We tested white towels to find the best: here’s our verdict

Looking for something softer than your current towels? We think there are some great quality options to choose from.

Soft, white, fluffy towels are my friend’s favourite household item. Having stayed at her home, I can testify to the care and attention she takes with them. Snuggling up in one that’s been treated with her exemplary laundry skills has made me feel warm and comforted on more than one occasion.

But why are the best white towels so evocative? They remind me of when I wrapped up my new-born babies after their first baths. For others, they bring back memories of hotels where towels and bedding always seem more luxurious compared to what we have at home.

selection of white towels folded and laid on floorCredit: Exceptional
We tested a range of bath and hand towels to find the best ones

But how do you pick the best ones? Choose well, and it will feel like you’re wrapping yourself in the softest of cashmere. Buy badly, and it’s like drying your skin with a scratchy scrubbing brush or barely-absorbent paper towel. We picked seven of the best-known brands – from high street to high end – and tested them to find the best bath sheet and hand towel. Unlike the towels themselves, competition was stiff, but we were determined to find the ones with superstar quality – and I’m delighted to say we did.

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hand touching white towelCredit: Exceptional
Testing softness was key to picking the best quality towels

How to care for your new towels

If you decide to splash out on some new towels after reading this review, keeping them in tip-top condition is likely to be important. A common topic for debate is how to wash them. Find out if you should use fabric conditioner on your towels and how to get towels white again if they start to look a little grey.

How we tested

The bath sheets were tested in my household of three, comprising myself and my two sons, aged 11 and 18. Surprisingly, they were just as invested in the softness of the towels as me – at least my parenting skills are having some positive influence.

We each used each of the towels on rotation over a period of two weeks to ensure every towel was tested and washed several times.

What we looked for

How did the towel feel to touch when it arrived? Did it feel the same after being washed? How soft was it when rubbed against a face?

Did the towel shed fibres when used for the first time? Did it start to shed after several washes?

How quickly did it dry the tester after showering? Did the tester need to rub themselves to dry or did the towel simply absorb moisture immediately upon contact?

How did it feel after the first wash and how did it feel two weeks later after several washes?

Once used, how long did it take to dry when hung on a standard unheated towel rail? Could it be used morning and evening without still feeling wet? If subjected to the same tumble drying time as others, did they all feel equally dry or were any still damp?

Did it perform in line with the price both individually and when compared to others?

When you read the description for a towel, you’ll normally see it described as having a GSM count. In layman’s terms, this is the method used to explain how thick and heavy the towel is.

Emily and Johnathan Attwood, the founders of Scooms, explain: “GSM refers to the weight of the towel in grams per square metre. Along with the cotton used and the way the towel is made, GSM can be a good indicator of the quality of a bath towel.

“Towel GSM ranges from 300GSM to 900GSM and the higher and denser the cotton loops that make up the pile, the higher the GSM will be.”

Scooms stack of white towels on wooden shelf
Editors Choice

Best for luxury and best overall

Scooms Egyptian Cotton Bath Sheet Pair


RRP: £85.00
Who’s this for?
Anyone who wants to wrap themselves in a little bit of luxury with some budget to spare. It’s an investment we think you won’t regret.
Marks and Spencer Super Plush Pure Cotton Towel
Editors Choice

Best towel available on the high street

Marks and Spencer Super Plush Pure Cotton Towel


RRP: £23.50
Who’s this for?
Anyone who wants to wrap themselves in a little bit of luxury but prefers to buy from a reputable high-street brand with a price tag to match.
Stack of towels on wooden bench
Recommended

Best budget-priced towel

Dunelm Egyptian Cotton Towel


RRP: £17
Who’s this for?
Homeowners with busy households who need towels that are soft on the skin but quick to wash and dry in between use.
Recommended

Best mid-range towel

The White Company Classic Double Border Towel


RRP: £28.00
Who’s this for?
If you like The White Company and are a regular customer, this is a great product, and you’ll often find it in on sale.
Recommended

Best priced towel with a high GSM

John Lewis Egyptian Cotton Towel


RRP: £26.00
Who’s this for?
Any household looking to replenish their household towels that loves the guaranteed quality and finish that comes with most John Lewis products.
Christy stack of white towels

Best option for Christy fans

Christy Renaissance 675GSM Egyptian Cotton Towels


RRP: £42.00
Who’s this for?
If you always buy Christy then this is a good towel to choose from their range and it has a high GSM.
Next stack of white towels
Recommended

Best towel for quick-drying

Next Egyptian Cotton Towel


RRP: £20.00
Who’s this for?
A good option looking to top-up your towel collection with a quick dry option that needs less time in the tumble dryer in the winter months.

Scooms Egyptian Cotton Bath Sheet Pair Overview

Best for luxury and best overall

Scooms Egyptian Cotton Bath Sheet Pair

Scooms stack of white towels on wooden shelf
Editors Choice
Luxury

If you’re after the ultimate in luxury, this is the towel for you. Thick, soft, super absorbent and large in size, you barely need to dry yourself when you’re cocooned in its care.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying time

Cost


Who’s this for?

Anyone who wants to wrap themselves in a little bit of luxury with some budget to spare. It’s an investment we think you won’t regret.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Exceptionally absorbent
  • Super soft
  • Eco packaging
  • Hanging loop
  • Cost

Expect to pay

RRP: £85.00 Only available in pairs

The best quality towel for luxury lovers

If bath sheets could be categorised as duvets, this one would get my vote. As soon as I removed it from the packaging, I wanted to wrap it around me. It weighs in at a hefty 720GSM and I instinctively knew it was going to take some beating.

Unlike some of the other towels, it had no chemical odour when unpacked from the box and it instantly felt eco-friendlier with a fabric ribbon binding the towels together, plus there was no sign of plastic tags or packaging.

two scooms towels wrapped with branded ribbonCredit: Exceptional
Scooms towels arrived without plastic packaging and immediately felt luxurious

Using the towel for the first time was a sheer delight. It absorbed moisture so well I barely needed to dry myself. I gave myself a perfunctory dab down on exiting the shower, wrapped it around me and by the time I’d cleansed my face, put my contact lenses in and brushed my teeth, I realised I was nearly dry. Anything that saves time and effort in the morning is always going to be a winner in my books.

It was received equally well by my sons – although I admit that once I’d tested it, I only let them use it once, as I wanted to keep it for myself. There have to be some benefits to being the bill-paying adult.

Given the high GSM count, it also air-dried quicker than anticipated. Although it took longer than some of the other brands, I could still use it morning and evening. A handy hanging loop is already stitched into place, which is ideal if you have only bathroom hooks rather than a towel rail.

white loop on white towelCredit: Exceptional
Easy to hang, the Scooms towel has a sewn-in loop

I’d say the only real pinch point on this towel is the cost. For some, this could be further compounded by the fact you can purchase them only in sets of two. Although most people would buy more than one towel at a time – even living alone you’re likely to want two, to rotate them between wash and use – it does mean two bath sheets will set you back £85, which could be considered steep in the current economic climate.

It’s also heavy in terms of weight. I’m fortunate enough to not have any strength or health issues, but I did wonder if it might be too heavy for my mum, who has rheumatoid arthritis.

That said, I think even she’d be prepared to deal with a few difficulties lifting it if she could use this luxurious towel every day. It’s certainly converted me to add these towels to my shopping wish list.

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What we liked

Its super luxurious feel, eco packaging, absorbency, and the fact we wanted to stay wrapped in it all day.

What we didn’t like

Other than the premium price, it’s hard to find fault with this towel – and even that isn’t really a fault as the quality of the product makes it feel worthy of the higher cost.


Marks and Spencer Super Plush Pure Cotton Towel Overview

Best towel available on the high street

Marks and Spencer Super Plush Pure Cotton Towel

Marks and Spencer Super Plush Pure Cotton Towel
Editors Choice
Competitive

A superbly soft, thick luxurious towel that is of premium quality and also excellent value for money. You’ll be hard pushed to find a softer towel at this price.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Drying time

Value for money


Who’s this for?

Anyone who wants to wrap themselves in a little bit of luxury but prefers to buy from a reputable high-street brand with a price tag to match.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Super soft
  • Affordable
  • High GSM count
  • Good absorbency
  • Drying time

Expect to pay

RRP: £23.50 Available online or in store

The softest towel at an affordable price

Sparkling white and sumptuously soft, “super plush” is a great name for these towels from Marks and Spencer. Using the failproof face-rub test, the softness was simply delicious – no surprise then to read that it weighs in at a generous 700GSM.

two folded white towels on bedCredit: Exceptional
Super soft, great value Marks & Spencer towels

First to test the bath sheet out was my 11-year-old, who instantly commented: “Mum, this is so soft! Can I sleep under it please?”

A slight chemical smell on opening disappeared after the first wash, and like the Scooms towel, it’s weighty and exudes quality. If you were given this in a luxury hotel you certainly wouldn’t be disappointed.

The double trim detail is a nice touch, and a neat and tightly stitched edging around the towel suggests you won’t find this towel fraying any time soon.

It dried our bodies quickly and efficiently and felt a bit like a hug in a towel. The only downside was that, after a cycle in the tumble dryer, it didn’t dry quite as quickly as others tested, and felt like it had retained some moisture.

packaging label on white towelCredit: Exceptional
A detailed trim and StayNew feature add to the M&S towel’s appeal

According to the manufacturer, you’ll also have no issue with wash and wear on the towels. They are made using a patented “StayNew” technology that helps the fabric to stay smooth, wash after wash. I’ve put it through the washing machine a few times and so far, it hasn’t lost any of its softness – even though it’s been dragged up the stairs, stepped on and rubbed vigorously against wet skin. Did I mention I have boys?

At just £23.50 for a bath sheet, you’d be hard pushed to find a softer and better bath sheet at this price.

What we liked

Just how soft, white and comforting this towel felt when we used it, making it feel way more expensive than it actually is.

What we didn’t like

The fact it felt like it held onto moisture a little more than others with a comparable GSM. If you need a towel that dries quickly, this might put you off a little. But otherwise it’s a great towel.

The recent warm weather means I’ve not switched my heated towel rails on, so I’m interested to see how all the towels fair in the winter when they will be exposed to the direct heat. There’s always the risk of towels feeling a little crisp after a day on a towel radiator, so we’ll continue testing and let you know.


Dunelm Egyptian Cotton Towel Overview

Best budget-priced towel

Dunelm Egyptian Cotton Towel

Stack of towels on wooden bench
Recommended
Budget

Although it was the cheapest tested, it scored high in terms of softness, quality and drying time. Although other brands achieved the same score, the value for money makes this one worthy of a top three position.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying

Cost


Who’s this for?

Homeowners with busy households who need towels that are soft on the skin but quick to wash and dry in between use.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Quickly dries
  • Great price
  • Soft to touch
  • Perfect for every day use
  • More effort to dry yourself

Expect to pay

RRP: £17 Available in store or on-line for delivery or click & collect

The best high-street find when budget is key

I’m a huge fan of Dunelm. I’ve recently moved, and my home is beginning to look a little like a Dunelm advert. I find the variety, value for money and overall quality too good to ignore. Plus, it always has great sales.

However, it is considered high street rather than high end, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the towels softer than expected when I opened them. I’ve not been able to establish a GSM count yet, and they are not as thick as Scooms or Marks and Spencer, but my youngest did say, “Ooh, another soft one, Mum,” when he first used it.

two white Dunelm branded towelsCredit: Exceptional
Although lighter in weight, these Dunelm come with a five-year guarantee

The upside to the lower weight is obviously the reduction in the amount of time it takes to air-dry. It was dry and ready to use again in a couple of hours. When I used it, it took a bit more effort to dry myself with, but that’s not an issue. Sometimes an invigorating scrub helps wake you up in the morning.

Given it was the cheapest tested at £17 for a bath sheet, I think they’re great value and ideal for a busy household. Edging and stitching was again secure, although there were a few stray threads from inside the binding on the one I received, but I don’t foresee an issue with it fraying. They also come with a five-year guarantee, and according to the Dunelm website, will still hold their shape (and colour when applicable) after 50 washes.

As with all the towels, other than shedding fibres in the tumble dryer when first dried – which is to be expected from new towels and wasn’t unique to the Dunelm ones – there have been no visible fibres on our skin when we’ve used them.

Would I buy these towels? Yes I would, but more as everyday towels. I would give them to guests, but if I had any of the other brands, I’d probably use those instead and keep the Dunelm ones for family use.

white towel on chrome towel railCredit: Exceptional
The lighter weight made for quicker drying time

What we liked

How quickly the towel dried without heat and how soft it was for a lower GSM towel. The five-year guarantee, though we have yet to put this to the test.

What we didn’t like

In comparison to heavier weight towels, it doesn’t feel quite as luxurious.


The White Company Classic Double Border Towel Overview

Best mid-range towel

The White Company Classic Double Border Towel

Recommended
Competitive

Another product from the White Company where it’s hard to find fault – personally I just preferred others in the same price bracket.

Fluffliness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying time

Cost


Who’s this for?

If you like The White Company and are a regular customer, this is a great product, and you’ll often find it in on sale.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Soft to touch
  • Quality brand
  • Often reduced
  • Quick drying
  • More expensive at full price

Expect to pay

RRP: £28.00 Currently on offer at £19.80 for a bath sheet.

Quality white towels from an aptly named brand

I rarely win anything, so when I won £250 worth of White Company vouchers a few years ago, it was a special moment. It’s always been one of my favourite brands, a great option for gifting and if I had the budget, I’d happily deck out my home and myself in most of their products.

two of the White Company towels folded on top of a cream bedspreadCredit: Exceptional
The White Company is a great example of a ‘quiet luxury’ brand

For me, the brand personifies quiet luxury at achievable prices, and I’ve never failed to be impressed by anything I’ve bought from there. My laundry-loving friend had their children’s bedding for years and swore by the quality, durability and longevity of the duvet covers.

I’ve been fortunate to have owned White Company towels before, so I was excited to try them again. Weighing in at 600GSM, they are less heavy than some brands, but more than sufficiently soft – although interestingly, the hand towel wasn’t quite as soft or thick as the bath sheet.

The finish, quality and drying time of these was all more than acceptable, although it is definitely noticeable how much more effort is required to dry your body once the GSM decreases.

My sons had zero complaints about the towels, and I would happily use these for myself and guests. I can imagine they are going to last a long time, and as with all the brands tested, are available in the full range of sizes from face cloth through to extra-large bath sheet.

What we liked

It’s another great product from The White Company and it’s hard to find any major faults. Personally, I just preferred other brands tested a little bit more than this one.

What we didn’t like

At full price, it seems a little expensive in comparison with other high-street brands.


John Lewis Egyptian Cotton Towel Overview

Best priced towel with a high GSM

John Lewis Egyptian Cotton Towel

Recommended
Competitive

A lovely quality towel with good GSM. We’d be happy for family or guests to snuggle up in this one.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying time

Cost


Who’s this for?

Any household looking to replenish their household towels that loves the guaranteed quality and finish that comes with most John Lewis products.

Our likes and dislikes

  • High GSM
  • Natural odour protection
  • Kind to dry hair
  • Luxurious feel
  • Takes longer to air dry

Expect to pay

RRP: £26.00 We have seen it with up to 20%

Great GSM for the price

As this towel comes from a brand that’s a firm favourite amongst the Saga Exceptional team and our readers, I was initially surprised when the towels didn’t feel as soft as others with a similar GSM – this one weighs in at 700GSM.

My concerns were alleviated after one wash, as the towels fluffed up nicely and ranked much higher in the softness stakes. The pre-wash mild smell also disappeared, and although it didn’t have quite the same luxurious feel as Scooms or Marks and Spencer, it’s undoubtedly a great quality towel and one I’d be happy to have in my linen cupboard for family or visitors.

two white John Lewis towelsCredit: Exceptional
Once washed, these John Lewis towels ranked highly in the softness stakes

It was also the only towel that evoked a specific comment from my eldest son, who commented how it had made his recently coloured and slightly dry hair feel much softer after using .

John Lewis also claims that the towel will remain odour free thanks to a “Life Natural” finish, which apparently means it contains natural peppermint for added antimicrobial protection. The company says this keeps the towel cleaner for longer and although it doesn’t make it smell of peppermint, John Lewis claims it stops odours developing. Whether this removes smells such as damp remains to be seen.

John Lewis towel label with antimicrobial detailsCredit: Exceptional
Peppermint is added to the towel to keep it odour-free

As with the other towels, tightly sewn edging and stitching suggest fraying won’t be a problem. The John Lewis edging also has a ribbed design to match the border trim.

When it comes to drying time, it’s taken slightly longer to air dry on an unheated towel rail compared to others with a similar GSM – but was still ready to use again in the evening after a morning shower.

In terms of price, this quality bath sheet costs £26.00, making it great value for a 100% cotton towel with a high GSM.

What we liked

It’s a lovely quality towel and we’d be happy for anyone to use it.

What we didn’t like

It took a little longer to dry than others with a high GSM.


Christy Renaissance 675GSM Egyptian Cotton Towels Overview

Best option for Christy fans

Christy Renaissance 675GSM Egyptian Cotton Towels

Christy stack of white towels
Luxury

At the expensive end of the scale. High GSM and soft, but a looser loop which made it feel slightly less luxurious.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying time

Cost


Who’s this for?

If you always buy Christy then this is a good towel to choose from their range and it has a high GSM.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Good GSM
  • Soft
  • Well-established brand
  • Less luxurious feel
  • Expensive

Expect to pay

RRP: £42.00 We have previously seen it on sale John Lewis with 30% off RRP

Quality bath sheet from an established brand

This is another high GSM count towel, at 675GSM. Christy is also one the most well-known towel brands, so I had high expectations. Sufficiently soft, the towel had a slight chemical smell, like the other brands, which also disappeared after the first wash.

Christy white bath towel and hand towel
Christy is an established brand with a wide range of towels

It has a detailed diagonally designed border and a securely attached label, which could double as a hanging loop. At £42 for a bath sheet, it was also the second most expensive towel we tested and, with a high GSM count, it’s also heavier to hold. But for me, there’s just something that niggles when it comes to the texture. It has what can only be described as a looser loop.

blue Christy label on white towelCredit: Exceptional
A beautifully finished edging adds to the towel’s chic appearance

While I could find no real faults with the towel – it was soft, a good GSM, dried our bodies effectively, is well made and air dried in sufficient time to use it twice in one day, I feel the bigger loops of thread make it look cheaper. I’d also be concerned about the loops getting snagged and damaging the towel.

If I was going to treat myself to some spa-like bathroom sessions, I’d personally rather pay the extra few pounds for a Scooms towel.

What we liked

It dried well without heat given the GSM.

What we didn’t like

The overall feel and look didn’t quite match up to the price.


Next Egyptian Cotton Towel Overview

Best towel for quick-drying

Next Egyptian Cotton Towel

Next stack of white towels
Recommended
Budget

An affordable addition to your linen cupboard and you’ll be spoilt for choice if you prefer coloured towels.

Fluffiness

Shedding

Absorbency

Washability

Drying time

Cost


Who’s this for?

A good option looking to top-up your towel collection with a quick dry option that needs less time in the tumble dryer in the winter months.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Quick dry time
  • Great colour choice
  • Affordable
  • Thinner
  • Wasn’t softer after washing

Expect to pay

RRP: £20.00 Only available direct from the retailer

Extra finishing touches add to the overall feel

A 600GSM thread count towel with a nicely finished border and a hand-stitched logo. It’s not a design feature that would make me want to buy the towels more, but equally it wouldn’t put me off buying them.

two white Next towels foldedCredit: Exceptional
A detailed border adds to the overall look

In direct comparison to the White Company towel, which has the same GSM, there was a marginal reduction in softness and sense of quality. It felt a little thinner and even after washing, didn’t get noticeably fluffier.

With the reduced weight, air-drying time is again good with this towel and it’s easily ready to use again in a few hours. This equally has a positive effect on the time it needs in a tumble dryer. It needs less than the heavier brands, although I realised this only when it came out of a joint drying cycle with heavier towels, as it was just a little too dry. After being washed again and dried for less time, it was back to its normal levels of softness.

white towel with embroidered Next logoCredit: Exceptional
This towel was quick to dry with and without heat

Priced at £20 for a bath sheet, it would be a good affordable addition to your towel collection and if you prefer coloured towels, you’d be spoilt for choice with 43 colours to choose from.

What we liked

How quickly it dried both with and without heat.

What we didn’t like

The slightly thinner feel.

Best hand towels versus their bath towel counterparts

We tested both, and here’s our verdict

It’s been hard to distinguish any discernible features amongst the hand towels, which we looked at alongside their bath sheet counterparts. The White Company hand towel felt less soft than the bath sheet, but all of them have stood up well to the rigours of my household.

The warmer weather means they’ve not had to deal with muddy hands from sports pitches, but I tend to keep darker towels to hand for those situations anyway. Any slight marks have all come out in the washing machine and I’d struggle to pick any of them as having better qualities than another.

Personally, I like my towels to match, so if I was purchasing from new, I’d automatically buy a matching set from the same brand. Price may be a factor, so here’s how they currently compare.

Scooms £30 (pair)
Christy £16
Next £6
The White Company £8.40 (reduced from £12)
Marks & Spencer £8
Dunelm £5
John Lewis £9.60

As well as the differences in GSM and design, bath sheets can also vary in size. Here’s how the brands we tested measure up.

Scooms: 100cm x 160cm (39ins x 63ins)

Christy: 89cm x 173cm  (35ins  x 68ins)

Next: 100cm x 150cm (39ins x 59ins)

The White Company: 100cm x 150cm (39ins x 59ins)

Marks and Spencer: 90cm x 170cm (35ins x 67 ins)

Dunelm: 90cm x 170cm (35ins x 67ins)

John Lewis: 90cm x (35ins x 65ins)

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Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

Updated:

Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

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