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Bath Towels:
PB's Turkish Cotton Towels

How to Choose the Best Cotton Bath Towels

Have you opened your linen closet and found a few fraying and not-so-soft bath towels? That won’t happen with cozy, 100-percent Turkish cotton towels. At Pottery Barn, we love the idea of filling large and small bathrooms alike with thick, soft, absorbent Turkish cotton towels. We’ll tell you why we believe in investing in Turkish cotton towels – and how to care for them so your towels serve your family well.

What Is Turkish Cotton?

Turkish cotton is similar to Egyptian cotton. Both have extra-long fibers that result in stronger, smoother cotton threads and minimal areas where fibers are joined. Egyptian cotton towels are known for their exceptional absorbency. However, the more absorbent it is, the wetter the towel can stay after use. Towels that are too absorbent may stay damp longer in humid climates. Turkish cotton towels are highly absorbent, but they’re also efficient when it comes to drying out. You may have heard of Turkish tea towels. These have a flat weave that makes wonderful scarves and kitchen towels. However, they differ from the loftier, airier Turkish cotton bath towels. 

The history of Turkish cotton towels is a long one, dating back to elegant, ancient bathhouses during the Roman Empire. These days, over 40 percent of the organic cotton from around the world comes from Turkey. The best Turkish cotton is grown just outside of the city of Denizli in Turkey, which is famous for its towels and robes. If you’ve ever enjoyed a stay at a luxury hotel, chances are the ultra-soft towels and robes, were made from 100 percent Turkish cotton. 

What’s All the Excitement About?

For one thing, Turkish cotton towels, organic or non-organic, dry so fast that you’ll never have to worry about odors. Though they’re fluffy, they’re also lightweight. But the best thing about Turkish cotton towels may be that they become softer after every wash.

Turkish cotton towels are a bit less bulky, though just as fluffy, as standard cotton towels. You may fall in love with Turkish cotton towels so much so that you’ll buy extras! That means you need some ideas on how to store more. It's also important to know the right ways to care for them.

Caring for Turkish Cotton Towels

Wash 100 percent Turkish cotton towels in warm water. Use less detergent than you would typically in the wash. Soapy residue can build up. That makes the towels start to feel stiff, resulting in less absorbency. Never use fabric softeners on Turkish cotton towels, or any other cotton towels. The buildup can change their absorbency. To remove any excess detergent from towels, add a cup of white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle once a month. This eliminates any layers of detergent and restores your towels to full absorbency. 

If you shake the towels out, the cotton may shed some of its loose fibers. That’s perfectly normal. Tumble dry your towels on a lower heat setting, or an air-dry setting to fluff. Avoid overheating the towels. The fibers can lose their strength over time if they repeatedly get too hot. 

Also, make sure the towels don’t come in contact with household cleansers and facial cleansers that contain benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acids. These ingredients can cause color changes on the towels. 

The Gram Factor

Have you heard of GSM? It stands for “grams per square meter.” It has to do with the weight and absorbency of towels and other fabrics. Towels generally range from 300 to 900 GSM. However, 100-percent Turkish cotton towels range from 600 to 900 grams. The higher the number, the higher the absorbency is. The lower the gram number, the lighter and thinner the bath towel is.

How Long Do They Last?

Standard cotton towels usually last about two to three years before they lose absorbency and begin fraying. However, high-quality Turkish cotton towels are stitched and finished to avoid fraying. They can outlast other towels by years. Look for 100-percent Turkish cotton towels for the longest lasting towel. 

Use Turkish cotton towels in any bathroom in your home, from the master bath to your powder room. Even your guests can luxuriate in the elegance that these plush towels offer. Think of how exciting it would be to receive a set of organic Turkish cotton towels as a holiday, wedding or housewarming gift—an everyday luxury gift that keeps on giving for years to come.

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