What is the Difference in 10S and 16S Towels?

What is the Difference in 10S and 16S Towels?

Jason Jason
4 minute read

When it comes to selecting the perfect towels for your home, business or hotel, the choices can be overwhelming. One of the key considerations is the towel's weight, which is commonly indicated by numbers like 10s and 16s. These numbers refer to the difference between 10s and 16s towels can help you choose the right option for you. So what is the difference in 10s and 16s towels? This blog from Direct Textile Store will explore the distinctions between the two, while highlighting their unique characteristics and suggesting ideal uses for each. Let's dive in!

What are 10s and 16s Towels?

These towels are considered limited-use (“almost disposable”) as they are light weight terry towels and wash cloths and are purposed for use in environments such hospitals or locker rooms, where products are either used for clean-up or have high loss/theft. If you have not ordered this type of towel in the past we highly recommend ordering a sample first to ensure the towel meets your expectations.

What does the "S" stand for?

Many people wonder what the "S" stands for in reference to 10s and 16s towels. The "S" stands for singles which indicates the yarn used in a single strand of twisted fibers and the thread weight that is used. The higher the thread weight number, the finer and softer feel of the fabric. When a higher thread weight number is used, the thread is finer and a tighter weave can be achieved. This gives the product using a higher thread weight number a softer, finer feel. Therefore, a 16S towel would be softer than a 10S towel.

What's the difference between the two towels?

10S towels feel more “coarse” than 16S towels and are usually found in economy towels. Other factors come into play, like the weight of the woven product, as well as the size.  It is normal for these towels to have minor defects, discoloration, higher linting and a harsher feel (hand). These products experience high loss or stains, and have limited wear-life/wash/hand (softness) expectations. Typically, a higher singles count is a bit more in cost, as well.

16s towels are made from finer yarns, resulting in a lighter and less bulky towel. They are often not as thick or absorbent than 10s towels. but are still soft and comfortable to use. 16s towels are often used in settings such as a kitchen or at the gym, where a lighter material of towel is preferred.

Another factor in the “hand” (feel) of fabrics is OE (open end) vs Ring Spun. OE is the standard baseline method of spinning yarn. Ring spun is an additional process, that makes products much softer with finer yarn. Expect higher end premium towels to be finer, ring spun yarns, 16S or higher — of course, at a premium price.

Both 10s and 16s towels are not made to be used for long periods of time/uses. They are commonly used in physical therapy offices, shelters, hospitals and jails due to their affordability and are usually thrown away in 2-3 uses.


Use Our GSM Calculator to find the right towel for your needs.

10/s-O/E “Economy” Towel Products

10/s-O/E (10 singles/open-end) cotton terry products are typically thinner and more coarse than upgraded 16/s, or premium ring-spun bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths. 10/s-O/E products are the most basic service items available, and are intended for institutions and locker rooms that do not require a “soft hand” or long wear-life. 10/s-O/E products are usually the lightest weight in cotton content as compared to standard industry products. While these economy products generally meet the expectation of limited use, they will not withstand the rigors of long-term industrial washing, and are usually considered somewhat disposable.

Direct Textile Store ships to all US states, including Alaska and Hawaii, US Territories, Canada, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Croix.

If you need help placing an order or have questions, call one of our live customer service agents who are available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm ET, or send an email to [email protected]

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