How to Wash Towels

Learn the best ways to wash towels, as well tips for drying and folding towels like a pro. These easy care tips will help keep your towels softer and last longer.


Towel Care Tips

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  • Wash and dry bath towels before using them for the first time. Most towels have silicone or other finishes. Washing the towels removes these finishes and permits maximum absorbency.
  • To set colors, wash colored towels with similar colors in warm water for the first several washings. Using about half the recommended amount of detergent, add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash water. The vinegar helps set the colors and removes excess detergent residue.
  • Wash towels every three to four days. Use warm water and color-safe bleach (if needed) for colored towels. Use hot water and nonchlorine bleach (if needed) for white towels. White towels should be washed separately or with other white items to avoid subtle discoloration over time.
  • Wash bath towels separately from clothing for sanitary reasons.
  • Use fabric softeners according to directions, but use only every three or four washes. Waxy buildup from softeners can deteriorate the towel fibers over time and reduce their absorbency.
  • Give your towels a shake when taking them out of the washer. This will help fluff the terry loops that aid absorbency. Don't iron terry towels; this will reduce absorbency.
  • Ensure that towels are dry when you remove them from the dryer. Even slightly damp towels can quickly mildew, but avoid overdrying; it can destroy the integrity of the individual cotton fibers.
  • Many high-quality towels feature decorative trims to add a soft design element amid the hard, shiny surfaces of the bathroom. If possible, use towels with specialty trims as accents only, so you can limit their laundering and reduce the wear on ribbon, rickrack, lace, or other decorative elements.
  • Fold bath towels and hand towels in thirds for best use of shelf space: Fold the towel in half, with open ends to the left, then fold in half again. Fold up the bottom third of the towel, then fold the top third down. When storing, face the outer edge of the towel to the front to make it easy to grab a single towel.
  • Linen hand towels for the bath can be safely ironed for a crisp finish. After ironing, fold linen towels in thirds like other towels.

Towels, face cloths, and bath mats are as much home fashion accessories as necessities. As with sheets, you can choose from the ever-popular classic white or an array of fashion colors, trims, and patterns. Fluffy white towels give a clean, spa-like feel to a master, guest, or shared family bath. White and ecru coordinate with virtually any bathroom color and have longevity. Colors tend to fade over time (so you might want to buy extras).

Because of its absorbency and strength, cotton is the fabric of choice for most bath towels. The manufacturing process and the choice of material affect towel absorbency. Although sheared towels are the most absorbent, they aren't necessarily the best for drying. Towels don't dry simply by absorbing moisture; the fiber loops also brush water off the body. Bottom line: The number of loops per square inch is the most important indicator of towel performance.

Good-quality bath towels can last for 10 years with proper care. Always check the label on your towels for particular care instructions before proceeding with washing and drying.


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