Cotton is the best material for towels because it's absorbent and durable. Turkish cotton, a luxurious type of long fiber cotton, tends to cost more and offer less color variation. Organic cotton is a good choice and often costs less than Turkish cotton but still feels soft and thick after a hot shower.
About Cotton Towels
High-quality, 100 percent cotton bath towels have either looped or piled cotton, which helps trap moisture, and it is often referred to as terrycloth. Unless specified, the cotton used to produce the towels probably comes from warmer climates, such as the southern United States.
About Turkish Towels
Turkish towels are woven from cotton with extra long fibers grown in the Aegean area of Turkey. Weaving cotton with longer fibers produces cotton yarn with fewer joins and results in cotton threads that are stronger and more durable as well as smoother, which creates a luxuriously soft towel. Turkish towels must be pure cotton and not terrycloth, plus the cotton fabric must weigh 14 ounces per square yard.
Turkish cotton is more absorbent than regular cotton or cotton terrycloth because of its long fibers and weaving process. Turkish cotton towels are plush and soft, and their durability, softness and absorbency only increase after each washing.
Cotton towels are also soft and absorbent, but if they are not woven with a looped thread, which creates thicker towels, they can be scratchy and thin.
Organic cotton towels are made of cotton that was grown using no pesticides or chemicals and isn't treated with bleach during production. Cotton towels are ideal for those with dust allergies since they won't attract dust mites.
Caring for Cotton Towels
When washing your Turkish cotton or terrycloth cotton towels, it's best to use the hottest water recommended (dark colors might require warm water) because towels come in contact with germs, body soil and oil. Wash towels in a separate load and on the gentle cycle to avoid over-agitating and never use fabric softeners or you'll make the towels less absorbent. Adding one cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle once a month removes detergent build-up and increases absorbency.
Cotton towels and Turkish cotton towels can go in the dryer, although the heat setting should be medium or low. High heat can damage the cotton threads over time.
Although Turkish cotton towels come in various colors, true Turkish cotton towels are not dyed and are white, mostly because it's tradition and also because white goes with every decor and will never fade. Regular cotton towels come in a rainbow of colors as well as patterns to add color and interest to any bathroom.
When purchasing cotton bath towels, make sure they aren't cotton/poly blends. The polyester will make these towels less absorbent. Also, avoid cotton towels labeled velour. This just means that the loops created during the weaving process were cropped. This makes the towels smooth but causes the water to bead on the surface, making the towel feel wet all the time.