How to Wash Towels to Make Them Last Longer

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.

Believe it or not, there is an actual right way to wash your towels. If you want them to last, that is. While you can get a towel clean by simply tossing it into the washing machine, these helpful tips will keep your towels looking and feeling like new even after several washes.

Wash Before Use

Wash and dry bath towels before using them for the first time. Most towels have silicone or other finishes that block absorbancy. Washing the towels removes these finishes and permits maximum absorbency.

Use Detergent and Vinegar

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 Often

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.

Give Them Their Own Load

Wash bath towels separately from clothing for sanitary reasons. Putting towels in their own load also makes it easier to adjust to the best settings for cleaning towels based on color.

Use Softener Sparingly

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.

Shake Them Out

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.

Dry Towels Carefully

Ensure that towels are dry when you remove them from the dryer. Even slightly damp towels can quickly mildew. Avoid overdrying; it can destroy the integrity of the individual cotton fibers.

Avoid Decorative Edges On Bath Towels

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.

Towel Buying Tips

  • 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. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Buying Towels for more tips on what to look for.

Towel Folding Tips

  • 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. (Related: How to Organize Your Towels and Linens)
  • Linen hand towels for the bath can be safely ironed for a crisp finish. After ironing, fold linen towels in thirds like other towels.

The Towel Folding Tricks You Have to Know

Learn how to fold a bath towel -- for a fluffy stack or to be hung on a towel rack -- with these handy tips.

1 Comment

  1. I line dry my towels so how do you keep them fluffy?

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