Ultimate Guide to Turkish Towels - What is a Turkish towel?
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Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

by Grace Druecke

Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

I’ll never forget my first Turkish towel.


It was ocean blue with white stripes and perfectly tied fringes dangling on each side. It was thin and lightweight and filled with handmade goodness.

At the time, I wondered if a thin towel could possibly be absorbent. But I was intrigued. I asked if a Turkish towel would do the job drying my skin after a shower or a swim in the pool. The seller, a free-spirited woman with long flowing hair and a laid back boho-style, showed me a “broken-in” towel - it had been washed multiple times and it was beautifully soft with a vintage look.

And she was about to teach me the secret to Turkish towels...

Pink turkish towel

Hi, I'm Grace. That first towel turned into an obsession with Turkish towels, and the start of The Bali Market, a company dedicated to providing the best Turkish towels for people who want to minimize and simplify their lives.

As the owner of the Turkish towel company, The Bali Market, the biggest question I receive is are Turkish towels really absorbent? They totally are!

Want to know the secret I learned?

That day, the seller taught me that the secret to absorbency lies in the unique quality of Turkish cotton. Turkish cotton has looooong fibers and with use the long Turkish cotton fibers soften and become delightfully absorbent. 

It's the long fibers of Turkish cotton that make Turkish towels absorbent! [Fun Fact] Because they're thin, they also air dry super quick!

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

A towel needs to be absorbent, so it's no wonder our most popular towel is the Waffle Weave towel. People say it's the most absorbent of our collection. 

That first Turkish bath towel with fringe became my favorite bath towel - and then some. It also became my go-to travel blanket on flights. 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.

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

This towel became so much more than a towel. But we're not here to talk about my obsession with Turkish towels.

We're here to help you decide if Turkish towels are right for you.

We'll also discuss what to look for when buying Turkish towels, where to buy Turkish towels, and all the things you need to know if you're ready to get started with Turkish towels. Alright, let's go!

First things first.

What is a Turkish towel? 

A Turkish towel is a towel made in Turkey on looms with Turkish cotton. Turkish towels were invented in the 17th century in Bursa, Turkey. They also can be called Turkish peshtemal bath towels, foutas, pestemals, and hammams.

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

Turkish towels are considered to be the first towel invented. 

So they are real classics! (love an original? The Bali Market's original towel is the Perfect Classic)

Now you know what a Turkish towel is, and you know that the secret to a Turkish towel's absorbency is thanks to Turkish cotton. But are all Turkish towels the same quality? No way.

So how can you tell if a company has quality towels or crummy towels?  

Quality varies from weaver to weaver and a higher priced towel typically reflects a higher quality product. The average price range for a quality towel is $30-$65.  

You'll want to look for Turkish towels that are hand-loomed in Turkey, and made from 100% First Grade Turkish cotton. Turkish towels are not fast-fashion. They're an artisan crafted textile.

Pro tip: Avoid "made with Turkish cotton" - that means it's only partially made from Turkish cotton. It should say 100% Turkish Cotton.

 

How do you know if you're getting a quality towel?

We're all about authenticity at The Bali Market and that's why we work directly with a women owned Turkish towel company in Turkey. They value using traditional wooden hand looms, and locally grown First Grade Turkish cotton. 

You can check out our towels here if you're curious.

Be careful who you shop from. Make sure you're getting real Turkish towels. When you buy from The Bali Market you're getting the real thing. 

Looming Turkish towels

Purchasing a real Turkish towel also means you’re supporting a community.

Families and entire communities depend on the production and sale of Turkish towels to support their livelihood. So every time you purchase a Bali Market towel you’re supporting a community, an ancient craft and a sustainable product. It’s definitely a win-win :)

Another common question I receive is,
are Turkish towels hard to care for?

The answer is no, but I totally get why you're think that. They're different than regular towels. But their care is quite simple. Here's how to keep your towels looking and feeling awesome.

  1. You must wash your Turkish towel before you use it. It needs to be washed to become absorbent. You can also soak your towel in cool water overnight. This really helps your towel become more absorbent.
  2. Use a gentle cycle on your washing machine and a low heat on the dryer. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets as they gunk up the fibers making them less absorbent. And of course, avoid bleach!
  3. Turkish towels air dry super quickly, so you can also hang them to dry, which is so awesome. 

Another thing to keep in mind: Fringes are durable but may come untied from time to time. There’s a simple solution though. Learn how here ---> How to Fix Untied Fringes on Turkish Towels.

People love Turkish towels because they’re absorbent, lightweight and quick-drying.

Sure, Turkish towels are all of those things. But what I love about Turkish towels isn't that they make great towels, it's how they make you feel.

It's the simple joy that Turkish towels bring you.

After all, a towel is a really personal belonging. Think about it. You use a towel everyday, multiple times a day, on your most exposed and intimate body parts. Honestly, your towel probably sees you naked more than anyone else in your life. So yes, they’re personal – and because Turkish towels only get better with use (fun fact), they easily become a part of more than your bathroom routine.  They become a part of your home, a part of your life.

 

More Fun Ways to Use Turkish Towels

How do you see yourself using your Turkish towels? There are SO many ways to use them. 

You can use them both as bath AND beach towels. You can easily use the same towel for the bath and the beach - because the style suits both settings. You can use it as a travel towel because they're lightweight and easily fit in a carry-on bag while leaving room for clothes, shoes, and other travel necessities. 

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

On the beach you can use it as a cute cover-up, sarong or as a dress. To pull off this beachy-boho look, try The Bali Market's Saltwater Stripe.

See how real-life The Bali Market customers use their towels ---> Seven Clever Ways to Use Turkish Towels

They're also ideal for travel because they air dry quickly. You won't have to pack a sopping wet towel in your bag!

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

To stay warm at home or on the plane you can use them as a light throw blanket or as a scarf. Our Herringbone towel is thicker and warmer and is ideal as a throw blanket. 

A Turkish towel can be all these things and more because they are incredibly versatile.

They can also help simplify your home. By replacing your bulky towels with thin and streamlined Turkish towels you'll have a cleaner linen closet and less laundry. 

Looking for the most versatile towel? ---> Try the Perfect Classic

Need more? Here are 30 ways to use a Turkish towel

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

 

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.

Are Turkish towels actually absorbent?

We've been over this. Yes! And with proper care they will become more absorbent. Over time the long fibers of the Turkish cotton open up allowing more water to absorb into the towel. (Can a Turkish towel absorb water quickly? Find out in the video below...)

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 Turkish towels?

Yes. You can tumble dry Turkish towels on low heat or hang to air dry. They dry quickly and it’s important to not over-dry your towel.

Are Turkish towels good for travel? 

Yes! They are the best for travel for a few reasons. They are made from lightweight cotton so they roll up compactly and 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. Plus, here are 27 other ways you can use your Turkish towels.

 
 

What customers are saying about The Bali Market Turkish towels

Here's what a couple of interior stylists have to say about The Bali Market towels. Read more real reviews from current The Bali Market customers here.  

 

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

Angie Wendricks of County Road Living @countyroadliving

 

Everything You Need To Know Before You Buy Turkish Towels

Brit Pierce of House Updated @houseupdated

 

The best part of shopping with The Bali Market is that you save when you bundle

Are you feeling excited and considering going fully Turkish with your towel collection? The Bali Market has bundles to get you started.

You can choose from 3 or 4 piece matching bundles. You'll save $8 when you choose a 3 piece bundle and with the 4 piece you'll get a FREE hand towel ($12 value).


I get so excited about people having more streamlined linen closets, and having everything looking and feeling better. If you're in need of a closet detox checkout The Bali Market bundles. If you're ready to shop bundles, click below. 

 

Here's What You Do Next:

1. Choose your favorite style and color (feel free to mix & match)

2. Order 2 towels per person in your home (2 bath + 2 hand)

3. Wash before using and use daily

SHOP ALL TOWELS

 

 


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Grace Druecke
Grace Druecke


5 Responses

Grace Druecke
Grace Druecke

July 23, 2019

Hi Heidi, Great question. Yes, Turkish towels will shrink – they’re made from 100% cotton and that’s the nature of the fiber. If they’re pre-shrunk, you’ll notice less shrinkage. In your case they may have shrunk excessively because they had a loose weave. Turkish towels range in weight anywhere from 7 oz – 15 oz. A quality/tight weave classic style towel should weigh around 10 oz. Hope that helps.

Anna Nikulina
Anna Nikulina

July 23, 2019

Hi! Now sand free towels are becoming more popular. Are Turkish towels sand free?

Grace Druecke
Grace Druecke

July 23, 2019

I recommend using a baking soda wash and vinegar rinse once in a while to keep your towels super clean. Heat damages everything, especially natural fibers like cotton. You can use hot water, you just might see more wear in your towels over time.

Alyssa
Alyssa

January 24, 2019

Hi! I have a question about cleaning Turkish towels. You always hear you should wash towels in hot water to kill any bacteria. Will these towels be ok in a hot water wash cycle?

Heidi
Heidi

September 14, 2018

How much should they shrink? What is the average weight of a quality Turkish towel? I bought some directly from Turkey that were super loose weave, see through really. They shrunk several inches in cold water and low heat dryer. Thanks for great info.

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