When the towels around your house start getting tattered and faded, you may consider replacing them with organic ones. In this article, we’re going to talk about why organic towels are better, what to look for in non-toxic towels, and then give you our list of the best brands.

What is the Best Material for Bath Towels?

Most towels are made out of cotton, polyester, or some mixture of the two.

Polyester is not the best option because it’s just plastic. It’s a byproduct of the petroleum industry, takes a toll on our environment as a whole, and can include chemicals like bisphenols (BPA, BPS, BPF, etc.) which are toxic to humans. Not only that, but polyester fibers shed microplastics, which are currently wreaking havoc on our ecosystems and food chains.

(P.S. If you see the word “microfiber” on towels, that usually means it’s made at least in part with polyester or another synthetic.)

The next best option is conventionally grown cotton. It’s better than polyester because it’s a natural fiber, which means it’s renewable and biodegradable. It’s also more breathable and moisture-wicking than most synthetic fabrics.

But conventional cotton comes with its own problems. It’s sprayed with a lot of carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides, the residues of which can end up in cotton end products like towels (which we can then absorb tiny amounts of through our skin). It also requires a LOT of water to grow.

Not only that, but the conventional cotton industry is incredibly harsh on farmers, particularly in India (where a great deal of the world’s cotton is produced). Not only are the poisonous pesticides themselves killing a large number of Indian farmers each year, but the entire corrupt industry is causing thousands of farmers to die by suicide.

The best materials for towels are organic cotton, hemp, and linen. These are all three natural resources that are biodegradable and much healthier for the Earth as a whole, as well as the humans who use them.

Organic cotton doesn’t use any herbicides and pesticides, requires much less water to grow, and is not destructive to the soil. Most third-party labels like GOTS Certified Organic Cotton also ensure that farm workers along the supply chain are safe and treated/paid fairly for their work as well.

Hemp is a really strong fiber that’s naturally resistant to water, UV, and mold. It also requires significantly less water to grow than conventional cotton, doesn’t require pesticides, and can yield a lot of crop in a short amount of time. Hemp plants also produce more oxygen and absorb up to four times as much carbon dioxide than trees. Unfortunately, hemp farming got caught up in the drug war, which is why it’s still almost impossible to find in the U.S. The good news is that’s slowly starting to change!

Lastly, one more natural material that’s great for towels is linen. It’s similar to organic cotton and hemp in that it requires much less water and zero pesticides to grow. It’s also very breathable and hypoallergenic, anti-pilling, as well as very strong and durable. Linen towels also tend to be thinner, which means they dry faster and take up less space in your washing machine and linen closet.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient/material safety standards.

best-organic-cotton-bath-towels-best-non-toxic-lifestyle-blogs-the-filtery

Are Organic Towels Really Better?

When it comes to performance alone (absorbency, durability, etc.), there really isn’t a big difference between conventional and organic cotton.

But when it comes to our individual and collective health, organic really is better.

Organic vs. Conventional Cotton

We’ve talked before (here and here) about some of the reasons why organically grown food is better, and the same goes for other crops like cotton.

Non-organic crops are sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals that have been linked to everything from cancer and ADHD to infertility and Parkinson’s and more. (Remember: modern pesticides were first invented as poisons for the Vietnam war.)

Not only that, but conventional monocrop farming strips our topsoil of vital nutrients and minerals that are crucial to our food supply. The type of farming methods used by conventional growers is not sustainable in the long run and poses a real threat to our food supplies.

(This is not to blame conventional farmers, however. Because of the decisions of our government officials—mostly due to the successful lobbying of huge pesticide companies—taxpayers spend millions of dollars in subsidies to conventional farmers each year in order to keep their farms running. In many ways, farmers are incentivized not to grow using organic methods.)

What About Turkish Cotton?

Turkish cotton is exactly what it sounds like: it’s cotton that’s grown in Turkey. The fertile soil in Turkey has made it an ideal place for growing cotton for centuries. Turkish cotton fibers are usually extra long, which make for stronger and smoother textiles. You’ll notice a lot of the brands below use Turkish cotton.

Other types of cotton include Pima cotton (also an extra-long staple cotton and primarily grown in China), Supima cotton (a higher-quality version of Pima), and Egyptian cotton (which simply indicates cotton grown in Egypt).

Turkish, Pima, Supima, and Egyptian cotton can all be organic or non-organic. It just depends on the way in which the plant is grown in their respective regions.

best-organic-cotton-towels-the-filtery

What to Look for in a High-Quality Organic Towel

In addition to eco-friendly, non-toxic fabric, there are a few more things to look for in organic towels:

Non-Toxic Dyes

If you’re buying colored towels, make sure the brand has used non-toxic, low-impact, and/or organic dyes. Look for the OEKO-TEX certification, which indicates that no toxic chemicals were used throughout the entire production process (or just go with undyed if you want!).

Third-Party Certifications

Third-party certifications indicate that someone outside of the company has verified the brand’s safety and environmental claims. Here are the three main labels you’ll see when it comes to towels:

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): This indicates that a material has been grown and processed without harmful chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. GOTS also has qualifications that involve fair treatment of farm workers and suppliers.

OEKO-TEX: This certification verifies that no known toxic chemicals were used throughout the entire production process.

MADE SAFE: This one is similar to OEKO-TEX in that it ensures no toxic chemicals have been used to produce the good. MADE SAFE is a newer and smaller certification than OEKO-TEX, but has stricter standards.

Ideally, you want to see at least two certifications: one that indicates that the plant was grown organically from the start (like GOTS) and another that indicates only safe ingredients were used throughout the rest of the process (like OEKO-TEX or MADE SAFE).

It should be noted that while third-party certifications are great, they aren’t the end-all/be-all. These types of certifications can be very costly to small farmers who work with tight margins; therefore, some farmers choose to grow crops using organic methods, but skip the certification process. Don’t be afraid to ask more questions of the brands you buy from to find out more about their sourcing practices.

Other Ethical & Sustainable Initiatives

When looking for the best organic towels, we didn’t stop at natural, organic, and non-toxic materials. We also look for ethical supply chains and other initiatives like low-waste and low-energy production methods, non-profit give back programs, and circularity schemes.

best-organic-cotton-baby-kid-towels-the-filtery

Bath Sheets vs. Bath Towels: What’s the Difference?

When you’re shopping for organic bath towels, you’ll see two different terms used: standard bath towels versus bath sheets. They’re actually very similar; the biggest difference is just that bath sheets are larger. For more explanation into bath sheets (and to help you decide which one is best for you), check out this article.

What Does GSM Mean for Towels?

Another thing you’ll see when you’re looking at bath towels is GSM. GSM stands for “grams per square meter” and it indicates the weight and absorbency level of a towel.

Bath towels and sheets with lower GSM ratings tend to be more affordable, faster drying, and lighter weight (therefore better for travel and storage).

Bath sheets and towels on the high range of GSM are usually considered “luxury” towels and are very soft, plush, and ultra absorbent. They’re typically more expensive, require more time to dry, and take up more space in your washing machine and linen closet.

Most beach and bath towels lie somewhere in the middle of the GSM scale. You can read more about GSM here.

The 12 Best Brands for Organic Bath Towels

Okay, so now that you’ve got a thorough rundown of what makes a great towel, let’s get to the best brands!

best-organic-cotton-towels-coyuchi-non-toxic-living-guide-the-filtery

Coyuchi

Highlights:

  • Uses GOTS Certified Organic Cotton
  • Has a wide selection of products (colors, textures, weight, absorbency, etc.)
  • Some products are MADE SAFE Certified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Member of 1% For the Planet
  • Has a 2nd Home circular initiative

Carries:

Price Range: $8 (wash cloth) – $198 (6-piece set)

best-organic-cotton-towels-boll-and-branch-non-toxic-living-blog-the-filtery

Boll & Branch

Highlights:

  • GOTS Certified Organic Cotton
  • STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® certified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Made in India

Carries:

  • Variety of Organic Bath Towels, Hand Towels, and Wash Cloths (colors, weights, sizes, textures, absorbancy, waffle, etc.)
  • Organic Bath Mats in a variety of colors
  • Organic Plush & Waffle Robes for Men & Women

Price Range: $19 (pair of washcloths) – $228 (set of full sized towels)

Under the Canopy

Highlights:

  • Organic Cotton and Hemp
  • GOTS and OEKO-TEX Certified
  • Made responsibly in Pakistan

Carries:

  • Bath Towels, Hand Towel, Washcloths

Price Range: $8 (wash cloth) – $115 (set)

non-toxic-organic-fair-trade-bath-towels-takasa-the-filtery

Takasa

Highlights:

  • GOTS Certified Organic Cotton
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Carbon neutral and one tree planted with each order

Carries:

  • Bath Towels, Hand Towels, Washcloths, and Baby/Kid Hooded Towels

Price Range: $18 (wash cloth) – $176 (set)

best-organic-linen-bath-towels-goodlinens-best-non-toxic-lifestyle-tips-the-filtery

goodlinens

Highlights:

  • 100% linen
  • Unbleached and undyed
  • OEKO-TEX Certified
  • Made in Lithuania

Carries:

  • Bath, Hand/Kitchen Towel, Washcloths

Price Range: $10 (wash cloth) – $44 (bath towel)

best-organic-linen-hemp-cotton-towels-rawganique-the-filtery

Rawganique

Highlights:

  • Carries a wide variety of products (different textures, weights, materials, etc.)
  • Unbleached and undyed
  • Chemical-free
  • Handcrafted & sweatshop free
  • Made in the USA

Carries:

  • Organic cotton, hemp, and linen bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, kitchen towels
  • Bath Mats
  • Bath Robes

Price Range: $10 (dish towel) – $55 (bath towel)

Linen Tales

Highlights:

  • Made of 100% European linen
  • Made sweatshop free in Lithuania
  • Designed for both aesthetics and practicality

Carries:

  • Waffle Towel Sets
  • Hooded Towels

Price Range: $26 – $148 (set)

best-organic-bath-towels-bath-sheets-public-goods-the-filtery

Public Goods

Highlights:

  • Made without harmful chemical treatments, synthetic fertilizers, or pollutant dyes
  • Made in Turkey
  • Kitchen Towel is GOTS Certified Organic, but bath towels do not have a third-party certification

Carries:

  • Organic Turkish Towels, Hand Towels, Wash Cloths, Large Towels, XL Bath Sheets (all in white)
  • Kitchen Towels
  • Bath Mat

Price Range: $9 (set of kitchen towels) – $45 (extra large bath towel)

best organic cotton towel hoodies for kids natemia organic towel guide

Natemia

Highlights:

  • Great brand for babies & kids
  • Uses GOTS organic cotton and bamboo
  • Made in Turkey

Carries:

Price Range: $20 (pack of washcloths) – $90 (adult robes)

best-organic-cotton-towels-delilah-home-best-natural-living-blogs-the-filtery

Delilah Home

Highlights:

  • Uses all 100% GOTS certified organic Turkish cotton
  • Comes in white and neutral colors
  • Responsibly made in a family-owned factory in Portugal
  • Member of 1% For the Planet

Carries:

Price Range: $20 (2-pack of face towels) – $200 (12-piece set)

organic-towels-bath-kitchen-beach-hand-baby-the-filtery

The Turkish Towel Co.

Highlights:

  • Uses Organic Turkish Cotton
  • GOTS and OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified (ONLY their Organic Cotton collection)
  • Also available at Costco

Carries:

  • Bath Sheet, Bath Towel, Hand Towel, Washcloth, Bath Mat

Price Range: $15 (washcloth) – $85 (bath sheet)

regenerative-cotton-towels-california-cloth-foundry-the-filtery

California Cloth Foundry

Highlights:

  • Made with regenerative cotton (going beyond organic)
  • USA grown and sewn (100% of supply chain is in the U.S.)
  • Made with all-natural, plant-based dyes
  • Certified B Corp brand

Carries:

  • Bath Towel, Hand Towel, Wash Cloth (in off-white color)

Price Range: $16 (washcloth) – $179 (set of 6)

organic-waffle-towels-bloom-and-give-made-trade-the-filtery

Bloom & Give

Highlights:

  • 100% Handloomed Organic Cotton
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Made in India
  • Yarn is hand-spun, then hand-dyed and line-dried, and eventually hand-loomed (no energy is used in the entire process).

Carries:

  • Bath, Hand, Tea, & Kitchen Towels

Price Range: $30 (kitchen towel set) – $45 (bath towel)

hemp-bath-towels-anact-non-toxic-bathroom-products-the-filtery

Anact

Highlights:

  • Made with 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton
  • Carbon neutral product
  • Available in Natural (undyed & unbleached) and White (bleached & undyed)

Carries:

  • Bath & Hand Towels, Wash Cloths

Price Range: $10 (wash cloth) – $60 (3-piece set)

best-organic-kitchen-towels-coyuchi-non-toxic-kitchen-guide-the-filtery
Image: Coyuchi

These Are the Best Brands for Organic Kitchen & Dish Towels

best-organic-beach-towels-coyuchi-non-toxic-living-tips-the-filtery
Image: Coyuchi

The Best Brands for Organic Beach Towels

These are the brands that carry organic beach towels that are absorbent but lightweight and quick drying:

Organic Cotton Towels Available at Walmart

Organic Towels Available at Target

Organic Towels Available at Costco

Conclusion

When it comes time to replace your towels, go for organic cotton, hemp, or linen. These materials are healthier for you and for the Planet we call home.


PIN IT:

Image credits: Karolina Grabowska, Ron Lach, Tima Miroshnichenko, cottonbro, product photos belong to respective brands