Hotel and Spa Quality Set. These unraveling issues are minor, and in our experience, tend to resolve after a few washes.
Hopefully, all the information provided above will help guide you toward the bath towel set of your dreams. No matter what your needs are, we've done the work to determine which towels stand tall and which ones fall flat.
— Jane Jackson