Bamboo Towels vs. Cotton Towels

As you may already know, bath towels can be created with a wide array of different materials. Each one has different benefits for the skin, and some are able to dry out moisture faster than others. We’ll be taking a look and comparing two of the most popular types of towels on the market to help you get a better grasp of each product.

First things first, though: Which type of towels are we talking about? We’ll be looking at the benefits of the traditional cotton

Comparison of bamboo to cotton towels
Cotton vs Bamboo Bath Towels

towels, which are most likely the ones you have at home, and bamboo towels, a different but very appealing alternative to their traditional counterparts. If you are interested in bamboo towels, we’ve reviewed several of the options on the market and came up with out top picks for best bamboo towels here

Cotton towels

Cotton towels have been around our homes for centuries. They have been our trustworthy allies whenever we need to dry our hands, bodies or faces. It’s the standard fabric used in bath towels in the majority of western countries. Some companies may assure you that cotton is the best material to craft a towel, but let us go further beyond and explain to you exactly why people have this conception.

There are countless types of cotton in the world, and each regional producer uses different types of cotton to make their towels, but the most popular and highest quality cotton comes from Egypt and Turkey.

What is the particular benefit of cotton towels, you may wonder? The material allows for the water to be properly gathered by the towel. To put it in an even simpler way, the towel’s small locks of cotton do not allow a high amount of water to remain on the skin after rubbing the towel against it.

Cotton Bathroom Towels
Cotton Bath Towels: Pros and Cons

There are many different ways to craft a cotton towel, but the two most common methods are by stacking the cotton or by creating loops with it.

If you ever wonder why you can buy cotton towels in any color, we also have the answer for you. Cotton is very easy to dye, and it doesn’t lose any quality when it undergoes the process required to do it.  

If you have a cotton towel and you need to wash it, it’s recommended that you do it with either warm or hot water. This will not only cleanse the filth out, but it will also eliminate any traces of germs and bacteria.

A tip that will save you some trouble

There is one piece of advice that we can give you and it will surely save you some trouble in the long term. If you’re going to buy a new cotton towel, try to avoid those that are blended with polyester. This material isn’t good at collecting moisture and it makes the towel less effective!

Bamboo towels

Unlike cotton towels, bamboo towels are usually made entirely out of bamboo fibers. Just like cotton, it can be blended with other types of material like spandex or polyester, but the quality of the towel generally suffers with the blend.

This entirely depends on the blend’s material, though. Bamboo towels can be combined with cotton to create some very high quality accessories for your bathroom.

These towels are generally very soft and have high anti-bacterial qualities. These attributes have made these towels very popular in recent times, although there have been some concerns regarding the origin of the fiber (i.e. the bamboo’s harvesting process).

Bamboo bath Towels
Bamboo Bath Towels

Some NGO’s have raised concerns about the excessive chopping of old growth forests to make way for more bamboo in order to craft these towels. These concerns have been met with counter arguments about cotton and other fabrics also being resource intensive. It’s a never ending debate and there are valid points on either side. Whether shopping for cotton or bamboo it’s important to research if the products have really been certified as sustainable and have a seal, rather than just assuming that as manufacturers are taking proper steps avoid harming the environment. 

If you want to know more about the topic, this article in the New York Times on eco-friendly fabrics gives a good overview of the debate with things consumers should consider.

What are the benefits of each type of towel? What are their negative attributes?

Bamboo towels benefits:

  • High power of absorbency: Bamboo fibers are great for taking the moisture out of anything. Their water-soaking ability is one of the most appealing things about these towels.
  • Great for the environment: These towels are actually very eco-friendly, unlike what most people think. The attributes of the bamboo plant allow it to grow very quickly, and making these towels doesn’t harm the environment.
  • Comfort: The towels are actually really soft, especially when they are made purely out of bamboo, without any blends. This is what truly makes them a great choice for most households!

Have you heard of people now referring to “bath sheets” instead of towels and confused what they mean. It’s mostly a fancy way of referring to extra large bath towels…size is the basic difference although some sheets are also made of thinner material.  We covered the topic in-depth here (Bath Towels vs. Bath Sheets) if you are interested in knowing more.  If you are shopping for large bamboo bath sheets we came up with our top 3 picks for best bamboo bath sheets here.

The cons:

Checking for quality: Before buying a bamboo product, you have to make sure that it will live up to your standards by cautiously selecting a trusted manufacturer. Some people are just looking to make a quick buck and offer low quality products – a real issue when purchasing bamboo fiber.

Compound allergies: Bamboo products might release certain components into the air that cause allergies to owners. These components are almost impossible to avoid while manufacturing the towels – it goes beyond crafting quality, it’s an ever-present issue with bamboo.

They are more expensive than cotton: Bamboo towels have heftier price tags than their cotton counterparts, considering there’s a lesser amount of bamboo available to work with it.


Cotton towels:

  • Affordable: Cotton is one of the cheapest materials which at the same time manages to offer high quality to buyers. This is what makes it so popular and the most mainstream type of towel out there.
  • It comes in various colors without using chemicals to achieve them: Simply dying cotton with natural materials allows the towel to change colors without having to chemically alter their composition.
  • Easy to wash, easy to take care of: These towels are very easy to maintain clean. All you need is a washing machine and you’re all set!
  • Allows air to pass through it: Cotton is one of the finest natural fabrics when it comes to allowing air through, which allows cotton towels to dry quickly.

Cons:

Prone to damage: Cotton towels suffer damage more easily than their bamboo counterparts.

Dyes and washing: If you’re going to wash one of your cotton towels in a washing machine, you might have to avoid placing it with your clothes. Sometimes the dye might come off the towel and affect the coloration of other items.

Sizing issues: Sometimes, when you dry your cotton towels, they might be prone to shrinking. This issue is mainly tied to clothing and it shouldn’t affect a towel as much, considering you don’t have to wear it. But it’s important to keep it in mind anyway!