May 28, 2023
The 9 Best Hand Towels of 2023, According to Testing
Add comfort and functionality to your bathroom with these hand towels. Jump to a Section We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may
Add comfort and functionality to your bathroom with these hand towels.
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We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.
Better Homes and Gardens / Brian Kopinski
While hand towels may not seem like an important aspect to your bathroom or powder room, a quality hand towel is an essential item. The best hand towels can help create a luxurious experience for you or your guests while providing functionality and years of use. Additionally, hand towels can also help tie together the style or theme of the space or add a visually-appealing pop of color.
“As with bath towels, you should always look for a high-quality, long-staple cotton in your hand towels to ensure you’re getting a durable and soft product that can withstand many uses,” says Katie Elks, design director at Brooklinen.
There are a couple of other factors to consider as well, according to Diana Wyman, executive vice president of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. “Absorbency and dry time are probably the most important factors in hand towel performance,” she says. You want to make sure your hand towel effectively removes water from your skin, but you also want to ensure the hand towel dries before its next use.
To find the best hand towels, we tested 98 towels in our lab and in the real world, considering factors like absorbency, quality, dry time, and value. After evaluating the results, here are the best hand towels.
We were shocked that the price tag wasn’t higher for these high-performing luxurious hand towels.
They’re only available in four neutral colors.
According to our testing, the best overall hand towel is the Serene Ultraplush Australian Cotton Towel. During our lab testing, this hand towel set earned a perfect 5 out of 5 rating for its dry time, durability, and value.
This set of two hand towels is made with 100% Australian cotton and wowed us with its softness, comfortability, and ability to quickly dry. Upon initial inspection, we loved that this set felt high quality and luxurious, and they were comfortable to the touch. At 800 GSM (which stands for grams per square meter), it’s one of the thickest and heaviest hand towels on our list.
After washing the hand towels three times, there were no loose threads or snags, and we were impressed that mascara and other makeup stains lifted from the towels with ease. Since the towel was so thick and plush, we were expecting it to take longer to dry, but the towel was completely dry in just an hour and a half. We also felt that it was absorbent and helped us dry off quickly.
We were shocked that the price tag wasn’t higher than it is—these hand towels felt so high end, we assumed they would be expensive. Because of their high quality, performance, and value, these were our favorite hand towels.
Price at time of publish: $25 for a set of two
Product Details: Material: 100% Australian cotton | Colors: White, cream, gray, and charcoal | GSM: 800
This hand towel is lightweight, quick drying, and available in 10 different colors.
It didn’t feel as soft as other towels we tested.
For those looking for an affordable option, our top budget-friendly pick is the Everyday Textured Organic Towels. Made with 100% organic cotton, this hand towel is less than $10 and is available in several colors including white, peacock, ocean, pink stone, and charcoal. We also liked that it features a convenient loop, which makes it easy to hang on a hook or cabinet knob.
Our first impression of this towel was that it didn’t seem quite as soft as other ones we tested, but we liked how lightweight it was. However, after washing it, we were surprised that the texture remained consistent and there were no snags or loose threads. The color also remained the same and we didn’t notice any fading or discoloration.
We used this towel to towel dry hair, and we were surprised at how much water it absorbed. But what really impressed us with this towel was the dry time, which earned a 5 out of 5 star rating during our testing. When testing the full-sized bath towel, it was almost completely dry after air drying for just two hours.
Price at time of publish: $9
Product Details: Material: 100% organic cotton | Colors: 10 color options | GSM: 500
This ultra-plush towel dried within an hour, despite its thickness.
After testing this towel in the real world, we did notice a small discolored spot.
Splurge on a luxurious experience with the CozyEarth Premium Plush Hand Towels. This set of two towels is made from premium viscose from bamboo and cotton, resulting in a super-soft yet quick-drying hand towel. You’ll feel like your bathroom is a spa with these plush hand towels.
When testing this towel in our lab, we were immediately impressed by its thickness and quality. We felt that the heavy weight at 800 GSM contributed to its luxurious feeling, but despite its plushness, it only took about an hour to completely dry. After laundering the towel in our lab, we didn’t notice any discoloration or snags.
However, when testing the towel in the real world, we did note that there was a small discolored spot on the towel after washing it a few times (which could have been from a potent acne wash). Except for this minor flaw, the towel held up well after laundering multiple times.
Available in nine mostly neutral colors, there is an option to match your bathroom aesthetic whether it's modern or coastal. We also appreciated that the towels are made without harmful chemicals, and the brand uses responsible dyeing practices to color the towels.
To make your bathroom experience feel even more luxurious, add this hand towel and your bath towel to a towel warmer before taking a bath or shower.
Price at time of publish: $70 for a set of two
Product Details: Material: 40% viscose from bamboo and 60% cotton | Colors: Nine different colors | GSM: 800
It still remained soft after being laundered, and stains came out easily.
There are only four colors to choose from.
If you prefer the feel of Turkish cotton, the Brooklinen Organic Ribbed Hand Towels are the best hand towels for you. These 100% organic Turkish cotton hand towels have a soft, ribbed texture that feel pleasant to touch.
After being laundered in our lab, we were shocked that we couldn’t tell it had been laundered—its softness and quality remained completely unchanged. There were no traces of makeup or mascara stains, and the fabric showed no sign of being treated with a laundry stain remover.
It wasn’t the fastest drying towel we tested, but it was still almost completely dry after two hours. While it’s not as plush as a few other towels we tested, it’s perfect for adding a bit of visual texture to your bathroom or powder room. It offers a lighter weight towel at 560 GSM and earned a score of 5 out of 5 stars for its absorbency.
Most other towels on our list are available in several different colors, but this set of two towels only comes in four colors: white, vanilla, blue sea, and sunstone red. If you’re looking for more color options, we recommend the Land’s End Premium Supima Cotton Hand Towel.
Price at time of publish: $50
Product Details: Material: 100% organic Turkish cotton | Colors: White, vanilla, blue sea, and sunstone red | GSM: 560
Boll & Branch
We were impressed by its absorbency and dry time, despite its thick and dense design.
The makeup and mascara stains did not completely come out.
Experience the ultimate plush comfort with the Boll & Branch Plush Hand Towels. Available in a set of two, these 100% organic cotton towels will add a cozy touch to your bathroom.
Upon initial inspection of these towels, we loved how thick, dense, and plush they were. We also liked the decorative band on the towels, which added an elegant and sophisticated look. When we washed one towel, we were surprised that we couldn’t tell much of a difference between the unwashed towel and the washed one.
It retained its initial softness without getting rough or textured after being washed and dried multiple times. The colors remained unchanged after laundering, and there was no discoloration. However, the stains from the makeup and mascara were still slightly visible after being washed.
We also appreciated how absorbent this towel was. The towel effectively removed water from our skin without causing the material to feel soaked or full. Considering how thick and heavy the towel was, we were shocked that it felt dry to the touch after only one hour. Because of this, it earned a perfect 5 out of 5 star rating for its dry time.
While this towel set is available in six different colors, they are all neutrals so you won’t be able to add a pop of color to your bathroom with this pick.
Price at time of publish: $49 for a set of two
Product Details: Material: 100% organic cotton | Colors: Six different colors | GSM: Not listed
There are 14 font options and 12 thread color options to personalize this hand towel.
While the stains came out after laundering, there were still some mascara flakes stuck in the fibers of the material.
If you want to truly customize your space, the Restoration Hardware Monogrammed Ultra-Soft Turkish Towel is the best hand towel for you. Available in 15 different colors, you can add one or three initials to the towel to offer a personalized look. There are 14 font options to choose from and 12 thread color options.
Aside from offering a tailored look, this towel is also impressively plush and soft. At 750 GSM, this towel provides a dense yet balanced weight that felt cozy when wrapped around our skin. Even after laundering, the texture of the towel remained unchanged. We also appreciated that there were no loose threads or discoloration after washing and drying, which earned this towel a 5 out of 5 rating for its durability.
The makeup and mascara stains were completely removed, but we did notice a few mascara flakes that were stuck in the fibers of the towel—but this was only noticeable upon a close and slow inspection.
Because of how thick and plush the material was, we assumed the towel would take several hours to dry. However, we were surprised when the towel was almost completely dry after just two hours, earning the towel a 4.5 out of 5 rating for its dry time.
Price at time of publish: $40
Product Details: Material: 100% cotton | Colors: 15 different colors | GSM: 750
It provided excellent absorbency, and it dried in just one hour.
Because of its waffle knit texture, it’s not as soft as other towels we tested and it lost some of the softness after laundering.
For those who prefer the texture of a waffle knit towel, we loved the CozyEarth Waffle Hand Towels during testing. With a weight of 600 GSM, this lightweight hand towel set was quick drying and absorbent.
While most towels we tested took at least two hours to completely dry, we were floored that this towel dried within just one hour. Although it’s not marketed as a quick-dry towel, we were impressed and gave the towel a 5 out of 5 rating for its dry time. We also appreciated how absorbent the towel was—it was able to leave freshly washed hair damp instead of soaking wet.
After laundering the towel three times, there was no sign of discoloration, snags, or loose threads. We were also impressed that the stains from the makeup and mascara weren’t visible at all.
We do want to note that this towel wasn’t as soft as other towels we tested due to its waffle knit texture. Additionally, we found that after washing and drying it a few times, it lost some of the softness it did have. But because of its durability, absorbency, and ability to quickly dry, it’s the best waffle knit hand towel we tested.
Price at time of publish: $60 for a set of two
Product Details: Material: 60% cotton, 40% viscose from bamboo | Colors: Light gray, white, charcoal, harbor mist, and sand | GSM: 600
It’s available in 18 different colors, and the color didn’t fade after multiple washings.
This hand towel has a weight of 650 GSM, so it may not be the best option if you prefer a heavier weight.
If you love color or a maximalism style, make your space even brighter with the Land’s End Premium Supima Cotton Hand Towel. Available in 18 colors, this hand towel has the most color options out of the towels on our list.
Our first impression of this hand towel was that it was soft, plush, and thick. We also appreciated the decorative band on the towel that added a touch of sophistication. We were impressed with the dry time—the towel was completely dry within 85 minutes.
We washed and dried the towel several times, and were pleasantly surprised that the color was still saturated and even, and there was no discoloration. It also still maintained its plushness and softness after laundering, and we didn’t find any snags or loose threads.
There were also no traces of the makeup and mascara stains, and the color wasn’t discolored from the stain remover. While the towel did shrink a bit, the decorative band also shrunk so it decreased in size proportionately and didn’t bunch up.
With a GSM of 650, we found that it was a bit lighter in weight so if you prefer a heavier feeling, a hand towel like the CozyEarth Premium Plush Hand Towels may be the best hand towel for you.
Price at time of publish: $18
Product Details: Material: 100% cotton | Colors: 18 colors | GSM: 650
We appreciated the light weight and modern look of this hand towel.
Despite its thinness, it took two hours to completely dry.
We love the look of a striped hand towel in a minimalist or modern bathroom. The Parachute Fouta Stripe Towels will add a subtle pattern to your space while providing functionality and comfort.
Upon first glance, we immediately fell in love with the style of this hand towel, but we also appreciated the texture. One side felt soft and slightly plush, while the other side offered more of a terry cloth feel. At 450 GSM, keep in mind that this is a thin towel and is the lightest weight towel on our list.
It did take longer than we expected to dry at two hours, but that was still a relatively quick dry time. After washing the towel three times, the quality and color remained consistent, and the only indication that it had been laundered was slight wrinkling.
Since this towel is lighter in color and has white stripes, we were expecting to see evidence of makeup and mascara stains. However, we were shocked when both stains were completely removed after laundering one time with a stain remover.
Additionally, because of its lightweight construction, we thought this hand towel (or the matching bath towel) would be a pleasant towel to use during the summer months. Overall, we were impressed with its quality, modern style, and comfort.
Price at time of publish: $24
Product Details: Material: 100% Turkish cotton | Colors: Coal and cream | GSM: 450
The Italic Serene Ultraplush Australian Cotton Towels is our top pick for the best hand towel because of dry time, value, quality, and absorbency. The heavy weight of 800 GSM provides a luxurious spa-like feeling, while the Australian cotton yields a soft and plush material.
To find the best hand towels, we tested almost 100 towels in our lab and in the real world. We evaluated the towels on factors such as dry time, absorbency, quality, stain resistance, texture, and value.
Before testing the towels, we first inspected them for quality and took note of any loose threads or snags. We also evaluated the towels on their weight, softness, and thickness. After our first impressions, we washed and dried the towels twice to determine any changes in texture, color, or quality.
In our real world testing, we used the full-size versions of these towels to test how well they absorbed water from skin after a bath or shower. In our lab, we submerged the towels in water and measured the weight of the wet towel to determine absorbency. We combined observations from both of the tests to assign a rating for the absorbency category.
To evaluate how stain resistant each towel was, we added two stains: foundation and mascara. After allowing the stains to sit for five minutes, we treated the stains with Method Stain Remover and laundered the towels. We noted whether or not the stains were removed, and also photographed the results.
Finally, in our lab, we completely sprayed the towel with water and timed how long it took to completely dry. In our real world testing, we timed how long it took for a full-sized version of the towel to dry after being used. We evaluated all of the results from our categories to determine which ones performed the best during our testing.
All of the hand towels on our list are made with cotton or a cotton blend, like cotton and viscose from bamboo. “A plush, cotton towel will be highly absorbent for everyday use and soft enough for a luxury experience,” Elks says.
Wyman explains that while cotton is absorbent, it may take longer to dry than other materials. However, there are other factors that affect a towel’s performance as well. “Fiber, yarn, and fabric construction as well as functional finishes can impact absorbency and dry time for both natural (cotton) and synthetic (polyester) materials,” Wyman explains.
Additionally, some hand towels, like the Brooklinen Organic Ribbed Hand Towels, are made with organic cotton. “Organic doesn’t make the towel better or worse,” Young says. “It doesn’t improve the quality of the fabric, it improves the quality of our world, which is important.”
“GSM stands for grams per square meter,” Wyman says. “This measures the density of the main towel fabric.” Wyman explains that a towel with a higher GSM “may look and feel ‘fluffier’ or more luxurious,” but the GSM isn’t necessarily an indication of quality. It’s simply a way to measure the fabric.
When initially inspecting the Crate & Barrel Quick-Dry Organic Cotton Hand Towel, we weren’t immediately impressed with it. While it was soft, it wasn’t the most luxurious-feeling towel we tested, and it felt thin. After washing and drying it, its construction remained consistent, and there were no snags or loose threads. We did appreciate that the makeup and mascara stain was completely gone after laundering, and we couldn’t tell where it had been stained at all. Overall, we felt that this was a fine towel, but it didn’t wow us.
We weren’t fans of the Casaluna Modal Hand Towel at first due to its stiff and scratchy texture, but it did perform well in a few areas. Despite being one of the thicker towels we tested, it took just over two hours to dry. The stains came out easily, and the texture didn’t change after multiple launderings. It was also fairly absorbent, but we felt there were better towels available at the same price point.
If you prefer the texture of a waffle weave, The Citizenry Mara Organic Waffle Towel earned high scores across several categories during testing. This hand towel felt thin and lightweight, but also soft to the touch. It held up well during laundering, and both stains were removed. While it still dried in just under two hours, we were surprised it took this long given how thin the fabric was. While it scored high for durability and texture, its downfall was the value category—we didn’t feel like the higher price tag was worth it.
When determining how many hand towels you need, first consider how many bathrooms or half bathrooms you have in your home. For each bathroom sink you have, you’ll want at least one hand towel. However, we recommend having two or more so you will have a clean hand towel to use while washing the dirty one.
“We recommend swapping out your bath towel every three days, and at a minimum once a week,” Elks says. “The same rule goes for hand towels, so it’s best to have at least two on hand, if not four or more.”
Most hand towels are 20 x 30 inches, though there may be some slight variation among different styles or brands. This is the perfect size to hang on a hand towel ring, stand, or knob. Keep in mind that since most of the hand towels on our list are made of cotton, they will shrink slightly after laundering.
Hand towels are relatively affordable, but factors such as quality and material can result in a higher price tag. Our most budget-friendly hand towel on our list is the West Elm Everyday Textured Organic Towels, which costs less than $10. The most expensive hand towel we featured is the CozyEarth Premium Plush Hand Towels at $70 for a set of two.
Additionally, factors like personalization may also increase the cost of a hand towel, like the Restoration Hardware Monogrammed Ultra-Soft Turkish Towel.
Brandi Fuller has been an Associate Commerce Editor for Better Homes & Gardens since September 2022 and has also written for publications such as Southern Living, Real Simple, and People. She has written about home and outdoor products including sheets, sewing machines, mosquito repellents, birdhouses, and more. For this article, we conducted an interview with textile expert Deborah Young, and consulted Katie Elks, design director at Brooklinen. To find the best hand towels, we conducted testing in both our lab and the real world to determine the winners.Price at time of publish: $25 for a set of twoProduct Details: Material:Colors:GSM: Price at time of publish: $9Product Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $70 for a set of twoProduct Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $50Product Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $49 for a set of twoProduct Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $40Product Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $60 for a set of twoProduct Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $18Product Details: Material:Colors:GSM:Price at time of publish: $24Product Details: Material:Colors:GSM: