Types of Towel Fabric

Apr. 10, 2023

In this article, we have introduced the raw materials used to make towels. Now you'll learn how these towel ingredients are used in the different towel fabrics you see in the store and learn which fabric is best for your towel material.


No matter what you think, not all towels are created equal. Towels are woven fabrics and the way a towel is woven (braided) affects its look, feel, and performance.


So let's get started and take a closer look at some of the most common towel weaves and how they affect the final product.


Common Weave Types

Below you will find the five most common towel weave types: terry cloth, waffle, gauze, damask, and herringbone. We'll look at each type in turn, but before you get started, see if you can find your favorite towel in this collection.



Terry cloth is a terry fabric designed to absorb liquids. It consists of uncut loops of yarn on one or both sides of the fabric.


Terry cloth is the most common fabric used in towel making. The loops in the fabric make it more absorbent than a flat cotton towel. The length of these loops depends on the purpose of the towel. In high quality fabrics, the loops are tightly woven together and structurally strong, while in lower-quality fabrics, the loops are less tightly woven and may be easily snagged or pulled. Terry loops can come off, but towels do not need to be ironed.

Warp Knitting Terry Cloth

Warp Knitting Terry Cloth

When to look for Terry?

Long terry towels make great bath towels. They are highly absorbent and provide a satisfying plush feel when you grab them after a shower or wash. Towels with shorter pile ends (or even ribs) are great kitchen towels to replace waste paper, as they still have good absorbency, but are less likely to get stuck on other things when you use them.


Waffles (honeycomb)

Thanks to their unique three-dimensional grid structure, you can easily identify waffle fabrics. These towels are lightweight, comfortable to the touch and absorbent.


Waffle towels are woven using a special method that creates a regular square grid with raised edges. The unique structure of waffle fabrics increases their surface area, which means they can absorb better. The greater surface area does not significantly increase the weight of the towels, which means that waffle towels can still be air-dried quickly.

Waffle Weave Drying Towel

 Waffle Weave Drying Towel

When to look for waffles?

Depending on the type of towel, waffle weave can produce different sizes of grids. For bath or hand towels, look for a larger cell size for faster drying. For kitchen towels, choose a tighter cell structure to provide extra grit to wipe away dirt.



Gauze weaves a lightweight, breathable fabric with yarns that are woven into a regular, open mesh structure. If you're not sure what that means, think of coarse cotton, which is gauze. Gauze uses the same weave pattern, but the threads are more tightly spaced.


The tulle weave exhibits different densities, from loose and open weave to a tighter, stronger, translucent structure. Because of its mesh-like structure, gauze weaves are often used on one side of a towel and paired with a thicker fabric on the other side. Gauze is soft and smooth to the touch and can dry quickly because its open structure allows additional air to flow into the fabric.


When to go gauze?

Gauze is a great towel material for face or baby towels because of its soft and gentle texture. When layered, it can also make excellent kitchen towels. Because of the open weave, it tends to clean more easily than other fabrics: dirt just slips through the towel or stays loose rather than being absorbed into the threads. Gauze is perfect for gently cleaning grease and grime from the face. The smooth surface is also less prone to threading than terrycloth.



If you can imagine traditional-looking baroque flowers on a guest towel, you'll think of brocade. Brocade towels have a pattern on them that is created by switching between two weave structures. The exact opposite pattern can be seen on the back of the fabric.


Made with a special jacquard loom, the brocade weave is decorative and ranges from simple geometric designs to ornate organic patterns. The actual weave does not improve the performance of the towel, but it creates a pattern that is more durable than the printed design.


When to choose Damask?

If you want to impress your friends and family with a stylish guest towel, a brocade towel is a great place to start. These towels may not be as functional as some other woven types, but they look great in social media posts thanks to their vibrant color contrasts and intricate patterns. If you prefer a more functional guest towel, opt for gauze or quality terry cloth.

Weft Knitting Twisted Loop Towel

 Weft Knitting Twisted Loop Towel


Herringbone is a special type of twill tissue. Twill is generally used for products that need to withstand heavy wear and tear, which means herringbone towels are super durable.


The twill is created by "floating" a portion of the yarn and crossing two or more vertical yarns. This creates a diagonal pattern that gives the fabric strength and durability. Herringbone patterns are primarily used for aesthetic reasons, and towel manufacturers often use different colored yarns to set off the pattern on the fabric.


When to go herringbone?

Herringbone is a classic pattern that looks great in many situations. Its strength makes it an ideal knit for kitchen towels or beach towels. Next time you go to the beach, look for Turkish towels with herringbone woven tassels.


Other weaves

Burlap, waffle, gauze, brocade, and herringbone are the most common types of weaves used in commercial towel making, but that's not all!


With the growing popularity of tissue paper alternatives, fabrics normally used for garments are beginning to be used as towels. Two examples are facecloth - a fabric that is woven and then tufted or plied, which makes the thread feel looser and softer - and birdseye - a soft and absorbent material that is usually woven using two contrasting colors to form a diamond pattern.

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