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April 05, 2023 5 min read

When it comes to buying towels, you may have noticed that there are a lot of different terms and numbers being thrown around. One of these terms is GSM (sometimes written as g/m2). The textile term stands for grams per square meter. 

GSM refers to the weight of the fabric in a towel, and it’s an important factor to consider when selecting luxury towels for your home.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at GSM in towels and explain why it matters.

Yves Delorme Taormina Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home What is GSM in towels
Fig Linens and Home: Taormina Bath Towels by Yves Delorme Paris​​
Yves Delorme Hugo Boss Home Fig Linens and Home What is GSM in Towels
Fig Linens and Home: Hugo Boss Home Loft Skye ​​Towels

GSM in Towels: What It Is and Why It Matters

1. What is GSM?

GSM in towels definition grams per square meter fabric fig linens and home ultimate guide
Fig Linens and Home​​

As the definition of GSM above makes clear, GSM is unit of measurement.

In the case of towels, GSM refers to the weight of the fabric per square meter. The higher the GSM, the thicker and more absorbent the towel is likely to be.

Towels with a lower GSM are lighter and thinner, and they may not be as absorbent. These types of towels are typically used for gym or sports purposes, where a lightweight and quick-drying towel is preferred.

On the other hand, towels with a higher GSM are thicker and more luxurious, and they tend to be more absorbent. These types of towels are commonly used in hotels and spas, where guests expect a high level of comfort and luxury.

If you are interested in the technical process of how GSM is measured and why it is a convenient unit for evaluating fabric, refer to this article by Ordnur, which goes over the math involved in calculating the weight of textiles.

2. Why does the GSM of your towels matter?

Matouk Cairo Scallop Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home What is GSM in Towels
Fig Linens and Home: Cairo Scallop Bath Towels by Matouk​​

GSM is an important factor to consider when selecting towels because it can affect the quality and performance of the towel. Towels with a higher GSM are:

  • More absorbent
  • Softer
  • and more durable

as opposed to their counterparts with low volumes of material per square meter.

A towel with a high GSM can hold more water, which means it can dry you off more effectively. Additionally, a high GSM towel is more likely to retain its shape and color after multiple wash and dry cycles, which means it will last longer and look better over time.

It’s important to note that a higher GSM also means a higher price tag. However, you are paying for quality. High-end bath towels from brands like Abyss and Habidecor, Matouk Linens, Yves Delorme Paris, and Coyuchi have a starting GSM of around 550. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

Matouk Cairo Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home Why is GSM in towels important
Fig Linens and Home: Cairo Bath Towels by Matouk​​

Guide to GSM in your Bath Towels, Hand Towels, Guest Towels and Wash cloths

Understanding Different Towel Weights

Different GSMs of Towels have different weights, feels, absorbency, dry times, and uses. Cotton bath towels with at least 400 GSM are good quality which increases as the GSM increases.

As a general rule:

  • 300 to 400 GSM towels: Cleaning and gym towels. Lightweight, thin, and rough.
  • 400 to 600 GSM towels: Good beach and bath towels. Medium to high weight. Absorbent and soft.
  • 700 to 900 GSM towels: Luxury Towels. Heavy weight, extra-plushy, and absorbent.

High quality bath mats and bath rugs typically have a much higher GSM (usually in the range of 900 GSM) because they are thicker than bath towels and bath sheets.

The only con to high GSM towels is that they take longer to dry because they absorb water very well. If you are wondering about how to dry dense towels more quickly, consider investing in a heated towel rack.

What is GSM in towels? characteristics of different towel weights chart fig linens and home
Fig Linens and Home​​

Pro Tip: If you are worried about weight, remember that a high GSM does not mean a towel will be excessively heavy. For instance, Coyuchi's Bestselling Air Weight Organic Towels have a medium-high GSM of 550. Despite their high volume Grams Per Square meter, these towels were selected as's 2023 pick for "Best Lightweight Towel."

What GSM should I look for in towels?

The GSM you should look for in towels depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you’re looking for a lightweight towel for sports or gym purposes, a towel with a GSM of 300-400 should be sufficient. This GSM is also perfect for kitchen towels.

However, if you’re looking for a more luxurious and absorbent towel for your bathroom, you may want to consider a towel with a higher GSM. Towels with a GSM of 500-600 are considered to be medium-weight and are suitable for everyday use.

If you want a thicker and more luxurious towel, you can opt for a towel with a higher GSM. Towels with a GSM of 600-900 are considered to be heavyweight and are often used in spas and hotels.

Fig Linens and Home Francisco Bath Towels by Matouk what is GSM in bath towels
Fig Linens and Home: Francisco Bath Towels by Matouk​​

Top Picks for Bath Towels, Bath Sheets, and Hand Towels with a 400-600 GSM

Top Picks for Bath Towels, Bath Sheets, and Hand Towels with a 700+ GSM

Besides GSM, what other factors contribute to towel quality?

Yves Delorme Flores Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home what is gsm in bath towels
Fig Linens and Home: Flores Bath Towels by Yves Delorme​​
Sferra Canedo Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home What is GSM in bath towels
Fig Linens and Home: Canedo Bath Towels by Sferra​​

As we have gone over, GSM is a testament to the density of towels, and is an important indicator of quality. However, finding the best bath towels is more complicated than just looking at the GSM. Several other factors determine the quality of towels including materials used, production methods, and stlying. We will go over each of these characteristics more in depth below:

  • Towel Quality Determinant #1: Materials Used

The quality of materials used in a towel has a huge impact on how durable, absorbent, and soft a towel will be. Opt for towels that use high quality natural fibers, like cotton and bamboo rather than synthetic towels. Egyptian cotton towels and other types of cotton towels are highly absorbent and don't need fabric softener to be the softest around. 

  • Towel Quality Determinant #2: Production Methods

Towels that are made with a high-quality weave, attention to detail, and processed without harmful chemicals are more beautiful and last longer. Look for labels like an OEKO-tex certification to ensure that the towel is made in a conscientious and ethical facility.

  • Towel Quality Determinant #3: Style

Frankly, some towels are more stylish and beautiful than others. Choose a towel with a style you love as an investment in your quality of life. Beautiful styles from Abyss and Habidecor, Yves Delorme and Matouk towels guarantee quality and style.

The video below reviews the four factors to look at when finding your ideal towel!

We hope you enjoyed this article where we went over the meaning of GSM in towels, the reasons why high GSM towels are so high quality, other determiners of towel quality, and what different weights of towels might look like. We looked at some of our top picks for towels in 2023 like Abyss and Habidecor super pile towels and Matouk Milagro towels.

Have any more questions about GSM? Let us know in the comments below and we will get back to you promptly!

Coyuchi Air Weight Organic Bath Towels Fig Linens and Home what is gsm in towels
Fig Linens and Home: Air Weight Organic Bath Towels by Coyuchi​​
sophie edwards content writer for fig linens and home

Sophie Edwards is the head content writer at Fig Linens and Home. She is a bedding, linens, and luxury homeware expert with an interest is the intersection of interior design with fashion, travel and culture. She has a BA in creative writing and sociology from Sarah Lawrence and an MSc from the Oxford University Department of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.

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