For most people, the two most important factors to consider when shopping for bath towels are softness and absorbency. Most experts agree that 100% cotton towels are the softest and provide the most absorbency.
Towels that are highly absorbent usually means a thicker towel. While thicker bath towels will absorb water fast, this also means they usually take longer to dry. Having a large enough towel rack or enough time in between trips to the shower to allow your towel to fully dry is important. Using dryer balls in your dryer will help to reduce drying time for cotton towels.
Generally, there are three types of cotton towels widely available. Turkish cotton, Egyptian cotton, and American-Grown cotton.
Egyptian Cotton generally has longer and finer fibers than standard cotton. These weave together to create a soft but durable towel that remains fluffy for longer than a traditional cotton towel. In addition, Egyptian cotton is more porous, giving so it can absorb water efficiently.
Turkish Cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton as it also has long fibers and is durable and very soft. However, Turkish cotton towels usually have a tighter weave so they are slightly more absorbent.
Most American-Grown Cotton is Pima cotton. While Egyptian and Pima cotton are genetically the same, the climate in which the plant is grown greatly affects what’s produced. Both cottons have extra-long staple fibers, however, both cottons are grown in extremely different climates. Both cottons originate from Sea Isle cotton, which comes from the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
Due to its extra-long staples, Pima cotton is more often picked by machines during its harvest. Roller gins are used to separate fibers from the seeds, so care must be taken to avoid breakage while being picked, which can weaken the fabric before making the cotton threads.
Every bale of cotton fiber that is grown in the U.S. is tested by the USDA for physical properties (micronaire, strength, uniformity, etc.) as well as amount of plant material present (trash) and fiber color. Pima cotton is primarily grown in the southern regions of the United States, like Texas, California, Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, and Florida.
Buying Towels that are Made in the USA from cotton grown in the USA is a great way to support the USA’s Cotton growing industry, which now produces about 35% of the worlds cotton supply.