Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock

The 9 Best Bath Towels, According to Our Lab Tests

Out of the 31 towels we tested, the Havly Classic Bath Towel is our favorite for its softness, absorbency, and unique texture.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Whether you prefer to wrap yourself up in a plush, spa-like towel or dry off quickly with a textured waffle option, choosing the right bath towel can make all the difference in your daily shower experience. 

To find the best bath towels, we spent two days testing 31 towels in our Lab and assessed them based on their quality, texture, absorbency, durability, and overall value. For expert tips on buying and using bath towels, we turned to Whitney Thornburg, design director at Coyuchi, and Sarah Smith, product education and customer experience manager at Serena & Lily. We also received insights from Elana Frosk, account executive at Hohenstein Institute, the U.S. testing lab for Oeko-Tex

"Given this is a product that touches your skin daily, [bath towels are] a great item to splurge on as it will be used and enjoyed often," says Thornburg. "Select a towel that you love—in both color and style—so it's enjoyable to use each day."

Our top pick is the Havly Classic Bath Towel because of its soft Turkish cotton that proved to be extremely absorbent in our testing, without being overly heavy or dense. Plus, it has a unique gradient weave that is one-third textured and two-thirds plush for the best of both worlds. 

Keep scrolling for more of our bath towel recommendations, based on our Lab testing. You'll also find more information as to what to consider when shopping for bath towels, depending on your needs and preferences. 

Our Top Picks

Bath Towels
Credit: amazon.com

Best Overall Bath Towel: Havly Classic Bath Towel

View at Amazon ($55)

Also available at Havly.

Who it's for: People who want a bath towel that's thick and absorbent without being heavy. 

Who it isn't for: People who want a towel that comes in colors besides white. 

The Havly Classic Bath Towel earned the top spot on our list because testers gave it perfect five-star ratings across all of our testing criteria, including absorbency: The Turkish cotton was able to dry wet hands in just one pass and absorbed an entire 1/4-cup of water in just 10 seconds without dripping any excess. 

The densely packed loops give this towel a sturdy and plush feel that remains just as soft after washing—and given that this towel is made with Turkish cotton, we anticipate it will only grow softer with continued use. According to the manufacturer, the towel is woven with fast-drying "Wünderweave Technology," which is a gradient weave that's two-thirds plush and soft and one-third textured and quick-drying. 

Another standout feature of this towel is its sturdy, bleach-proof hanging loop, which one tester called a "little luxury." The loop is available in eight different colors, while the towel itself only comes in white. We like that it's sized between a bath towel and a bath sheet at 30 x 58 inches—a great size to accommodate most body types without being cumbersome. Plus, it's certified Made In Green by Oeko-Tex, so you can feel confident that it's safe for both you and the environment. This luxurious and functional towel has many unique features that set it apart, but we were most impressed with its luxurious feel and ability to absorb moisture while remaining lightweight and fast-drying. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Turkish cotton 
  • Size: 30 x 58 inches
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Certifications: Standard 100 and Made In Green by Oeko-Tex
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: amazon.com

Best Budget Bath Towel: White Classic Luxury Cotton Bath Towels

View at Amazon ($50 for 4)

Who it's for: People who want a set of resort-style bath towels at a great value. 

Who it isn't for: People who want to purchase a single towel or people who prefer oversized bath towels. 

This set from White Classic is an impressive value since it comes with four towels for less than the price of our best overall pick. Made from 100 percent combed cotton, this pick is "nicely plush, absorbent, and stylish," according to our testers, who also said it "feels like a towel from a nice spa or resort." 

Each towel weighs 700 GSM, which explains its luxurious feel and ample absorbency. In our testing, it was able to dry wet hands in two to three passes, and it absorbed an entire 1/4 cup of water without dripping. However, it was still a bit damp after being air-dried overnight—a trade-off for its high GSM. After washing and drying these towels, there was no visible wear and tear. But it's worth mentioning that they did pick up some debris from the other towels they were washed with, so it's probably best to wash these separately. 

In terms of style, the thick accent stripe gives these towels a spa-like feel, and the set is available in a variety of colors, ranging from neutrals to jewel tones. Plus, the towels are Oeko-Tex certified. At 27 x 54 inches, these are the smallest towels we recommend, so keep this in mind if you typically go for oversized options. It should also be noted that these towels are only available in a set of four, and cannot be purchased individually. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Cotton
  • Size: 27 x 54 inches
  • Weight: 700 GSM
  • Certifications: Standard 100 and Made In Green by Oeko-Tex
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: coyuchi.com

Best Splurge Bath Towel: Coyuchi Temescal Organic Bath Sheet

View at Coyuchi ($128)

Also available at Wayfair and Nordstrom

Who it's for: People who want a towel made from organic materials.

Who it isn't for: People who want a standard-size bath towel. 

Coyuchi's Temescal bath sheet is GOTS-certified and made from 100-percent organic cotton that is grown and woven in Turkey. We get the impression that it's built to last, thanks to its tightly woven construction, vibrant color, thick border, and narrow channels for added drying ability. 

Our testers found the towel to dry their wet hands instantly—in large part thanks to the ridged surface. It was able to soak up all the water from the bowl, although the towel was pretty soaked afterward. After washing and drying it, we didn't see any loose strings or snags, but its ability to soak up the water from the bowl diminished just a bit. 

We tested the brand's bath sheet, which covers a larger surface area than a traditional bath towel. Our testers didn't find it to be very thick or heavy, given that it's made from Turkish cotton, which is famous for being lightweight and quick-drying. The Coyuchi towel is more expensive than many of the others on our list, but we think it's well worth the price (and testers also said it'd make a great gift for anyone you'd like to spoil). Available in five earthy colors, the bath sheet is only sold individually, but the standard-size towels are available in a six-piece set, too. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Organic Turkish cotton
  • Size: 39 x 71 inches
  • Weight: 600 GSM
  • Certifications: GOTS

RELATED: The 9 Best Beach Towels, According to Our Tests

Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: serenaandlily.com

Best Lightweight Bath Towel: Serena & Lily Fouta Bath Towel

View at Serena and Lily ($48)

Who it's for: People who like the look of a flat-woven Turkish towel, but want the absorbency of terry cloth.

Who it isn't for: People who want a bath towel that comes in solid colors. 

Turkish towels, also called Hammam, Fouta, or Peshtemal towels, are made from 100-percent Turkish cotton that is usually flat-woven, lightweight, and fast-drying. Serena & Lily's Fouta Bath Towel offers the best of both worlds, thanks to its double-sided design that features a traditional Turkish cotton weave on one side and plush terry cloth on the inside. Unsurprisingly, we found the terry cloth side to be more absorbent, although when placed in a bowl with a bit of water, it didn't absorb quite as much as some of its competitors. 

"I have always liked the look of Turkish towels but never buy them because they're normally thin and not that absorbent," says one tester, who appreciates that this towel gives you "the stylish look of a Turkish towel and the drying factor of a traditional towel." 

The towel weighs 420 GSM, making it one of the lightest and most compact out of all those we tested. It comes in a nautical stripe design with three different coastal-inspired colors and can also be purchased as part of a set.   

Product Details: 

  • Material: Turkish cotton 
  • Size: 30 x 56 inches 
  • Weight: 420 GSM
  • Certifications: Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex 

RELATED: The Best Microfiber Towels for Cleaning Every Surface

Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: frontgate.com

Best Plush Bath Towel: Frontgate Resort Collection Bath Towel

View at Frontgate ($42)

Who it's for: People who want a bath towel that comes in a lot of color options. 

Who it isn't for: People who want a lightweight, quick-drying towel. 

Given the price point, testers were impressed with the overall feel and texture of the Frontgate Resort Collection Bath Towel. It's made from zero-twist Turkish cotton, which gives it its ultra-plush and absorbent feel compared to towels with twisted strands. Upon first glance, there were some loose threads and lint on the towel—but it held up well after washing and didn't produce any additional damage. 

During our testing, we were able to get our hands completely dry with just two passes on the towel. It absorbed nearly all of the water we placed in the bowl, although it was heavily saturated after this test. The towel weighs an impressive 700 GSM, which is a good indicator of its softness and absorbency—but keep in mind that this also means it will take longer to dry. 

The Frontgate Resort Collection bath towel comes in over two dozen colors—the most of all those on our list—as well as the option to add a monogram for a personal touch (which would make a great wedding gift!). For those looking for a luxurious towel that won't break the bank, we think this ultra-plush pick will fit the bill. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Turkish cotton
  • Size: 30 x 58 inches
  • Weight: 700 GSM
  • Certifications: Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: target.com

Best Waffle Bath Towel: Casaluna Waffle Bath Towel

View at Target ($15)

Who it's for: People who want a bath towel that will dry quickly or people who want a towel for drying hair. 

Who it isn't for: People who prefer the feel of a traditional plush towel. 

These are not your traditional terry towels: Waffle-weave (sometimes called lattice-weave) bath towels are much thinner and faster to dry. But don't be fooled by appearances, this Casaluna towel is still very absorbent and the textured surface helps to draw moisture away from the skin in less time. In fact, testers say they were able to dry their hands in just one pass. 

We would suggest this towel to anyone in need of a quick-drying towel, particularly those in humid climates where thick terry cloth towels can take a long time to dry and run the risk of developing a musty smell. This is also a great option for people who don't have space in their bathroom or linen closet to accommodate ultra-thick towels. We also think it'd work well as a hair towel, since it's lightweight and won't put any strain on your neck. 

Our testers were pleasantly surprised upon learning the price of these Casaluna towels, given their performance in our testing. They said these towels have a high-end look and the textured design looks nice hanging on a bathroom hook. The towel is available in several on-trend colors and comes in a hand towel size, too. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Cotton
  • Size: 30 x 56 inches
  • Weight: 450–550 GSM
  • Certifications: Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: rileyhome.com

Best Spa Bath Towel: Riley Spa Towel Collection Bath Towel

View at Riley ($50)

Who it's for: People who prefer the fluffed-up feel of Egyptian cotton.

Who it isn't for: People who live in humid climates or people who want a towel that will dry quickly.

Riley's bath towel is the only one on our list that's made with Egyptian cotton, which is responsible for its rich, luxurious feel that's nothing short of spa-worthy. Made from fine-combed, long-staple cotton, the fibers are dense and extremely absorbent. This towel dried our hands in just one to two passes—both before and after washing—and absorbed the entire portion of water in just 20 seconds. 

The flipside of Egyptian cotton's tremendous absorbency and luxurious feel is that it holds onto moisture, so it requires ample time and space to dry out after each use. In our tests, the towel was still slightly damp after 12 hours of air drying. Keep this in mind if you live in a humid climate or don't have a proper place to dry out your towel after each use. 

After washing, there were no loose threads or puckering along the binding, and the attached hanging loop was still intact. The bath towel's size is somewhere between a standard bath towel and a bath sheet, so you can snuggle up in this hotel-quality towel while you get ready in the morning. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Egyptian cotton 
  • Size: 30 x 58 inches
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Certifications: Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex 
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: potterybarn.com

Best Quick-Dry Bath Towel: Pottery Barn Hydrocotton Organic Quick-Dry Bath Towel

View at Pottery Barn ($35)

Who it's for: People who want a zero-twist bath towel that dries quickly.

Who it isn't for: People who prefer thicker, more absorbent towels. 

This bath towel from Pottery Barn is made from zero-twist cotton loops, as opposed to twisted strands, which means it's fluffier than others. It's super soft to the touch, and it remains that way post-wash. In our testing, we found that this bath towel was able to dry wet hands extremely fast. "This towel managed to get my hands completely dry simply by patting them," says one tester.

Although the towel was able to absorb all the water from a bowl both before and after washing, our tester said it was a bit wet and dripping after our absorbency test. That said, they still thought that this towel would be sufficient for drying their body after a shower.

The fibers themselves are 100-percent organic, long-staple Turkish cotton, which is less prone to piling and tearing with use. At 550 GSM, it's a nice middle ground that's quick to dry while staying soft to the touch. It did pick up some lint from other towels in the washing machine, so this is another pick that we suggest washing separately. The towels are available in over a dozen neutral colors, and you can make it a set by purchasing matching hand towels, wash cloths, or bath sheets. 

Product Details: 

  • Material: Organic Turkish cotton
  • Size: 28 x 55 inches
  • Weight: 550 GSM
  • Certifications: GOTS
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock
Bath Towels
Credit: kohls.com

Best Oversized Bath Towel: Simply Vera Vera Wang Signature Bath Towel

View at Kohl’s ($26)

Who it's for: People who want to buy a large bath towel without spending a lot. 

Who it isn't for: People who want to pick the most absorbent bath towel available.

While it's not quite a bath sheet, this oversized towel still provides significantly more coverage than your standard bath towel. "I really appreciated the size of this towel," says a tester. "It didn't feel too short when wrapped around my body." During our Lab tests, this towel was able to dry wet hands in just a few passes, although it struggled to absorb all of the water in the bowl. Surprisingly, its absorbency seemed to improve after washing and drying, and since it's constructed with zero-twist cotton, it retained its softness. Plus, it's been tested and certified Made In Green by Oeko-Tex, meaning it's free of harmful substances and sustainably sourced.

The towel is available in over a dozen color options, all of which come with a striped stitching pattern that gives the towels a more high-end look and feel. Matching bath sheets, hand towels, and washcloths are also available. Overall, we think this oversized pick is a great value since it's one of the most affordable on our list. "For the performance, look, and price, this is a great option," one tester says.

Product Details: 

  • Material: Cotton
  • Size: 30 x 60 inches 
  • Weight: 470 GSM
  • Certifications: Standard 100 + Made In Green by Oeko-Tex
Bath Towels
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Havly Classic Bath Towel because its dual-textured surface is thick and absorbent without being heavy or cumbersome. Its size falls somewhere between a bath towel and a bath sheet, making it well-suited for most people. 

For a more budget-friendly option, the White Classic Luxury Cotton Bath Towels come in a set of four for less than the cost of our best overall pick. These towels remind us of what you would find in a resort or spa, and they proved to be very absorbent in our testing. 

Bath Towels Testing
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock

Our Testing Process

To curate this list, we spent two days testing 31 bath towels and bath sheets in our Lab. First, our testers did a visual inspection of each bath towel to assess the quality, looking at the stitching, color vibrancy (when applicable), softness, and more. Next, testers ran their hands over each towel to evaluate its texture, noting whether it feels soft to the touch, how tight the weave is, etc. 

Then came the real test of each towel: absorbency. To determine how well the towel absorbs water from the skin, our testers used one end of the towel to dry off their hands. Testers then placed the dry end of the towel in a shallow bowl with 1/4 cup of water, leaving the towel to absorb for one minute. We then took note of how much water each towel soaked up and how long it took to dry afterward.

The next day, our testers washed and dried each towel, and then repeated the tests above, taking note of any change in the towel's ability to absorb water. We also took this opportunity to evaluate the durability of each towel, based on how well it held up after washing and drying—considering the texture and size of each towel before and after washing, and whether there was any fading, piling, or loose threading. Finally, our testers received the price of each towel. They were asked to score its overall value based on how well it performed and whether they would pay the listed price or wait for it to go on sale.

Bath Towels Testing
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock

How to Shop for Bath Towels Like a Pro

Material

When it comes to bath towels, cotton is king. You can find towels made from synthetic materials, such as polyester or rayon, but experts tend to agree that cotton is best for absorbency: "Choosing a towel that is made from high-quality materials, such as premium cotton that has extra-long staple fibers to enhance strength, softness, and absorbency, is the way to go," says Smith.

However, there are several different types of cotton to choose from, with varying degrees of absorbency and durability: 

Egyptian and Turkish cotton are the most highly sought-after types of cotton for bath towels. Both are made from long-staple fibers, which produce a smoother, softer, and more durable towel, and become even softer after washing. Egyptian cotton tends to be more thick and absorbent to begin with, while Turkish cotton becomes more absorbent with use. And Turkish cotton is quicker to dry and more lightweight, while Egyptian cotton has a more fluffed-up, luxurious feel. Another type of long-staple cotton, Pima cotton, is similar to Egyptian and Turkish cotton but made with cotton sourced from the U.S. 

You can also find organic cotton towels, which are made from 100 percent organic cotton. They tend to be very soft and plush, but they can take longer to dry than other cotton towels. 

Size

The standard bath towel size is about 28 x 54 inches, give or take a few inches. This size is designed to wrap around your entire body without being overly heavy or cumbersome. If you prefer to bundle up in a bath towel while you get ready in the morning, or if you want a spa-like experience at home, a bath sheet can provide more coverage—around 40 x 70 inches—but usually at a higher price point. Take into consideration your body size and intended use when determining what size towel you need. For example, if you plan to use your bath towel to wrap your hair, you might consider picking a smaller, more lightweight towel. 

Weight

The weight of a towel is measured in grams per square meter (GSM). The higher the GSM, the thicker, heavier, softer, and more absorbent the towel. Generally, a higher GSM is preferable for bath towels, while beach towels or microfiber towels may have a lower GSM to help them dry faster. In general, 400–600 GSM is considered a medium weight for a bath towel. Towels above 600 GSM are the most luxurious, plush, and absorbent, but keep in mind that they'll take some time to dry. 

Construction

In addition to the material and weight of the towel, how the fibers are constructed can have a profound effect on the towel's texture and performance. Here's some bath towel terminology to know before you shop: 

  • Combed cotton: Combed cotton refers to cotton that has literally been "combed" to remove impurities from the yarn so that only the long-staple fibers remain to be woven into the bath towel. These towels tend to be very durable, but not as soft as ringspun. 
  • Ringspun cotton: Ringspun cotton is made by spinning long and short cotton fibers together for a smooth, plush finish. 
  • Zero-twist cotton: Unlike combed and ringspun cotton, zero-twist cotton fibers are woven without any twisting, creating a fluffy and absorbent towel. 

Weave 

Terry cloth is the weave most people associate with bath towels. The term refers to a style of weaving distinguished for its uncut loops that extend off the woven base. The resulting towel is plush, soft, and ultra-absorbent. Waffle- or lattice-weave towels, on the other hand, are lighter and quicker to dry than terry cloth, and they take up less space in your linen closet. Waffle-weave bath towels don't have the same luxurious feel as terry cloth, but their quick-drying ability makes them less prone to developing the dreaded musty smell that can develop on dense terry cloth towels. 

Product Certifications

There are several independent third-party tests that ensure textiles meet certain standards for product safety: "When textiles are made, there are chemicals used to process them and there can be a residual of a harmful substance on the textile that you can't see by looking at it," says Frosk. "The only way to know if a textile has some level of a harmful substance on it is to test it." The most common and widely-trusted product labels are the Oeko-Tex certifications, which include both Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex and Made In Green by Oeko-Tex labels. 

According to Frosk, the Standard 100 label indicates that a product has been tested for harmful substances, while the Made In Green label ensures that the product is both safe from harmful substances and made in environmentally friendly facilities with safe and socially responsible work practices. All Made In Green-certified products are also Standard 100-certified. 

For organic textiles, look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) label—another independent third-party certification that defines requirements for organic textiles, from harvesting raw materials to manufacturing and labeling. 

Style

Color, patterns, embroidery, and stitching can all have an impact on the look and feel of your bath towel (and bathroom). Be sure whichever towel you choose is one you'll be proud to hang on your towel rack. "Bath towels are also a great opportunity to express favorite colors and to add in fun design details like macrame fringe and tassels," says Smith.

Bath Towels Testing
Credit: Real Simple / Henry Wortock

More Bath Towels to Consider

Better Homes & Gardens Signature Soft Rain Texture Bath Towel: This budget-friendly towel is waffle weave on one side and terry cloth on the other. While it doesn't have the luxurious feel of more expensive towels, it is a great choice for anyone looking to stock their bathrooms with inexpensive, quick-drying towels. 

Calla Angel Luxe Chain Superior 1000 Gram Egyptian Cotton Bath Towel: This towel was the most luxe of all those we tested. Made from fluffy Egyptian cotton and weighing a whopping 1000 GSM, this pick will make every day feel like a spa day. However, it dries slowly and can take up a lot of space in a bathroom. And it should be noted that there are no matching hand towels or washcloths available. We'd recommend gifting this towel as a housewarming or wedding gift, but not for stocking your home with all new towels. 

Questions You Might Ask

How should you wash bath towels? 

So how often do you really need to wash your bath towels? Most bath towels can be used three to four times before they need to be washed in the washing machine. Even when you can't see it (or smell it), body oils, dirt, and sweat can all build up on your towels—and in a steamy bathroom, they'll be even more vulnerable to bacteria growth. 

Be sure to always give your towels room to spread out when air drying (avoid leaving them in a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor). To keep your towels from getting dingy, you should wash white towels and colored towels separately, using hot water for white and warm water for colors. Avoid using fabric softeners, as they can reduce the absorbency of your towels. Smith suggests using dryer balls to "keep bath towels feeling soft and fresh, wash after wash." And always make sure your towels are completely dry before putting them away. 

How many bath towels do you need per person?

You should have at least two bath towels for each person in your household so that everyone always has at least one towel to use on laundry days. If you have long hair, you may want to have four towels, so you can always have at least one clean hair towel and one clean body towel. "Some people also change out towels by season—choosing a cozy, fluffy one in the winter and a lightweight one in the summer," says Thornburg. 

How often should you replace bath towels?

This depends on the quality of your towel, but in general, you'll want to replace your bath towels every two years. If your bath towels no longer dry you effectively, have a funky smell even after washing, or have visible wear and tear, these are all signs it may be time to replace them. Thornburg suggests switching out towels seasonally to give your bathroom a refreshed feel and extend the lifespan of your towels. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 31 bath towels in our Lab, evaluating them based on their quality, texture, absorbency, durability, and overall value. For expert tips on buying and using bath towels, we consulted Whitney Thornburg, design director at Coyuchi, and Sarah Smith, product education and customer experience manager at Serena & Lily. We also received insights from Elana Frosk, account executive at Hohenstein Institute, the U.S. testing lab for the Oeko-Tex standard

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.