Buying bath towels
Floating out of a warm bath into a soft, thick bath towel can make you feel luxuriously pampered. But in most bathrooms the reality is that we jump out of our tubs and showers only to wrap our shivering bodies in a small, thin, almost water repellent, joke of a towel.
“Who can afford $50 bath towels?” you ask. Don't worry -- it doesn't have to cost you two shivering arms and a leg for good quality towels, if you know the facts on how to buy and care for great towels.
Choosing your towels
All towels are made from varying types or grades of cotton. Some of the more expensive, high quality towels are made from products like Egyptian or Brazilian cotton. But the type of cotton shouldn't be your main concern when buying towels, says Heather Seale, an interior decorating instructor at Bow Valley College in Calgary.
“It's hard to talk about [towels] without feeling and touching them,” Heather says, adding that the best way to judge the quality of a towel is to feel it and look at it. If it has a soft, velvety texture and a bit of weight to it, the quality is good. But if the towel is thin and feels scratchy like canvas, it's low quality and will wear out fast. Next, you should look closely at the fabric. It should be cut or shorn off so the fibres stand up just like the grass on your lawn, not woven into little loops. This makes the towel feel more luxurious. The fabric should also be tightly woven together to give the towel fullness.
Where to buy
High quality doesn't have to mean high prices. Specialty shops can charge upwards of $35 for a towel but you can find excellent towels, such as Seale's favourite Brazilian cotton towels, at stores like Winners, Linens and Things or the Bay -- at low prices. You can even find good, medium-quality towels, with matching face cloths and accessories, at stores like Wal-Mart and Zellers.
Seale says a good bath towel should cost you about $15 and decorative towels should cost between $18 and $22. An entire set of towels should only cost approximately $50 to $60 or less when large stores such as the Bay have half-price sales.
Pamper your towels
Your towels will last eight to 12 years if you take good care of them. Wash light and dark colours separately and avoid fabric softener because it can make your towels less absorbent. Always dry them in the dryer; otherwise, they will feel stiff and scratchy. It's also a good idea to keep your dark towels away from bleach or peroxide not only when you wash them, but also when you use them after applying creams or other makeup that might contain harsh chemicals. As for light-coloured towels, Seale recommends washing these with a bit of Javex bleach, especially if you use them to clean up after messy children.
And remember -- even when your towels have started to sport holes, you can still use them. Cut them into rags for cleaning and polishing. With long-lasting fabrics, affordable prices and low maintenance, there are no excuses for keeping those ratty old towels in your linen closet.