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How to Wash Towels to Keep them Looking Good and Feeling Soft

A stack of five folded pastel bath towels, in seafoam, peach, yellow, blue, and ecru.

Top Tips on How to Wash Towels

Ever wondered if you should wash towels differently compared to how you wash the rest of your clothes? The answer is yes! Your towels will benefit from a different washing method to keep them clean, fresh smelling and absorbent. Here are the basics for washing your towels.

Washing Towels for the First Time

When you bring those freshly purchased towels home, be sure to wash them before using them for the first time. Most bath towels have a finish on them and washing them will remove it and make your towels more absorbent. Another bonus, when you dry them, you will remove a significant amount of lint rather than getting that lint all over you when you’re fresh out of the shower.

What Setting to Wash Towels

Wash towels every three to four days. Be sure to separate towels by color when you wash them. Putting colored towels with your whites will not help those white towels stay their true white. Use warm water and color-safe bleach for colored towels. Use hot water and chlorine bleach for white towels.

Keeping Towels Soft

It might seem that fabric softeners would be the most obvious way to keep your towels nice and soft. But instead, hold back on the fabric softener and only use it every third or fourth wash. Fabric softeners can leave a residue on towels and make them less absorbent. Try using a good old-fashioned cup of vinegar in your load of towels as a natural fabric softener.

How to Dry Towels

The main idea here is to be sure to completely dry your towels. Don’t pull them out early while they’re a little damp. This can lead to smelly, mildewed towels. Just keep them in the dryer a little longer. Want to give them a little help on the softness end? Toss a few clean tennis balls in the dryer to help fluff up the fabric and keep them soft.

Deciding on Detergent

Remember that your towels are essentially being used to dry off an already-clean person. So they’re likely to not be near as dirty as you might think. Try washing them with about half the usual amount of detergent to keep them from getting stiff and retaining a residue from the detergent.

Stopping Towels from Smelling

If you find your towels are starting to get a not-so-great smell, then take the two-wash approach to deodorizing towels. First wash them in hot water with only a cup of white vinegar. (Skip the detergent!) Then wash them a second time in hot water with only a ½ cup of baking soda. Pop them in the dryer, and skip the dryer sheet. This method will strip the residue left on your towels over time from detergents and fabric softeners. Not only will your towels have a renewed freshness, they will be more absorbent too!

Treating Stains

When your towels need some TLC to get a stain out, be sure to pre-treat them before you toss them in the washer and dryer. Missing this step could result in the stain getting set and a lot tougher, if not impossible, to get out later.

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Comments (9)

Loni

Loved all this new information on towels and their care! Thank you!

Lucia Unpingco

Thank you for those great tips

Kermien Burkhart

Great information. I really appreciate this kind of help. Country door your the best!

Belinda M

This was such really great info. Thank You!!!!

Janis Ramirez

How do you stop the towels from getting shredded on the edges?

Country Door

Janis, thank you for your comment. Towels may get shredded on the edges for a number of reasons. Sometimes towels get caught in the wash machine agitator. Another problem may be that the edges of the towels may not be properly reinforced. If you are experiencing this problem, consider purchasing towels with edges that are double-turned and double stitched, as they are less likely to fray.

Karen Cates

I really appreciate the tips, especially the 2 wash system. Going to try that. I do have a question. Over the years I’ve found whenever I have white or light colored towels, etc., often the washcloths turn, literally, black in the middle. Sometimes they are a lighter black sometimes darker. It’s not stains. It’s like it’s something in the fabric that comes out. On newer ones I’ve replaced the washcloth. Sometimes it’s fine. Sometimes the new one turns too. Always in the middle of the cloth. Wondered if you have any idea what causes this.

Country Door

Karen, thank you for your comment. The problem may be related to a chemical reaction between leftover soaps in the washcloths and your washing machine detergent. Some liquid body soaps, in particular, can cause the issue. You can try using a different body wash, or a different laundry detergent or you may want to try adding an extra rinse cycle.

Liza

These info are really helpful! Now I know how to use white vinegar and baking soda for smelly laundry?

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Published on Feb 02 2017

Last Updated on Feb 23 2017

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