When you’re shopping for towels, you may see two different terms used by brands: bath sheets and bath towels.

But what’s the difference between the two, and how do you know which one is best for you?

It’s Actually Quite Simple

The main difference between a bath sheet and a bath towel is size.

Bath sheets are like bath towels, but they’re bigger. A bath sheet is usually around 35″ to 60″ while a standard bath towel measures around 27″ to 52″. Bath sheets are the largest option in the suite of bath towels (which includes washcloths, hand towels, and bath towels).

Both bath towels and bath sheets serve the same function: getting you dry!

So, What’s Best for YOU—Bath Towels or Bath Sheets?

Deciding between a bath towel or a bath sheet isn’t really a matter of which one is BETTER, but rather deciding which one is better FOR YOU. Here are some things to consider:

Are You an NBA Player? Are You a Child?

This isn’t a serious question, but it is important to consider how big you are. The size of your towel does (sometimes) matter.

You want to make sure the towel or sheet can absorb all of the water from your body without becoming SO wet that it won’t be able to dry fast enough when you’re finished with it (otherwise, you could end up with a moldy and smelly towel!).

Also consider how you actually use your towel. After your shower, do you dry off and immediately switch into a robe or clothes? Or do you wrap your towel around you and wear it around the house for a while before changing? These types of questions will help you decide whether a standard bath towel or a larger bath sheet will be best for you personally.

What Size Towel is Your Bathroom or Linen Closet Able to Accomodate?

Consider the sizes of your linen closet and towel rack(s) in your bathroom, as well as the size of your washing machine and dryer.

Also, think about how many towels you need to store and/or use at once, based on the number of people living in your home.

If you have a smaller living space and/or more people living together, it may be a hassle to store bath sheets because they take up more space.

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The Case for Bath Sheets

Bath sheets are a great option if you:

  • are a larger person
  • have more storage space and a larger washer/dryer
  • need or prefer extra absorbency
  • don’t mind spending a bit more money

The Case for Bath Towels

Bath towels are the more common choice for typical households. Bath towels are a great choice if you:

  • are looking for a more affordable option
  • are a smaller person and/or have kids
  • don’t have as much storage space
  • have a smaller washer/dryer or travel to the laundromat to do your laundry
  • If you like to wrap your hair in a towel after your shower, bath towels are probably better for this purpose. Bath sheets are simply too big. (We love these organic cotton towels for hair wrapping.)

Should You Use Beach Towels Instead?

You might consider using a beach towel instead of a bath towel since they’re oversized (and you may already have some lying around at your home).

Beach towels are typically even larger than bath sheets. While they may be a good option for those who prefer a larger towel, they are usually thinner and less absorbent than bath towels and bath sheets (although of course, it always depends on the brand you use).

At the end of the day, you can definitely use beach towels instead of bath towels or sheets—it’s completely up to your preferences and what works best for you.

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Materials for Bath Towels & Bath Sheets

Bath towels and bath sheets can be made out of the same materials. Most of the time, it’s either cotton or polyester (or a mix of the two). Sometimes, you can find other materials like bamboo or hemp.

When possible, you want to stay away from polyester because it’s plastic—it’s not good for your health or that of your environment.

Organic and Turkish cotton are usually the most popular choices for bath towels and bath sheets because they’re super soft, absorbent, durable, and non-toxic. Check out this article for a full, in-depth rundown into the types of towel materials and the best organic towels and bath sheets.

What is GSM for Towels?

For both bath towels and bath sheets, you’ll often see a GSM number. GSM stands for “grams per square meter” and it indicates the weight and absorbency level of a specific towel or bath sheet.

A typical GSM range is between 300 and 900. The higher the GSM, the heavier, softer, and more absorbent the towel or sheet is.

Higher or lower GSM ratings aren’t necessarily “better” or “worse”; there are just pros and cons!

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 super soft and plush. They’re typically more expensive, require more time to dry, and take up more space in your washing machine and linen closet.

A lot of beach and bath towels lie somewhere in the middle of the GSM scale.

GSM is used for all bath towels and bath sheets, regardless of the materials used.

Conclusion: Bath Sheet vs. Bath Towel—Which one is right for you?

TL;DR: A bath sheet is basically just a larger bath towel.

At the end of the day, neither one is better than the other—it’s just a matter of what you and your family’s needs and preferences.

If you’re curious about making the switch from bath towels to bath sheets, you could always consider buying one bath sheet to test the waters with. Worst case scenario is you revert to your old bath towels!


Image credits: Karolina Grabowska, Ron Lach, Gustavo Fring

About The Filtery

The Filtery is a digital platform that provides curious citizens with well-researched and practical solutions for reducing the toxins in their homes and bodies. Whether you’re looking for trusted non-toxic brands or answers to your questions about materials or ingredients, The Filtery is here to help.

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