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There's nothing like opening your linen closet and being greeted with a fresh supply of beautiful towels. However, towels have to do more than sit pretty. In addition to being attractive, the ideal set of towels should feel great, dry quickly, wear well, and complement your bathroom's decor. That's a pretty tall order for a simple piece of fabric, so we put together some quick tips for towel buying success.

Cotton Is King

While synthetic blends are cheaper and may feel soft enough on the shelf, 100% cotton towels are the gold standard. Cotton is more absorbent and more durable, so you'll be saving money in the long run. Now, what type of cotton? Certain cotton, such as Egyptian and Pima, have longer fibers and tend to be softer. You may also look for combed cotton towels. Combing cotton aligns all the fibers in one direction before weaving, creating long, durable threads. 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. Cotton towels may shed during the first few uses, a process known as "linting." This is normal and does not indicate a poor-quality towel.

Determine the Size

Bath towels come in two sizes: standard and sheet. While a standard towel is technically large enough to wrap, bath sheets are better for those who truly like to cuddle up post-shower.

Embrace Color

Bathrooms are expensive, which is why most people play it safe when remodeling. When it comes to towels, however, try to think outside neutral territory. While you likely wouldn't opt for a mint green tub or hot pink wallpaper, towels are a great way to experiment with color. For washcloths, opt for some in darker colors if you wear makeup regularly. Mascara stains are notoriously tricky to treat.

Bargain Buy When Appropriate

It doesn't always pay to invest in high-quality towels. Certain types of acne medication containing benzoyl peroxide can stain towels and break down fibers, as can pool chemicals. For these situations, it's best to have a set of bargain towels on hand.

Comments (12)

Martha Stewart Member
January 6, 2019
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Martha Stewart Member
August 4, 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?
Martha Stewart Member
June 29, 2014
I meant to write narrow binding. And the are Martha Stewart towels. Would love to order more.
Martha Stewart Member
June 28, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
January 5, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
March 1, 2013
Try Egyptian cotton towels from Sheridan Sheridan
Martha Stewart Member
June 8, 2010
I use the same towels as the Queen of England... bought at Beautiful and very absorbent
Martha Stewart Member
December 29, 2009
its true, your bath towels are awful, and your bed sheets pill. I was truly shocked and disappointed.
Martha Stewart Member
November 29, 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?
Martha Stewart Member
January 11, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
October 5, 2008
martha, 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.
Martha Stewart Member
July 19, 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