Whether you’re buying towels for your hotel guests or your hotel clients, it’s important to know that not all towels were created equal. From fabrication to weight to construction, towels vary in their absorbency, softness, and durability. Not only do those characteristics affect user experience, but they also affect longevity—and your bottom line. Below, we’ll explore some different factors you need to understand and evaluate as you decide which towels to buy for your hotel or industrial laundering facility.
More than just how heavy the fabric feels in your hand, a towel’s weight also impacts absorbency and durability. It’s expressed in grams per square meter (GSM). Generally, as you increase a towel’s GSM (its weight), its plushness and absorbency increase too.
Here are the three main weight categories:
- Low-weight: 300-400 GSM
- Medium-weight: 400-600 GSM
- High-weight: 600-900 GSM
So what should you take away from the GSM number? Well, a test conducted by Good Housekeeping Institute found that towels in the 500-700 GSM range were the top performers. Towels in this range are a smart choice for high-end hotels, offering a good balance of plushness, absorbency, and longevity.
Towels come in a variety of fabric types, from different types of cotton to blends. The material used greatly affects the look and feel of a towel:
- Cotton: Towels that simply say “100% cotton” are likely made from upland cotton, which is the most-grown type of cotton in the world. Although still soft and breathable, upland cotton has shorter fibers, so it’s not as soft or absorbent as Egyptian.
- Egyptian cotton: This luxurious silky-smooth cotton has an extra long staple and highly absorbent threads. Egyptian cotton towels are also less prone to pilling and are stronger and softer than regular cotton.
- Turkish cotton: Similar to Egyptian cotton, Turkish cotton is made from extra-long fibers. Turkish towels are smooth, lightweight, fluffy and highly absorbent too. And, Turkish cotton won’t take forever to dry, which makes it easier for guests to reuse their bath towels.
- Bamboo: Most bamboo towels are actually a blend of cotton and rayon made from bamboo pulp. They offer a silkier sheen than 100% cotton towels. Plus, they’re highly absorbent.
- Micro cotton: This trademarked cotton comes from India. Micro cotton towels feature long staple fibers woven into long loops. The result is a highly absorbent, soft, plush, and luxurious towel.
- Cotton/poly blend: Polycotton towels offer less shrinkage, more durability, better longevity, and faster drying times than 100% cotton towels while still maintaining a soft touch. And, polycotton won’t stick to your skin like all-polyester towels might.
When comparing different towel types, it helps to hone in on two keywords–loop and twist.
Basically, it all starts out with cotton fibers getting spun into yarn. When manufacturers use short fibers, these inferior fibers need to be twisted to create a usable yarn. In general, the more twisting, the more durable the fibers get. However, twisting also results in a stiffer feel. At the same time, the less twisting, the more plush and absorbent a towel will be.
Instead of twisting, a manufacturer can also choose to create looped towels with longer cotton fibers. Each thread is looped through the towel, rather than twisted. Looped towels are absorbent, soft, and durable. And, using longer, denser loops only enhances a towel’s absorbency.
Of course, when you’re shopping for towels, you likely won’t see full-on descriptions of the manufacturing process. Instead, you’ll come across terms like these:
- Zero-twist: Instead of being twisted, the long cotton fibers are looped, resulting in a softer, plusher, and more absorbent towel that doesn’t shed.
- Low-twist: Minimal twisting of the fibers leaves you with a terry cloth fabric that’s soft and absorbent. Plus, it dries faster than zero-twist towels.
- High-twist: High twist towels are more durable than low or zero-twist towels. The trade-off is that they’re also less absorbent and stiffer.
- Combed cotton: With combed cotton, shorter and breakable fibers are actually removed–combed–from the towel. The result is a softer, stronger cotton towel.
- Ring spun: With ring spun towels, the short and long fibers are spun together to create a fine yet strong yarn. Ring spun towels also have a tighter fabric weave. They’re lightweight, breathable, and more durable than regular cotton.
- Two-ply: Two-ply towels have two yarn strands twisted together to create a thicker strand that’s more durable.
- Single-ply: Single-ply towels are generally thin and less durable than two-ply towels.
Some manufacturers offer size variations within different categories of towels, but sizes tend to follow these approximate measurements:
- Bath towel: 27” x 54”
- Hand towel: 16” x 30”
- Wash cloth: 13” x 13”
- Bath mat: 20” x 34”
Turn to Venus Group for Your Hotel Towel Needs
From sustainable cotton bath towels to specialized make-up washcloths, Venus Group’s line of hospitality towels can meet your hotel’s needs. Our U.S.-based manufacturing facilities and distribution points help us fulfill customer orders with a short turnaround time. Questions? Speak to a textile expert today by calling 800.421.6599, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.