Towels – they’re one of those home essentials we don’t really think about when we’re buying them. We just know that we need them. But we shouldn’t be going in blind when shopping for towels! That’s why, together with the lovely Brooke Rudzis from Sunday Minx, we’ve created this guide to towels!
From material choice, to GSM, to towel care, we’ve got all your bases covered.
Towels come in all sorts of materials, from linen to polyester. Some are definitely much better than others when it comes to absorbency. Cotton is perhaps the most popular choice, prized for its softness, durability, and – most importantly – its high absorbency.
Let’s take a look at a few of the different types of cotton:
Regular cotton towels are soft and durable. They’re typically fast-drying, and they’ll dry you fast as well. They launder well – you can easily pop them in the washing machine and then in the dryer, or line dry them if you prefer. Cotton also dyes very well, so you won’t be limited for choice when it comes to the colour or designs of your cotton towels!
If you’re looking for a towel that will do the job and do it well, 100% cotton towels are a fantastic choice. They’re great for families, and because they’re so readily available they’re also great if you’re on a budget.
For something a little more luxurious, Egyptian cotton is definitely the way to go. Egyptian cotton towels feel decadently soft and warm against your skin, so they’re perfect for wrapping yourself up in after a bath!
Egyptian cotton fibres are longer and stronger than ordinary cotton fibres. This makes Egyptian cotton towels feel slightly more weighted and thicker than regular cotton towels. In terms of absorbency, Egyptian cotton towels are one of the most – if not the most – absorbent towel types available, so you’ll be feeling dry in no time.
The downside of this weight + high absorbency combination: Egyptian cotton towels can take a long time to dry. You need to make sure you allow them adequate time to air dry, or they’ll stay damp long after you last used or washed them. But there’s still the option of tumble drying them, of course.
Turkish cotton provides the perfect balance between the luxuriousness of Egyptian cotton and the lightweight, fast-drying nature of regular cotton. Though not as absorbent as Egyptian cotton, they’ll still dry you quickly – but they’ll also air dry a lot faster.
Brooke did a lot of research in her pursuit of the best and most luxurious towel material for Sunday Minx, and settled definitively on Turkish cotton. She says: “Turkish cotton is incredibly soft and gets softer with every wash. The feeling of a thick, soft towel after a shower is a delight to the senses, but just as important is a towel’s ability to dry you! The long fibres make Turkish cotton extremely absorbent, drawing water off the skin effortlessly and quickly.”
Cotton towels can have a number of different finishes. Some (e.g. waffle, terrycloth) serve to increase absorbency, some (e.g. velour) increase softness, while others (e.g. ribbed) simply serve an aesthetic purpose. The finish you choose will depend on your needs and your personal style.
Brooke is a huge proponent of cotton terry over velour. All Sunday Minx bath towels are terry towels, meaning they are woven with cotton loops on both sides of the towel. Brooke says, “This is what gives the feeling of a thick, soft, and fluffy towel! Velour towels have had these cotton loops shaved on one side, creating a super-soft, velvety touch. Velour towels have a beautiful, luxurious sheen, however when it comes to their ability to dry…they don’t! The cotton loops are the hard workers of a towel. They absorb all the moisture from the skin, so without the loops you simply move the water across your skin as you towel off.”
Weight & GSM
You’ll often see that towels will have a GSM included in their name or at least in their description. GSM stands for “Grams per Square Metre” and it essentially refers to the density of the cotton loops.
GSM is important because it will affect the absorbency and thickness of your towel. 250 – 450GSM towels are considered light weight; 450 – 600GSM towels are mid-range; and plush, luxurious, heavy weight towels will have a 600 – 800GSM weight range.
Brooke says: “The higher the GSM, the thicker the towel. The thicker the towel, the longer it takes to dry!” This is very important to keep in mind. Look for that in-between, mid-range weight for a towel that’s sufficiently absorbent, but which still has enough breathing room that it dries quickly.
Towels come in all different sizes and even shapes. Rectangular-shaped towels are, of course, the most common, but there are also round and square-shaped towels (most commonly in beach towels).
There’s no set size for towels. At Zanui, you won’t find consistent sizing across every single towel. The average sizes are:
- Face towels – 30W x 30H cm. Can be used wet to wash your face, and also to wash bubs in the bath. May also be used to dry your face.
- Hand towels – 45W x 70H cm. Used to dry your hands after you wash them, and also the face.
- Bath towels – 70W x 140H cm. Standard towel size. Big enough to wrap around you or to wrap in your hair, but won’t be super snuggly.
- Bath sheets – 80W x 165H cm. Larger towels that are perfect for wrapping around you after bathing.
How to care for your towels
Towels are pretty durable and easy to care for. You’ll find similar care instructions on almost all the towels available at Zanui.
A gentle machine wash at a warm temperature (40 – 60 degrees Celsius) will adequately clean your towels (and rid them of germs) without agitating them too much. A gentle cycle and a gentle detergent will help preserve softness, but this is not essential. Optical brighteners are fine to use with white towels, but should not be used with dyed towels. Never bleach your towels.
As for fabric softeners, Brooke says these are a big, fat, NO! “Fabric softeners actually cover your towels in a layer of silicone, which prohibits absorbency. Nobody wants a towel that doesn’t dry!”
Brooke recommends washing your towels in a separate wash. This keeps them safe from snagging on buttons and zips that might pull the threads. Plus, it can stop the transfer of lint onto your clothes (see below).
To save energy, you can easily line dry your towels. Make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent discolouration and fading. Cotton towels are also usually safe to tumble dry. Plus, tumble drying can preserve softness.
Shedding & Lint
Towels that shed excessively or leave large amounts of lint behind in the washer or dryer can be annoying. It’s even more annoying when they leave all the fibres behind on your skin after you’ve just washed! But this isn’t a sign of a poor-quality towel.
Brooke says: “There is a misconception that only cheap, poor quality towels will shed. This isn’t true. High quality towels will often use natural fibres – such as the Turkish Cotton that Sunday Minx uses. As part of the natural fibre shedding process, loose fibres will drop in the first 3-4 washes. Gents with facial hair – be prepared for some beard fluff in the first few uses – my husband learnt the hard way! In most cases, after a few washes your towels will have completed the shedding process and be in perfect condition.”
How often should you wash your towels?
As you towel off, you transfer and dead skin cells, hairs, germs, and anything else that’s on your skin onto the fibres of the towel. Combined with the dampness of a freshly-used towel, your towels can then become breeding grounds for all sorts of unpleasantness that you definitely don’t want to be putting near your face or body. If you’ve ever left a towel a while without washing it, and it’s developed a sort of musty smell, you’ll know why it’s best to wash your towels regularly!
Brooke recommends washing your towels every two to three days, but ideally every day or after each use. She has five quick and easy tips to prolong the life of your towels:
- Ensure they dry adequately. Hang in a place with good airflow, draped on a towel rail.
- Reduce moisture. Put the fan on while you shower to reduce steam in the bathroom as you shower, which can create a fabulous habitat for germs to breed.
- Choose a good towel material that’s durable, low-maintenance, and fast-drying. Quality cotton, Turkish cotton, and Egyptian cotton are popular towel material choices for a reason.
- Use a hot washing cycle to ensure all bacteria on your towels are killed off.
- Rotate your towels. Don’t use the same towel every single day. Have enough towels that allow a good rotation and then wash them all at the end of the week.
Find out more over on Sunday Minx’s blog.
Colours & Patterns
The style of towel you choose, in terms of design, will all come down to personal preference. Neutral colours like beige, white, grey, and black are timeless and ever-popular. But if you want to bring a more personal touch to your bathroom style, why not be brave and go for something a little more bright and colourful?
Sunday Minx towels are instantly recognisable because of their bright colours and bold patterns. Brooke says: “Our initial business research uncovered that most homes have neutral bathrooms. White, cream, and grey tiles are the most popular for longevity. Therefore, our towels were created to be a simple and cost-effective way to add seasonal trends, colours and styles within stylish bathroom spaces.”
To find out more about Brooke and Sunday Minx, check out our interview here.