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The Towels by GUS Towel Buying Guide

When shopping for the perfect plush towel, you might want to heed your mother’s advice and “keep your hands to yourself!” Why, you ask? Because, contrary to popular belief, “touch” is not the ideal way to distinguish the good from the garish when choosing the right towel. Similar to denim, there are towels that fall apart after the first few washes and others that get fluffier and more absorbent as they grow older. So, don’t let that first warm and fuzzy feeling blur your sensibility when searching for the best towel.

Let our experts take the mystery out of the towel selection and buying process for you. We’ve researched hundreds of towels from all over the world and tested them to determine premium absorbency grades, optimum fiber count, superior strength, bountiful colors, and ideal weight. From Egyptian to Turkish, to organic cotton, we’ve done the research for you. So why not sit back, relax, and indulge in our comprehensive towel buying guide.

Ready? Set. Explore

Towels To Fit Your Lifestyle - All About Cotton Types

Supima Cotton

The cashmere of cotton, Supima is exquisitely soft and superior in strength. Smooth and silky to touch, this high-class towel will leave your feeling like a million bucks. Made from 100% American Pima cotton, Supima is a U.S. hybrid of Egyptian cotton made from extra-long cotton fibers. These long, thin, pima cotton fibers are woven into a high thread count resulting in a towel with superior strength and exquisite softness.

Shop our best Supima Cotton towel

Micro Cotton

If you’re looking for a long-term solid investment, our Natural Plush Micro-Cotton Towels are the ultimate daily luxury choice. Specially cultivated long fibers are woven into extraordinarily long loops that give these towels a spa-like indulgence. Not only do they look and feel fantastic, they receive top marks when it comes to absorption. Featured in The Sweet Home, Best Towels Guide as most "luxurious and soft" upgrade pick, you will surely feel the difference of Micro-cotton technology with the decadence of our Natural Plush Micro-Cotton Towels.

Shop our best Micro Cotton towel

Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian is the Queen of cottons. You’ll feel like royalty too, when you indulge your inner regent in this superior quality towel. The ultimate in softness and luxury, these towels are highly absorbent, exceptionally durable and oh-so breathable. Extra-long silky fibers will, unlike most Hollywood marriages, withstand the test of time.

Shop our best Egyptian Cotton towel

Turkish Cotton

A natural sheen and extra durability makes Turkish cotton a sure bet for your bath. Immerse your senses in premium comfort with this plushy and quick-drying towel. The more you wash a Turkish cotton towel, the fluffier and more absorbent it becomes. Grown exclusively in Turkey, long staple cotton fibers deliver a luxuriously soft feel, with ultimate durability and superior absorbency.

Shop our best Turkish Cotton towel

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton is a popular option for our eco-conscious shoppers. The quality of our organically grown cotton is the same as the non-organic variety, but without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Certified to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard, these American-made towels exude integrity. Feel your enchantment increase as you luxuriate in the magnificence of our classic hotel style, organic towels. For years, national hoteliers have been turning to this sturdy towel to enhance the comfort of their guests and now you can revel in them too.

Shop our best Organic Cotton towel

USA Cotton

Made in America. Music to our ears. We’re proud to offer 100% American made towels from a company with deep roots in the Peach State—Georgia. A group of textile veterans started 1888 Mills, and now they’re industry leaders in manufacturing. You hear so much about “offshoring” but not at 1888. Our red, white, and blue, towel manufacturer is committed to American-made products. 1888 is proud to have almost 300 full-time employees in the USA. These jobs support families, build schools, provide leadership for the local community, and offer purchasing power needed to fuel the US economy. Why not add a few 100% American made towels to your collection?

Shop our best American Made towel

The Weight is Over

Deciding which towel to buy can be a technical issue. Fiber, absorbency and weight all play a role in what kind of towel you will ultimately chose. Remember this helpful trick of the trade: the more cotton in a towel the more absorbent the towel, the less cotton the less absorbent, and a lower the price.

Here’s one place to start. Embrace your inner mathematician and take a look at the numbers: GSM, or Grams per square meter, is one of our favorite cheat sheets for assessing the weight of towels quickly. GSM is simply the measurement for how much cotton is used to make a towel or the density of a particular style of towel.

The best part of the GSM numbers is that you can choose a towel based on this measurement. If you’re looking for that solid, high use towel for a crew of kids, 500g will work magic for you. However, if you want that luxury hotel decadence, 800g will be your lucky number.

However, if you don’t want to do the calculations and comparisons yourself, simply stick by the numbers here because we have already shopped the market to offer you the best possible towel in each weight category.

Soak It All In

Don’t be fooled by all the claims out there about which is the perfect towel, unless of course, you want to accept the recommendation for “Our Best Bath Towel.” Claims of absorbency don’t make the grade. That’s why we put on our lab coats to test the absorbency of every towel.

As a baseline, we only carry towels that absorb more than 200% of their own weight. Remember that in some situations a towel can be too absorbent. If you shower multiple times a day or live in a humid climate, a towel that scored above 600% absorbency may not completely dry out between uses.

How are Towels Made?

Every towel manufacture starts off with the question: “How can I make the best towel at the best price?” So many factors go into that decision process. We hand select each of our towels to represent the best of breed of the different attributes.

Ball of Cotton:

Soil, weather, light and pests are factors that impact the quality of cotton. Cotton is graded by color, purity and length of the fiber (called a staple). Choosing the right grade of cotton to create a quality, moisture seeking hand towel, bath towel or bath sheet is a crucial step in the manufacturing process.

Ball of cotton being carded:

Once pure cotton is harvested and extracted from the husk, fibers are then carded. Carding is an advanced brushing process that removes debris, untangles and straightens thick cotton fibers to make them easier to spin into a absorbent cotton towel.


Cotton fibers often go through a combing process prior to being spun. This process eliminates shorter fibers which easily pill and removes impurities. The longer fibers that remain are spun into a high thread count yarns which produce towels with that are silky and strong. Egyptian cotton and Supima cotton are examples of high thread-count towels.


Spinning wheels have been vastly modernized over the years. Most fiber spinning is now mechanized. Cotton fibers are blown into a rapidly revolving drum. As this happens, the loose cotton fibers continually adhere to the end of a strand of yarn (visualize how cotton candy is made) that is constantly being pulled out of the drum.


The twist of a yarn tells you the number of times a strand of yarn is twisted together per inch. The amount of twist can impact the thickness, strength, absorption and durability of a yarn. Zero-twist is a new process that works to open up the fiber loops for added absorption.


When dyeing is performed after fibers are spun into yarn, it’s called yarn dyeing. There are many methods of yarn dyeing, however cotton is most commonly dyed in package form. Cotton yarn is softly wound, pulled though dye and excess water is removed.


Bath Towels are woven on looms that can both weave the body of the towel and the loop. The pull or length of the loop is adjusted to vary the texture and pattern of a towel to create fine detailing and jacquard, ribbed and waffle weave collections. And for detailed information on towel care, be sure to read our Guide to Washing Towels.

How To Wash Towels So They Last a Lifetime

Whether you use your towels to wipe hands, dry-off or lay on in the sand, we know that towels definitely get a daily work-out. Good laundry practices will help keep your towels looking fresher and lasting longer. Check out these towel care tips from GUS:

Wash Before You Use

If your towels never seem to look as good the day you bought them here's why: Towel manufacturers have a sly little secret; to get their towels to seem extra fluffy in the stores, they coat them in special fabric softener that gives the fibers a super plush feel to the touch. The downside to this marketing effort is that the softener they use inhibits the towels ability to absorb. That's why it is essential to wash, at least once, all new towels before you use them.

We advise using a mild laundry detergent and washing towels in warm water (only white towels should be washed in hot water). Also add ½ to 1 cup of white vinegar to this first wash cycle after the washing bin has filled with water (pour the vinegar into the water and not directly on the towels). The vinegar works to set deep tones dyes and helps prevent fading.

Use Less Soap

As Mae West once said "Too much of a good thing can be taxing." Oddly enough, this rings true for towels too. Stay stingy with soap (mild soap is recommended for luxury towels). Use about half the amount detergent you would normally use.

Skip the Softener

Softeners are a big no-no if you want your towels to be as absorbent as they can be. Fabric softeners may be good for bringing that supple feel back to your favorite clothes, but when it comes to towels, softeners actually prevent the towel fibers from being able to absorb moisture.

Sort and Separate

Divide and conquer your loads of laundry every time you wash. To keep your light colored towels bright and your dark color towels deep, you'll want to avoid combining loads, since towels like to absorb water and color if given the opportunity.

Dry Them Out

Really? We shouldn't even have to say this, but in case you haven't figured it out, towels don't dry well left in a heap on the floor or shoved into the bottom of a hamper. Be aware that towels will mildew quickly unless they dry completely, so hang all towels out to dry after each use, unless you plan to launder them immediately.

Keep Your Cool

Turn the dial on your dryer to a cooler temperature or an intermittent setting to avoid damaging the fibers and any decorative edging. We don't recommend cooking your towels in the dryer. Treat those delicate towel fibers with the same care you give to your hair.

Stock Up With Extras

Not all towels get the same wear and tear. Consider buying additional towels in the sizes and colors you use the most. Then when one set is being laundered, you can use the alternate set. Even if you follow all care instructions, every towel has a finite life-span. So, if your towels are color coordinated to match your walls or tiles perfectly, it might be in your best interest to have a few matching replacement towels.

Select the Right Suds

Not every laundry soap is created equal. Detergent companies are constantly trying to compete with each other over claims of stain fighting, fresh smelling and softening solutions. It's getting harder and harder to navigate the ever expanding choices in laundry soap. Look for a detergent made without non-biodegradable optical brighteners or softeners that will damage your towels' ability to absorb.

What Size is Right for Me? How to Select Towel Sizes

Our bath towel collections feature sizes and choices to fit your lifestyle. View the chart below and make a selection that’s just right for you.




Bath Towel

27 x 52 inches to 30 x 58 inches

This essential towel is the foundation for the bathing experience and used for drying off after your bath/shower.

Hand Towel

16 x 28 inches to 18 x 30 inches

This everyday towel is used to dry hands and to add color and style to your bathroom décor.

Wash Cloth

13 x 13 inches

This petite towel can be used in the shower/bath and to wash hands, body, and face.

Finger Towel

11 x 18 inches

This accent, sometimes decorative towel is most often used for guests in place of a hand towel.

Tub Mat

27 x 52 inches

This absorbent and sturdy towel is used outside the bath/shower to provide a safe, dry place for you to land after bathing.

Bath Sheet

35 x 60 inches to 40 x 70 inches

This extravagant oversized towel is a perfect way to dry off after a bath/shower and for the beach too!