What ties the sport of cricket, squalling babies, bath time, clothing items and bed-linen together? If you answered “Terrycloth” – or Terry toweling as it is also known – you would be correct. Due to the very specific way that Terry cloth is manufactured, it has an extremely high absorbency rate, which makes it ideal to use in any situation where cloth is needed to soak up large amounts of liquid. Terry also turns up in the unlikeliest of places, and can be found making up wristbands, diapers, sheets, hats, bathrobes, and, of course, towels.
Terry cloth is so special because, while one side of the fabric is straight, the other side is woven in such a way that long loops are formed from each individual strand of cotton. The general terry rule is the longer the loop, the more absorbent the fabric will be, and this is because a longer loop means there is more open fabric area to absorb liquid. Terry cloth is usually manufactured completely out of cotton, but there are instances where lycra and polyester are also thrown into the mix. The manufacturing process, which is, furthermore, extremely complex, involves the fabric being woven on special looms sporting two longitudinal warp beams, and the weaving technique that produces terry cloth is known as “warp knitting”.
Although extremely popular, terrycloth isn’t the only fabric that towels – even monogrammed towels – are made of, and, these days, these bathroom necessities are also made of synthetic microfiber and waffle fabric. Nothing beats the warmth, comfort and absorbency of terry cloth, however, and it’s no wonder that bath robes, bath towels, hand towels and bath mats are almost exclusively made out of this versatile fabric.
Terrycloth may not be named after anyone – the name most likely comes from the French work “terir” meaning to pull through – but almost everyone knows its name.