Recently I decided to switch out my gym towel. I’d had my trusted cotton towel for what seemed like decades and it was finally time to replace it. My research narrowed the search down to either a Turkish towel or a Microfiber towel, but which was the best?
Turkish towels and Microfiber towels have some excellent properties including being incredibly lightweight, available in an extensive range of designs and of course being super absorbent however the Turkish towel comes out as being the best because of its eco-friendly credentials.
Let’s have a look at both towels in more detail to see how they compare against each other.
What is a Turkish Towel
Authentic Turkish towels are made in just a few areas of Turkey where traditional weavers have been making these products for hundreds of years. Due to their incredible absorbency, they were originally used by people visiting the Turkish communal spas called hammams.
Today Turkish towels are increasing in popularity as there are so many benefits to owning one including softness, absorbency, weight and design.
Although we’ll cover a few of the key comparison points below If you’d like to know more about the benefits of Turkish towels I wrote the article “What is so Special About Turkish Towels? 9 Reasons to Buy” which I’d encourage you to read next.
What is a Microfiber Towel
Microfiber towels are a more recent invention so to speak with the first fabric being made back in the 1950s. Produced from synthetic fibres they were made to address specific disadvantages usually found with regular cotton towels including towel weight, absorbency and durability.
Although microfiber towels can and are used for personal care such as drying yourself after showering or bathing these towels are often used as utility towels. For example to dry automobiles after washing or for cleaning the kitchen surfaces in our homes.
So now we know what each towel is let’s start looking at how they compare to each other.
In our comparison, we took two towels and compared them against various criteria.
- A Luks Linen Turkish Peshtemal Towel (100 x 180 cm
- A Dock and Bay Microfibre Towel (90 x 180 cm)
A truly authentic Turkish towel is made from Turkish cotton which is not only an organic material but also now a sustainable one. Many quality suppliers also meet the Standard OEKO TEX certification. What does this mean?
If a textile article carries the STANDARD 100 label, you can be certain that every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless for human health.OKEO-TEX Website
Microfiber towels are made from fibres that are incredibly thin with a diameter of less than ten micrometres – hence the name.
These fibres are synthetic, made from polyesters; polyamides or combinations of polyester, polyamide, and polypropylene for example nylon, Kevlar and Nomex.
Both towels are incredibly lightweight which is a key benefit to both towels.
|Towel Type||Towel Weight|
|The Turkish Towel||408g (0.9 lb)|
|The Microfiber Towel||422g (0.93 lb)|
One of the key benefits of a microfiber towel is that is extremely absorbent. The main reason for this is due to the very fine fibres that make up the towel. Essentially because there are more fibres in the fabric there is a greater surface area which is capable of absorbing much more water than a regular towel.
When it comes to how much water Turkish towels can absorb it’s about the same as the microfiber towel. In our tests, both the Lukslinen and the Dock & Bay towels were able to absorb around 3 litres of water before they became saturated.
Whilst the microfiber towel is soft to the touch it has much less pile which makes it feel less soft than the Turkish towel.
It should be noted that neither towel has a deep pile that expensive cotton towels have and so a Turkish towel will not give you that luxurious hotel feel either however in our very scientific test which was me snuggling up on the sofa watching a film the Turkish towel did feel very cosy indeed.
How long something lasts is much more important these days. Our throw-away culture is rightfully becoming a thing of the past and so when choosing a new towel it’s only right that we consider how long it will last.
The good news about both of these towels is that if cared for correctly they will last you a lifetime. Both are incredibly hardwearing even in the harshest environments such as the beach.
Clearly, we’ve not been able to give our towels a thorough time test however we’ve washed them several times as per the washing instructions and they’ve both held their colour, softness and absorbency properties.
In case you’re wondering whether Turkish towels are easy to care for I wrote another article How to Wash Turkish Towels, our complete guide which you’ll want to check out next.
This is one area where I prefer the Turkish towel.
Whilst you can use a microfiber towel for all kinds of uses the texture of the product doesn’t lend itself to some applications.
For example, I regularly use my Turkish towel as a body wrap. Whilst you can wrap your microfiber towel around yourself it just doesn’t feel as soft and luxurious as a Turkish towel.
Turkish towels are so versatile, they can be used for all kinds of things such as body/hair wraps, in home decor such as furniture throws, or as an on-the-go blanket for picnics or air travel.
Whilst technically a microfiber towel could be used for all of these it’s the texture and softness that really holds it back as an alternative.
There is now a much greater choice of designs for both Turkish and microfiber towels.
The brands we chose for our tests have a big selection of variations from solid colours to patterns in both contemporary and traditional styles.
One thing to mention is that Turkish towels do come with the signature fringe which I’m sure will not suit everyone.
As a general rule, both Turkish towels and microfiber towels cost more than regular cotton towels however in our test the microfiber towel does come in cheaper than the Turkish towel. I would guess some of the reasons for this is due to the manufacturing process and the fact that Turkish towels are made from an organic crop.
|Towel Type||Towel Cost|
|Turkish Towel||£39 | $47|
|Microfiber Towel||£25 | $30|
Whilst both towels have some eco credentials if you purchase a real authentic Turkish towel you’ll be doing right by the environment.
Sadly for the microfiber towel, it’s the material they are made from which lets them down, being synthetic is hard to ignore. Turkish towels are made from organic, sustainable cotton with many brands including the one used in this test having sustainability as a core value of the business.
But hang on – Dock & Bay are also trying to do their bit when it comes to sustainability. All their microfiber towels are made from discarded plastic bottles and so whilst perhaps not as eco friendly as the Turkish towel alternative these specific towels are helping by reusing waste products.
Summary & Comparison Table
Personally, I prefer Turkish towels over microfiber towels. There are 2 main reasons for this, firstly their eco-friendly credentials which are super important to me. The second reason is simply the vast range of things you can use a Turkish towel for.
Before you make up your mind have a look at the table below which will give you a view of which towel is best depending on what’s important for you.
|Best for||Turkish Towel||Microfiber Towel|
|Going to the gym / swimming pool||Great||Great|
|As a beach towel||Great||Great|
|Bath or shower towel||Great||Good|
|Home decor, decoration||Great||Good|
|Those on a budget||Average||Good|