The Difference Between Bath Towels and Bath Sheets: What’s Best for You?

published Dec 12, 2023
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One day you’re young and naive, the next you’re shopping for bath towels and trying desperately to understand which style is right for you (who knew there were even so many different options, anyway?). Between the absorbency, material, weight, and construction, you have a lot to consider. Sizing is another important factor, too — especially when deciding whether to opt for a bath towel or bath sheet. What exactly is the difference between the two, though? If it’s been a minute since you brushed up on your towel types, here’s everything you need to know about bath towels vs. bath sheets, including when you might want to choose one over the other. 

What Is a Bath Towel?

A standard bath towel typically measures around 30 inches wide by 54 inches long. It can be considered “the essential, do-it-all towel used for drying your body or wrapping wet hair after a shower,” says Susan Lazor, associate product development merchant for The Company Store. They’re usually slightly more affordable than bath sheets and typically the default towel option in most department stores.

What Is a Bath Sheet?

A bath sheet, on the other hand, can measure around 39 inches wide by 68 inches long. Often referred to as oversized or “extra large” towels, they’re ideal for anyone who wants a bit more coverage after a bath or shower, explains Lazor. Bath sheets generally feel more indulgent and luxurious, making them the preferred choice of many spas and hotels. While you can easily shop for towels at almost any home retailer, though, you’ll likely need to go somewhere that specializes in linens to find bath sheets. That includes brands like The Company Store, Brooklinen, or Onsen (which was awarded Best Bath Sheet by Apartment Therapy editors). 

Bath Sheet vs. Beach Towel

Whether you’re a regular beach-goer or not, you’re probably familiar with beach towels. These oversized (and usually brightly colored) towels are designed specifically for outdoor use. So what’s the difference between an oversized bath sheet and a beach towel? Ultimately, it comes down to the material. 

While beach towel sizes can vary — usually anywhere from 30 by 60 inches to 40 by 70 inches — they’re often made from a thinner fabric that’s not as soft and fluffy as a bath sheet (or even a bath towel). This makes them easier to pack and transport in bags or totes, and because the wind and sun can help when it comes to drying off outdoors, the extra absorbency isn’t really needed anyway. The lower-pile material also picks up less sand and dirt than a standard bath sheet or towel would.

The Difference Between Bath Towels and Bath Sheets

The main distinguishing factor between a bath towel and a bath sheet is sizing. Otherwise, both essentially have the same general uses. “Aside from the size difference, bath towels and bath sheets are comparable in terms of grams per square meter (or GSM) — a standard measurement that denotes thickness, weight, and overall quality — regardless of physical size,” says Lazor. That being said, if you’re still unsure which one to choose for your home and lifestyle, Lazor outlines the pros and cons of bath towels and bath sheets below.

Credit: Apartment Therapy

Is a Bath Sheet Better than a Bath Towel?

When it comes to bath sheets and bath towels, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. “It’s mostly a matter of personal preference,” says Lazor. “Both our standard bath towels and bath sheets offer incredible absorbency, dry quickly, wash easily, and feel great against the skin — but our oversized bath sheets are indulgent options for people who like their towels on the larger side.” If size isn’t your main concern, and you’re looking for something versatile, budget-friendly, and easy to store and launder, then you’ll likely be better off using bath towels. You can also buy one of each, though, so you’re set for any occasion!