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Why Are Hotel Towels So Fluffy?

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There's really nothing better than a hotel towel. Fluffy, strong, and not to mention super absorbent, these luxury staples really do it all, while still looking effortlessly glamorous. Unfortunately, when you return home from a vacation, your own towels may feel a bit scratchy and lackluster — or worst of all, infused with a damp, musty smell that you can't get out even after multiple spins around the old washer and dryer.

There's no question that towels are among the hardest working objects in both the home and the hotel. We use our towels to dry us off, clean up big spills and even make them join us at the beach. However, despite the important role towels play in our day-to-day lives, we often treat them with little respect, toss them aside in a wet pile or subject them to high heat dryer cycles. And then we wonder why hotel towels seem so much fluffier and more luxurious than the ones we've got.

If you've ever wondered why hotel towels are just that much better than your basic bathroom workhorse is, we've uncovered some of the towel care secrets straight from the hospitality industry. We've gone ahead and answered your burning questions — why are hotel towels so fluffy, and how they maintain that certain freshness despite being put through loads and loads of washes.

Towel Care — Secrets from the Hospitality Business

Look, the fact of the matter is, the more diligent you are in caring for your towels, the longer they'll stay in prime condition. While it might seem like some kind of big secret, you may be surprised to find out that most hotels use regular old detergent (just like you!) to clean their towels, sheets and linens. It's actually important to use normal, store-bought detergent, because pH plays a major role in keeping towel quality at the highest level. Grocery store detergent that you'd use to wash your own socks and underpants has a neutral pH, while a commercial grade version is generally harsher, with a basic pH that can wreak havoc on the essential qualities of a hotel towel — softness, absorbency, etc. High pH detergents will strip away the soft fibers, and break down the fabric quicker.

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  • Wash First — Like new clothes, you'll want to wash your new towels before you use them. Often, towels come coated with a finish that gives them this attractive sheen while on the shelf. Throw them in the wash to remove that chemical finish that might not be so great for your skin. These finishes also prevent towels from being as absorbent as possible.
  • Keep the Color — If color's your concern, group towels according to color before sticking them in the wash. You'll want to wash them with similar colors for the initial few washes. Another pro-tip for maintaining optimal color — use roughly half of the amount of detergent recommended on the package. Add one cup of white vinegar straight into the drum of the washing machine. Not only will this help set the color in place, avoiding runoff, the vinegar helps get rid of any excess soap residue from previous washes.
  • Baking Soda — Another tip straight from the kitchen — use baking soda to eliminate any excess build-up or dirt, keeping those towels fluffy for the long haul. You'll want to add about a half cup in addition to the recommended amount of detergent. Baking soda also gets rid of that horrible musty towel smell that comes from leaving a towel folded up in a bag thrown into a pile for a long period.
  • Wash Regularly — Wash your towels after a few uses. This might be obvious for the hotel professional, but home users, take this to heart — towels are absorbing a lot more than water. Dead skin cells and soap scum build up fast. Wash colored towels with color-safe bleach and warm water. For white towels, hot water and regular bleach will do. Although it's obvious, it's still worth noting that you should wash white towels separate from their colorful counterparts to avoid any dyes leaching onto the towels.
  • Wash Towels Alone — Additionally, you should wash bath towels separately from clothing. Think about it. Towels produce a ton of lint, need to be washed on a long, hot cycle (clothes don't need all this), and can sometime harbor mold, mildew and other unsavory facts of life.
  • Skip Added Softeners — Don't use fabric softeners. Sure, they offer the promise of the fluffiest towels in town, but they create a waxy build-up over time, which does some major damage to a towel's absorbency.
  • Shake 'em Out — Keep towels fluffy and lint-free by giving them a quick shake when you pull them out of the washing machine. This extra step ensures the loops of the towels stay fluffed, keeping them absorbent after the wash and dry cycle is all said and done. Another tip for a heightened fluff factor is to throw a tennis ball into the dryer with your towel load.
  • Dry Completely — This tip is super important, make sure your towels are absolutely, 100 percent dry when you pull them out of the dryer. Even a little dampness can mildew in a short time, creating that universally dreaded wet towel smell. On the other hand, avoid over-drying your towels, as the heat will break down the fibers over time.
  • Store Neatly — As far as storing towels like a pro goes, fold your towels into thirds to maximize space. Arrange towels on the shelf with the outer edges facing toward the front. This little trick will make it easier to grab one towel at a time as needed.

This is an awful lot of towel talk to take in, but once you get these tips down, your towels will stay fresh for years to come. If you haven't been giving your towels the VIP treatment, it may be time to stock up. We've got hotel towels in bulk, so you can outfit your entire home or business without breaking the bank.

The GSM — Mark of a Quality Towel

Now, we've given away some secrets to keeping towels as fresh and fluffed as possible, but you will want to address the question of quality. You can't keep fluffing a subpar towel and expect it to turn into something from the penthouse suite at the Four Seasons. Towels have a specific rating system—grams per square meter (GSM). The higher the GSM number, the better quality the towel. Towels with a higher GSM tend to last longer and are softer and more absorbent. They are also heavier, like a warm absorbent winter blanket. Towels of poor stock tend to have a GSM that hovers between 200 and 300, while their peers of superior quality towels are usually around 400 to 600, if not higher.

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Now, GSM is a direct measure of the density of a towel, so a high number isn't necessarily better for all uses. Towels with a lower GSM are thinner, lighter and easier to take with you, folding up easily into a bag without weighing you down. You won't want to take a high GSM towel to the beach, gym, or anywhere you just need something to do the job a towel was born for. But, if you're looking for the kind of towel that belongs in a spa or a fancy-pants hotel, you'll want to go for the heavier stuff. High GSM towels are definitely going to cost you a lot more than your run-of-the-mill economy towels, but they'll last for years to come.

Hotels need high quality towels not only to create a decadent environment for their guests, but also because higher quality towels will remain in good condition after several showers, washes and bleaches that deteriorate the fibers over time. If plushness and longevity is what you're after (and who isn't?), check out our selection of Premium and Premium Plus hotel towels, available at wholesale price.

Fabric

We just went over the importance of GSM when it comes to finding towels with a little extra oomph, but you may be wondering what kind of fabric is used to make the kind of towels dreams are made of. Because it's super strong and absorbent, cotton reigns supreme among bath towels both in and out of the hotel, though materials like bamboo, microfiber and polyester blends are fairly common as well. Mid-priced cotton towels made for everyday showers and such are made from basic cotton. However, the more luxurious towels use higher end cottons. Fancier towels will have longer fibers, which gives them more loops per square inch — absorbing more water and offering a snuggly feeling each time you dry off.

In general, the ultra-cozy, super thirsty towels in spas and hotel bathrooms are Egyptian cotton, known for its heft and GSM count. These days, a similar American cotton, Pima (which you've probably seen used in higher end cotton tees) has become increasingly popular. Turkish cotton, though still luxurious, is widely used in lightweight bathrobes. It generally is less heavy than its Egyptian counterpart, but works great for absorbing moisture and drying relatively quickly.

Absorbency and Dry Time

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A number of factors, including the material, manufacturing process, the number of loops, etc. determine the asbsorbency of a towel. While absorbency is a pretty big deal when it comes to quality, it isn't the only metric that matters. If you're more concerned about dry time, you may want to look for towels that aren't the thickest ones on the shelf. A good towel does more than absorb moisture, the little fiber loops do their part to brush water away from the body, which is the main factor in drying you off fast. While absorbency is important, it shouldn't be the be-all end-all in terms of making a purchasing decision. Looking at the number of loops per square inch is a good way to determine whether a towel meets performance expectations.

Washing Machine Tips

Hotels not only think about the ways the actual washing process can optimize a towel's softness absorbency and cleanliness, but also how the washing machine itself plays a big role in maintaining the quality of the linens. For optimum towel care, you'll want to make sure your machine is in tiptop shape, as well as make sure you are using it properly. Here's a quick guide to let you know whether you are on the right path toward towel excellence.

  • Load Size — You'll want to be aware of how full the loads are, never over or under fill the machine. Overstuffed washers do not disperse the detergent evenly and there's not enough space for the mechanical action to work its magic. Conversely, an under filled washing machine provides far too much mechanical action. The fibers in the towels will breakdown at a much faster rate than they would as part of an average-sized load. Aim for a capacity of about 80 percent to maximize the life of your favorite towels.
  • Settings — Keep an eye on your washing machine settings. They are likely something you don't give a whole lot of thought to, but they are key in protecting your towels against long-term wear and tear, as well as maintaining peak levels of cleanliness. Select a setting based on the condition of the load — are they particularly soiled, is it a heavy load, etc.
  • Temperatures — Wash towels in warm water, meaning not too hot or too cold. Cold water won't kill all of the bacteria a towel picks up throughout its day-to-day duties. On the other hand, extra hot water will damage the towels rather quickly.

Tips for Buying Towels

Big, fluffy white towels are the epitome of hotel living. They match any hotel décor, from crisp and modern to all out opulence. If you're looking for hotel towels, you'll likely want to go with the classic. Our selection of hotel towels offers something at every price point, so luxury and quality don't have to be mutually exclusive.

The high-end white towel gives a clean, spa-like feel to any bathroom — whether that's saved for guests or just a little extra luxury for everyday life. Though towels come in just about every color of the rainbow, you may want to stick with white. You'll be able to bleach away any unsavory spots, and they have an air of subtle sophistication that goes with just about everything.

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Need Hotel Towels Wholesale? We've Got 'Em!

Whether you own and operate a hotel or want to outfit your home with the softest towels around, we have an impressive lineup of hotel-quality towels that will dry you off in luxurious fashion. At Towel Supercenter, our selection of hotel towels in bulk simply can't be beat. Browse our extensive lineup of towels, washcloths, bath mats and more, all aimed adding a little extra fluff into your daily routine.

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