Posted on December 09 2014
What’s wrong with traditional towels?
There’s nothing wrong with traditional towels, per se. It’s just that most towels are made from cotton, which isn’t quite as adept at absorbing liquid as, say, a linen towel. You see, not only does cotton inadequately soak up liquids, but it has this funny problem of holding onto liquid for an excessive amount of time. So whereas other materials like linen would be dry within a short amount of time, cotton continues to hold tight.
Does that mean linen is less prone to germs?
You got it! Linen is naturally antimicrobial, which means it won’t retain odors.
But I bet linen is a hassle to wash and dry.
Nope, it’s actually one of the most earth-friendly fabrics to dry, because you can simply hang it on a clothesline and let the breeze do its business.
And just like its natural ability to brush off odors, linen doesn’t hold tight to sand or dirt. Instead, if you take a linen towel to the beach, one good shake before getting into the car will have it again feeling smooth and soft.
Is that all? Linen doesn’t seem that much better.
Not quite. Cotton towels (especially terry cloth) are heavier than many of its cousin fabrics, making it bulkier and more cumbersome. Combine that with the aforementioned characteristic of holding tight to liquid, you can see why traditional towels are of a lesser quality than those made of linen.
Really? So linen isn’t anything like cotton?
Yes and no. Let’s start with the yes. Both cotton and linen come from vegetative sources: cotton from cotton plants, and linen from the fibers of flax plants. Plus, they’ve been part of human history for thousands of years, with cotton dating back to as early as 5,000 BC and linen as early as 8,000 BC.
Nice, now the differences.
The first thing you’ll notice about linen is how naturally cool it feels. Next, you’ll notice that it’s smooth to the touch, and every time that it’s washed, it continues to get softer. It’s like a little reward for when you do the laundry.
But why does linen make a great towel?
Even when wet, linen is soft to the touch. Moreover, the durable, strong fabric actually becomes stronger when wet, so you can scrub away without worrying about whether or not you’re damaging the towel. Plus, linen has the ability to rapidly absorb and lose liquid. This way, you don’t have that icky feeling of perpetual dampness that’s often common with cotton towels.
Plus, there’s everything else we discussed above: linen towels dry quickly on clotheslines, shake free of sand and dirt, are lightweight, and don’t retain odors.