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Can a Towel Be Too Thick?

Can there be anything better than a soft towel — fluffy, absorbent and thick? As it turns out, maybe. We all know that fluffy towels represent the very height of luxury, and for most of us, a thick towel will always be preferable to a thin one. However, heavy towels are like any other wonderful and luxurious thing. It’s always possible to have too much of that good thing, at which point it can become a negative experience instead of a positive one.

On the surface, this might sound ridiculous. After all, how could a fluffy towel ever be anything but wonderful and delightful? Today, we want to explain how this works. We’ll talk about what makes a towel thick or thin, as well as the benefits and disadvantages that come with each of these types of towels. Most importantly, we’ll cover what happens when a towel takes fluffy comfort just a few steps too far and becomes a hindrance rather than a help.

First, let’s look at some basic concepts of the towel world.

What Is GSM?

GSM is one of the most efficient methods for measuring towels. This is different than a towel’s dimension, which is another measurement method we might use. Dimensions tell us how large the towel is from end-to-end. For example, we might say a towel is 11-by-13 inches, and that tells us how many square inches the towel takes up. GSM, on the other hand, is a system that measures the weight and quality of a piece of fabric. In our case, that fabric happens to be towels.

GSM stands for grams per square meter. It's a measure of how many grams one square meter of fabric weighs. Since the dimensions of the fabric are always the same, GMS effectively describes the linear density of a towel. In plain language, it represents the measurement of a towel’s thickness. It does this by measuring the fiber loops that make up the bulk of a towel’s body. In any towel, these loops are sewn onto the base piece of fabric. The more loops a towel has and the more tightly packed together they are, the higher a towel’s GSM will be.

Since most of us don’t have the knowledge, tools or desire to calculate a towel’s GSM by ourselves, many manufacturers and retailers will complete this step for us. If you look at the towel packaging, you should find this count listed along with the other relevant information about fabric and dye. If you’re shopping online, try browsing through the detailed product specs and see if you can find the information listed there. Then, use this information to inform your purchasing.

How Does GSM Determine the Thickness of a Towel?

We know that GSM measures the density of a towel’s loops, otherwise known as its pile. But how does this translate into a towel’s thickness? It’s simple. The denser a towel’s loops are, the thicker, fluffier and softer the towel feels. In contrast, if a towel has only a few loops, this towel will feel thin and will not be soft. It may even feel scratchy along the skin.

A towel’s thickness isn’t just about comfort levels, although this is certainly a factor. More dense towels will feel soft against the skin, but they will also absorb far more. This is a simple matter of math. The more fabric a towel has — and by this we mean, the more loops — the more moisture this towel can absorb into that fabric. It will take far longer for this towel to reach the point of saturation when it can’t absorb any more.

Compare this with a thin towel. Without much fabric in the composition of these towels, they don’t have much absorption power. It will take a much smaller amount of water before these towels hit the point of critical mass where they can’t absorb any more.

From facts like these, we can see that GSM directly correlates to a towel’s thickness and by extension, its absorption levels. The higher a towel’s GSM, the thicker the towel. The lower the GSM, the thinner the towel. We can also use these numbers to estimate factors like softness and absorption, associating these things in higher degrees with towels with higher GSMs.

What Are Some Qualities of a Thick Towel?

We’ve talked about what sets thick and thin towels apart from each other in general terms, but now let’s get into specifics. What are some of the benefits that you can expect with a thick and fluffy towel that you won’t find with thin towels?

  • Absorbency: The first and most obvious benefit of a thick towel is the high level of absorbency it offers. If a towel has a higher density of fabric loops, it will be equipped to absorb more water. This will make it more effective at drying as it will soak the water up efficiently rather than just rubbing it around on the skin.
  • Softness: The higher a towel’s GSM, the softer it will feel on the skin. The densely packed fabric will be fluffy, luxurious and comfortable, rather than thin and rough. This makes these towels perfect for everything from basic home use after the shower to use at high-end salons and hotels.
  • Durability: The thicker the fabric is, the more durable the product will be. This rule holds true for everything from clothing to rugs to cloth napkins, and it also applies to towels. Because thick towels have more fabric to spare, they can hold up against wear and tear for much longer than a thin towel, and they’ll keep offering up reliable performance long after you’ve demoted your thin towels to rags.
  • Longevity: Just as thick towels are more durable, so too do they last longer. Because these towels are so sturdy and thick, they can perform well for years and years before it’s time to throw them out, while thin towels will usually only last for a fraction of this time.

What Are Some Qualities of a Thin Towel?

While thick towels have all these fantastic benefits to offer, they hardly have a monopoly on all desirable towel qualities. It’s true that thin towels will never match a towel with a high GSM for things like fluffiness and comfort, but they do have other perks to offer. Here are just a few of the positive attributes you will likely experience when you choose thin towels.

  • Affordability: Because thin towels contain less material, they’re less expensive to make, meaning retailers can sell them at a lower price. If you’re looking to keep costs down, buying a thinner towel is an excellent way to do so.
  • Ease of cleaning: Because these towels are so light and thin, they’re very easy to clean. They don’t retain water easily, meaning that they dry extremely fast after a trip through the dryer, and you’ll rarely find yourself in the position of needing to run them through an extra cycle.
  • Impermanence: Thick towels are designed to last a long time, which is excellent when you’re looking to stock towels at home or at your business. But if you’re just looking to buy something quick and inexpensive that you intend to throw away after a handful of uses in a temporary location? A thin towel is just the perfect thing.

Are Thicker Towels Better?

Any question that asks, “Is one thing better than another?” is tricky to answer since the answer always depends on your purpose. If you’re looking for an inexpensive towel that you can easily throw away after a handful of uses, then a thicker towel will not be the best choice. If, however, you’re looking for a soft and luxurious towel that will serve you well for years to come, then the answer is yes. A thicker towel will always be the better choice.

Thicker towels are undeniably more efficient when it comes to drying. They’re also softer and feel gentler on the skin, all while lasting longer and holding up more strongly against the strains of heavy use. For this reason, we can say that thicker towels offer superior performance and are more reliable in every situation. If these are the qualities you’re looking for, then thicker towels are undeniably better than their thin counterparts.

Can a Towel Be Too Thick?

We’ve explained what makes a towel thick — a high number of fabric loops which we measure to produce a number known as GSM. These densely packed loops create a towel’s thickness. This thickness then leads to a whole host of benefits, including superior absorbency, longer lifespan and increased softness on the skin. All of these are excellent and highly desirable qualities in a towel.

However, we also know that any good thing can go too far and overreach itself to the point where it stops becoming positive and instead becomes negative. Is it possible that this can happen with towel thickness? Can a towel reach a point where it is too thick and thus no longer desirable?

Yes, it can. While a thick towel is a wonderful thing, it is only wonderful up until a certain point. After reaching this point, if you were to keep making the towel more and more fluffy, it would only make the towel less useful.

What Happens When a Towel Becomes Too Thick?what happens when a towel becomes too thick

As a towel becomes thicker, it also becomes more absorbent. This is usually a positive thing until the towel becomes too absorbent. In other words, it becomes so efficient at absorbing water that it becomes difficult to get rid of that water again. This can become a real problem when it comes to washing your towels.

First, your washing machine saturates your towels with soap and water as part of the cleaning process. Next, you run your towels through a dryer, where intense blasts of heat help dry this water. The only problem is that, with extremely absorbent towels, such as ones that have sky-high GSM counts, it becomes very difficult to dry this water. In some extreme cases, it may take as many as two or three trips through the dryer before the water is fully removed from the towel and the fabric is dry enough for a new use.

This can be inconvenient if you wash your towel after every use, as the washer and dryer cycle suddenly take far longer than it should. Where this lack of drying ease becomes far more inconvenient, however, is if you don’t wash your towel after every use. In most ordinary cases, if you use the towel, it will absorb quite a bit of water. You’ll then hang it up where it will slowly air-dry until it’s ready for your next use.

The problem with extremely thick towels is that this air-drying process doesn’t always happen, and if it does happen, it takes far too long to be effective. This means that the next time you grab your towel to use it, it will probably still be damp and chilly. Since it has been wet for so long, it also may have begun to develop a slight smell. If you leave it in this damp state for too long, it may even start to grow bacteria.

To prevent a lack of drying ability, a musty odor and the growth of bacteria, it’s best to avoid buying towels that are too thick. There’s nothing wrong with a beautiful luxury towel. In fact, these can even be wonderful products to stock in your home or business. But like anything, this thickness can be taken too far to the point where problems develop. For this reason, you’ll want to seek out a happy medium instead of buying the very thickest towel you can find.

How to Understand a Towel’s GSM

Based on all this information, we can clearly see the drawbacks of purchasing towels with GSMs in both the very high and the very low ranges. We can easily see that the best results come with GSMs that fall in the middle range. However, it will be difficult to determine where this middle range falls without first understanding what constitutes a high or low GSM in the first place and what a typical range on this scale looks like.

Let’s look at some sample numbers now.

  • 200 GSM: A GSM of 200 is typical for economy towels. These are towels you might buy if you’re looking for something inexpensive and easy to throw away. They will be quite thin, but they can still be good for wiping down surfaces and other simple tasks.
  • 400 GSM: 400 GSM represents a very middle-of-the-road towel. Think of your average beach or bath towel, and you’ll have a good idea of what 400 GSM feels and performs like.
  • 600 GSM: Towels with 600 GSM are high-quality. These towels possess superior absorption abilities, and you can count on them to perform well for many years.
  • 800 GSM: These towels represent serious luxury. They’re extremely absorbent and beautifully soft on the skin for fantastic long-term performance.
  • 800+ GSM: Towels can generally rate as high as 900 GSM and still function extremely well. Once the number begins to climb much higher than 900, however, you may start to run into some of the pitfalls we discussed earlier.

Shop Wholesale Towels Today

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for the very best of the best luxury towels or the simplest economy model. Whatever level of quality you’re looking for in your towels, it always makes more sense to buy wholesale. This way, you can be sure your towels will match, and you can have them delivered right to you, without the hassle of heading out to the store. For stocking your home or business, we invite you to browse our full selection of products here at Towel Supercenter.

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