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Q: I recently purchased some bath towels that don't absorb very well. The labels read: "100 percent Indian or Egyptian cotton." Are some cottons more absorbent than others?
--Tish Maloney, Buffalo, New York

Always wash and dry a towel before using it for the first time. Some fabrics are treated with a finish that reduces their absorbancy. And avoid using fabric softener; it only makes towels less absorbent, and it wears down the fabric as well.

As for fibers, cotton is a far more absorbent material than synthetic fibers such as polyester. You are wise to buy towels made from 100 percent cotton. Although certain cottons, such as Egyptian and Pima, have longer fibers, and therefore tend to be softer, it doesn't really matter what kind of cotton your towel is made of -- it's the length of the fibers, and the amount of pile, that makes the difference. The texture of the weave is important too.

Always look for a soft, heavy towel -- the more terry piles it contains, and the longer its piles, the more surface it will have for absorbing water.

Your towel may shed a little during the first few uses. This is called linting. It's a normal process and doesn't indicate a poor-quality towel.

Comments (11)

  • AnnieWest 4 Aug, 2014

    I came looking a buying guide for towels. I bought two sets of Martha Stewart towels at KMart and they were just terrible! The pulls in them after using and laundering them for a short time are so bad they look like they are fringed all over! I received two sets of towels from Macy's for a wedding gift ten years ago. They were not Martha Stewart, but Charter Club. They are still beautiful! With all the discounted towels available, how do you discern a quality towel? Must you pay top dollar?

  • BSKG 29 Jun, 2014

    I meant to write narrow binding. And the are Martha Stewart towels. Would love to order more.

  • BSKG 28 Jun, 2014

    Unlike the previous comments, I love the towels that I purchased but can no longer find them at Macy's. The towels I have are 100% cotton, made in India, and the tag reads WPL 8046. They have a borrow binding and I love them. Can these still be purchased somewhere or have they been discontinued? I am sorry that I did not buy more at the time. Thank you for any help you may offer in finding these towels.

  • MyAnnie52 5 Jan, 2014

    Agree with comments stated by other consumers that I am very disappointed in your towels purchased, do not expect them to be used due to the annoying pilling (or linting as you call it). May offer them to my son for his dog. Also disappointed in some of your sheets purchased. Expected better quality.

  • BedlinenDirect1 1 Mar, 2013

    Try Egyptian cotton towels from Sheridan Sheridan

  • MarkedTime 8 Jun, 2010

    I use the same towels as the Queen of England... bought at
    Beautiful and very absorbent

  • sandypoo 29 Dec, 2009

    its true, your bath towels are awful, and your bed sheets pill. I was truly shocked and disappointed.

  • MrConsumer 29 Nov, 2009

    I bought the Martha Stewart Collection towels from Macys last week because the name and quality were synonymous, so I thought. These towels are horrible. They?

  • Calliegirl 11 Jan, 2009

    I recently purchased 6 Martha Stewart towels from Kmart. The towels do not absorb the water and leave lint all over you when showering. In order to get the lint off, it is necessary to re-shower. I have washed the towels several times hoping the shedding would decrease, however, my dryer trap is still over-flowing with lint. Would not recommend towels to anyone. Apparently, just because the Martha Stewart name is on something does not mean the quality is any better.

  • cg2020 5 Oct, 2008

    I recently decided to make it known to my wife I don't appreciate cheap and thin bath towels. I went directly to K-Mart and bought a set of your BEST and most expensive towels. The towels are all full of pulls and balls and no longer useable to me. Needless to say I won't be talking-up the quality of any of your line. You've shown me you aren't quite up to the quality you claim. Thanks for nothing.C. Good In New Smyrna Beach, FL.

  • smartshop 19 Jul, 2008

    Bought set Martha Stewart Towels at K-Mart. Family enjoys them, likes print. However, they are NOT absorbent at all. We washed prior to use-NO fabric softener used. Collection is pastel block pattern (white,baby blue,yellow,light brown,light green and 100% Cotton/Made in Turkey. Though pattern is nice, we probably will NEVER use them to dry ourselves since they do not absorb. They simply PUSH water over your body. RN#117835 CA#26354