7 Best Waffle Towels of 2023, According to Experts
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Upgrade your bathroom with one of these luxurious picks.
When it comes to elevating your bath time routine, you might consider trying a new body wash or nice shampoo in the shower, but if you're looking for an easy upgrade that adds a luxurious look and feel to your bathroom, consider using a waffle bath towel to dry off. Unlike most bath towels that are made of looped terrycloth material, waffle towels are woven with raised yarns that create a square pattern that's both simple and sophisticated. According to our evaluations, waffle towels aren't always as plush or absorbent as terrycloth towels, but they do tend to be lightweight, quick-drying and fold down compactly, so they won't take up too much space in your linen closet.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, we test and evaluate all kinds of bath towels including Turkish towels, quick-dry towels, towels that are popular on Amazon and of course, waffle towels. We consider fiber content and specifications and then assess the towels in the Lab for construction properties, dry time, washability, strength and more. Along with performing in-Lab testing, we share towels with consumer testers who are able to try the towels in their own homes and share real-user feedback with us about their experiences. Although we haven't tested all of the towels featured here, we were able to use our existing database of towel testing data and relative expertise when making our selections.
Keep reading to learn about how we test towels and for a helpful shopping guide, but first, here are our picks for the best waffle towels.
Parachute's textured waffle towel is super soft since it's made with 100% long-staple Turkish cotton, which is fine and smooth. When we evaluated it against other towels in our absorbency tests, we found it wasn't as absorbent as a looped terrycloth towel, which is typical of waffle towels. Where it did succeed was in its drying time. The light and airy towel dries quickly, according to our evaluations and online reviewers, and it's nice and thin, so it's easy to pack and store.
If you want to try a luxurious waffle towel without the luxury price tag, consider this one from IKEA. The towel is a total steal for just $9 and combines a light textured waffle front with a looped terrycloth back for added absorbency. There's even a fabric loop attached to the towel for easy hanging. Some online reviewers note the towels are subject to color fading in the wash, but they say the towels wash well otherwise.
Available for a great value and with free Prime shipping, this two-pack of oversized cotton towels from Gilden Tree is a popular pick with Amazon shoppers. Online reviewers were impressed by the absorbency of these waffle towels, with many sharing that they're just as absorbent as terrycloth towels they've tried. One reviewer shared that these towels "suck up moisture like a vacuum!" The brand claims that the towels fluff up and become even more absorbent after they're washed, and online reviewers find this to be true. One shared that the towel has an "awesome texture after the first wash." Some reviewers did note that the towels shrunk a bit in the dryer, and others experienced some initial fiber shed.
These towels from top-tested brand Pottery Barn feature a unique design: a grid pattern made of alternating squares of flat woven yarns and looped pile that creates a waffle effect. The towels have a plusher look and feel than traditional waffle towels, and the looped yarns improve absorbency. Unlike most waffle towels, which are light and thin, these towels are a bit bulkier and heavier weight, and they might take longer to dry as a result.
Onsen's waffle bath towel has an upscale look and feel that online reviewers love. It's made with 100% Supima cotton, which is known for being durable and smooth, but it's thinner and lighter than a standard terrycloth towel. The brand claims that the material grows softer with each wash, and online reviewers agree that the towels feel better with time. One analyst who has tried Onsen's bathrobe made with the same material says it feels great against the skin and launders well without major changes in appearance or noticeable shrinkage. Some online reviewers say it's prone to linting and fiber shed.
This four-piece set from West Elm includes two hand towels and two bath towels with a distinct waffle pattern that will elevate your bathroom. The towel set comes in a variety of bold and neutral colors to match your space, and there's a separate bath mat available to match. We appreciate that the towels are made with GOTS-certified organic cotton, which guarantees the entire manufacturing process follows strict standards. Plus, they're lightweight and fold down compactly, so they won't take up too much room in your linen closet or in your bag if you pack them for a trip.
An oversized towel or bath sheet is a great option for completely wrapping up after a shower. This one from Riley Home is a generous 40" x 70" and made with combed cotton for a softer, smoother feel. It's not a traditional waffle weave but still features a minimalistic grid design with rustic fringed edges, and online reviewers say it's light and cozy. Although we haven't tested this particular towel, other towels from Riley Home have performed well in our Lab and consumer tests, as have its smooth sateen sheets. The brand notes that because the towels are handcrafted, the exact dimensions and color of each towel can vary.
At the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab, we have evaluated more than 80 towels, including some waffle towels, and have analyzed more than 10,000 relevant data points.
We haven't tested all of our waffle towel picks, so to choose the best waffle towels, we used our relative expertise. We first reviewed our former towel testing data for relevant information and then researched waffle towels from brands that have performed well in our Textiles Lab evaluations of similar product categories. We also selected towels with rave reviews from real users and towels from popular brands online.
When we test towels in our Lab, we test the absorbency of each towel. We set up the towels at an angle, pour water onto them and then catch and weigh any runoff water. A towel with exceptional absorbency will have little to no runoff water. Along with absorbency, we consider drying speed. We wet the towels with a standard amount of water and then measure how quickly the towels dry. We also test washability to determine how well the towels will be able to hold up to repeated washing at home, but we wash and dry each towel in accelerated wash cycles of 20 total washes and 5 drying cycles, checking for any major changes in appearance, shrinkage or fiber shed that occur. To assess strength, we place swatches of each towel in our Instron machine, which pulls the material apart and measures the force required to break it.
Our consumer testers try the towels out in their own homes and rate characteristics including the overall softness and comfort of the towels, as well as their appearance. They also share if the towels feel absorbent, if the towels dry quickly and what they generally like and dislike about the towels.
When you're shopping for waffle towels, here are some things to keep in mind:
✔️ Fiber content: Most waffle towels, including all of our picks, are made with cotton fibers, which are inherently absorbent and soft. Some cotton varieties, like Supima or Turkish cotton, are known for being exceptionally soft and smooth and more durable, but towels made with these cotton types tend to cost more. Some waffle towels are made with synthetic microfibers, which are quick-drying but less absorbent than cotton.
✔️ Size: Most bath towels, including waffle towels, are a standard size of about 30 inches wide by 56 inches long. If you're looking for a little more fabric to dry off with or wrap up in, consider a bath sheet, which is an oversized towel with standard dimensions of about 35 inches wide by 70 inches long.
✔️ Gram weight: GSM (grams per square meter) is the weight in grams of 1 square meter of fabric. A higher GSM indicates that the towel is thicker and often more plush, while a lower GSM indicates a thinner towel that's lightweight and more likely to dry quickly. Waffle towels tend to have a lower GSM of around 240, but there are some hybrid styles with higher GSMs up to 500.
✔️ Care instructions: Always be sure to review the product care label to ensure that you take proper care of your towels. Most waffle towels are machine washable and dryer safe, but some brands recommend more delicate care like gentle wash cycles, cold water or low dryer temperatures to prevent shrinkage or damage. Some brands also suggest avoiding fabric softeners, which could impact the absorbency of the towels.
✔️ Organic certifications: If you're looking for an organic towel, be sure to check for the relevant certifications. To determine if a towel is truly organic, look for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, which outlines strict standards for the entire production process and not just the fibers used. You can also check the GOTS public database to see if the brand you're shopping for is certified.
Amanda Constantine is a home and apparel reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she evaluates home goods of all kinds, including towels. Amanda has conducted towel testing in the Textiles Lab, evaluating washability, shrinkage and more. Along with testing towels, she has covered the best Turkish towels, towels on Amazon, quick-dry towels and beach towels. For this article, she used her categorical expertise to make picks and referenced her testing data and former testing data conducted by senior analyst Emma Seymour.
Amanda (she/her) researches and reports on products in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab, ranging from clothing and accessories to home furnishings. She holds undergraduate degrees in apparel merchandising and product development and advertising and marketing communications, as well as a master of science degree in consumer sciences from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping in 2022, Amanda was a lecturer for the fashion and retail studies program at Ohio State, where she taught fashion and textiles courses.
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The Best Towels to Upgrade Your Bathroomsuper soft since it's made with 100% long-staple Turkish cotton,try a luxurious waffle towel without the luxury price tagAvailable for a great value and with free Prime shipping, plusher look and feel than traditional waffle towels, waffle bath towel has an upscale look and feel that online reviewers love. We appreciate that the towels are made with GOTS-certified organic cotton,a generous 40" x 70" and made with combed cottonevaluated more than 80 towels, including some waffle towels, and have analyzed more than 10,000 relevant data points. ✔️ Fiber content: ✔️✔️ Size: ✔️✔️ Gram weight: ✔️ Care instructions:✔️ ✔️ Organic certifications: ✔️Amanda Constantine Emma Seymour.