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Towels: Low-cost luxury

By on January 25, 2008

Frugal discussions often mention pampering yourself. One way to experience luxury on a shoestring is by investing in a quality set of towels. White sales are approaching, so if your towels are threadbare and scratchy, now is a good time to buy a new set. You have an opportunity to buy high-quality towels that will last for years without paying a high price. Your old set can be used for rags.

Selecting towels can be as easy as grabbing them off the store shelf, but depending on what you’re using them for, you should check the labels. Most towels are made of cotton.

STANDARD COTTON: These are ideal for daily family use with their shorter loops, less snagging and greater durability. You won’t mind using them to dry off or tossing them onto the floor for cleanups.

If you’re drawn to fluffier, thicker towels, avoid ones that are made of a combination of cotton and synthetic materials. These towels will look shiny and feel plush but won’t be as absorbent, don’t last as long and are prone to pilling. Some cotton towels have additives that trick the senses, too. After washing, you could discover they aren’t as soft as they seemed in the store.

You need to pick a towel up and check the weight; avoid towels that feel light. You’ll find 100 percent Egyptian, Supima and combed cotton towels will have longer loops that are closer together than standard cotton, but will have better absorbency and a softer feel. They are weightier and are often of better quality. These towels feel and look luxurious and are long-lasting, too. These are a good choice for your master bathroom, guests and for display.

MICROFIBER AND BAMBOO: These won’t pass the cotton “weight test” because they are lighter and thinner than 100 percent cotton towels. They are soft, durable and fade less, are extremely absorbent, take less time to dry and take up less space. Bamboo towels feel silky and are naturally antibacterial and antistatic. You’ll find the price is higher for both types, but the benefits are greater, too. If you’re unsure whether you’d like a material other than 100 percent cotton, buy a hand towel or washcloth to sample.

ORGANIC COTTON: These towels have all of the benefits of conventional cotton but are better for the planet. While they are higher priced, if the demand increases, the cost will decrease, and in time they’ll be more widely available. Buying organic cotton helps support organic farmers and producers, too. Consider how much cotton is a part of our daily lives. It takes a lot of chemicals to produce it. These toxic chemicals end up in the soil, air, food and water. I won’t endlessly preach the benefits of organic cotton or try to scare you with facts, but positive changes can happen with the consumer choices you make. Conventional cotton might be cheaper, but at what human price? Why pass up a sustainable product?

CARE TIPS: Wash your towels before using, but don’t use chlorine bleach or fabric softener because it affects absorbency and unnecessary wearing of the fabric. Don’t use hot water: It may shrink the fabric and trims. Launder towels separate from your other laundry. Zippers can snag towels and towel lint, and excess dyes can get on your other laundry. If you do get snags or pulled loops, trim them with scissors to prevent further damage.

One Comment

  1. Judi

    1/27/2008 at 1:46 pm

    Just got some new towels for Christmas… awwww… heavenly. 🙂 And the old ones got sent to my soap shop, ha!

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