What is a Terry Towel?

Jan 7, 2022
2 min read
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Photo by pablo ramos on Unsplash

A towel is an absorbent textile product used for drying or wiping. Terry towel has a raised surface, called a pile, made of upright loops or strands of yarn. Pile is a derivative of the Latin word pilus, which means “hair.” Common pile fabrics are carpets, corduroy, velvet, plush, and terry towels. “Terry” comes from the French word tirer, which means to pull out, referring to how the weavers pulled out pile loops by hand to make absorbent Turkish toweling.

Manufacturers often prefer natural cotton yarn to make terry towels as cotton is absorbent with high wet strength. It also dyes well with good colorfastness. In addition, cotton yarns are soft to touch, washable, and hypoallergenic. Various stitching or weaves are used, and towels with tighter weaves are more durable and absorbent.

Bamboo is the next natural fiber after high-quality cotton fibers for terry towels. Bamboo yarn is soft, absorbent, and has antibacterial properties.

Flax is another natural fiber used in towels. Flax requires lengthy processing and intense labor, and it is expensive compared to cotton. A fabric made of flax is called linen.

Modal fiber is obtained from beech wood cellulose. It is more absorbent than cotton and does not fade over time, making it an excellent choice for bath towels.

Typically, a blend of synthetic fibers, called Microfiber, is used to make towels. Microfiber towels are lightweight and good at picking up dirt and grease. However, they are not environmentally friendly. Kitchen towels made of synthetic fibers tend to be more fragile and less durable in the kitchen.

All fabrics have a weight, and GSM is a standard measurement for weight and quality. Medium weight towels are usually between 400 to 620 GSM. They are soft and absorbent but dry quickly.