Whether you’re taking a shower, hitting the beach, or heading to the gym, a quick-dry towel is a must-have to reduce hassles, eliminate wet messes and prevent smelly mildew. And since a good towel does more than just dry fast, it should also be absorbent, durable, and soft against your skin.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab tests towels of all kinds, from bath towels to beach towels. We review them for factors like absorbency, shrinkage, fabric strength, colorfastness, and of course how quickly each one dries. We also have our testers blindly rate each one for softness and the overall feel.

When it comes to the materials, microfiber (typically made of polyester) usually dries faster than cotton. Super plush and absorbent towels might feel great, but they can take forever to dry because of their dense cotton loops. That being said, you can still find some 100% cotton or cotton-blend towels that are quick-drying if they use innovative construction techniques or have low piles on top. Both types of quick-dry towels are machine washable and dryer safe; just make sure to use low heat for microfiber. (For more info on shopping for towels, check out our towel buying guide.)

The picks below are either top-tested towels from our evaluations or best-selling styles with tons of great reviews. Read on to learn more about our favorites, but first, here's a quick summary of the best quick-dry towels you can buy:Best Overall Quick-Dry Towel: Everplush Diamond Jacquard Bath TowelBest Cotton Quick-Dry Towel: Parachute Waffle Bath TowelBest Terrycloth Quick-Dry Towel: Tommy Hilfiger All American II Bath TowelBest Value Quick-Dry Towel: Wayfair Basics Quick-Dry 6-Piece Towel SetBest Plush Quick-Dry Towel: Pottery Barn Hydrocotton Quick-Drying TowelBest Quick-Dry Towel for Travel: Rainleaf Microfiber TowelBest Quick-Dry Towel for the Beach: Dock & Bay Microfiber TowelBest Quick-Dry Towel for the Gym: OlimpiaFit Microfiber 3-Piece Towel SetBest Quick-Dry Towel for Your Hair: Aquis Original Hair TowelBest Quick-Dry Towel for Hot Yoga: Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat TowelBest Quick-Dry Towel for Cleaning: Toryen Microfiber Cloth

If you're looking for a towel to use at home, this one beat out over 40 other styles in our bath towel test for being both absorbent and quick-drying (most are usually one or the other). It has a unique construction of microfiber on the inside with a cotton surface so you get the best of both worlds. It was also strong and shrink-resistant in our evaluations, and it comes in a six-piece set if you want to add hand and face towels.

If you prefer 100% cotton, this one has a waffle weave construction that is lightweight and dried fast in our tests. It’s not going to be as plush or absorbent as a traditional cotton-loop towel – in fact, some testers said it seemed more like a blanket – but it feels great and isn’t bulky to store or pack.

For a traditional-looking loop towel, this one from Tommy Hilfiger had the quickest drying speed compared to other classic bath towels. It wasn’t as plush as some others, but still was pretty absorbent. It comes in lots of colors so you can easily choose one to match your bathroom’s décor.

For under 20 bucks you can get a full quick-drying towel set, including two bath towels, two hand towels, and two washcloths. The cotton fabric isn’t too thick, which helps it dry faster than heavier alternatives. They might not be the softest towels out there, but there’s exceptional value for what you’re getting and the price can’t be beat.

If you want the softest towel that won’t take forever to dry, this one’s your best bet. It didn’t dry quite as fast as some of the others in this roundup, but it earned high marks for being absorbent and our testers gave it rave reviews for how luxurious it felt. It also held up to our durability tests and looked great after repeated washing.

This microfiber towel is a best-seller on Amazon with over 1,000 five-star reviews. Users say they use it for everything from camping and hiking to backpacking and international travel, and describe it as the "perfect travel towel" because it dries quickly and packs well in luggage. It’s compact with a carrying case, and it’s available in six different sizes so you can buy the one that best meets your needs.

Don’t head to the beach without this towel: It’s compact so you can easily pack it, quick-drying so it won’t stay soaked, and sand-resistant so you don’t have to worry about a mess. This one's also microfiber and a best-seller on Amazon, with hundreds of five-star reviews from users who swear it’s both functional and convenient.

This microfiber towel set is perfect for workouts: It comes with three different sizes so you can use them for everything from wiping sweat off your face to swimming laps. They roll up tightly and come with a carrying case that’s easy to tote, and hundreds of real users on Amazon say the fabric feels oh-so comfy and soft.

Use this microfiber towel to speed up your hair’s drying time and help prevent damage. It’s better for your hair than a traditional cotton towel because it’s lightweight and smooth (so it’ll be gentle on your tresses). This one’s specifically for delicate and curly hair, but the brand also makes a larger version for long hair and a waffle construction for thicker hair.

Adhesive Microfiber Cloth

A yoga towel covers your mat and helps you grip when you’re sweaty, but it needs to be quick-drying so it doesn’t stay wet when you’re done. This one’s a blend of microfiber and recycled polyester and it has silicone dots underneath so it won’t skid on your mat. Plus, it comes in lots of fun prints so you can practice yoga in style.

Quick-drying towels aren’t just for your body – they’re perfect for wiping up surfaces, too! The Good Housekeeping Cleaning Lab is a big fan of this microfiber one from Toryen and says it performed well in the Lab’s tests. On top of that, it can be washed with bleach so it’ll stay clean. You can use this cloth on all washable surfaces and it’ll clean with either water or your favorite spray.

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