How to Make Your Bath Towels Last for Years in 10 Simple Steps

Towels with hibiscus

Show your towels a little love and keep them soft and vibrant for years to come. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Although bath towels are a necessity, ever since I worked retail and spent hours folding them in the home goods department, I’ve always considered them as more of a luxury. That’s because there’s something quite delicious about a plush, soft, absorbent towel against your skin. Regardless of the brand or price you pay, however, they eventually seem to lose their fluffiness and absorbency. Does that mean you should toss them out and buy new ones? Not necessarily. Here are 10 things you can do to extend the life of your towels and use them for years to come.

1. Wash ASAP. When you bring new towels home from the store, they usually come with instructions to wash before using. There’s a reason for this. The companies that manufacture them use chemicals that keep them soft and fluffy in the store. Washing them before using them for the first time helps purge the fabric of extra lint and reduces the amount of chemicals your skin is exposed to during their initial use.

2. A dab will do ya. When washing your towels, there are two things to consider. First, make sure to use warm water and a mild detergent. Second, remember that a little soap goes a long way, so even in a full load, all you need is about two tablespoons of laundry soap. Or, if you prefer detergent packs like Tide PODS, just toss in one and you’re good to go. Use any more than that, and you could create a soap buildup in your towels that reduces their absorbency.

3. Rejuvenate them. As already mentioned, from time to time your towels are going to start to feel stiff and no matter how many times you rub that bath sheet across your body, they just won’t seem to absorb water as well as they used to. For an easy fix, add a cup of vinegar to your machine’s rinse cycle every few weeks or so. This will remove detergent residue and infuse them with life again.

4. Shake, shake, shake. When you transfer your washed towels to the dryer, be sure to shake them out to remove tangles that could result in annoying wrinkles. Doing so will also help towels dry more quickly.

5. How low can you go. Dry towels on low heat. This may seem counterintuitive since the fabric is more dense and is made to retain water. But using low heat keeps the fibers from getting too tight and actually keeps your towels absorbent and soft.

6. Say no to fabric softener. I know, I love my Downy too. But skip the fabric softener when you launder your towels because it can actually inhibit water absorption. Instead, use wool dryer balls to help fluff the fibers.

7. Spread ’em. You don’t have to wash your towels after each use. This doesn’t mean you should hang them on a hook and walk away though, because this only retains moisture within the fabric’s folds. Instead, spread towels out over a bar or shower rod after each use so they can fully dry. You not only save water and extend the use of the towel, but this helps prevent bacterial growth as well.

8. Take two. Do your family a favor and make sure everyone has at least two bath towels for their personal use. That way, when one is in the wash, they have another to grab and go next time they need a shower. Also, make sure you have four hand towels per person since they get much more use.

9. Watch where you’re going. Even towels labeled as stain resistant don’t always stand up to chemicals that can cause discoloration, like those found in whitening toothpaste or creams which contain benzoyl peroxide. So keep your pretty, colorful towels away from these products. Instead, keep a set of white washcloths specifically for this purpose. Doing so will keep those brightly colored towels that match your décor looking fresh and vibrant for years to come.

10. Please, be gentle. Even if your white towels get discolored, you want to refrain from using bleach on them. Doing so breaks down the fabric’s fibers and shortens their lifespan.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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