Bath linens, including bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and bath mats, are as much home fashion accessories as they are necessities. We have tips for choosing bath linens, styling your towels, and ensuring that linens last longer.
Anyone who has shopped for towels can tell you about the variety of fashion colors, trims, patterns, sizes, and quality to choose from. Although the basic fluffy white towel is a classic and can give a clean, spa-like feel to any bath, you may wish to experiment with color as you refresh or add to your stock of bath linens.
It's also important to understand what makes up a good-quality towel. Softness alone is no longer the only barometer for measuring towel quality. Here are some ideas to consider when shopping for bath linens.
White and ivory coordinate with any bathroom color, and they have longevity of style. However, towels are a great place to start for bringing more color into a bath. If you are concerned about fading, choose light colors that don't show fading as much as dark colors. For color interest, combine two colors, mixing shades such as green with blue, or tan with cream.
As previously mentioned, softer doesn't always mean better quality. Manufacturers sometimes add fabric softeners to towels to create a silky feel; these silicone-base additives coat the towel fibers, so a soft towel can actually be less effective than its coarser cousin. When selecting towels, use weight as an indicator of durability.
Because of its absorbency and strength, cotton is the fabric of choice. Longer-staple varieties, such as those grown in the delta regions of the United States, are stronger and softer than shorter-staple versions. As the staple length increases, the individual loop gets softer and more supple—which means better wear and less lint. Combed cotton is considered a top-quality fiber for toweling because only the best grades of cotton can be combed.
Both the manufacturing process and the material affect towel absorbency. Although sheared towels are the most absorbent, they aren't necessarily the best dryers. Towels don't dry simply by absorbing moisture; the fiber loops also brush water off the body.
As a bottom line, the number of loops per square inch is the most important indicator of performance.
It's always fun to be creative when putting out fresh towels for a guest or even a family member. Try different folding and display techniques to update your towels. Fold bath towels to the same width as hand towels and layer both sizes for a tiered look. Or fold towels lengthwise, then roll them. Cluster the rolled towels in natural or wire baskets or crates, or stack them in pyramids.
If you use two colors for towels, choose a bath mat in one of the colors. For a clean look, use only washable cotton bath mats. Avoid using tank or lid covers on the toilet, and don't use a rug around the base—they all trap moisture and catch dust and bacteria.
Good-quality bath towels can last for 10 years with proper care. To get the most from your towels, follow these laundering tips and suggestions: