Buying the Right Towels

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Bath towels are something you and your family rely on every day. You want them to look nice, feel soft, and do a good job of drying you off.

Thick and heavy towels will dry you off better. And Egyptian or Pima cotton is the best quality. Their longer fibers are stronger and less likely to pill. But shop carefully. There are a lot of towels out there that are labeled Pima or Egyptian but aren’t. If their price is too good to be true, they’re probably not the real thing.

Another option: Look for cotton-rayon blends. They absorb a little bit better, although they won’t wear as well.

And be aware that towels that are so soft in the store won’t stay that way. They’re treated with a special finish that will wash out. Using a liquid fabric softener will make your towels feel soft, but Consumer Reports found it decreases absorbency significantly. An occasional dryer sheet is a better option. But overdrying towels can shrink them. So instead of the timer setting, use the machine’s moisture sensor.

And if you have a teen at home, be aware that colored towels can be ruined by benzoyl peroxide in acne medications, which can leave bleach spots. Some manufactures claim their towels resist bleach stains, so Consumer Reports bought several brands to test.

After applying benzoyl peroxide, both the Real Simple and the Sonoma towel from Kohl’s came through the wash just fine. The L.L.Bean towel showed some bleaching, although when retested with a smaller amount of benzoyl peroxide, it didn’t bleach.

Consumer Reports also tested regular white towels, and they all came through the benzoyl peroxide test unscathed. So white towels are a great option for teens.

Consumer Reports suggests when you buy colored towels, buy a matching washcloth and store it away. If your towels fade, the washcloth will be good evidence when you ask for your money back.

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