What is a Peshtemal? Why Should You Use Them?


Turkish Towels are famous throughout the world, but they deserve to be well known. As a Turkish, I can tell you that they are superior to other towels and can make your life easier.

Peshtemal is another word used to define Turkish towels. Peshtemal is not a Turkish word, but a Persian word that means covering cloth.

Turkish people usually use peshtemal to define Turkish towels that are used in Turkish baths. Peshtemals are very durable, tightly woven, thin Turkish towels that are used in bathing as well as clothing inside the hammam.

Additionally, Peshtemal is also used as a term to define the type of cloth that is used to make a Turkish Towel.

History of Peshtemal – What are Peshtemal Used for?

Peshtemal is an integral part of Turkish tradition since they were first invented in the 15th century in the city of Bursa, which was the former capital of Turkey in Ottoman Empire times.

When cotton arrived from the new world “Americas” to the Ottoman Empire, Turkish creative talents invented a new thin woven piece of cotton cloth termed as “Turkish towel”, or “Peshtemal”. 

First, it was used as an apron by the servants. Today, some farmers still use Peshtemal as an apron or headwear to keep their clothes clean or to protect them from the sun.

The popularity of peshtemals increased drastically when they were adopted by Turkish bath owners in the 18th century as bath towels. Since then Turkish towels have also had a strong bond with Turkish hammams.

Today, Peshtemals are not only used as a towel by Turkish people. Peshtemals have many uses such as decorative cover, picnic cover, beach towel, headwear or simple scarf, and much more.

Peshtemals are also called Turkish Towels.

Why is it called Turkish Towels? What is different about Peshtemal?

Peshtemals are called Turkish Towels, because Turkish cotton and Turkish weaving techniques are used when producing Peshtemals.

Peshtemals are also woven like Turkish carpet, they are thin, strong, and very tight. They are known for their durability and a peshtemal can be used for years if maintained correctly.

       AttributesRegular TowelTurkish Towel (Peshtemal)
AbsorbanceHigh absorbencyLow absorbency
DurabilityLow, sheds very easilyHigh durability and does not shed.
Additionally, its colors do not fade easily
Comfort levelOrdinary comfort, softThin, firm, and smooth
WeightHeavy WeightVery lightweight
DryingHours to dryDries faster, no sunlight or heat is required for drying
OdorMay develop a bad odorNo odor at all
Beach PerformanceSand easily sticksBest for the beach and very easy to clean.
SpaceRequires a lot of spaceEasily foldable into very small size
Regular Towel vs Turkish Towel
Peshtemal Cloths are also used to create beachwear.

Why You Should Switch to Turkish Towels?

You should switch to Turkish towels because they are superior to regular towels in many ways. They are durable, easy to wash, and do not let their colors easily as regular towels.

Unlike regular towels, Peshtemals can be used for years. My mom still has Turkish towels that were gifted from my grandmother.

The first difference is their quicker drying properties. The same property also makes Turkish towel cloth to resist bacteria. As the cloth does not prevent air from flowing through and is not affected by the air moisture, for these reasons peshtemals do not decay easily and smell fresh all the time.

The second difference, Turkish towels are lightweight and easier to carry. In a backpack where 3 regular-size towels fit, you can put more than 8 Peshtemals. Regular towels are heavy and they are heavier when they are used.

A wet towel can weigh around 2 pounds ( a kilo) when used. Yet, Turkish towels weigh less than a pound (around 200 to 300 gr) and they dry within 10 minutes in the open air.

You won’t have the heavy towel problem when you return from the beach with Turkish towels.

Lastly, Turkish towels are woven very tightly and resistant to dirt, sand, or particles that are usually stuck into regular towels.

The one drawback of Turkish towels is they are not as fluffy and soft as regular towels.

Can you use Peshtemals as a scarf?

You can use pesthemals as scarves, headwear, and substitute for other clothing. You can use pesthemals in many creative ways to complement your needs.

Jessica Alba wearing a peshtemal as a scarf.

Where to Buy Pesthemals?

Where to Buy Peshtemals?

If you are in Turkey, you will buy Peshtemals everywhere. Trendyol, the most well known online shopping website in Turkey, has a diverse set of Peshtemals. You can check Trendyol (by clicking here) to get an idea of Peshtemals. Yet, unfortunately, Trendyol does not ship abroad.

Amazon is another perfect place for buying Turkish towels in other countries. Here are two of my favorite designs. Click to check them.

Turkish towel design 1 on Amazon and Turkish towel design 2 on Amazon

Sizes of Turkish Pesthemals

Pesthemals have different sizes. Here are common sizes by inches.

Towel typeSize by inchesSize by centimeters
Fingertip towels11 × 1830 x 45
Hand towels16 × 28 – 3040 x 70
Bath towels27 × 52 – 5870 x 130
Bath sheet35 × 60 – 7090 x 150-170
Washcloth13 × 1333 x 33
Beach towel “Hammam towel”30 × 6075 x 150
Bath mat16 × 2840 x 80
Sizes of Towels

Do Turkish cotton Peshtemal shed?

Turkish cotton peshtemal shed a lot less than any other towel. Turkish Towels are made up of high-quality Turkish cotton that is famous for its long and thin fibers. For this reason, shedding is almost non-existing.

Good care may prolong the towels’ durability. For example, a high quantity of detergent and fabric softener must be avoided when washing them.

How to prepare Pesthemals before the First Use?

The first wash is very important as it will loosen the fibers of your Turkish towel, making it more absorbent. 

Also, towels have a coating layer that gives this shine for those new towels. These coatings are covered with chemicals that are not skin-friendly, so it is important to wash towels after purchasing them.

For the first wash, you should soak your Turkish towel overnight in a cold-water tub for 12 hours before washing them for the first time. Ideally, you should use water with vinegar added. This process will help the towel’s fibers to expand, giving a smoother look to your towel and making the towel more absorbent.

Check out my Turkish towel washing guide to learn the proper ways to wash your Turkish towel.

Do Pesthemals Shrink?

Turkish Peshtemals do not shrink easily because they are woven differently. Yet, when washed in high temperatures, towel’s material may become harder, and they may lose their smooth texture.

Further Reading

Why Turkish Towels are Unique? 14 Things to Know

How To Wash Your Turkish Towels (Step by Step Guide)

Choosing the Right Towel: Turkish vs Egyptian Towels

17 Famous Turkish Fashion Brands That You Can Shop Online

7 Best Turkish Shopping Websites to Buy Watches

10 Fantastic Turkish Accessories Online Shopping Websites

Efe Genit

I am a father, a passionate traveler, and a Turkish lawyer. You can enjoy my guides and tips about Turkey that only Turkish locals would know.

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