Washcloths are taken for granted too often. These small squares of absorbent fabric stand ready to help bathe babies, wipe off makeup, and sop up spills. In many homes, washcloths can be found layered over matching bath and hand towels to dress up a bathroom towel bar. With their small size, washcloths are suited for folding and stowing in a medicine cabinet or drawer for quick access.
The best washcloths vary by intended use. They should be soft enough to caress an infant’s tender skin, thick enough to absorb excess water, and quick to dry. They should also look attractive enough to display in a basket or cubby. Ahead, learn more about what’s available in today’s washcloth world and find out why the following picks are well suited for a variety of uses.
- BEST OVERALL: Amazon Basics Fast Drying Terry Cotton Washcloths
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Utopia Towels Cotton White Washcloths Set
- BEST LUXURY: PESHKUL Premium Luxury Collection Turkish Washcloths
- BEST FOR BABY: Kyapoo Baby Washcloths Extra Soft for Newborns
- BEST BAMBOO: HIPHOP PANDA Bamboo Baby Washcloths
- BEST FOR SHOWER: Sinland Microfiber Facial Cloths
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Washcloths
Washcloths assist in cleaning a range of messes, but not all are designed for the same purposes. A washcloth used to scrub oil from a mechanic’s hands needs to create a bit more friction than a washcloth used to rinse the shampoo from an infant’s head.
When shopping for washcloths, it soon becomes apparent that they’re available in a wide range of materials, surface feel, absorbency, and colors. The average washcloth is square and measures between 12 and 13 inches in diameter, although a few specialty sizes are also available.
Thin, scratchy washcloths might be inexpensive, but that’s because they feature cheap materials that wear out quickly and can become stiff as they dry, which is not a good feel for use on skin. Others are luxuriously soft and supple and are prized for the way they gently remove makeup and don’t irritate sensitive skin. The material in the washcloth is key to its best use.
- Cotton: The most common material found in today’s washcloths, cotton is a natural fiber, and depending on the manufacturing process, it can provide a soft, cushy feel or create a thick, strong material that withstands heavy scrubbing. For the softest cotton washcloths, look for ones made from Pima or Egyptian cotton, both of which have smooth fibers. Turkish cotton features a thick, luxurious weave that feels light and fluffy when dry. Ring-spun cotton is also a soft weave that uses yarn rather than thread to create soft washcloths.
- Bamboo: Virtually synonymous with silky softness, bamboo fibers are found in baby washcloths, blankets, sheets, and towels to provide the ultimate soft-skin feel. For those looking to buy fine washcloths, finding bamboo in the material list is a sign the cloths will be smooth and supple.
- Microfiber: As soft as bamboo, microfiber is a synthetic fabric spun into a very thin thread and then combined with other fibers, such as cotton or bamboo, to create a luxurious weave. Washcloths made from microfiber are soft to the touch, but they might not be as durable as other fabrics. Also, the fabric tends to stick to itself and create static electricity when dry. A unique weave known as “coral fleece microfiber” can create an even softer fabric, often in washcloths designed for newborns and facial cleansing.
- Linen: One of the oldest fibers around, linen is strong and dries quickly. Depending on the weave, it also can make for a very durable washcloth. Linen tends to soften up a bit more each time it’s laundered, so washcloths made from linen will only get better the more they’re used.
- Rayon: A synthetic fiber, rayon often is combined with other fibers to increase absorbency and enhance softness. It’s strong and dries soft.
- Viscose: Rather than a specific type of material, viscose is a way of making fabric from natural cellulose fibers to create a silky-soft feel. It can be used with multiple fiber types, including cotton and bamboo, and it will produce a gentle, soft washcloth.
Scratchy washcloths are fine for wiping down countertops, but they’re not desirable for washing skin. Unfortunately, a washcloth that feels ultrasoft in the department store can begin to feel less so after a few uses. This might be for a couple of reasons—washcloths that are allowed to air-dry after laundering tend to become a little stiff. In addition, manufacturers sometimes add a fabric-softening agent to towels and washcloths that washes off after a couple of launderings.
The best way to ensure cleaning cloths stay soft is to purchase high-quality ones made from naturally soft fibers and to avoid air-drying. While it might seem counterproductive, a liquid fabric softener can actually stiffen some types of fabric. A better option is to use dryer sheets for reducing static and adding a fresh, clean scent.
Washcloths made from two-ply material will be thicker and denser than those made from single-ply material. Manufacturers are not required to list density, but some do—by weight, in grams per square meter (GSM).
A 300-GSM washcloth will be thinner and better suited to packing in a gym bag than a 500-GSM cloth that is thicker, takes up more space, and will likely dry more slowly. Density doesn’t have to be related to softness, but with luxury washcloths, it usually is.
Absorbency and Drying Time
Washcloths that quickly absorb water are desirable for bathing and wiping up spills, but they’re slower to dry than thinner, lighter-weight washcloths. Premium or luxury washcloths are some of the most absorbent choices around, but after wringing one out and spreading it over the side of the tub to dry, it might still be damp the next day.
Combining Pima cotton and rayon helps to create a super-absorbent washcloth that dries more quickly than one made from 100 percent cotton. When quick drying is desired, look for washcloths labeled as being made with zero-twist technology, a weaving method that enhances softness in a lightweight washcloth and promotes quick drying.
Shoppers won’t find many special features in washcloths, but one is worth mentioning: a hanging loop. Washcloths that come with small loops sewn in a corner are easy to hang on a shower caddy or a hook so the washcloth doesn’t fall to the floor.
Be sure to check the label sewn into the seam of each washcloth as well. Buyers have become so accustomed to these labels they might not even read them before cutting them off. Still, they list the materials and fibers in the washcloth and include suggested laundering instructions.
Our Top Picks
With so many uses for washcloths, choosing the best ones will depend on their intended use. Overall, the best washcloths will be strong and absorbent yet relatively quick to dry, and they’ll feel soft on the skin, especially if they’ll be used in baby baths and facial washing.
The following choices are all suited to different uses, but each one is a standout in its class and can be an asset in any bathroom, kitchen, or gym bag.
For softness that feels good on the skin in a quick-drying washcloth, consider these Amazon Basics Terry Cotton Washcloths, made from 100 percent looped terry cotton for a strong and absorbent cloth that won’t take days to dry. These washcloths can handle bathing and household cleaning chores and hold up to numerous washings.
The reinforced edges of the 12-inch by 12-inch washcloths resist fraying, so they’ll provide months of use around the house or in the shower. They’re lightweight and soft, and buyers receive 24 washcloths with their order. The cloths come in multiple color choices.
For a soft yet durable washcloth, check this pack of 60 washcloths from Utopia Towels, which features a flannel face for extra softness. Made from 100 percent ring-spun cotton, these washcloths stay soft and fluffy even after numerous washings, and with zero-twist construction, they are highly absorbent to sop up spills and wipe the water away from the skin.
Each cloth is 12 inches by 12 inches square, and buyers will receive a set of 60—more than enough to supply every bathroom in the house and still have a few leftover for the workshop or gym bag. The washcloths come in pure white or a handful of other colors. They can go in the washer and on low in the dryer, but they’ll do best with no added bleach or fabric softeners, which might damage the quality of the weave and shorten the cloths’ useful life.
Those looking for a set of gorgeous, super-soft washcloths need to look no further than the PESHKUL Premium Luxury Collection, which features six stunning sage green washcloths made from 100 percent Turkish cotton for an enjoyable bathing experience. Other colors may also be available, and it’s possible to pair the washcloths with matching luxury hand and bath towels.
These washcloths are highly absorbent, thick, and fluffy, and feel soft on the skin. Their large size—13 inches by 13 inches—provides extra sudsing power. Turkish washcloths offer a spa-like comfort, and these will retain their fluffy appeal when washed in cold water, without bleach or fabric softener, and tumbled dry on low.
The Kyapoo Baby Washcloths are made from extra-absorbent coral fleece, a manufacturing technique that creates the softest microfiber type. Buyers will receive 12 incredibly gentle washcloths that each measure 12 inches by 12 inches. They come in a host of color options and could be a gift idea for new parents or baby showers.
With a baby on board, parents can’t have too many absorbent washcloths. These baby-centric cloths are well suited for bathing and cleaning up all the spills that go with having an infant in the house (and car). The Kyapoo washcloths also double as excellent facial cloths for gently removing makeup.
Few things are softer than bamboo, and these HIPHOP PANDA Bamboo Washcloths are gentle enough to use on a baby’s skin or to remove makeup. Made from a combination of rayon and bamboo, the washcloths feature a double layer of material, giving them extra cushioning and absorbency.
These facial washcloths are hypoallergenic, so they won’t irritate sensitive skin or trigger acne, and they’re suitable for any age of bather. They’re on the smaller side, measuring just 10 inches by 10 inches, and they feature reinforced edges for durability. The HIPHOP PANDA washcloths come in various colors, and buyers will receive six cloths per order.
Users won’t have to worry about retrieving the washcloth from the shower floor with the Sinland Microfiber Facial Cloths that come with a sewn-in loop for hanging the cloth over the shower faucet or on a hook. These super-soft washcloths feature a combination of polyester and polyamide that’s soft on the skin and allergy-free to avoid irritating acne sufferers and offer a smooth feel from a washcloth.
The 12-inch by 12-inch cloths come with reinforced edges and feature a loop in one corner for hanging. The fabric is a quick-drying microfiber, and the washcloths are available in various solid colors and color combinations.
FAQs About Washcloths
Washcloths are among the most standard household items, so they are often overlooked. Yet they’re indispensable in the bathroom and elsewhere in the house, so it pays to put a little thought into choosing the best washcloths.
Q. Are washcloths good for my face?
Washcloths can help remove makeup and grime that might otherwise be missed, and a clean face is a healthy face.
Q. How often should I replace my washcloth?
A washcloth shouldn’t need replacing unless it’s hopelessly faded, has become stiff, or is wearing out. Some fibers, such as linen, can last for years and actually get softer with use.
Q. How do I sanitize washcloths?
Launder washcloths at the hottest temperature recommended on the label. White washcloths can usually be washed in hot water, and, for some, a small amount of bleach can be added to the cycle to disinfect the cloth (check the label). Users often can add a gentle detergent booster, such as borax, when washing brightly colored washcloths to sanitize them without damaging the material.