Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

Grace Druecke

Owner of The Bali Market

What is a Turkish towel

I’ll never forget my first Turkish towel. The unexpected find turned into a passion, then a career. Yep, a career. 

I found my first towel at the Minnesota State Fair (the GREATEST state fair that ever was, but that’s a whole other story) amongst the Swiffer mops and fancy food prep tools.

I was intrigued when the seller showed me a “broken-in” towel that had been used and loved for years. It was beautifully soft with a vintage look. It was a strange place to find Turkish towels but it started my Turkish towel obsession nonetheless.

The Turkish bath towel with fringe became my favorite bath towel. It also became my travel blanket on the plane. It became my scarf when it was chilly. It became my pool towel. And when I wasn’t “using” it, I used it to decorate my apartment for a simple, minimalist look.

Most people love Turkish towels because they’re absorbent, lightweight and quick-drying. Sure, Turkish towels are all those things. But my obsession - like so many people's - is not about that. It’s about how the towels make you feel.

It's about the simple joy they bring you.

I know that sounds out there but stick with me.

A towel is a really personal belonging. Think about it. You use one everyday, multiple times a day, on your most exposed and intimate body. You literally rub a towel all over your entire naked body. Daily. So yes, they’re personal – and because Turkish towels get better with use, they become part of your routine.  A part of your home. A part of your life.

They’re not fast-fashion.  They're an artisan crafted textile that will be the  most used item in your home.

Inside this guide, we’re going to get into more details about these towels. But first, you might be wondering, why should you listen to me? Why should I be the one to educate you about all things Turkish towels? (I’m not even Turkish after all).

Well, I own The Bali Market a company dedicated to selling Turkish towels for people who want to minimize and simplify their lives their lives. So I’ve sampled Turkish towels from countless manufacturers and done in depth research on the care and uses for towels to share with my community. They’re my daily jam. I also just really love them.

I’m also an Interior Decorator who has an eye for helping you spruce up your home with beautiful items and who lives a minimalist life. No, not a crazy “I only own 50 items” minimalist life. I’m a cozy minimalist. I focus on filling my home with things I love, things that last and things that provide practical use. Things like Turkish towels.

You’re here because you’re wondering if Turkish towels are right for YOU because you’ve heard they’re not for everyone. And while it’s true that they take some getting used to because they’re different than what you’re used to, they can also be simple and emotionally life changing.

In this guide you'll learn:

1. What is a Turkish Towel

2. How to Use a Turkish Towel

3. How to Care for Your Turkish Towels

4. FAQ About Turkish Towels

As a bonus, I’ve included advice from some respected interior stylists, including their Turkish bath towel reviews. They’ll discuss their opinions and specifically how they use them in their daily lives.

What is a Turkish Towel?

Turkish towels bath
turkish bath towels with fringe

Many styles of Turkish towels exist. The most recognized classic style is flat weaved with a solid color, white striped design with white fringes to finish it off.  Artisans make Turkish towels on looms using Turkish cotton.

Turkish cotton is long fiber cotton that gets softer with use. The long fibers make for absorbent towels that dry quickly. The quality of cotton is essential to the quality of the towel. Poly-cotton blends, short fiber cotton and mass produced threads diminish the quality of Turkish towels (and lower your satisfaction with using them).

Typically Turkish towels are made from 100% Turkish cotton but they can also be made out of bamboo, silk, or linen.

Authentic Turkish towels are made in Turkey. Other countries make similar, premium quality, towels. Tunisia for example is known for producing quality towels - specifically called Foutas. They are also called Turkish peshtemal bath towels, pestemals, and hammams.

Invented in the 17th century in Bursa, Turkey, Turkish towels are considered to be the first towel invented. So they are real classics! Sometimes the original doesn’t need improvement. The manufacturing process is original in some ways. Advances in technology have improved the process for the artisans but they still require high levels of skill, passed on from generation to generation, and a great deal of time. Hand tying the fringes takes 20 to 30 minutes alone.

Quality varies from weaver to weaver and a higher priced towel typically reflects a higher quality product.

Many villages in Turkey rely heavily on the Turkish towel industry. Families and entire communities depend on the production and sale of Turkish towels to support their lively hood. So every time you purchase a towel you’re supporting a community, an ancient craft and a sustainable product. It’s definitely a win-win.

                 

So why are they still so popular today? Because they work. And they work in multiple ways… meaning their versatility makes them sought after.

How to Use Your Turkish Towel

You're probably interested in Turkish towels for a couple reasons. You may be looking to simplify your home by replacing your towels with a thinner and more versatile option, you may want a travel towel or you may just want a new towel for the beach. A Turkish towel can be all these things and more because they are incredibly versatile.

The versatility of a Turkish towel may be its most talked about feature. Most commonly, they’re used as bath and beach towels (especially useful in warmer climates). You can easily use the same towel for the bath and the beach, because the styles suit both settings.

On the fashion side, you can use them as a scarf, sarong, wrap dress, or tote bag. For home decor, you can use them for table runners, as wall tapestries, and as decoration when tied to a hook.

Need more? Here's a list of 27 ways to use a Turkish towel

30 Ways to Use a Turkish Towel

How to Care for Your Turkish Towels

Turkish towels are an investment so you’ll want to take extra care protecting them. They are an ancient textile, first crafted long before modern wash machines and high temp dryers. Use the following steps to keep your towels looking and feeling their best.

To wash and care for your Turkish towel, soak it in cool water overnight before washing to increase absorbency. Then wash it in cool water on gentle and tumble dry low or air dry. (They dry quickly so air drying is not a long process.)

Skip fabric softeners and dryer sheets. They will cause the towels to be less absorbent. The “softeners” gunk up the cotton and reduce their ability to absorb water.

The towels also soften with use and may not be as soft as you would expect directly after purchasing. A few uses and washes will remedy this issue.

Fringes are durable but may come untied from time to time. There’s a simple solution. Learn how to fix untied fringes in the tutorial HERE.

FAQ About Turkish Towels

Still wondering if you'll like a Turkish towel? Check out these few frequently asked questions to make sure they're a right fit for you and your lifestyle.

How big are Turkish towels?

The typical size is 40 x 70”. A regular bath towel is 27” x 52” so comparatively they are larger.

What are the features of a high quality Turkish towel?

A turkish towel should not leave lint or fuzz on your body. It will shrink in the wash (unless it is pre-shrunk) but the threads should not pucker. The towel will get softer over time. It will feature handmade characteristics. It will feel thin and light but still have a substantial “feel” to it. Meaning, the threads should be dense so it doesn't feel flimsy.

Can I dry it?

Yes. It’s best to air dry but you can tumble dry on low. They dry quickly and it’s important to not over-dry your towel.

Are they actually absorbent?

Yes. And with proper care they will become more absorbent. Over time the fibers of the Turkish cotton open up allowing more absorbency. 

Are they good for travel? 

A few reasons. They are lightweight cotton bath towels and roll up compactly to reduce bulk in your luggage. And they are quick drying towels so you’re not lugging around a wet towel. Also, their versatility allows you to use it as a blanket, a scarf or a wrap too so you can get many uses out of one item.

What if I don’t like using it as a bath towel?

That’s the beauty of versatility. If you find you don’t like using it as your daily towel, you can can drape it on your sofa for a light throw or use it as decoration by hanging it on a hook. You can also use it as a quick drying travel bath towel, or use it as a Turkish beach blanket.


Want to Learn More?

The Ultimate 5-Day Guide to Turkish Towels

No time to read now? Click to get instant access to a 5-day guide to Turkish towels.


Turkish Bath Towel Reviews

Who is using Turkish towels? So many people. And pretty much everyone in Australia (that’s a vast exaggeration but man, do they love their Turkish towels down under).

Here is a current user of The Bali Market towels. She's added our towels to her home and is enjoying the simplicity and practical uses. Read her Turkish bath towel review below. 

Angie Wendricks      Stylist & Blogger

County Road Living

Meet Angie, a stylist and popular blogger specializing in lifestyle photos and product styling. She’s known on Instagram known for her minimalist farmhouse style and is touted as "one to follow on Instagram".

Angie's been featured in top publications, such as Country Living, Dwell and Home Scene. She built a tiny home in the country and is living a simply joyful life. 

"At first I was hesitant, as I thought they would not be absorbent. I love my Turkish towels from The Bali Market. Not only are they functional but also beautiful. "

Turkish bath towel reviews

Angie styles her Waffle Weave grey bath and matching hand towels on hooks.

Turkish cotton bath towels

Turkish cotton bath towels stacked and ready for use after a bath in her clawfoot tub.

"I love using them in different ways. They make a great tablecloth, and look pretty as a throw on the sofa. I always have them hanging somewhere in my house. They are great just to display on hooks or stacked in a pretty basket. I use them also for props in my photos.  They have a great natural feel and look that I love."

See more of Angie's tiny home life @countyroadliving and  countyroadliving.com


Now that you've learned all about Turkish towels here's a few final words. If you think you’re ready to buy your first Turkish towel, here’s what you need to know.  Turkish towels are not for everyone. I don't recommend trying a cheap option to see if you'll like it, because you probably won't. A quality towel is going to perform and feel better for you.

These towels are thin. They do not feel like a plush, fluffy towel. They're lightweight and compact. People love them for their versatility, ability to dry quickly and a lot of people just like to decorate their home with them.

And that's why I love Turkish towels so much. They bring happiness and joy along with simplicity to people's homes.

Here’s how you can start incorporating Turkish towels in your life:

If you're looking for a smaller investment

Start with a smaller hand towel

If you're looking for a classic style towel

Start with the Perfect Classic towel

If you're looking for a customer favorite

Start with the Waffle Weave towel

Back to the top