The shedding is coming from INSIDE THE TOWEL
March 9, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Do all towels shed lint when they're new, or only cheap towels?

Recently we bought some cheap towels (~$10 each) because we changed the color scheme in our bathroom. They are shedding like crazy. I've tried running them through the washer and dryer about half a dozen times now -- no fabric softener -- and every time the lint trap is just choked with lint. We still can't use them without getting lint all over, so I've resigned myself to continually washing them, trying to use them, and then washing them again if necessary. That said, from what I've read I shouldn't have had to wash and dry them this many times.

My husband claims only cheap towels shed like that. I reminded him that the towels we had before were from a department store (~$30/each) and they shedded for months before we could use them normally, but he thinks maybe those were too cheap. He thinks that if we got really nice towels they wouldn't shed as much before they're usable.

However, we're both 25 and he pretty much has no idea that what he's saying is actually true since he's never had really nice towels before. I certainly wouldn't mind having expensive towels and money isn't much of an issue for us, but I think it would be dumb to spend a lot of money on towels that will shed just as much when that's the only problem with our current towels -- they're even surprisingly soft for how cheap they are.

So: is my husband right that expensive towels shed less? Or should we be looking for towels made of a certain material? Or is my instinct correct that all towels do this?
posted by Nattie to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have had plenty of nice towels that did not shed. It is entirely possible that some expensive towels do shed. But some do not.
posted by The World Famous at 11:38 AM on March 9, 2010

I don't even think all cheap towels shed.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 AM on March 9, 2010

My bamboo towels have never shed at all. They were slightly expensive, but not hugely so.
posted by Solomon at 11:42 AM on March 9, 2010

These towels do not shed. At least mine don't. If you wait until the Anniversary Sale in July they should go on sale for about two weeks, I think they were about 20% off.

I don't think all cheap towels shed, but it seems to make sense the cheaper ones would shed more. I've had moderately priced towels from like TJ Maxx that didn't shed either, but I have no idea what type or brand.
posted by KAS at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've spent anywhere from a few dollars to $40 on towels, and was given a set of $100 towels (PER TOWEL) for my wedding and I have to say I haven't seen much of a difference in lint shedding as it relates to price. The best towels I've ever had w/r/t shedding, or lack thereof, have been Target towels. I washed and dried them once (no fabric softener) and they're fantastic. Super-absorbent, not at all sheddy. Sadly, there are no identifying tags on them. I must have removed them after I bought them. I don't think they were any more than $10 per towel. Most likely they were on sale for less than that.

We also have hard water; I don't know if that makes a difference.
posted by cooker girl at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2010

I think you're buying the wrong cheap towels!

I just bought a lovely pear green towel at Fred Meyer for the princely sum of $4. Several months ago I bought a butter yellow towel, same make and model, also on sale for $4. Neither of these towels shed at all, either on me or in the dryer's lint trap.

Just checked the tags: they are Everyday Living brand, 100% cotton. I think they carry this brand at Walmart and Kmart as well.
posted by ErikaB at 12:05 PM on March 9, 2010

What are they made of?
posted by electroboy at 12:06 PM on March 9, 2010

Thanks for the answers so far everyone! I'll be looking into your suggestions.

Electroboy: they just say "100% cotton" on the tag.
posted by Nattie at 12:12 PM on March 9, 2010

Really good towels don't shed. I'm speaking here as a towel connoisseur, no joke. I favor Egyptian cotton myself. I'd suggest patience until Black Friday sales in November, when great quality in bedding and towels can be had in stores and on line for a song. Or as suggested above, just wait until the white sale season and be a selective on line shopper. (This is also how I scored my awesome sheets, which have about a zillion thread count, for a very good price.)
posted by bearwife at 12:14 PM on March 9, 2010

shedding and pilling are all about fiber length, the twist and structural integrity of the yarn, and to a lesser extent the structure of the fabric. As a general rule, longer stapled fibers, more even fiber lengths within a yarn, more tightly spun yarns, and more tightly woven or knitted fabrics will lead to less shedding and pilling.

Linen towels will not pill, since flax is a long stapled fiber. Hi-quality bamboo, tencel, and other rayon fibers will not pill badly, since the regenerated fibers are meters and meters long.

Cotton is, sadly, a very short-stapled fiber. Egyptian/higher quality cotton is sometimes longer stapled. And more expensive towels *may* use yarn with better structural integrity/finer and therefore more tightly twisted yarns. But I wouldn't necessarily believe that there is any correlation between buzzwords, price, and actual quality when it comes to commercial textiles - there are just too many variables and too much bullshit. Super-high-end towels come with no guarantee of quality.

So buy whatever towels you like and resign yourself to living with the lint for the first few washes (it's worth paying more for organic cotton, though - cotton and particularly cheap cotton are the agriculture analogue to feed lots with bonus watershed and topsoil devastation).
posted by peachfuzz at 12:18 PM on March 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

I buy cheap towels because I am 25, too. I like the towels at KMart. I bought about 6 5 years ago and still have them all. After using them as both beach towels and bath towels, the colors are still vibrant and that strip on the edges hasnt shrunk causing a ruffle. they're awesome.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:23 PM on March 9, 2010

Came in here to mention the Nordstrom towels, but I see that KAS has already praised their virtues. They're comparably cheap when on sale and mine never shed.
posted by halogen at 12:42 PM on March 9, 2010

I prefer towels "made in Brazil", they are around the same price range of ~$10 and have found them to be super absorbent and very long lasting. I have never experienced shedding with these towels.
posted by VickyR at 1:12 PM on March 9, 2010

Every towel I've ever owned (both cheap and expensive) has shed until it is washed once. After that they should never ever shed.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:50 PM on March 9, 2010

I've had expensive towels that shed, and cheap ones that do not. It would have a lot to do with the material used, as peachfuzz helpfully points out.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:19 PM on March 9, 2010

Like VickyR I prefer towels made in Brazil - I've found them to be softer and longer-lasting than other towels in the same price range.
posted by needled at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2010

Strangely enough I have a marketing email today from for organic cotton towels, on which they are having a sale. I haven't bought their towels but thought you might be interested given peachfuzz's comments about long staple organic cotton. I'd add that the price is OK and the reviews look good.

Here's the link.
posted by bearwife at 5:03 PM on March 9, 2010

« Older The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut. Discuss.   |   How to contest an FHA appraisal Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.