Difference between bath towels

Written by mandi rogier Google
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Difference between bath towels
Bath towels are available in a dizzying array of materials, sizes and styles. (colour towels image by Tasha from Fotolia.com)

Bath towels are usually selected for their colour and other decorative elements. However, you can make the most of these purchases by taking time carefully to consider the other important factors that distinguish one towel from another. The material, size and a handy little number known as the GSM can play a big part in helping you select the best bath towels for your home.

GSM Number

A quick way of comparing similar bath towels is to look at the GSM or grams per square meter. This will let you know how thick or heavy the towel is. As a general rule, anything below 400 GSM is very poor quality and a GSM of 400 to 500 is only moderately better. Towels with a 500 to 600 GSM are adequate, but not ideal. A towel that will thoroughly dry you off without getting too soaked itself will rate around 600 to 700 GSM. Anything above 700 is luxury quality, though you don't want to exceed 800 GSM, as a towel this thick would be unwieldy and difficult to use.


Towels are available in a wide range of fabrics, and the material can influence the comfort of the product greatly. Standard cotton towels are typically the least expensive, but these may get rough and uncomfortable over time. For a softer, more luxurious towel, Egyptian cotton or the U.S. equivalent, pima cotton, is the way to go. Eco-conscience consumers may opt for organic cotton for a soft, luxury towel that is good for the environment. Bamboo towels are another option. These are extremely soft and absorbent and have the added bonus of being naturally resistant to mould and mildew.


If you're accustomed to picking out towels based on their colour or texture, you may not have noticed the range of sizes available for various needs. Standard bath towels range from 27 x 52 inches to 30 x 58 inches. Children may be comfortable with the smaller size, but most adults will prefer a larger towel. For a luxuriously oversized towel, you can also opt for a bath sheet that will range from 35 x 60 inches to 40 x 70 inches. This giant towel lends a spa-like feel to your bathing experience and provides plenty of coverage.

For simply washing your hands, a hand towel measuring 16 x 28 inches to 18 x 30 inches is standard. A smaller hand towel, referred to as a finger towel, can be used as an accent piece or for guest bathrooms. These measure 11 x 18 inches.


The intended function of a towel is important in making the right selection. For home use, you will always want a towel with a higher GSM and a larger size. A luxurious master bath should be outfitted with Egyptian cotton bath sheets for the most relaxing and pampering bathing experience. However, you don't need to splurge as much for other uses. Beach towels can get by with a much lower GSM as you will probably want a thin, lightweight towel that fits easily in a tote. GSM and material matter much less for simple hand towels than they do for those used for bathing and showering. If you use a separate towel for your hair, opt for the smallest standard towel you can find to make it easier to towel dry or wrap the towel around your hair.


The colour and design featured on a towel is often the first thing a buyer looks at. Towels are a very easy way to redecorate a bathroom and can be changed with the season or even your mood. Towels in a variety of coordinating colours have the biggest impact, while basic white towels give a simple, elegant and clean look to the room. Embellishments can be fun, but these should be kept to a minimum. Ribbon or embroidery can get ruined over time with the constant friction, washing and drying that towels are subjected to. Whatever style you choose, you can keep your towels looking bright by washing them with a cup of vinegar added to the wash cycle before their first use. This will help seal in colours and improve absorbency.

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