Why Do Bath Towels Have Bands?

Why Do Bath Towels Have Bands? Bath towels are a staple in most households, typically used after bathing or swimming to dry off. You likely use one every day without thinking much about it. But if you take a closer look, you may notice most bath towels have bands – strips of fabric or hemmed edges – along the top and/or bottom. So why do manufacturers put bands on bath towels?

There are a few key reasons bands are added to bath towels:

Why Do Bath Towels Have Bands

Why Do Bath Towels Have Bands?

Reinforcement Against Fraying

The main purpose of bath towel bands is to prevent fraying by reinforcing the edges. When cotton or other materials are cut, they tend to unravel at the edges. Adding a band of double-layered or tightly woven fabric keeps the edges of the towel neat, and tidy and prevents further unraveling during regular wash and use over time. This extra reinforcement is key for towels that go through frequent wash cycles.

Easier to Hang Straight

Bands also provide structure and support to give bath towels a straight, firm edge. This allows them to hang neatly and straight on bars, hooks, and racks. Without a reinforced band, towels may bunch, sag, or even fall off racks when damp.

Decorative Element

In addition to functionality, colored bands provide a decorative element to bath towels. Bands allow manufacturers to add style details to coordinate with bathroom aesthetics. Contrasting bands in different colors or patterns is an easy way to incorporate decorative accents into plush, absorbent everyday towels.

Branding and Identification

The thick reinforced band on many bath towels also provides a useful place for brands to sew on label tags. These tags identify the brand, materials used, care instructions, size, and other product information. The brands and sizes are easier to spot with these labels placed on the distinct bands rather than hidden within side seams.

So while bands on bath towels serve practical reinforcement and hanging purposes, they also provide decorative embellishment for manufacturers to differentiate bath towel aesthetics. The next time you dry off with a bath towel after showering, take a look at the bands and appreciate the design elements that go into even everyday household items like these.

Different Types of Bands on Bath Towels

There are a few common types of bands you’ll see on bath towels:

Header Band

This is a wide band of thicker, double-layered fabric sewn across one short edge/end of the towel. Usually about 2-3 inches wide, it goes fully from one side edge to the other along the top or bottom. This is the most common style.

Hemmed Band

A more narrow, less pronounced band is simply the edge folded over and stitched down forming a small hem. Often used along the longer edges but sometimes on the short ends too.

Contrast Color Bands

For a more decorative look, bands with contrasting colors and patterns are used, not just the same base fabric. These coordinating bands align with the aesthetic of bath collections.

So bands on bath towels range from thick, structural header bands to simple hems, serving both decorative and functional purposes. The exact band placement aligns with how each towel is meant to hang.

The Purpose of Bands on Bath Towels

As noted above, manufacturers have specific reasons for adding bands to bath towels:

  • To reinforce edges – prevents fraying and unraveling over time, especially important for commercial towels used multiple times a day
  • Maintain structure and support – creates firm, straight edge for easy hanging on bars and racks
  • Decorative element – colored or patterned bands coordinate with bathroom styles
  • Brand identifier – room for logos, tags with fabric content, care instructions, etc.

“Bands on bath towels serve both aesthetic and functional purposes. They reinforce edges, lend decorative contrast, allow for branding, and most importantly, give towels structure to hang neatly and dry quickly after each use.” – Becky Lam, textiles designer

So whether a decorative addition to support the aesthetics of other bathroom linens or a utilitarian reinforcement, bands serve important roles in bath towel design and performance.

Pros and Cons of Bath Towels With and Without Bands

With BandsWithout Bands
Provide reinforcement to minimize frayingprone to more fraying and tearing over time
Decorative elements to style bath spaceseasily fall off hooks and racks when damp
Harder to distinguish brand, fabric, and size at a glanceSeen as unnecessary by some consumers
Brand tags allow easy identificationHarder to distinguish brand, fabric, size at a glance

As the comparison shows, there are good reasons most bath towels contain bands, but some consumers do question if they serve much purpose beyond decoration. Here is an overview of the pros and cons of bands versus no bands:

Pros of Towels With Bands

  • Longer lasting – Bands strengthen edges and minimize unraveling/fraying issues
  • Better performance – Straight edges and support keep towels firmly on racks while wet
  • Ease of use – Tags identify fabric content, size, washing needs, etc.
  • Aesthetic appeal – Colored bands and patterns are pleasing additions to coordinate bath decor

Cons of Bands on Towels

  • Added cost – Band fabrication increases production costs slightly
  • Impedes creativity – Some may want to add their embellishments vs factory bands
  • False sense of quality – Bright white bands signal luxury but don’t indicate actual performance
  • Excess fabric use – Hemmed edges are not the most sustainable option as produce excess waste

So while most households still prefer and expect to see bands on their bath towels, some more sustainably-minded consumers choose solid towels with unfinished edges or make their own from old fabrics. But for the average consumer, the pros still seem to outweigh the cons when it comes to bands on bath towels.

History and Origin of Bath Towel Bands

Plush cotton bath towels date back centuries, becoming more commonplace in Europe and North America in the 1800s. Early household linens and fabrics were more prone to fraying and unraveling along raw edges. So hemming techniques, sometimes in contrasting thread, helped reinforce and finish these early towels and fabrics.

As bathing culture expanded in the 1920s, bath towel designs evolved to coordinate with colorful bathroom aesthetics. Jacquard looms allowed the creation of decorative bands and edge designs. Regional trends emerged like the unique thukpa motif on Kashmir bath towels or the pops of color in Spanish manton de manila towels.

So while bath towel bands served functional protective purposes on early linens prone to fraying, manufacturers also incorporated bands to align towels with popular decorative bath collections and styles over time.

Bands Help Identify Different-Sized Bath Towels

If you’ve ever shopped for new bath towels, you’ll notice options like bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, etc. While these follow general size conventions, having bands in distinct patterns or colors along the edges helps distinguish the different categories:

  • Bath towels – Larger towels with header bands in solid colors or simple stripes
  • Hand towels – Slimmer with hemmed bands, occasionally contrasting color patterns
  • Washcloths – Smaller with thicker hemmed edges, sometimes terry cloth on one side only

So when buying complete towel sets, matching bands help identify intended use by size while creating a coordinated look:

Towel TypeTypical SizeDistinct Bands
Bath towel27″x52″Thick stripes
Hand towel16″x30″Narrow hem
Washcloth12″x12″Contrasting color

This ease of differentiation is helpful for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. The bands allow buyers to readily select the right towels for their needs.

“I love when towel sets have obvious size labels along the bands – makes it so much easier for guests to just grab what they need without searching through cabinets trying to discern which is which.” – Rita L., hotel manager

So band variations don’t just serve functional purposes; they help define towel types and usage at a glance.

Differences in Commercial vs Home Linens

Another key factor related to bath towel bands is whether towels are intended for commercial or residential use. You’ll notice much larger, thicker bands on towels supplied to hotels, gyms, and public facilities versus products for home use. Here’s why:

  • Durability – Commercial towels undergo heavy use + frequent industrial laundry cycles so require extra thick reinforced bands along the full edges to maintain longevity
  • Identification – Larger bands allow bigger tags to clearly ID suppliers, inventory codes, usage guidelines, etc.
  • Reduced theft/loss – Public towels often have bands with RFID tags or external branding to deter theft
  • Decor coordination – Home towels focus more on decorative bands that coordinate with consumers’ bath aesthetics

So while the bands serve similar overall functions between commercial and consumer towels, the size and design differ based on intended usage intensity. But both categories leverage bands for decorative coordination and reinforced structure in their ways.


In conclusion, most bath towels contain bands along the edges that serve a variety of functional and aesthetic design purposes:

  • Reinforce edges to minimize fraying
  • Provide structured support for hanging to dry
  • Decorative accent that coordinates with bath aesthetics
  • Space for brand tags identifying materials and usage

Bands range from wide header strips to simple hemmed folds. While sizing and styles vary between commercial and consumer towels, bands enhance both categories in similar ways.

So next time you dry off, take a look at that bath towel band again understanding how it likely coordinates with other bathroom fabrics and toweling – all while keeping the edges neatly hemmed and tidy no matter how frequently that towel gets washed!