Best Towels for College

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Originally published August 5, 2015 and updated May 4, 2022.

There are mixed opinions on the best towels for college students to take with them to school.  ‘m a professional organizer and have sent 3 of my children to college and these 35+ tips and products will help you make the best choice for your college student.

stack of different color towels on white background with text overlay.

Best Towels for College

If you choose to buy a college dorm room essentials bundle, it usually contains bath towels. I recommend that you consider purchasing towels separately so you can purchase the best towels for your needs and preferences.

I recommend you give all towels, sheets and bedding a first wash at home before you head off to college. This prevents dye running onto clothes or other items washed at college. It also provides the freshest, washed towels and bedding for the student.

How many towels do I bring to college?

There’s a balance between washing towels frequently and having limited space in college dorm rooms to store extra items.

For most people, 2 – 3 bath towels (or bath sheet), 3-4 hand towels a bathmat and 1 beach towel work.

That number may change depending on:

  • You want to change towels out daily
  • You prefer to use a different hand towel for your face and one for handwashing
  • You want an additional towel for hair
  • Realistically how often will you do laundry

When choosing bath towels, consider whether you want to purchase large bath towels to be able to wrap around you or smaller towels that take up less storage space.

How many washcloths do you need for college?

For most people 4 – 8 washcloths is a good number.

In determining how many washcloths to take to school, consider:

  • Do you want a fresh washcloth each day?
  • How often are you realistically going to do laundry?
  • Do you want one washcloth for your face and another for your body?
  • How much storage space will you have?

Best Color of Towels for College

In choosing the color of towels to take to college consider:

  • Pick a slightly unusual color so you can easily distinguish your towels from your roommate’s towels. (Navy blue towels would be more common for boys than girls and navy blue is not one of my daughter’s school colors.)
  • Choose a color that won’t bleed on your clothes when you wash one large load of clothes. You’ll want to avoid bright colors or wash them multiple times at home before you get to college and start shoving as many items as you can into the washing machines.
  • Choose a color that won’t show stains too readily (realistically, no college student will be bleaching towels while away at college).
  • Choose a color that you like and will coordinate with your bedding (if that’s important to you).
two stacks of folded navy and white towels.

My daughter chose to go with navy blue towels.  Although it challenges item 2 above, she plans on washing her navy blue towels with her jeans.  This way the jeans and towels won’t be mixed with the rest of her laundry.  This is important to her because much of her wardrobe is delicate enough that washing with jeans or towels would “rough” the clothing items up.  Now her clothes are safe from being mixed with those more abrasive towels and jeans. Just as importantly to my daughter,  the navy blue compliments the teal, grey and white colors of  her bedding.  And mom will wash these towels several times at home before she leaves just in case the color does bleed.

She chose to go with white wash cloths because somehow white wash cloths seem more sterile than dark-colored ones (call us crazy).  Because stains will show on the white cloth, she’ll be able to clearly see if a wash cloth has gotten stained or needs to be replaced. 

 Take a moment to cut the tags off the towels and wash cloths.  It makes the towels neater. )Is it just me, but those tags bug me flapping around.)

close up of navy blue towel with two cut off tags laying next to it.

What towels to bring to college?

Determine your personal preference and needs. You should consider purchasing high-quality materials so that the towels will last for four years and even into the student’s first year or two on their own.

Here are some of the best bath towels. Each image is a clickable Amazon link and most are available in multiple colors.

stack of neatly folded white towels, hand towels, and washcloths.
stack of folded medium blue towels, hand towels and washcloths.
dark blue folded towels, hand towels and washcloths stacked.
grey folded towels stacked with hand towels and washcloths.
white waffle weave stacked towels, hand towels and washcloths.
stack of folded turquoise towels, hand towels, and washcloths.
light pink folded towels, hand towels, and washcloths.
medium grey folded towels stacked with hand towels and washcloths.
2 stacks of white folded washcloths.
smiling woman wearing pink hair towel with additional towels fanned out.
grey towel bathmat with border stripe.
feet stepping onto plush grey bathmat by white bathtub.

How do you hang towels in a dorm room?

Most dorm rooms have a towel rood or two. The problem is that there may not be enough hanging spaces for all the roommates to have as many towels as the y all want.

You can use Command Hooks, over-the-door hooks or rods or even a coat tree to hold towels.

package of silver double hook Command hook.
package of heavy duty white plastic Command hook.
package of silver Command hook towel rod.
silver over-the-door rack with hooks.
over-the-door towel rack with three rods.
black coat tree.

It can also be helpful to have towels with loops to hang them with. You can also look for quick-drying towels.

stack of orange towels and 4 towels hanging from loop.
2 folded white towels and one unfolded with hanging loop.
stack of colorful washcloths one opened up with a fabric strap for hanging.

More College Tips

Tips for the Best Shower Caddy in College – These simple tips make it possible to have the best shower caddy in college, one that really works for you and makes dorm life easier.

Shower caddy filled with supplies, stack of wash cloths and text overlay.

Dorm Move In Day Tips for freshman year (or every year)– Dorm Move-In Day doesn’t have to be stressful or painful. Use these tips for parents to make college move-in day easier. I’ve moved my daughter into her dorm twice by myself and these tips are a huge help

car trunk filled with boxes, bags and bins for moving.

100+ Best College Organization Ideas – More than 100 tips & recommended products for the best college organization ideas from a professional organizer & mom of 3 college students.

computer on white desk in modern room.

Be sure to pin so you can find these best towels for college ideas when you need them.

You can find all our best college ideas and tips in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.




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  1. I always preferred red and brown when I was in college… but I didn’t have any logical reasoning really. I just liked those colors. I like the reasoning behind the choices you made, makes sense to me.

  2. My daughter had light green towels when she went to school. We were not intelligent enough to think about the color choice. They didn’t do very well during her college time. They held up, but don’t look so pretty! Great article.

  3. The colored towels get bleached out from Benzoyl Peroxide products and other acne medications.
    White really is best. My son chose gray, and not they are our car washing towels. Oh well.

  4. How an intelligent choice you made !! I think brown also is a good choice. Thank you Susan for sharing these tips

  5. Hi Susan – I love how you really think of everything! I think the towels I took to college were the thread-bare ones hiding in the depths of my parent’s linen closet. Hugs, Holly

  6. Acne products bleach colored towels. I found that out when my granddaughter visited!

    When I went to college my mother bought me Brown Towels! She didn’t ask me what color I wanted. To this day I will not buy Brown Towels! I hated those Brown Towels!

    If you are sending a kid off to college, let him or her choose the colors of towels to buy!

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