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Bamboo Towels – A Comprehensive Guide

July 2, 2018
by Natalie Wilson – Best Bamboo Guide

Rayon from bamboo bath towels are recognized for their luxuriously soft and fluffy texture. Sometimes it is hard to believe such soft fabric can come from the bamboo plant that we’re used to. Not only do rayon from bamboo towels start out fluffier and silkier than pure cotton towels, but they tend to get softer over time while maintaing their durability. In our tests, rayon from bamboo towels were overwhelmingly more absorbant than the cotton towels we are accustomed to. In addition, even after dozens of washing and drying cycles they were unbelievably soft when we got out of the shower. The environemental benefits of fabrics derived from bamboo (very low water usage during the growing process, the lack of pesticides necessary to grow bamboo, and the natural abudance of the bamboo plant in many areas of the world) were just a bonus. The real selling point for us was the softness, absorbancy, and durability.

There are a lot of manufacturers making towels derived from bamboo these days, and the choices can get overwhelming. To help you out, we purchased the most popular bamboo bath towels available and put them to the test to create a comprehensive product guide to make your research a breeze.

Top Pick – Cariloha “Irresistably Soft” Bamboo Towel

Our Overall Top Choice was the “Incredibly Soft” Bamboo Towel by Cariloha.

The Cariloha “Irresistably Soft” bamboo towels were the clear winner in our testing. They consistently received the top marks for comfort and softness. Additionally, they are thicker, more durable, and made with higher quality materials and manufacturing process than the other towels we tested. We particularly liked the HUGE Cariloha bath sheet (coming in at 40″ wide by 70″ long). (You can check them out directly on Amazon.com.)

When we took the Cariloha towels out of the package there were a couple of loose threads right away which had us worried. Typically we’d snip these off, but decided in the interests of testing that we’d leave them there and see if they got worse. Thankfully, they did not come undone at all, even after a couple of dozen washing and drying cycles. Another benefit of the Cariloha bamboo bath towels was that there was a nice range of colors which stayed fibrant throughout our testing.

Cariloha Bamboo Towel Stiching Close-up

A close up view of the stitching on the Cariloha Bamboo Bath Towel that we tested.

Some specifics on sizing. All the manufacturers seem to do their own thing with bamboo towel and bamboo towel set sizes. Cariloha offers the bamboo bath sheet at 40″ by 70″, the bamboo bath towel at 30″ by 56″, the hand towel at 16″ by 30″ and the bamboo washcloth at 13″ by 13″. They also have a bamboo towel set that contains one bath towel, one hand towel and one washcloth.

WARNING: Don’t let the pictures fool you. The bamboo bath sheet and bath towel come as individual towels, not the stack of four towels that you see in the pictures on Amazon. The towel set picture is accurate in that there are actually three towels in the set.

Runner Up – Chakir Turkish Linens

If you want something a little thinner and less pillowy than the Cariloha bath towels, then our top choice for you is the Chakir Turkish Linens bamboo towels might be your best bet. These are also a little more cost effective (read: cheaper) than the Cariloha towels. Don’t let the sticker price on Amazon fool you, they sell these in packs of 4, so the actual price per towel is not bad at all. These towels were solid performers in our tests, even if they didn’t blow us away with their luxurious feel. They were acceptably soft, dried quickly, and did not show any obvious signs of wear and tear.

Finding the Best Towel: What We Were Looking For

What makes the best towel is not a mystery: absorbancy, durability, quick-drying. Before we get to our summary table of testing results, a quick overview to describe what bamboo towels are and exactly what we were looking for.

Bamboo towel is the term used to describe towels which are made from either 100% rayon from bamboo or some lower percentage of rayon from bamboo blended with (usually) cotton. Rayon from bamboo is a fabric that is derived from bamboo plants and is known for being incredibly soft and quick drying.

Bamboo plants themselves are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial (which is why they are so environmentally friendly to grow), but there is some debate as to whether those properties survive the process that turns bamboo into fabric. Some studies suggest they maintain their antimicrobial properties, but others have cast doubt on those claims. However, the luxury and softness are undisputed. In our experience, bamboo towels and bamboo blend towels dry faster than pure cotton towels and don’t get smelly or musty in the way cotton towels can.

All of this is to say, if you are looking for the best towels, then bamboo and bamboo blends are a great place to look.

100% Bamboo Fabric vs Bamboo/Cotton Blended Fabrics

Hey, we’re a website dedicated to bamboo, so naturally when we went looking for the best towels, we started with bamboo fabrics. However, we’re not so stubborn that we wouldn’t consider bamboo/cotton blended towels. For most products we tested (such as bamboo sheets) it turned out that 100% bamboo was the way to go. For towels, not so much.

It turns out that there was not a big improvement in how quickly the towels dried by going with a blend, but there was a big uptick in how thick and fluffy the towel was. Rayon from bamboo fabrics are incredibly soft, and have great properties (discussed above), but 100% rayon from bamboo is thin. Maybe you like a thin towel (in which case you should probably check out the Right Purpose towels), but for us a little extra fluffy goodness made them much more inviting to dry off with after a bath or shower.

The Best Towels – Summary Table

PictureProduct NamePriceExpert Rating
Luxury Hotel & Spa Towel Turkish Cotton & Bamboo Rayon (Set of 4)$$$4.6
Right Purpose 100% Rayon from Bamboo Towels (Set of 2)$$$$4.5
Shoo-Foo Luxury Rayon from Bamboo Bath Towel Set (3 piece set)$$4.4
Cariloha Bamboo Bath Sheet$$$$5.0
Superior Rayon from Bamboo and Cotton Towels (6 Piece Set)$$4.4
Touz 4 Piece Bath Collection from Ultra Soft Rayon from Bamboo$$$4.2
Murphy Bamboo Heavy Plus Rayon from Bamboo Ribbed Bath Towel$$4.5
AmeriBamboo Bamboo Rayon 3-Piece Towel Set$$$3.9

How We Tested The Towels

There were really three things we were looking for from our towels: effectively and comfortably dries you off, quality construction to last several years, and it should dry quickly so that you can use it again and it doesn’t build up any weird odors or mildew.

How quickly the towel dried and the durability are not really subjective. We got them wet and timed out how long it took the towel to dry. We also washed and dried each of the towels dozens of times to see how the threads and stitching held up and whether there was pilling on the towels. Some pilling is expected in towels, but excessive pilling is not. (Take a look at the photos below for what happened to one of our towels.) The towel’s color should also stay vibrant over time and not become washed out. Finally, the towel should keep it’s original size and not shrink with repeated use.

The comfort of the towel and how successfully it dried water off of skin is a little more subjective. We could have seen how many gallons of water each towel absorbed, but that doesn’t really address the question of how quickly and efficiently does the towel wick water away from your skin when you’ve stepped out of the bath or shower. This we tested by just using each of the towels. Repeatedly.

We’ve now spent months with these towels and feel like we know the comfort level of each of them pretty well, but there is some amount of personal preference here. We tend to like big fluffy towels that have a springiness to them and almost invite you to drape them over your skin. There are people who prefer a thinner, denser towel. We’ve tried to indicate in the reviews which towel type each towel us. The upshot though is: if you like a thick springy towel you should go for the Cariloha towel, and if you like a thin, dense towel then the Murphy Bamboo Towel is probably your best bet.

When You Should Get New Towels

High-quality towels should be expected to last around 7 or 8 years. If you take great care of them, then maybe something over 10 years is possible. Eventually though, even the best towel will wear out. The threads start to come loose, pilling takes over, the fluffiness fades and you realize that the time has come to buy a new towel.

The other reason to get new towels is that you just want to upgrade! Nothing wrong with that. If your current towel is not comfortable, doesn’t absorb water well, has weird mildewy smells, or is still wet 3 days after you use it then you should lookinto bamboo towels as well!

Reviews of the Best Towels (100% Bamboo and Bamboo/Cotton Blends)

1. Cariloha “Incredibly Soft” Bamboo Bath Towels

Trying to find the best bath towel? Some that are as soft as the ones at the spa? Even when you find fluffy bath towels on sale, do they harden after a few washes? If so, here is a solution for you. Available in a variety of colors, the Cariloha Bamboo Bath Towels were definitely our top choice. They come in seven different colors

  • Almond truffle,
  • Beachwood,
  • Tahitian breeze,
  • White,
  • Graphite,
  • Blue lagoon, and
  • Caribbean mint)

as well as four different sizes

  • Bath Sheet – 40 inches by 70 inches
  • Regular Towel – 30 inches by 56 inches
  • Hand Towel – 16 inches by 30 inches
  • Washcloth – 13 inches by 13 inches

As we said in our quick summary at the top, these towels are almost perfect. They are 42% Rayon from Bamboo and 58% Turkish-combed Cotton. This was the largest and thickest of the bamboo towels that we tried and we couldn’t resist just rolling it around in our hands after we’d put it through the first wash/dry cycle. You can see the quality of the stitching and of the pile in the close up photo of the towel.

In addition to the comfort, this towel was definitely the most absorbent in our testing. We’ve seen some towel commercials show towels absorbing gallons of water or similar feats and, to be honest, we don’t get it! We don’t need a towel to absorb 5 gallons of water from a bucket, we need it to absorb the water off our body without just pushing the water around. That’s what the Cariloha did: just a quick once-over and we were mostly dry. Of course, we still wanted to wrap ourselves up in the towel for a little while to luxuriate and lounge about. For proper testing! Not because we just like lying around the house wrapped up in huge bath towels. We digress.

The only area where this towel was just average was in the time it took to dry. For us, it was consistently at the 12-13 hour mark before I would call it dry. But this was basically in line with the other bamboo towels we tested, and is a solid 2-3 hours faster than most cotton towels we’ve looked at in the past.

This towel is highly recommended. We’re confident you won’t be disappointed!

Click here to see user reviews and prices on Amazon.

2. Luxury Hotel & Spa Turkish Cotton & Bamboo Rayon Bath Towel

Leading hotel chains around the world are choosing the Luxury Hotel & Spa Towel Genuine Turkish Cotton & Rayon from Bamboo towels. These deluxe bath towels are made to last over time, maintaining their refined and durable qualities. This luxury towel set comes with 4 generously sized bath towels of various sizes to meet your everyday requirements. The combination of Turkish cotton and rayon from bamboo allow resilience and gentleness to work hand and hand to create some of the best bath towels on sale.

This was our runner-up and is a better choice for your budget than the Cariloha. It wasn’t as soft and fluffy, and the pile was bit less springy, but it is still a good towel. You can get a set of four of them for a reasonable price and they will definitely last years. It’s one of the best towels you can find at this price point.

Click here to see user reviews and prices on Amazon.

3. Murphy Bamboo Heavy Plush Rayon From Bamboo Ribbed Bath Towel

Ah, the Murphy Bamboo Plush Towel. We hated this towel when it arrived. The packaging was really unappealing, and the towel was dirty. Of course, you should always wash and dry your towels at least once (preferrably twice) before the first use, but the bits of cardboard and other threads on the towel right out of the package really put us off. See the pictures for how it looked.

BUT it turned out to be a really good towel. It dried extremely quickly, about 10 hours in our tests, which made it the top performer in that category. We also came to enjoy the ribbed pile of the towel which helped with absorbancy. This towel also might be the top choice for people who really like a thin towel: it somehow managed to be thin, but heavy and dense at the same time. There was a very satisfying weightiness to the towel that became really comfortable after a few uses.

So, be prepared to wash this towel and hold back your judgement after the initial impression.

Click here to see user reviews and prices on Amazon.

4. Brookly Bamboo Bath Towels – 3 Piece Set

Not only are the Ultra Soft Rayon from Bamboo Towels by Brooklyn Bamboo gentle and extremely absorbent in comparison to most towels, it is environmentally friendly and recommended for sensitive skin. These rayon from bamboo towels are naturally breathable, eliminating bacteria causing stench. For an exceptionally good price, you get 6 spa quality bath towels on sale within this set.

Click here to see user reviews and prices on Amazon.

5. Right Purpose Soft Rayon from Bamboo Towels (Set of 2)

If you are looking for a high quality multi-purpose towel, you have come to the right place. This rayon from bamboo towel can be used for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to: hand, dish, bath, kitchen, or gym towel. Among the best towels on the market, the 100% Rayon from Bamboo Towel is naturally breathable repelling bacteria, mildew, dust, and odors. Compared to cotton, these bamboo towels significantly absorb more and dry faster. Because of the rayon from bamboo fiber loops, these towels feel softer after each washing.

Click here to see user reviews and prices on Amazon.

Some Things to Look Out for When Buying Bamboo Towels

Make sure to look for the fiber content of the towel and don’t be fooled by the word “natural.” All cotton is natural since it comes from a plant, so when a company says “natural” cotton or bamboo it doesn’t actually mean anything. There are a lot of sellers on Amazon that you need to be careful of. As the pictures of the towel that fell apart on us above indicate, there are some poor quality options on there. We advise sticking with a well-established brand (like the ones in our reviews)!

Something that is important and should be on the lookout for is Oeko-Tex certification. This says nothing about how the fabric in the towel was produced, but says a lot about the end product. The Oeko-Tex certification verifies that the product you buy is free from chemical residues and other harmful toxins. For something like towels that you are going to be putting against your bare skin all the time, this is something worth looking out for.

There’s a lot of terminology with towels that just isn’t that useful. Long-staple fibers, Grams per Square Meter (GSM), Zero Twist, Combed cotton. The list goes on, but which towel manufacturer reports which features is completely hit-or-miss. What’s worse is that we found a lot of this terminology didn’t correlate well with towel performance. We would advise sticking with a towel that is at least 40% rayon from bamboo up to 100% bamboo. Then you can decide whether you want a thick towel or a thinner, denser towel and go from there. It’s really all about feel and personal preference once you’ve eliminated the lower quality towels.

The Advantages of Rayon from Bamboo Towels

  • Rayon from Bamboo bath towels are environmentally friendly and good for your well-being. Poisonous chemicals are not used while harvesting the crops, therefore you can rest assured knowing your towels do not contain toxins caused by the growing and harvesting process. The overall health of the bamboo grove is improved when it is sustainably kept.
  • Rayon from Bamboo bath towels absorb substantially more than cotton. Not only does it soak up more liquid, its evaporates moisture quickly. These towels dry faster and eliminate unwanted odors.
  • Rayon from Bamboo bath towels’ natural breathability stops bacteria, mildew, and dust mites. They are hypoallergenic and recommended for those with skin sensitivities due to its exceptional gentleness.
  • Rayon from Bamboo towels possess a unique gentleness unlike any other materials. Their distinctive fibers produce a plush feel with guaranteed longevity. Designed to become softer after each wash cycle, rayon from bamboo towels will continue to keep you happy for extended time.

How To Care For Your New Rayon from Bamboo Towels

  • Remove towels from packaging. Be sure not to use sharp objects that could puncture the product.
  • The towels may seem thinner than expected outside of the package. This is normal, as they get fluffier after washing.
  • In order to prevent rayon from bamboo towels from fraying in the future, we advise immediately washing them in natural hot water. Initial snagging can simply be snipped off before the first wash.
  • After the preliminary washing, your rayon from bamboo towels should be machine washed on a gentle cycle, separated from other laundry. Other than gentle laundry detergents, no other additives are necessary (i.e. fabric softeners or bleach).
  • Tumble dry on low heat, or air drying is recommended.
  • Warning: These are general instructions for washing your rayon from bamboo towels. Please be sure to carefully read labels on individual products for proper care instructions.

About the Author: Natalie Wilson

Bamboo Sheets HeroWhen I’m not studying up on the latest eco-friendly ways to produce everyday items (particularly using bamboo), you can find me playing trivia at a local bar, or hanging out at the beach.

I love the idea of using an abundant resource like bamboo to make a huge varieties of items we use everyday.  Particularly when those are currently being made with plastic, or plants that require pesticides and a huge amount of water to grow.

Hopefully this site will inspire people to think about ways they can improve their sleep, decrease the strain they put on the environment, and generally get better, long-lasting products that are also sustainable and of higher quality than the products they are used to.

You can find a bit more information and a list of my recent articles on my author profile page!

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