Why Turkish Towels are Unique? A Turkish Answers


I was walking down a street in Meydan, Trabzon, A city center on the Black Sea coastline of northeast Turkey, when I first saw the Turkish towel in a shop. 

I instantly loved the appearance, the delicacy, the hard work that must have gone into making this flat weave masterpiece. It was so light that I couldn’t even feel that it was there.

My attention was drawn by the seller, as he was pointing towards many Turkish towels. There were so many colors, so many patterns to choose from. I chose pastel pink because of its fishbone pattern with braided ends.

This purchase brought a huge difference for someone using regular towels. The next day, I went to the beach, wrapped myself with this towel. Besides giving a relaxing feeling, the towel was so light that I didn’t even notice I was carrying it.

I also realized how easy it is to handle this towel. I just shook it very gently, and swiftly the sand shed already. The towel was moderately wet, but it dried in less than a few minutes, even with the sun going down. 

The best thing I liked about this towel was, there was no odor at all. It astonished me truly, since then I fell in love with Turkish towels.

This is Hira Reyhan’s initial reaction to Turkish towels when she saw them for the first time. I want to acknowledge that I got many insights from Hira when writing this post.

In this post, We (Me, a Turkish local, and Hira, a Turkish towel addict) tried to explain everything you need to know about Turkish towels.

What is a Turkish Towel?

Turkish towels are a type of towel and do not mean all towels “made in Turkey.” Turkish towels are called Peshtemal or Hammam Towels in Turkey. Turkish towels are tightly woven, very thin towels that are designed to be long lasting. Turkish towels are made with Turkish cotton with long fibers.

The name “Turkish towel” is given to these towels because their existence is rooted in Turkish culture, and high-quality Turkish cotton fabric is used in their making.

Turkish towels were first invented in the 15th century in the city of Bursa, which was the former capital of Turkey in Ottoman Empire times. However, the notion of Turkish towels became popular in the 18th century during the Ottoman Empire.

At that time, Turkish people had unique hand-weaving skills, and they were making famous Turkish carpets. 

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

The marvelous weavers in Bursa enhanced the beauty of the towel in such a manner that Turkish towels were accepted as a special form of towels.

Since then, this uniquely crafted and woven cotton has become part of Turkish traditions and culture.

Turkish baths are a unique tradition that has been practiced since the Ottoman Empire era to this day. Turkish towels also have a strong cultural bond with Turkish hammams.

Turkish towels have many different names around the globe. The most used names of Turkish towels are Peshtemal (Peştemal in Turkish), Hammam Towels, or Fouta Towels.

Why are Turkish Towels so Unique?

Turkish towels are so unique because Turkish towels are made with premium quality long cotton fibers. Additionally, Turkish towels are woven with similar crafting techniques used by Turkish carpets which grant them durability.

Unlike other cotton types, Turkish cotton has a light mass but has long fibers which are woven on traditional looms. Sometimes linen, and rarely bamboo fibers are added in Turkish towels.

Here are the Turkish towels’ some unique properties:

  • has a smooth and firm feeling
  • can quickly dry in the open air and is easy to maintain
  • lightweight but durable than a regular towel
  • has no odor after washing but is less absorbent than a towel
  • Multi-purpose towel with long-lasting colors and patterns. 
  • Foldable and takes significantly less space than regular towels.

Turkish towels are easy to clean even without washing. For example, you are sitting on a sandy beach on your towel. One shake, all the beach sands are gone from the Turkish towel. Try to do that with a regular towel.

In the picture, you can see my daughter Lidya and my nephew Bella, enjoying the sands of the beach on a Turkish Towel.

What is the difference between a Turkish towel and a regular towel?

Here are the differences between Turkish towels and regular towels that may help you understand why Turkish towels are different.

       AttributesRegular TowelTurkish Towel
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

Are Turkish towels better than regular towels?

Turkish towel dries faster and is more durable and functional than a regular towel. Yet, regular towels can be better absorbent, more comfortable.

Regular towels also can develop bad odor quickly and are not easily maintainable and long-lasting as Turkish towels. 

When I use regular towels at my home, each time I wash them, they look faded, as the shine would fade away.

From personal experience, I can tell you that Turkish towels don’t get old even if you wash them multiple times.

Turkish Towels in a Turkish Bazaar

How do I wash my Turkish towels for the first time?

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

You can get the best result when you soak your Turkish towel overnight in a cold-water tub for 12 hours before washing them for the first time.

Just like other towels, the Turkish towel requires proper care to maintain its durability.

A useful tip for making your Turkish towel long-lasting is to avoid detergents and fabric softeners when washing them. Soak them in warm water then add little drops of white vinegar. This process enhances Turkish towels’ freshness and durability.

Check my guide on “How To Wash Your Turkish Towels?” to learn the proper ways to wash Turkish Towels.

How long do Turkish towels last?

Turkish Towels are long-lasting. If you wash Turkish Towels correctly, you can use theTurkish Towels are long-lasting. If you wash Turkish Towels correctly, you can use them for years, not months.

Washing your towels correctly, smoothens the cotton fibers, which adds up the durability of a Turkish towel. 

Do Turkish cotton towels shed?

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

As with any other clothing item, expect a very slow shedding.

Good care may prolong the towels’ durability. For example, a high quantity of detergent and fabric softener must be avoided when washing them. For tips like this, check out the washing guide above.

Where to Buy Turkish Towels?

If you are in Turkey, you will buy Turkish towels everywhere. Trendyol, the most well known online shopping website in Turkey, has a diverse set of Turkish towels. You can check Trendyol (by clicking here) to get an idea of Turkish towels. 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 Towels

Turkish towels 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

What is a Turkish towel used for?

Here are more personal experiences from my co-writer Hira about Turkish towels.

.. a few days into using this towel, I learned all the great ways Turkish towels can be used. I was able to use a Turkish towel as a hair towel, sarong, shawl, and even as my yoga mat. This towel was all in one kind of deal to me, which surely seems to be an important addition to my home bathroom.

The best thing I liked about this towel was, Turkish towel has no odor at all. It astonished me truly, and I fell in love with the world’s best towels giving me a pampered feeling.

Turkish towels are used for many purposes.

Turkish Towel cloth is also used to make cotton clothes.

Beach-wrap

The Turkish Towel is mostly used as a beach towel. Its ability to resist the sand and quick-drying make it the best choice for a beach day. Also, it makes the packing so easier, because of its small size and foldable thin sheets, you can fit more than enough towels in a backpack.

Table cloth, Picnic and Camping blanket

Most Turkish families used to have the same cotton sheets as tablecloths on their dinner tables.

Because Turkish sheets clean very easily and are durable, Turkish towels are one of the best options for your long traveling trips. Also a must in your picnics, camping, and other outdoor activities. 

Bath towel

Ideal for packing in your beach bag and even perfect for your home bathroom, make it your bathrobe and enjoy its unique qualities. 

Using Turkish Towel As Clothing

You may use a Turkish towel not only when bathing but also as a long skirt, scarf, shawl, or you can use it more creatively.

Since Turkish Towels are comfy, they are worn as stylish sarongs by girls. Just wrap around the waist with a tuck. It looks like a trendy skirt. Girls would love it on the beach as worn around your upper body back and front, then tuck it, and enjoy the look of a lovely long dress.

Ideal for an outing at beaches and will add extra pleasure and joy while taking your pictures on the beach.

Perfectly suited for winters, it can be warped around the neck softly for warmth and comfort during any traveling and long casual walks.

Scarf, Hair turban or Head Towels: 

Turkish towels are light in weight, so they are always the preferred choice as a hair towel instead of normal towels. Girls may wear it as turbans, which work like a magic conditioner, and quickly dries their hair.

Lidya, my daughter, loves to nap with Turkish towels in summer.

What does Turkish cotton feel like?

Turkish cotton is grown in rather hot weather than other kinds of cotton, such as Indian or Brazilian Cotton. 

The geo-agricultural aspects yield long cotton fibers because longer fibers have stronger and smoother threads resulting in reliable and high-quality cotton. 

These long fibers make it softer, and if you touch them, you will realize how easy it goes with your hands. These fibers are the main difference, making Turkish cotton unique from all other cotton types. 

Also, the way cotton is handled and treated is an ancient Turkish process. Turkish towels are woven like Turkish carpets (rugs).

The weaving techniques are tighter; hence, the material produced is extra smooth, which never stiffens and remains soft and thin.

Is Turkish towel seaweed edible?

A seaweed species (Chondracanthus exasperatus)  is commonly called Turkish towel.

Real Turkish towels are not edible and are not made of seaweed. Sometimes Turkish towel seaweed species are mixed with real Turkish Towels. 

The texture of this seaweed resembles the luxurious and smooth feeling of a Turkish towel, and California locals call this seaweed species “Turkish towels.”

This also leads to confusion, and for this reason, some people think Turkish towels are made with seaweed and are edible. 

This is a misconception due to the name of seaweed.

Further Reading

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

Choosing the Right Towel: Turkish vs Egyptian Towels

What is a Peshtemal? Why Should You Use Them?

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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