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What is the difference between microfiber, "waffle weave terry", woven waffle weave and real waffle weave?


Lots of times,  robes and towels are described as "waffle weave", but may be made of microfiber fabric, are just terry with a waffle pattern, or they're a soft, woven style of waffle weave.  They look like waffle weave, but lack the ability to shrink with washing, forming the little honeycombs that are the hallmark of real waffle weave.

We have such a horror or "shrinkage" (sorry, George!)  that towel manufacturers will do almost anything to give the feel of waffle without having to explain that shrinkage is okay, that the towels will change after washing and drying.   

But the honeycombs that form in real waffle weave towels are critical, because they offer vastly more surface area for water to evaporate from, which is why they dry so quickly.  Plus,  they trap little pockets of warm air next to your body.  

And of course, a flat weave towel takes much less room to store, because it's, well, flat!

Microfiber waffle weave fabric is made of Polyester, and  people have said stains are difficult to remove.  These kinds of towels have a strange, slippery feel which I personally dislike.  We've also had customers contact us, asking if our towels would start to stink, after using microfiber towels that got smelly and stayed smelly even after bleaching.  I am not a big fan of microfiber waffle weave.  And our towels won't start to stink when you use them.

It's also popular to make a terry towel that's "waffle weave" because it has a waffle weave pattern woven in, but it's a terry towel, and won't dry anywhere nearly as quickly as real waffle.  I think sometimes people want the look of waffle weave, but fear the shrinkage and the honeycombs, so it's a way to try waffle without really trying waffle.  

Woven waffle weave can be made of Cotton, or a Cotton/Polyester blend and while I love it in robes, where it is soft and easy -  it's really too soft to be a towel.  Plus it must be woven thicker to have any body at all.  So it's not a really quick-drying fabric.

So what is real, classic waffle weave?  100% Cotton, woven into a honeycomb pattern that comes mostly flat from the store.  And after washing and drying (who's going to dry clean towels?)  the towels are meant to shrink and form honeycombs.