Best Bandanas

Updated November 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best bandanas

As far as accessories go, you can’t get any simpler than a bandana, a square of cotton with a paisley print. Its simplicity is actually a strength that makes it indispensable and incredibly versatile.

There are countless uses for bandanas. As a fashion accessory, they can be worn around the neck, tied on a handbag, or tucked into the rear pocket of jeans. They’re also used as headbands or head coverings and as makeshift masks. As a functional product, bandanas can be used as handkerchiefs, dust rags, or arts and crafts supplies. Even if you don’t have an immediate use for a bandana, it’s helpful to have them on hand in your car, garage, or bag.

With so many uses for bandanas, it’s worth investing in some of your own. To learn more about bandanas, we invite you to read our buying guide. We cover the basics, plus we share plenty of tips to maximize your bandana’s potential, as well as a few of our favorites.

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If you’re concerned about a bandana shrinking but aren’t sold on polyester, look for preshrunk cotton bandanas instead.

Key considerations

Size

While there is no standard size for bandanas, the vast majority of them measure approximately 21 inches per side (441 square inches). This is the ideal size to manipulate for a number of uses, including tying around your head or neck. There are some jumbo bandanas that are closer to 24 inches (576 square inches) and larger, however these are harder to find and can be expensive.

Material

Traditional bandanas are made of 100% cotton, which means they will shrink and fade in the wash. With that said, repeated washing also makes them progressively softer.

More recently, polyester bandanas have risen in popularity because they’re colorfast (they won’t fade) and won’t shrink. Unfortunately, the material isn’t as soft as cotton, and it’s far less breathable.

Design

The classic bandana features a two-color paisley pattern that resembles curved leaves, teardrops, or feathers. The paisley pattern originated in Kashmir, in the Persian empire, more than 2,000 years ago.

Today, bandanas come in a variety of unique patterns and colors. This includes flags, tie-dye, stripes, polka dots, rainbows, neon colors, and even popular characters. Some of these bandanas incorporate the classic paisley design while others abandon it altogether.

Tying a bandana

To tie a bandana around your head or neck, fold it in half into a triangle and tie the ends of the fold together. You can wear the knot in front or in back. To secure the bandana, you’ll need to tie a double knot. For the most part, it will stay put, but that also means it can be challenging to undo the knot at the end of the day.

If you want to wear the bandana as a headband, fold or roll it to fit around your head. Leave the knot exposed on the top or side of your head to achieve a “bow” effect or tuck it under your hair or ponytail.
 

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Did You Know?
Bandanas come in handy when camping to wipe away sweat and clean your hands. Simply tie one around the strap of your backpack or keep it inside a pocket.
Staff
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Features

To iron or not to iron

Cotton bandanas are notorious for wrinkling, especially when they’re washed. Some people prefer to iron them to maintain a crisp look with clean lines. Others feel it’s unnecessary when the bandana ends up tied around your head or used for practical purposes like wiping your hands. Those who wear polyester bandanas don’t need to ponder this question since polyester resists wrinkles.

Dogs

Tying a bandana around Fido’s neck is festive and cute, but some dog owners warn that it can obstruct the dog’s activity. For one, bandanas can get caught on fences or branches, posing a safety hazard for the dog. It can also add a layer of unnecessary warmth around the neck, especially during the summer months. If you intend to put a bandana on your dog, make sure it's loose and comfortable, and don't leave your pet unattended while it’s wearing the bandana.

Quantity

While bandanas can be purchased individually, many consumers prefer buying them in multipacks. Not only is it cost-effective, but a bandana is one of those products you’ll use more often than you expect. From cleaning up beverage spills in your car to wiping away grease from tools in your garage, it’s safe to say that with countless applications it’s worth investing in several bandanas.
 

To cool down quickly when you’re out in the sun, wet your bandana with cool water and place it across your neck and shoulders.

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Accessories

Color-safe detergent: Tide Plus Bleach Alternative
Keep your bandana’s colors fresh and bright by using a color-safe detergent like this Tide formula. It’s effective at removing stains and odors without fading the dye with harsh chemicals.

Laundry wash bags: Bagail Mesh Laundry Bags
Prevent bandanas from getting tangled in the agitator by washing them inside a mesh laundry bag. The mesh allows detergent and water to thoroughly wash the bandanas, and the secure zipper keeps the bag closed.

Bandana prices

Bandanas are extremely affordable, costing between $1 and $15. Quality and quantity affect the price, so here’s what you can expect to get for your money.

Inexpensive: Single bandanas cost between $1 and $5. These are usually all-cotton squares, though the cotton quality isn’t always the best. These are also prone to shrinking and fading since they’re not colorfast.

Mid-range: Multipacks that include up to four bandanas start at $6 to $10. These are made of cotton, cotton blends, or polyester. They’re available in the classic bandana design and may also come in a wide variety of colors and creative prints.

Expensive: Spend closer to $15 and you’ll get multipacks of up to a dozen bandanas. The packages with fewer bandanas in this range tend to be better quality, while those with more bandanas tend to sacrifice quality for quantity.
 

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Did You Know?
Rather than applying an ice pack directly on a bruise, wrap it in a bandana. The material is thin enough to allow the cold to soothe the bruise, and it makes an ideal barrier that protects skin from direct exposure to the ice.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

 

  • Style an outfit with a bandana. A bandana adds a pop of color to any outfit or handbag. Stick with traditional colors like black, red, and white, or go bold with neon or pastel colors.
  • Make bandana pillows. It’s easy to make bandana pillows by sewing two together and stuffing them with batting. Choose bandanas of two different colors to give the pillows a bit of variety.
  • Use bandanas for party favors. If you’re hosting a summer or country-themed party, use bandanas to tie up popular party favors like candy or candles.
  • Add bandanas to your arts and craft supplies. Bandanas can be used for a variety of arts and crafts projects, which is why it’s a good idea to add a few to your crafting supplies.
  • Use a bandana to keep baked goods warm. Cover a basket or plate of freshly baked bread or biscuits with a bandana. It’s heavy enough to hold in the heat while still being breathable.
  • Turn a bandana into a sleep mask. Sew the bandana into a rectangle and fill it with dried lavender to create a simple, soothing sleep mask.
  • Keep a bandana on hand as a makeshift mask. If you forget your mask, it’s easy to tie a bandana over your nose and mouth. Always keep a couple in the car or your bag.
  • Bring bandanas to a picnic. In lieu of placemats or napkins, use bandanas. It’s an easy way to minimize mess.
  • Add a bandana to your Halloween costume. Bring out your inner cowpoke by wearing a bandana with a button-down plaid shirt, jeans, hat, and boots.
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Many motorcyclists wear a bandana beneath their helmet to keep sweat out of their eyes.

FAQ

Q. How do I prevent my bandana’s color from fading?

A. One way to minimize color loss is to use a color-safe detergent. These formulas are designed to be gentle on dyed materials. They also usually omit alcohol, which is known to dry out fabric and sometimes fade colors.

Q. How much will a bandana shrink in the wash?

A. Polyester bandanas won’t shrink at all, but cotton bandanas can become significantly smaller by a couple of inches. In some cases, cotton bandanas don’t shrink evenly, which results in a more rectangular than square shape. To minimize shrinkage, reduce their exposure to heat by washing bandanas in cool water and hanging them up to air-dry.

Q. Does thread count matter when buying a bandana?

A. Thread count refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch of material. While some people feel a higher thread count means a better, softer fabric, it’s not always true. There are many other factors that come into play when it comes to finding a quality bandana, such as fiber quality or construction. More than anything, it’s important to feel the bandana before finalizing your purchase, since it’s much easier to determine quality up close and in your hands.
 

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