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Ten tips

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

Don't let bath towel purchases leave you all wet

Nearly half of the bath towels sold in stores today will change color after about a year's worth of washings, and sometimes the color change is dramatic. But that's not all you have to worry about when shopping for towels. Consider these tips.

* * *

1. Examine towels carefully. If you plan to buy a set of colored towels, find an area of the store with good lighting and make sure they match. After you bring your towels home, watch out: The benzoyl peroxide in many acne medications can bleach them.

2. Plan ahead. Because chances are high that your towels may change color after normal washings, buy an extra washcloth and set it aside with your receipt. You can present the unwashed washcloth if you have to ask for your money back.

3. Would white work? Bear in mind that you can avoid fading and discoloration problems if you opt for white or pale-color towels.

4. Count the costs. Prices range widely, from $2.50 to $20 for a single bath towel. The least expensive towels usually aren't very soft, absorbent or sizeable, but depending on your needs, that may be fine. To find bargains, visit major discount retailers as well as off-price stores that sell irregular items.

5. Price premium cottons. Towels made of premium cottons -- combed, Egyptian, Pima or Supima -- generally outperform ordinary cotton towels over time, so they might be worth the extra expense.

6. Consider absorbency. Towels that are thick and tightly woven usually absorb more water than thinner, loosely woven towels.

7. Think about thickness. As wonderful as thick towels can be, recognize that they may add to your electricity bill over time. Why? Because most take an hour or more to dry in a dryer at low heat.

8. Beware of fuzz balls and fraying. It's all too easy to pull out the loops in towels' fabric. Be sure not to wash towels and clothing with hooks in the same load.

9. Keep colors from bleeding. Even though most colored towels don't bleed in the wash, it's still wise to wash all dark colors separately.

10. Don't be fooled by feel. Many towels in stores have a finish on them that makes them feel extra soft, but that finish will be gone after a few washes. You can keep towels feeling soft by using fabric softener, but be aware that such softeners leave a waxy film that can diminish absorbency.

-- Sources: Consumer Reports; MSN eShop.

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