What Is a Towel Made of, and What Are the Best Materials to Look For?

white gym towel

Have you ever wondered what is a towel made of? They aren’t all made out of cotton. From bamboo and microfiber (and everything in between), you can find different types of towels on the market today. And, some are better suited for certain activities than others.

In this article, we’ll cover the most common materials used in towel construction, how to choose the right kind of towels to meet your needs, and tips on caring for them properly so they stay soft and absorbent for as long as possible.

What Is a Towel Made Of?

While cotton towels are by far the most common, several other materials and blends are available today to suit different needs and budgets.

While you may think any old towel will do, the material used to construct a towel really does matter. What a towel is made of impacts its durability, absorbency, and how it feels on your skin.

What Are the Best Towel Materials?

Choosing the best towel materials depends on your needs and how you plan to use the towel. Let’s dive into the topic of what is a towel made of and look at some of the most common materials used.

Cotton Towels

Cotton is a $12 billion industry and the most abundantly produced natural fiber in the world—and for a good reason. It creates soft, durable, breathable fabrics for various products.

If you’re looking for soft, absorbent towels, 100% cotton is proven to be a good choice. If you want thicker, premium bath towels that feel soft and luxurious, we recommend ringspun cotton, as it provides a smoother touch and is generally more substantial.

Towels lose fibers and gradually wear out over time, so choosing a thicker cotton towel will ensure it lasts longer and stays soft. For maximum durability, look for towels that are made to withstand up to 500 washes.


Microfiber towels are made of synthetic fibers, about 1/5 the diameter of human hair strands. In fact, microfiber towels can have as many as 200,000 fibers per square inch, depending on their quality. The most common microfibers are made from nylon, Kevlar, Nomex, or a mixture of polyamide, polyester, and polypropylene.

Microfiber towels are strong and very absorbent, making them great for cleaning. They’re also a more environmentally-friendly alternative to single-use paper towels. Some people also like using a microfiber sweat towel for the gym, as they’re easy to carry around and great for keeping your body and fitness equipment clean and dry.

Cotton Polyester Blends

Also called poly-cotton, this material is a mix of natural cotton fibers and polyester. Polyester is a synthetic fiber made from petroleum-based products. What it comes to what is a towel made of that is a poly-cotton blend, the ratio is typically 65% cotton and 35% polyester.

Polyester doesn’t shrink or change shape as quickly as cotton, so a poly-cotton blend is easier to wash and dry, though it may not feel as soft on the skin as 100% cotton.

Cotton Alternatives

There are other materials used to make towels that are available on the market today, including:

  • Bamboo
  • Cellulosic fibers
  • Hemp
  • Ramie

These alternative materials offer different levels of durability and softness and often come at a premium price. It’s essential to read reviews before purchasing towels in a material you’ve never tried. This feedback from real customers can help you make a more informed decision.

Customer reviews praising different qualities of towels purchased from Texon, including what is a towel made of from the wholesaler
Customer reviews of Texon Premium White Hand Towels

Caring For Your Towels

When washing your towels, always follow the care instructions on the tag, as different materials call for different water temperatures and detergents. Some are bleach-safe towels, while you should not wash others with bleach.

If you’re cleaning a microfiber towel, avoid adding fabric softener, as it can break down the synthetic materials in the towel.

When washing workout towels, allow them to dry completely before throwing them into your laundry hamper. Piling up towels that are damp with sweat can create an environment that breeds bacteria.

When to Replace Your Towels

As your towels go through multiple laundry cycles, their fibers eventually break down. Even the most durable towels will need to be replaced about every six months, depending on how often they’re used, washed, and dried.

Inspect your towels and replace any that have:

  • Started to develop a musty or mildew-like odor that isn’t coming out in the wash.
  • Lost their absorbency or softness.
  • Stains that you’re unable to get out.

FAQs Related to the Question “What Is a Towel Made Of?”

What is a towel made of? What are the best towel materials to look for? If you have questions about towels, the experts at Texon have the answers. Here are some frequently asked questions.

What Is the Best Material For Gym Towels?

Cotton is the most popular material for gym towels, but they come in a wide range of materials, including lyocell, bamboo, cotton-polyester blend, linen, and synthetic microfibers.

Many fitness enthusiasts prefer 100% cotton because it’s highly absorbent, soft to the touch, and durable. But some people like using microfiber towels at the gym because they’re lighter and dry quicker than cotton.

Why Are Towels Made Out of Cotton?

Cotton is a natural fiber and safe for people with sensitive skin. It also makes towels that are soft but strong. It’s a perfect material for keeping your body clean, dry, and comfortable after a shower, workout, or dip in the pool.

What Is a Terry Cloth Towel?

Terry cloth is a looped material typically made from cotton. The loops come in varying heights and densities—the more dense the loops, the more soft and absorbent the towel.

Texon Has the Towels You Need

When you think about what is a towel made of and want the very best, trust Texon Athletic Towel & Supply. We are a family-owned towel wholesaler and offer a large variety and inventory of towels to meet the needs of any business or home. Our towels are soft, absorbent, and durable.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our towel experts at (866) 690-1802.

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