• What makes a Great Towel and Beach Towel

    by Lifeboat Admin ,

    There are many contributing factors to making a towel great.

    The type of cotton fibre and construction used, good absorbency, colourfastness and weight all contribute to a great towel.

     

    Cotton fibre and construction

    Cotton yarn is used in the weaving of towels because of it’s soft handle, good strength, colour retention and absorbency.

    Egyptian cotton, grown for it's extra long staple cotton, is a high quality fine strong cotton producing an exceptionally durable towel like Alluretex’s “Luxor” towelling range.

    Cotton Construction

    Carded Cotton – Carding is the process of separating and aligning fibres as well as removing impurities.  Carded yarn has a wide range of fibre lengths within the yarn.  The presence of shorter fibres in Carded cotton translates into a greater tendency to pill or lint in the finished towel.

    Combed Cotton – some yarns after Carding go through a Combing process.  The Combing process continues the aligning of fibres and removal of impurities but it also removes the very short fibres from the yarn thus making the range of fibre lengths much narrower.  The resulting yarn is softer, cleaner, stronger and has a lower tendency to pill or lint.  Because Combing involves the removal of good cotton from the yarn, it is more expensive.  Towelling ranges such as “Plush” found on the Alluretex web site are produced from Combed Cotton.

     

     

    Two Ply Yarn is a yarn in which two single yarns, having already been twisted, are then twisted together, giving extra strength to the yarn.   The Salon Towels on the Alluretex web site are manufactured from two ply yarn to give them the durability they need for using day after day week in week out.

    Absorbency

    Always wash your new towel or beach towel before using it.  A good absorbent towel should absorb a drop of room temperature water placed on it (not dropped) instantly, or at the maximum within 1-2 seconds. When testing a beach towel every colour should be tested.

     

    In the making of a towel, to ensure good absorbency, there are three absolute musts:

     

    1. The removal of all the natural oils, pectins and impurities in the yarn that are impediments to absorbency.

     

    2. The use of cationic softeners as they are more water loving that traditional anionic and silicon based softeners.

     

    3. Because of their cationic nature, they cannot be used in the dyebath, instead they need to be run in a completely separate rinse cycle.  This plus their extra cost makes them more expensive to run. Use softener sparingly, not just during the manufacturing process, but also during domestic use.  Softener is a lubricant and all lubricants are oil based.  Softener works by placing a film on the surface of the towel.  As your hand or fingers pass over the towel pile this oil layer reduces the friction thus enhancing the feeling of softness.  Too much softener however affects the absorbency by interfering with the cotton’s ability to absorb.  Washing towels in warm water with a half cup of baking soda is a good way of removing excess softener.

     

    Veloured Beach Towels


    The veloured side of a beach towel is not meant for drying yourself, it is meant to be sat or laid on, always dry yourself on the terry side of a veloured beach towel.  Velouring or shearing is part of the finishing process of a towel.  When a towel is woven both sides have loops/pile, one side is sheared by running a blade along the fabric removing the surface tips of the loops to create a soft velvety finish.  This process maybe repeated several times.

     

    Colourfastness

    Dyes are chemicals.  They attach themselves to cotton through a chemical bond.  This chemical bond however can be broken, so it is really important to ensure that the bond is not broken during normal use of the product.  Not only is it important to ensure that the dyes are held fast to the cotton but that also if any dye does come loose it does not attach itself to any other fibre.

     

    Alluretex’s towels, including every colour in a Beach Towel, are tested for their fastness to

     

    1. Rubbing, both wet and dry, very important in a towel

    2. Washing

    3. Water, very different to washing

    4. Light

    5. Sea water and chlorine for Beach Towels 

     

    Dyeing is an inefficient process.

     

    - Excess dyes not removed from the dye bath

     

    More dye than is needed is put into the dye bath to ensure that you get the colour you want.  It is really important then that the extra dye chemicals that have not chemically bonded with the cotton are completely washed out of the dye bath and are not left to cling weakly with the cotton.  If there is any dye like this, it will come out in the first wash staining any other fabric in the wash.

     

    - Dye process is not complete

     

    The chemical process bonding dyes to cotton requires heat, water, chemicals and a lot of time. (12 -13 hours for a dark colour, 8-9 hours for a light colour)  At the end of the dyeing process, all the dyes are attached at 100% to all the available cotton sites.  Also, all the dye is now chemically inert, so that even if some dye were to come off in the presence of rubbing, washing or water it does not have the ability to attach itself to any other fabric in its presence.  Skimp on any one of the requirements, and you have a chemical process that is incomplete.  The dyes are attached to the cotton, but not at 100% strength and they still have some chemical activity in them, allowing them to stain other materials.

     

    - Choice of dye

     

    Important in terms of light fastness, as this is totally a property of the dye and not the dyeing process. Especially susceptible to poor light fastness are blue dyes and great care is needed in choosing the right kind.

     

    Everyday life can affect the colourfastness of your towel and beach towel:

     

     - When applying skin care products containing benzyl peroxide ensure you wash the product completely off your fingers as this will irreversibly strip the colour from your towel or beach towel.

     

    - Products containing chlorine beach will irreversibly strip the colour from your towel or beach towel

     

    - When using your beach towel at a swimming pool wash it as soon as possible to remove any pool chemicals.

     

    Black Salon Towels, found on the Alluretex web site, are Vat dyed so that they will not change colour at all when they come into contact with bleach and the chemicals used in hairdressing Salons.  Vat dying is a difficult and expensive dying process

     

    Alluretex’s Jacquard Beach Towels are manufactured from yarn dyed with Fibre Reactive Dye the most permanent and brightest dyes of all dye types.

     

     

    Weight

    Towel weight is measured in “grams per square meter” or “gsm”, the bigger the gsm the heavier the towel. What you will be using your towel for will help you decide what weight towel you require. Heavier towels are suitable for the bathroom, where they can dry out easily between uses. A lighter weight towel is better suited where the use in one period is more frequent for example beach towels.

     

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