The Best Bath Towels to Replace Your Old Moldy Shower Rags

Terrifically soft, quick-drying towels to make your next shower a little more luxe.
A collage of steve martin taking a bath and towels floating around him
Photograph: Everett Collection; Collage: Gabe Conte

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Finding the best bath towels is a totally uncomplicated task, which is exactly what makes it so complicated. Hear us out—we promise this is going somewhere. Basically anything that can absorb water from your body is, by definition, a towel. Even the oldest, most torn-up rag you nick from your parents' closet is going to be capable of wiping you dry, provided you use enough elbow grease. And that's exactly why most of us never learned how to tell the best towels apart from the just-barely-good-enough towels in your linen closet right now. Until you've experienced the plush perfection of a superior towel firsthand, you have no idea what you're missing. It's not your fault. Even hotels famous for using luxe, high-thread count sheets tend to use paper-thin bath towels.

We're here to tell you that there's a better way to shower. Just like bed sheets, the universe of bath towels includes options in tons of fabrics, weaves, and textures, which each offer vastly different properties. As we see it, most towels break down into two main categories: There are thin, textured towels that don’t absorb water that well but dry quickly, and then there are plush towels that absorb lots of moisture but take a while to feel completely dry. However, our towel testing has revealed a third category: true Goldilocks towels that offer the perfect blend of plush fabrics, high absorbency, and fast drying times.

Unlike beach towels that get used once before getting tossed into the washing machine, the best bath towels need to dry quickly enough to be used day after day. It's taken our reviewers some trial and error to find the right towels, and considering how low the stakes are, it might be worth trying out several of our favorites for yourself to see what you like. You certainly don't need to own 50 towels, but nobody ever complained about having a few extras lying around the house.

First, you'll have to wade through a lot of marketing speak that makes every towel sound as superlative as the next. Towel listings often lull you into confusion with unhelpful information about a towel’s pile (the pile is the height of the cotton loops) or the type of cotton (it’s always Egyptian cotton, isn’t it?). But after extensive showering, we've learned what qualities really matter in a towel.

The Best Bath Towels, at a Glance

Dripping from your shower and in desperate need of a bath towel ASAP? Well, we can't help you there, but we can cut straight to our top picks so you can get dry sooner rather than later.

What makes for a good towel

When conducting our survey of some of the best towels out there, we searched high and low for towels that avoided the thin, flimsy quality of a cheap guest towel and instead embodied a soft, pliable feel (no matter whether it's a thin waffle bath towel or a lush bath sheet). Usually, that comes down to the quality of the materials each towel was spun from. We’ve found that the best ones are made from long-staple cotton fibers, rather than synthetic materials loaded with fabric softener that feel nice at first but fall apart quickly. There are some notable exceptions, of course, like the plushiest terry towels. If sustainability matters to you, then you may also want to look for organic fabrics that meet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Likewise, OEKO-TEX certified fabrics will be free of harmful synthetic materials.

Most importantly, how well does a towel absorb water without getting so waterlogged it turns to a moldy rag in your poorly ventilated bathroom? To measure overall absorbency, check out the towel's GSM, or grams per square meter. GSM—usually varying between 300 and 900—will let you find out the weight and density of your towel. The lower the number, the lighter and less absorbent; the higher the number, the heavier and more absorbent. Other perks, especially if your towels are displayed in a highly trafficked bathroom, are how respectable they look against the polished marble and tile of a modern bathroom. You're not in college anymore, buddy! You and your guests deserve more than stained and faded towels.

How we tested

There’s really no way to know whether a towel can actually live up to its jargon until you’ve used and washed it. A lot. So that’s what we did. Over the last few years we’ve tested dozens of towels from a bunch of different bedding and bath manufacturers. Absorbency and a speedy drying time in between showers were the highest priorities in our towel reviews. After measuring absorbency and how well it dried us off, we checked to see how well it dried itself off without developing a funk shortly after.

Like mattresses, you shouldn't be replacing your towels every couple of years, so we also tested for how well they hold up over time. We noted how they felt out of the box (important even though you should be washing it before you first use them) and then tracked how much that changed over the course of weeks, then months. Lastly, we asked ourselves whether the best towels we tried were actually worth the dinero, and whether they lived up to their marketing superlatives. After all, a pricey towel may look nice on the rack, but it should also be able to withstand a spin cycle or two hundred without emerging frayed, dusted with lint, or sprouting loose threads and excessive pilling.

No matter the level of softness, absorbency, or drying time you prefer, you’ll find the right fit for you in our list of the best bath towels in 2023. Just please remember to wash and dry these top picks more often than your last set. We can still smell the mildew from here.

The Best Super-Plush Bath Towel: Brooklinen Plush Towel


Plush Towel (Set Of 2)

The Brooklinen super-plush bath towel is ridiculously cozy and drapes on you like a dental x-ray vest. In fact, this towel is so plush and so soft that you'll never be able to go back to using ordinary towels again, and it's proven to be a hit among our reviewers and readers alike. Made from long-staple Turkish cotton, it still feels wonderfully soft after dozens of washes. (It shed a little lint the first few washes, but it’s not a factor after that). The downside to this ultra-absorbent heavyweight towel is that it takes a long time to dry—although not quite as long as you'd expect given the almost-sponge-like absorbency. Some water does tend to get trapped in the thick 820-GSM fabric. But as long as you’re not showering twice a day, or own more than one towel, that’s not a huge deal.

The Best Lightweight Towel: Onsen Bath Towel


Bath Towel Set

The Onsen towel is made with Supima long-staple cotton, which gives it its softness. (If you're not familiar with Supima cotton, it's the buttery soft fine cotton fabric that's ideal for underwear—and towels, apparently.) It’s on the thinner side, but its unique waffle weave texture gives it a bit of bonus surface area that can grab water from your body, while remaining exposed to air. This makes the towel both more absorbent than some thicker towels and ensures it dries as quickly as other thin towels. Plus, waffle towels just have a real visual appeal to them—drape the Onsen over the back of a reclining chair by the side of a swimming pool sometime and get ready to field a lot of questions and compliments. It’s also the kind of towel that will serve you well in any size, from hand towel to full-blown bath sheet. One note about these towels is that they can snag easily, so you may need to be a little delicate when slinging them over the shower door or towel rack.

The Best Quick-Drying Towels: Coyuchi Temescal Organic Towels


Temescal Organic Towels

If you haven't heard of Coyuchi, we think that's a damn shame. The California-based textile brand puts a heavy emphasis on sustainability, and all of its products use certified organic materials. Coyuchi may lack the name-brand recognition of brands like Avocado or Brooklinen (for now), but this is a bath and bedding brand that should absolutely be on your radar. Coyuchi's Temescal bath towels aren't quite as plush as Brooklinen's famously fluffy towels (don't worry, they're still plenty soft), but that's because they were designed to dry ridiculously fast.

In our testing, they dried just as quickly as towels that were half as thick. (They dry so fast that we recommend air drying them after you toss them into the washing machine to conserve some energy.) To make these towels, the brand weaves “long-staple Turkish cotton into a lightweight yarn” and uses a ribbed texture to achieve above-average absorbency and faster drying times. And as much as we appreciate the eco-friendly materials and manufacturing, we also appreciate the stylish color options. Instead of getting cheap towel sets from Amazon, we recommend investing in these soft, long-lasting towels that will beautify your bathroom for a long time to come.

The Best Standard Bath Towel: Boll & Branch Bath Towel

Boll & Branch

Bath Towel

Picture any towel in your head, and you’re probably envisioning this one from Boll & Branch. It’s medium thickness, but with a tall pile. It feels plush, but not the kind of plush where it feels like you’re not getting dry very quickly. It’s soft, and feels just as good after 10 washes (trust us, we counted). Added plus: Boll & Branch ensures their product is sustainably made with organic cotton, so you can brag to your hippie in-laws when they comment on your lovely bath towel set.

The Best Gigantic Bath Sheet Towel: Coyuchi Air Weight Bath Sheet


Air Weight Bath Sheet

All of the towels we recommend come in a bunch of different sizes, but if you’re looking to embrace the humongous bath sheet life, consider one more option from Coyuchi: the air weight bath sheet. This super lightweight towel is a bit thicker than the Onsen, which gives it a slightly softer hand feel, especially after that first wash. Each spot picks up water quickly, but because of its massive size, you’ll never want for a dry spot to wipe off a new part of your body. The problem with a thicker oversized bath sheet is that it can take an absurd amount of time to dry, and take up a lot of space while doing it. The Coyuchi bath sheet doesn't have this issue. Even if your roommate squishes it on the side of your towel rack after your morning shower, these large bath towels will still be invitingly dry when you pull them off the hook tomorrow.

The Best Statement Towel: Dusen Dusen Bath Towel

Dusen Dusen

Bath Towel

For a certain kind of design-conscious millennial, buying a set of printed Dusen Dusen towels is a rite of passage—a 30" x 56"-sized step towards adulthood. The brand’s sunny housewares are impossible to miss on the timeline, but chalking up their appeal to sheer aesthetics ignores how luxe they feel. Those endlessly-'grammable designs mask a dense layer of brushed terry cotton, as soft as it is absorbent. They look great strewn oh-so-casually in the corner of your selfies as bathroom decor, but also make drying off at home after another day of Zoom-hopping feel a little like setting your body to OOO.

The Best Spa Towel: Cozy Earth Plush Bath Towels

Cozy Earth

Premium Plush Bath Towels (2-pack)

Cozy Earth's are the second-thickest towels around here, clocking in with a GSM of 800—so not only are they thick, plush, and ultra-soft, but they'll dry you up real fast. Unlike Brooklinen's Super-Plush bath towels, Cozy Earth only offers its towels in neutral colors, although that's hardly a dealbreaker. These towels might be some of the most luscious that'll ever grace your body, but the only problem with thicker towels is that they tend to take a little longer to dry, so make sure your bathroom is well-ventilated to avoid the dreaded wet dog smell. However, they have such a sumptuous texture that it's worth having to run them through the wash more frequently just so that they're fresh out the dryer more days than not. And no, you're not drying off at the spa—it's your own home.

The Best Personalizable Bath Towel: The Company Store Company Cotton Bath Towel

The Company Store

Company Cotton Turkish Cotton Bath Towel

If you’re looking for your first grown-up towels, then it doesn’t get more grown-up than a personalized monogram. For $12 more, The Company Store can add monogramming to your new Turkish bath towels. You can specify your initials or select a simple word such as “Guest” when picking out your towels online, and these personalized towels would also make a great gift. These towels are thick and fluffy, and they're available in 30 colorways from neutral to bright and vibrant.

The Best Dirt-Cheap Bath Towel: Sonoma Goods for Life Bath Towel

Sonoma Goods for Life

Ultimate Bath Towel

The cheapest towel on this list is the Sonoma Goods bath towel, which is made by Kohls (so it's already a win according to your mom) and features a lightweight “hollow cotton” fabrication that's supposedly extra absorbent. Other towels are thicker and more plush, sure, but if you're on a budget, this option is remarkably soft and dries quickly for the price point. Texture-wise, one side feels smoother and fluffier, with the other slightly coarser like an oversized face cloth. Mercifully, it also stands the test of time. Our tester has owned one for nearly a decade and despite numerous spin cycles over the years, this one has accumulated only a few loose threads over time and virtually no discoloration.

7 More Bath Towels We Like


Organic Cotton Bath Towel

Tekla has slowly become the cool-kid brand when it comes to pajamas, having collaborated with hot-shot labels like Stüssy and JJJJound, but the brand also makes some excellent towels. It sits on the thinner end of the spectrum, with a weight closer to Onsen's bath towel minus the waffle texture, but its terry fabric feels closer to something like a beach towel (not a bad thing). The towels come in more fun prints that you'd typically find from a Brooklinen or Boll & Branch, and when folks see the Tekla tag, it's a true “if you know, you know” moment.

West Elm

Organic Luxe Fibrosoft Bath Sheet

This wildly soft bath sheet from West Elm isn't quite as luxurious as the Coyuchi or Brooklinen products featured above, but it's still solidly plushy and absorbent. The size of a couch throw, West Elm's organic cotton “fibrosoft” towel dries quickly and has a fluffiness and heft to it that genuinely feels like you're wrapping up in a blanket post-shower. Despite its generously thick weave, it's also mighty absorbent so you won't detect any traces of mildew after getting it soaked.

Frontgate Resort

Cotton Bath Towel

This Turkish long-staple cotton bath towel is extremely soft, smooth, and durable. Its thick surface feels lovely against your skin because of a plush, tight pile. And even after several washes, it'll feel and look just as nice as it did new. For a premium experience, we'd still recommend the Boll & Branch towels, but these are very solid runner-up Turkish cotton towels.


Bath Towel

The first thing you'll notice about the Havly towel is the extra large corner loop designed for easy hanging on a hook. This loop, in addition to the towels' relatively thin weave, makes it dry a little bit faster than ones of a similar size. And if your bathroom is heavily trafficked but light on towel bars, those two features alone might make the Havly the best choice for you. The actual towel is a little bit bigger than a standard bath towel, but not quite as big as a bath sheet. It's a bit rougher in texture than the Coyuchi Air Weight towel, but still softer than a lot of other similarly thin towels we've tested.


Yukine Bath Towel

Shinto's Yukine towels are incredibly plush, just like the ones from Brooklinen and Riley, but they have a unique, almost squeaky feel. The manufacturer says that's because of how its towels are refined, a process that takes place after the full towel construction as opposed to before the fibers are woven together. Some may prefer the more natural, fuzzy feeling of Brooklinen or Riley, but if you're game to try a towel that's somehow both plush and slick, you'll dig the Yukine.


Luxury Plush Towels (4-pack)

Saatva originally started with mattresses and bedding, but now it's entered the bathroom. Given its attention to detail in the bedroom, Saatva's entry-way into bathroom linens feels apt. The brand offers two types of towels, a waffle weave and a plush option, and while we're fans of both, the plush versions feel especially in line with the brand's whole “luxury" aspect. They're super soft out of the packaging, only made softer during that initial wash. They absorb water really well, though we wish you could buy towels individually instead of having to commit to a four pack or a bathroom set of towels of varying sizes.

Amazon Aware

100% Organic Cotton Plush Bath Towels (6-Piece Set)

Unlike Amazon Basics, Amazon Aware is an Amazon house brand that you wouldn't be completely embarrassed to offer to a guest. The Aware brand was created to offer Prime shoppers more eco-friendly options, and these carbon-neutral towels use 100% organic cotton. They have a generous 700-gram weight for high-absorbency (meaning you'll have to wait a bit longer for them to dry) and come in five color options to complement your bathroom decor. For shoppers looking for the best towels on Amazon, this is an affordable and long-lasting bath towel set that's a smarter purchase than some no-name brand at the top of the search results.