We loved living on a sailboat! Traditional terry towels in humid environments are, however, a challenge. You may think the warm breeze will dry them out quickly, but the wind is not always warm, humidity is very high and ventilation inside the cabin is usually not ideal, especially in wet or cold weather. It’s great to put them outside on the lifelines but it’s not always an option. Just like hanging them outside your apartment is not always practical.
So inside they stayed, on their hook, developing that “old towel” smell. If you own a boat, have a smaller bathroom with iffy ventilation or spent a rainy weekend camping, you know the odor I’m referring to. Since we’ve had all of the above and I’m quite lazy when it comes to washing towels… I’m all too familiar with that musty smell!
Both at home and on the boat, I've always tried finding the thinnest terry cloth towels available to reduce that occurrence, which usually translates into nondurable, industrial-made, scratchy towels. If you’ve ever tried it, washing a terry cloth towel by hand is also quite an adventure in microbiology as there is no way to get all the water out just by hand-wringing them. They just go on being wet for days.
Need I say that when I discovered peshtemal towels, I was hooked before even having one in my hands. They just make so much sense! And once I got my first sample in the mail, I would not let go and have been annoying anyone that will listen ever since.
Their history goes back hundreds of years to the Ottoman empire. In the public hammams, they helped bathers maintain their privacy. The flat-weaving technique hasn’t changed that much over time and today’s artisans are still weaving them in small ateliers near their homes and patiently hand-tying the tassels one at a time.
The long Turkish cotton fibers make for very soft textiles and are very absorbent. What’s so nice about these fibers is that they will gently wear with every wash to become softer and softer as you use your towel daily. If treated well, they will age gracefully, just like a beloved pair of old jeans!
They will also accompany you in many travels, camping trips, yoga classes or gym sessions. They take up very little space when folded so they pack easily in a shoulder bag. We also love them at the beach as the flat-weaving prevents sand from sticking to them. With a little help from the sun, they’ll be mostly dry before you even put them in your tote to go home.
The fact that they air dry quickly means you will not need to put them in the dryer. They also use less water than thick terry towels in the laundry and are naturally soft so there is no need for chemical fabric softener.
As you can tell I'm the practical type, but they’re also just great to look at! These towels are individual work of art that you'll get to enjoy every day, adding some pop in the bathroom. The colours, the patterns, the delicate knotting of the tassels are just great to have around and are a welcomed change from my life-long quest for plain white towels.
Whether you want to call them Turkish towels, peshtemals of foutas, they’re all the same amazingly versatile towel. Just give them a try, you’ll love them!