How to Select the Right Towel

There’s nothing quite like stepping out of a bath, pool, or shower and into a plush, absorbent towel. A quick-drying kitchen towel you can count on to pick up spills time and time again is worth its weight in gold!

Euphemisms aside, the right towel for the right job can make our lives much easier. However, the opposite is also true. We ask a lot of a towel – regular washing and drying, often in hot temperatures and harsh detergents, for example. If we use the wrong towel for a job, we can experience frustration.

But how do you choose the right towel for your needs? In this article, we’ll dive into the terminology you need to know to make the best decisions.

Weight Matters

The standard measurement for the weight of towels is grams per square meter or GSM. A high GSM typically means a thick, absorbent towel, while a low GSM represents a thinner, lighter towel.

Towels can range from 300 GSM to 900 GSM. Here are some examples of different types of towels that illustrate the importance of knowing the GSM. Let’s look at how you can use the GSM to choose a towel that’s right for your purpose.

  • 300-400 GSM towels are designed for quick clean-up duty or drying a wet surface. These lightweight towels are ideal for gym and kitchen use.
  • 400-600 GSM towels are medium-weight, comfortable, and absorbent. They are excellent choices for the bathroom or the beach.
  • 600-900 GSM towels are the heaviest options. They are luxurious and plush to the touch, but they take the longest to dry. These towels are right at home at fine hotels and spas.

 Yarn Construction Choices

Another factor to consider when choosing a towel is its yarn construction. Most towels consist of either ring-spun yarn or open-end yarn.

The term “ring-spun” means that the yarn was spun on spindles and twisted uniformly to the core during the production process. Ring-spun towels are softer and whiter than other towels due to that uniform twist. Towels made with ring-spun yarn also have a higher tensile strength than those made with open-end yarn.

Open-end yarn is used for most institutional towels. Although these towels have a harsher texture and less strength than towels made with ring-spun yarn, they are a cost-effective option if you have a limited budget.

Another detail to consider is whether a towel has single or double yarn. High-quality yarn has long-staple fibers that have been spun for additional strength.

For example, you might see “20 double” or “10 single” in a towel description. A 20 double towel has two strands of yarn spun together for high tensile strength, while a 10 single towel has thicker yarn that is less durable.

A third factor to keep in mind when choosing a towel is the material used in its construction. A 100 percent cotton towel is softer and more absorbent than a cotton-polyester blend. However, blended towels tend to be more durable. On average, a blended towel will last for 30 more washes than an all-cotton towel. If you prefer colorful towels, it’s important to keep in mind that polyester does not retain dye as evenly as cotton. Therefore, 100 percent cotton is the better choice for your towels with color.

Selecting the right towel is a matter of matching personal preference with the intended purpose. When you know the meaning of the terms and abbreviations used to describe towels, you can make the purchasing decision that is best for you.


Arkwright carries an assortment of wholesale towels, bath rugs, accent rugs, sheets, throws and comforter sets in both in-line and closeout merchandise that hold up to the modern family on the go. We supply linens to stores in our local tri-state area, nationwide chains, and internet retailers. We also export to seventy-five countries worldwide and have global sourcing capabilities.

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