Towel Hunting

Bath towels can be a big investment so you want to make sure that yours last through plenty of washings.

Towel displays can seem endless and while they all look great in the store, it's hard to tell which ones will look and feel great when you get them home.

Consumer Reports just tested 25 bath towels, including ones from Charisma, Fieldcrest, and Wamsutta. And along with the old standbys, testers looked at towels made from bamboo.

Pat Slaven, Consumer Reports' textile expert, assessed each towel for softness and the bamboo towels reigned supreme but you'll pay more for that silky touch. They cost between $20 and $28.

Pat also evaluated the towels to see how much they shrink. Several had problems.

"Some of them shrink across the border and you end up with something that's narrower across the ends than it is in the center, and it hangs lopsided on your towel rack," Slaven said.

And because no one wants a load of laundry turning pink, red towels were checked for bleeding. Almost every red towel tested bled to some degree.

Slaven says, "If you buy red towels, definitely wash them separately the first few times."

In the end, Consumer Reports rated the Wamsutta Supima classic towels a best buy. They are very soft and won't shrink much. You'll pay $15 per towel.

If you're willing to pay more for the softness of a bamboo towel, Consumer Reports recommends the cotton-bamboo towels from Lands End. Those towels rated excellent for softness. They run about $20 each.

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