The Best Bath Towel for Your Wet, Naked Body

If you find shopping for towels as miserable as most folks do, you’re in luck. I can tell you with certainty to buy 1888 Mills’ Luxury Cotton Made in Africa bath towels. Of all of the towels I tested they are the best intersection of soft, absorbent, durable, and affordable.

Last Updated: February 12, 2014
It's getting hard to find our pick in stock in colors other than white, so we are looking around at other models and will update this guide in the coming weeks.
Expand Previous Updates
January 13, 2014: Removed wait status because Amazon has our pick back in stock. We also removed the Costco buy link because they don't appear to be carrying the 1888 Mills anymore.
January 6, 2014: The 1888 Made in Africa towels aren't currently available anywhere at a reasonable price so we are putting this piece on Wait Status and plan on revisiting it soon. In the meantime, if you can't wait, we recommend Amazon's Pinzon. I would't regret ordering the Pinzon towel if I needed a towel right now (they're really quite good and well-made), but they are a bit on the heavier, fluffier side and can take a while to dry, so be aware of that.
July 24, 2013: The 1888 Mills, our top pick, is currently only in stock at Costco, but not in white, which we recognize is a problem for a lot of people. (A representative from 1888 Mills told us that they underestimated the popularity of their towel, and that their domestic mill is hard at work to get the towels back on the market as soon as possible, hopefully within a month). In the meantime, if you must have white towels, or would rather not have to spend $60 on 4 towels when you only need 1, we recommend Amazon's Pinzon. But before you pull the trigger, it's worth noting that the 1888 Mills is a better long term investment due to its fast selvedge hems and for other reasons mentioned below. I would't regret ordering the Pinzon towel if I needed a towel right now, but for my money, I would wait a few weeks for the 1888 Mills if I was planning on buying a whole set and didn't just love big fluffy towels.
June 4, 2013: Added a short clarification regarding a discrepancy in length between the Amazon and Costco version of these towels. (Both are identical.)

What makes a great towel

A number of factors contribute to towel greatness, and they all fall into two testing categories: performance and experience. Performance is the sciency stuff, and Experience has more to do with how the towel feels.

There are a stupid number of towels available out there, so in order establish criteria to choose test subjects by, some basic questions had to be answered. What do we want most out of our towels? Absorbency, but also a decent drying rate so they stay fresher. Softness, but also durability, and at a reasonable price. What fibers and fabric constructions will give us the best chance of meeting those goals? Ultimately, the best towels are 100% cotton with a GSM (grams per square meter) weight of 500-800.

Great 100% cotton towels of this weight shouldn’t run you more than $30 each. You can definitely find similar pieces out there for more (or less), but $30 is a reasonable spending cap. A single person probably wants at least 3 towels at home in regular rotation, and $100 should be more than enough to accomplish this. Even super plush Egyptian and Turkish cotton luxury towels with a GSM over 600 are readily available online for $30 or less, so there’s no need to go breaking the bank. The only towels consistently more expensive are luxury brand names of the variety sold at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. For the extra bucks, you do get a bit of bang: monogramming, jacquard designs, decorative embroidery and brand name pride—if that’s your thing—but know that you won’t get twice the quality for spending twice as much. If you’ve got a considerably lower budget in mind, there are still good cheap towels on the market (see our runner up), but know that you will be sacrificing construction quality and softness. Consider the amortized cost of buying new cheap towels every year versus investing in more durable ones when worrying about cost.

Great 100% cotton towels of this weight shouldn’t run you more than $30 each.
GSM is to towels what thread count is to sheets. A higher GSM indicates a fluffier, more luxurious towel, but just as 1000 thread count sheets are so dense they feel stiff, towels with a GSM above 800 are overkill in the fluff department. In testing, heavier towels did not absorb a considerably higher percentage of their weight in water, although they definitely took longer to reach the same level of dryness.

After talking to experts and doing research about cotton moleculesbamboo fabrics and what to look for when towel shopping (here and here) we settled on the parameters of 100% cotton towels with a GSM between 500 and 800.

Even so, there are an overwhelming number of options. Enough options that you shouldn’t be spending more than $25 per towel unless your credit card is really burning a hole in your pocket. There are some things that money can buy cutting edge performance from, but towels are definitely not one of them. While there is a true and quantifiable difference between, say, Egyptian cotton and plain, old short staple cottons, they are functionally quite similar for the purpose of absorbing and releasing water from your wet, naked body.

Textile Science 101 (why cotton over bamboo)

Here’s why you want cotton towels:

The quality of a towel can be measured in many ways, but measurements fall into two basic categories: material and mechanical. Material qualities have to do with what the towel is made of: cotton, microfiber, rayon (often bamboo rayon) or a blend of fibers. Microfiber towels are a technological advancement of the late 20th century, and great for thin, absorbent lightweight towels like those sold at camping and sporting goods stores, but they don’t possess the qualities of a great bath towel, which is why they’re not up for consideration here. Towels touted as being made of bamboo are almost always made of bamboo rayon, a fiber that releases a dangerous amount of pollution during the manufacturing process. Bamboo rayon towels are far less eco-friendly than marketing would have us believe, and worse for the environment than cotton. The process of turning bamboo fibers into rayon utilizes the same chemical pulping processes as all rayons, leading the FTC to prohibit many retailers from even labeling these products as “bamboo.” “Rayon is rayon, even if bamboo has been used somewhere along the line in the manufacturing process,” explains David C. Vladeck, Director the Federal Trade Commission’s  Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Bamboo and other cellulosic type fibers are becoming popular,” Academy of Art University Textiles professor Matthew Gerring told me, “but generally underperform in durability and absorbency.” When it comes to towels, 100% cotton is definitely still the way to go.

Towels touted as being made of bamboo are almost always made of bamboo rayon, a fiber that releases a dangerous amount of pollution during the manufacturing process.

Pure cotton towels are most often hyped up for their exotic fiber origins and luxury properties, but that’s just marketing. Cotton’s real selling point is its incredible absorption capabilities. It’s capable of holding up to 25 times its weight in water! This is because it’s structured to the task of toweling at a molecular level. The polymer molecules that make up cotton form a chained structure known as pure cellulose. Not only is cellulose structurally sound for drawing in water, it’s also dipolar, just like water molecules, which results in a natural attraction between the two negatively charged molecules. Water and cotton just can’t keep themselves apart. Cotton’s hydrophilic properties, long staple fibers, and all around durability make it the sensible choice for terry cloth, the fabric used in towels.

If you’ve done any shopping before for towels or sheets, chances are you’ve gotten an earful about all the different types of luxury cottons on the market. In essence, though, Egyptian, Turkish, Pima, Supima, and Sea Island cottons are all the same thing. That is, they’re all grown from the same plant species, Gossypium barbadense. There are four commercially grown species of cotton, and more classifications of cotton based on the locations where they are grown. Turkish cotton is known for its softness and long, durable staple fibers, while Egyptian cotton also possesses long staple fibers, but is hand picked instead of machine picked. Pima cotton is its regulated trade name when grown in the United States, and is often highlighted for its use in high end clothing, although it also appears in towels. Basically, luxury cotton advertising is yet another facet of the marketing machine that re-branded the Patagonian Toothfish as Chilean Sea Bass, and at its root, any 100% cotton yarn is suitable for great towels.

Okay, we’ve got the material, but how about the mechanical?  There are many camps of thought here, and they can be just as confusing as fiber choice. A fluffier, more dense towel means more absorbency, right? Right! But it also means that your towel will stay wet longer and mildew fast, which means more washing, more drying, more shrinking, and more wear on your towels. The ideal towel is one with high absorbency and a decently high GSM—enough to be fluffy, but not so dense that it won’t dry out between uses.  Finding this ideal requires us to look deeper into terry cloth construction.

Terry cloth is woven on special looms, called dobby looms, which are programmed  to weave uniform loops into both sides of the fabric.  These loops can be longer or shorter, made of tightly or more loosely twisted yarns, all of which affect the fabric’s weight, hand, and durability. Higher pile (longer loops) result in a soft, shaggy towel, but are more prone to snagging and raveling. Low, even pile with a ring-spun two-ply yarn is what we’re looking for in optimal terry cloth construction because it will provide the best intersection of absorption and durability.

Great towels, like great sheets, can last up to a decade with proper care.
Durability is key to separating a good value from a great one. It’s especially disappointing to spend the extra on a luxury towel, only to have it fall apart months later. Great towels, like great sheets, can last up to a decade with proper care. What makes a towel more durable is mostly a matter of construction. “Hotels often use towels with a blend of 86% cotton and 14% polyester for durability”, Lexi Schladenhauffen, a 12-year veteran of the towel business told me. Since we’re concerning ourselves with 100% cotton towels for home use, construction details are especially important to creating a durable towel. Fast edge or very well hemmed selvedges are key. A towel with poorly finished sides will self destruct within a matter of months of regular use and washing. No matter how nice the terry cloth is, it’s no good if it starts unraveling from the outside in. The other achilles heel of towel construction is fraying loops. Because the loops of terry cloth are essentially a series of even snags, it is important that the fabric under the loops be especially strong. A great towel will have a dense, evenly woven fabric base, which should not be transparent when held up to the light. This base is the only thing holding the loops of the towel in place. Once a towel sustains a run, like a hole in a sweater, it will continue to unravel no matter how you might try to save it. For these reasons, we’re looking for a densely woven towel with a low, even pile made of ringspun yarns with a fast edge or securely stitched selvedge. No decorative borders or embroidery. Just solid terry cloth.

First round draft (or, how we decided which towels, out of hundreds, to test)

There are thousands of towels out there. A short trip to the bath linens section of any home store can prove overwhelming, not to mention online shopping, which multiplies those options exponentially. Luckily, our strict set of criteria narrows the playing field enough, with the help of user reviews, to select a handful of towels for testing. Most simply distilled, we’re looking for undecorated 100% cotton towels under $30 with a GSM of 500-850, twisted ringspun yarns, selvedge edges, and a dense, even pile. This rules out all “bamboo”, microfiber, zero-twist, jacquard, piped and embroidered towels, but still leaves hundreds of options.

Diving into online user reviews and existing articles on towel performance shows a few consistent leaders in the game. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute has tested a number of  leading department store brands, and, years after publication, is still the most comprehensive set of towel testing I found online. User reviews and ratings on Amazon point toward popular picks by online shoppers and provide the kind of feedback on long-term use that simply can’t be recreated faithfully in a matter of weeks (which is what I had to work with).

In the end, the towels I tested spanned all the most important points between value, density, softness, and construction. I chose WestPoint Home’s Lasting Color towel for its value and Good Housekeeping Research Institute seal of durability, also because it’s available at pretty much every Bed Bath & Beyond. I also selected Macy’s Hotel Collection towel for its soft hand and GHRI “Best Towel” rating and 1888 Mills’ Luxury Cotton Made in Africa towel for its great Amazon rating, reviews, and construction. Finally, I tested Amazon’s Pinzon Luxury towel for its high GSM and decent price point compared to other luxury towels of the same sort.

Not the cheapest, or softest, or densest, but the best bath towel for 99% of us, 99% of the time.

The test

Not far into the research process, it became clear that I would have to test the top picks myself in order to really separate the wheat from the chaff. I coordinated with Richard Baguley, our testing guru who setup Reviewed.com’s testing labs and procedures, to set up a methodology for testing water absorption and release, which I monitored over a six-hour period.

Why is your soft fluffy towel repelling water like wax paper? It could be your fabric softener.
Before any testing could begin, the samples had to be washed. This is actually where a lot of bad reviews of good towels originate. The soft hand we feel on a towel in the store is intentionally created with the help of chemical finishers that actually reduce absorbency. These fabric softeners aren’t so different from the kinds many of us use at home. Why is your soft fluffy towel repelling water like wax paper? It could be your fabric softener. Contrary to pretty much every ad for fabric softener and dryer sheets ever, you should never use either on your towels. I mean, if you want them to work and all, instead of just smelling good on the shelf. If you want to reduce static cling, try dryer balls instead of traditional waxy softener laden dryer sheets.

I never use fabric softener on anything for this reason. The existing softeners need to be broken down and washed away, though, for which white vinegar works wonders. (White vinegar can also be used as an alternative fabric softener after the initial wash, as it is a safe, natural, antibacterial that kills mildew in towels and washing machines, it also softens fibers without degradation, and leaves behind no smell. Add ¼-½ a cup of plain white vinegar to the softener compartment of any washing machine, front loading or top loading.) I washed and dried the samples twice with no synthetic softeners on the lowest heat settings. This is the best way to care for your towels in general. Once completely dried and cooled, I weighed each sample to confirm it’s GSM.

Each towel was then saturated in water to determine its holding capacity as a percentage of dry weight. I placed each towel in the same container and saturated it with water to see how much each towel could hold without dripping when the container was tilted at a 45 degree angle for fifteen seconds. A good towel will hold at least four times its weight in water. By comparison, the amount of water your towel absorbs when you dry off after a shower is less than a tenth of that. After saturation, the towels were all washed and dried again.

I also tested for water pick up off of the body by submerging my forearm in the bathtub and drying it by both patting and passing the towel over my arm. Synthetic fibers or towels treated with chemical finishers often fail to absorb water from skin, instead rubbing it around in a big linty mess, but all of the towels I tested passed with flying colors. Every single towel succeeded in drying my arm completely in one pass, as any good 100% cotton towel should.

With water pickup accounted for through the first two tests, I tested release by dampening each towel and timing the drying process. On a digital scale in a plastic container I sprayed water onto each towel until it had absorbed 40% of its dry weight. The towels were hung evenly in dry bathrooms and weighed every two hours over a six hour period. While no one towel dried completely in six hours, clear data definitely emerged with regard to each sample’s drying speed. Thinner towels definitely do dry more quickly, even when saturation is measured as a percentage of their own dry weight.

Towel

Pinzon Luxury

Macy’s Hotel Collection

1888 Mills Luxury

WestPoint Home Lasting Color

Price

$23 ea

$30 ea

$24 ea on Amazon or 4 for $60 at Costco

$6 ea

Size

30”X56”

30”X56”

30”X58”

30”X54”

Colors Available

6

12

4

8

Total Weight

894g

782g

746g

536g

Actual GSM

828

724

666

515

Max. Water Retention as a % of Dry Weight

480%

483%

457%

447%

Hour 0

40%

40%

40%

40%

Hour 2

31%

32%

34%

29%

Hour 4

23%

26%

23%

22%

Hour 6

16%

20%

18%

13%

Our Pick

It wasn’t the fastest drying, or the highest in GSM or water pick up, but my pick is the most balanced of all tested and my favorite. And 1888 Mills’ Luxury bath towel is Amazon’s best seller in bath towels.

It’s dense enough to dry your body quickly, without feeling heavy, and light enough to dry out by the next use.
With a GSM of 666, it feels plush without being too dense, and dries well enough for everyday use without mildewing. In testing it performed in line with other luxury towels, but its moderate GSM and superior construction are really what set it apart in my book. It’s not as soft or dense as Macy’s or Pinzon’s towels, which actually works to its advantage. It’s dense enough to dry your body quickly, without feeling heavy, and light enough to dry out by the next use. Many reviews cite its excellent durability, and that the towel softens over time, which makes sense from a textile science perspective. Most people I’ve spoken to actually prefer a less fluffy towel, and beyond getting dry, are looking for durability and value. This towel is a great intersection of performance and value, not to mention its simple design, and minimal shrinkage, which can leave the edges of many other towels with “rollercoaster” hems, the puckering and unevenness that results from one part of the towel (the hem) shrinking more rapidly than the rest of the towel (the terry cloth). So, 1888 Mills Luxury towel is a solid investment and a good performer, but how do you measure the feel?

Definitely not as soft as the Macy’s towel, which didn’t feel as absorbent—almost like trying to dry myself with a sheet of cotton balls, and it began to pull and fray after two washes. It also wasn’t as dense as the Pinzon towel, which, at 820 GSM felt like drying myself with a plush cotton rug. The 1888 Mills’ Luxury bath towel felt like a towel should feel: it felt like most nice hotel towels I’ve used. It’s neither too fluffy or too dense, but still soft. And it dries well enough that every day use isn’t a problem. Even better, it didn’t lint up my dryer or my skin, which is a sign that the yarns are well plied and spun, and not likely to fall apart anytime soon.

Speaking of lint and washing, I was fairly amazed at how little lint this towel left in my dryer, even in the first two washes.

User reviews seem to agree, with a lot of folks mentioning how sturdy and lint free they are in their reviews. Another testament to durability is the number of reviews reporting how well they’ve held up after up to three years, and in clinic use (presumably in some sort of massage or bodywork office). One reviewer even mentioned using them to wipe down the insides of her shower every morning, which, uh… I personally wouldn’t do. But assuming she goes through a towel a day that way, they’re holding up through a ton of washes (literally, that’s a little less than 5 1/2 years of daily washing, although I’d wager most of us average folk only go through a load or two a week).

A surprising number of gripes I read about towels online had to do with how towels these days just don’t seem to stand up to regular use as well as they used to, you know, back in the day. At first I chalked this up to the eternal posturing of “they used to be better”, which I’ve seen applied to everything from bath linens to bands, but it seems to be a good point in this case: the way most towels are woven changed when production left domestic mills as a result of global outsourcing. The towel that research showed to be the sturdiest is also the only one made in the United States.

The towel company has a good reputation and heritage. 1888 Mills isn’t a recognizable department store name because before they began offering up their 100% cotton towels through Amazon and Costco they sold mainly to hotels. (A reader reported that Costco listed their version of the towel as being 2 inches shorter on their website, but we have confirmed with 1888 Mills that the towels are identical and the discrepancy in listed length was a data-entry error.) It is the oldest towel mill still in operation in the United States, where they still produce towels with fast selvedge hems, as opposed to the cut selvedge hems on most internationally produced (read: cheaper) towels. Cut selvedge hems, like the hems of many garments must be pressed and stitched to secure the loose threads along the cut edge. This particular towel is incredibly structurally sound with its ringspun two-ply yarns evenly woven into a highly absorbent, low-pile terry. In layman’s terms, this towel washes excellently, with minimal shrinkage, it gets you dry, is still soft, and will pretty much never fall apart. Really. And, as a part of the Cotton Made in Africa program, it’s made in the U.S. with sustainably sourced cotton from Africa that supports growing economies by ensuring that farmers receive market rates for their crops, which many otherwise don’t. It’s like the cherry on top, and at a respectable $24 on Amazon or 4 for $60 from Costo, it’s a sound investment in personal warm-fuzzy-dryness.

Budget towels

Also Great
Waaaaay cheaper than our top pick and ultra durable. Definitely not as thick or soft, though.
I was very impressed with the dollar to performance ratio of the $6 WestPoint Home’s Lasting Color towel. For the cost of a sandwich, you get a 100% cotton towel that boasts colorfastness through up to 50 washings in non-chlorine bleach. How is that even possible? It’s no five-star hotel spa Egyptian cotton wonder, but a decent performer and a great deal.

It held nearly 450% of its weight in water, stacking up formidably against the fluffier luxury towels I tested, and was the fastest drying towel I tested. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute dubbed it the Best Value in their extensive testing, which I totally agree with. That said, I do think that taking another step up in cost and buying something softer and sturdier is worth the money in the long run. Frankly, I don’t really understand how WestPoint Home can even turn a profit on such a cheap product.

Based on value alone, the Lasting Color towel would be the clear winner.

Based on value alone, the Lasting Color towel would be the clear winner, but it’s not quite the best. It is, however, a great choice for those on a super tight budget, families with kids who destroy everything in their path, or folks who just like a thinner, lighter towel. If you’re considering test driving the top two towels yourself, I recommend buying 1888 Mills’ Luxury towel for at home and WestPoint Home’s Lasting Color towel for your gym bag.

The main downside is that this towel is a little thin and on the rougher side. This is to be expected of less expensive shorter staple cottons, though.

Wrapping Up

There are certainly softer fancier towels out there, but the 1888 Mills Luxury bath towel is the best intersection of performance, quality, and cost. I’m still pretty impressed with the construction, and fully intend to make them my go-to towels from now on.

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Sources

  1. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute, Towel Buying Guide, Good Housekeeping
  2. Matthew Gerring, Academy of Art University Textiles Professor, 02/27/2012
    "Fiber content should be cotton. Bamboo and other cellulosic type fibers are becoming popular but under perform in durability and absorbency generally. Organic cottons or fair-trade products should be verified by the retailer using a number of different standards available. Consumers rarely look for these certifications and don't know them when they see them so many retailers can say whatever they want."
  3. Kim Norton, Why is Cotton Absorbent?, eHow
  4. Lexi Schladenhauffen, Towel Industry Veteran, 04/01/2013
    “Hotels often use towels with a blend of 86% cotton and 14% polyester for durability.” "The three most important qualities in towels are absorbency, which has to do with the quality and size of the yarns, durability and linting. All towels lint more than other linens, but it's important to control because it makes your dryer less efficient and it's really annoying when a towel is shedding while you're trying to use it."
  5. A description of the cotton milling and towel weaving process.
  • MrHaroHaro

    Personally I’m a huge fan of those WestPoint Home towels. Have had a couple white ones for the past 2 1/2 years. Still soft and have kept their shape and color really, really well. They dry fast and I’ve never had one stink up before the weekly wash.

  • Lee Fyock

    Someone needs to scrub this article for “its” and “it’s”, since both are used incorrectly.

    We bought a towel warmer a few years ago, and it’s great. A timer starts it warming about an hour before we get up and shower, so the towels are nice and toasty when you get out of the shower. Then it stays on for another hour or so, which helps dry the towels out and keeps them fresh.

    • http://TheSweethome.com Joel Johnson

      Looks like that slipped past copy-edit. It’s fixed…its fixed…it are fixed now.

    • James

      Which one?

      • Lee Fyock

        The towel warmers are by Myson, in the Avonmore style, purchased from efaucets. I use Insteon switches throughout the house, from smarthome. My house server uses Indigo software to control the towel warmer switches.

  • sokkles

    Personally I’d recommend 100% linen towels to anyone who wants to actually get dry… when it comes to absorbency, I’ve found that most cotton towels just suck (pun intended). Try linen – it may not be soft and fluffy, but you’ll dry fast, and the towel will dry much faster than a cotton towel.

  • drycappucino

    There are a few of us who really do NOT want soft towels. I have looked everywhere for “scratchy” towels that will give my back a good rub and scratch while drying. The best towel I have found for this purpose is the World Market (Cost Plus) White Chevron cotton towel (14.99 for the bath towel). I (and my boys) love it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melissahtan Melissa Tan

    We’ve noticed that Costco lists the towel as 30″X56″ rather than 30″X58″. I’ve double checked with 1888 Mills to ensure that the two towels are the same. They are the same towels — the difference is just a data entry error.

  • walls

    FYI, I looked for the Westpoint Home towels in my local Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday (not recommended: utter hellscape) and although they’re listed as in-stock on the website, the store manager said he’d never heard of the brand. So you may be better ordering online.

    • Melissa Tan

      I had the same issue when I went to my local Bed Bath and Beyond (you’re right, it is a hellscape), and just before giving up to go the online route I found an entire display of them right in front of me. I don’t think the employees know the brand names of all of their products, but if you asked for the $6 bath towel they might better know where to point you.

  • pbanta

    Your CostCo link is dead.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for letting us know!

      • http://aaron.kavlie.net/ Aaron Kavlie

        Your Costco link is still dead.

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          It’s not dead, the item is out of stock at the moment, but still, thanks!

          • http://aaron.kavlie.net/ Aaron Kavlie

            I thought that’s what pbanta meant. The page doesn’t make it look like it’s ever coming back… has anyone seen it in stock at Costco recently?

          • Paul Mulner

            Nope. And I check often.

          • http://aaron.kavlie.net/ Aaron Kavlie

            @paulmulner:disqus I know they were in stock at that Costco link a few weeks ago. Had a tab open meaning to buy some, but never got around to it.

          • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

            Amazon still has them in stock.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    I prefer bath sheets, as they’re longer and bigger. But they’re hard to find.

    • RonK13

      Espalma 700 Cotton Oversized Bath Sheet
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CBNDRE/

      • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

        Thanks!

        • RonK13

          I bought 2 for my mom 5 yrs ago, they are huge and heavy and hold up well (but may stay wet a little too long). You can use it as a blanket in a crunch :-)

  • John Walters

    I just bought some WestPoint Home towels and ran ‘em through the washing machine. (Permanent Press cycle, cold water.) They came out with a lot of loose cotton fuzzy bits and even a pulled thread or two. If they continue to degrade after a second wash, I’m taking them back.

    I can’t explain the difference between my experience and yours; just telling you what happened to me.

    • Melissa Tan

      I hope your towels fared better after the second wash! Fuzziness is definitely an issue with the first couple of washes, especially if your dryer has a small lint trap. If the trap fills up, all remaining fuzz will stay in the dryer with your towels.

  • John Miller

    I bought a couple of these towels to try, after reading this review. They’re pretty good, especially for the price. We were using some much more expensive towels, though, and I miss the heft of those.

  • Will Taylor

    It’s been more than a month, and the towels are still out of stock. Any follow-up from TheSweetHome?

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      It looks like they’re still available through Costco. Have to tried the other link? Will let the crew know though thanks!

      • Will Taylor

        Didn’t try it. We usually stick with Amazon, as we’ve got a Prime membership. Also, we’re only interested in white. Thanks though!

      • http://alvarogan.com/ Alvaro Gandara Astray

        It’s gone from Costco as well… Any updates on availability?

  • Sam

    1888 Mills towels are absolutely incredible. This towel does its job (absorbing moisture) better than most towels but it also is far and away the most soft, welcoming, mind-blowing towel I’ve ever put to my skin. It dominates Ritz Carlton towels; it literally was a transcendent experience when I first used it – head and shoulders above any towel I had ever used. I simply cannot believe how inferior every other towel is by comparison. I also bought a Pinzon, and the Pinzon is a slight improvement over most department store varieties, but eats the 1888 Mills’ dust in comfort.

  • Christina

    I got the 1888 Mills 2 bath, 2 hand, 2 wash towel set off of Costco for $45 about a month ago and am bummed to see it’s gone (I’d like another set).

    Just checked Amazon today though and you can get a bath towel for $19.99!

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Bif Skipman

    These towels are a terrible disappointment. They are not plush at all. I bought them on Amazon, two towels and two hand towels, and I am very displeased with this purchase. How in the world you recommended these is beyond me. Now I’ll have to take all your recommendations with a grain of salt.

    • Jacqui Cheng

      We’re sorry you don’t agree on the plushness of the towels we recommend. For the record, I also own those towels (as well as many others), and I find them to be the most plush of the entire collection.

      We spell out all the criteria that we consider when choosing a winner. That’s for transparency purposes, but also so readers can check out everything we did and choose for themselves whether those same criteria apply to their own buying choices.

  • Bif Skipman

    I am very disappointed with these towels. They are not plush at all. I don’t know why this is your recommendation. Now I will have to take your other recommendations with a grain of salt.
    I ordered from Amazon.

  • Russell Zager

    back in stock at Costco

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up!

      • Bill

        Are you going to update with links to Costco again?

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          I think as long as Amazon remains steady & at a better price, we’ll stick it out. Thank you though!

          • Bill

            Amazon is out of stock (2-4 weeks) of all but the white towels and their price is 33% higher than CostCo. ($19.99 each vs. $59.99 for a set of 4).

          • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

            We put the links back up. Thanks!

  • Jonathan Weiss

    The Costco site is selling these again. 60$ for 4 towels, or 45 for 2 Bath Towels, 2 Washcloths, and 2 Hand Towels.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Yep we have the Costco link above. Thanks!

  • lobster_johnson

    I got the 1888 Mills towels based on the recommendation of this article. Like @Bif Skipman I am distinctly unimpressed.

    It’s true that they are absorbent and dry fast, but they are very dense and thin. They feel cheap. They are not the lush, luxuriously thick, plush, soft kind of towel that you want to nestle in, the kind that you sometimes find in high-end hotels and wonder where you can buy. (That’s the kind of towel I am dreaming of, anyway.) They are not particularly pleasant to use, since they are so thin, although their thinness belies their ability to absorb water.

    In short, these are basic, utilitarian towels for getting dry after a shower, and that’s about it. I suspect you put a little too much effort into the science. For reference, my other towel set is this set from Natori: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/N-by-Natori-Shoji-Cuff-Bath-Towels-100-37-Cotton/204436. They are a lot nicer.

  • Joshua Kwan

    Any experience with the 802-Gram Turkish Towel Collection from Restoration Hardware ( http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/category/products.jsp?link=TurkishTowels&categoryId=cat1537116 )? I have a few of these and am loving them so far. Just curious as to how they stack up vs. your recommendation.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      I don’t believe so. There is a chart of what was tested above. Thanks!

      Pinzon Luxury
      Macy’s Hotel Collection
      1888 Mills Luxury
      WestPoint Home Lasting Color