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How to Keep Towels Soft

Getting out of the bath and wrapping yourself in a scratchy and hard towel can ruin the best of relaxing bathroom experiences. And while all towels will get a bit less soft with each wash, there is still a lot you can do to ensure yours remain as soft as possible for a long time to come.

Let’s take a look at 13 different hacks for keeping your towels soft and fluffy:

Use Less Detergent

Towels will get stiff when the soapy residue from the washing detergent starts to build up on them. If you have been adding a bit of extra detergent, hoping to get extra clean towels, or even if you usually follow the brand’s exact instructions, try using a bit less than usual. This will help your washing machine wash every little bit of soap out, keeping your towels softer.

Use Less Fabric Softener 

The same principle applies to fabric softener: if you are inadvertently using too much of it, some of it will stick to your towels, and they won’t come out as soft or as fluffy as you would like them to. By using just a bit less than recommended, you will get a much snugglier towel. 

Choose the Right Temperature 

Cotton towels will not respond well to being washed at high temperatures. They will soon get flat and rough, and you won’t be able to get them back to their original state, if you keep exposing them to a lot of heat (either in the washer, or the dryer). 

While you may want to sanitise your towels at a high heat, the better option is to wash them more often, but at a lower temperature. 

Aim for 30 or 40 degree for most of your washes, and occasionally run them through a 60 degree cycle, just to get rid of any bacteria that may have survived. Also take a look at the care symbols on the tag, to make sure you are getting the temperature right. 

If your towels are stained, treat the stain first, before throwing it in the wash: especially a very hot one, as the heat can further set the stain. 

White towels in washing machine

Rinse Them in Vinegar

Fabric softeners contain silicone, which is what is meant to make your clothes softer. It acts as a water repellant though, so they won’t be rinsed as well, and some soapy residue may remain. 

If you want your towels to be super soft, use a cup of white vinegar instead of a fabric softener once a month. It will get rid of any built-up soap and detergent, and bring back all of that fluffy softness. 

The vinegar will also help get rid of bacteria, and do a great job of cleaning your washing machine, eliminating any odours. Don’t worry about the vinegary smell – it will soon disappear, especially if you tumble dry your towels, or let them dry outside. 

Add Baking Soda to the Wash

Baking soda is one of the most useful things you can have in the house, and surprise, surprise, it can also help you make your towels more fluffy. It will help loosen up the fibres of the cotton towels, and it will also remove any chemical or bacteria buildup. It will get rid of any residual scents as well. 

All you have to do is mix half a cup of baking soda with your usual amount of washing detergent – but make sure it comes in powder form! Don’t mix baking soda with a liquid washing detergent. 

You can also add it directly to the drum, and run a cycle without detergent, when you are looking to freshen up your old towels. 

Make sure never to mix vinegar and baking soda in the same wash though, as the combination will create a violent chemical reaction that can cause your washer to overflow. 

Do Smaller Loads

If you want your towels to be extra soft, make sure not to stuff your washer too much. The less room there is in the drum, the more likely soap and fabric softener will stick to the towels, and they won’t come out nearly as clear and soft as you would want them. 

Always aim to leave some room in the washer when doing your laundry: that will allow the water to reach every nook and cranny, and do its job well. 

Don’t Mix Your Fabrics 

Throwing your towels in with your sheets (or your colours) won’t make them all that soft. Mixing different fabrics in the same load will make for too much wear and tear, and the towels will get too squished. 

Wash your towels all on their own to ensure they are as soft as possible. Perhaps have several sets on hand, so you can do a load when you get down to the final one? 

Separate Old and New Towels 

You also want to separate your new towels from your old ones. The ones you have just bought will likely shed a lot of lint, and you don’t want it to mix with the older items. You also don’t want any staining that may occur when you combine something that has been washed dozens of times, and a brand new item that may leak a bit of colour. 

You also want to give your new towels a wash before you use them for the first time, to get rid of any of the chemicals they have been treated with during the manufacturing process. 

Wash Your Towels Regularly 

Washing your towers regularly will also help them stay soft, as long as you don’t use too much detergent, and don’t wash them on high heat (you won’t need it anyway, as the regular washing will keep them hygienic). 

Any towels you use on your face should be changed every couple of days. If you use wet flannels to clean your face, change them after each use. 

Bath towels should be changed after 3-4 uses, while hand towels should be changed every 3 or so days – more often if someone in the household is sick. 

Throw a Ball Into the Dryer 

Throwing an old (clean!) tennis ball or a dryer ball into the tumble dryer can also help the towels fluff up significantly. The impact will separate the strands of fabric, and ensure the hot air gets to every last corner.

Don’t Tumble Dry Them Too Much 

Tumble drying your towels is probably the most efficient and fastest option. They will also come out fluffier, but the heat can in fact damage the cotton over time. Instead of cranking the heat up, try to alternate between hot air drying and tumble drying. 

If you have the time and the space, you should also let them air dry first, and then finish them in the tumble dryer. Use a cool setting. 

Shake Them Out 

Shaking out your towels both before you throw them in the wash, and right after they come out of the washer will ensure they are as soft as possible. The shaking will both allow the detergent to get to every fibre, and ensure they dry more evenly, without getting too flat and listless.

Store Them Side by Side 

Most of us stack our towels on top of each other, but this unfortunately only means that the one on the bottom will get crushed over time, and definitely be the roughest one of the bunch. 

If you fold and neatly store your towels side by side, they will be much more plush, and hold on to the softness for much longer. 

If you are using a rack, make sure you only place one towel on each shelf or rung, to avoid flattening the bottom one yet again. 

Why are Towels Hard After Washing? 

Towels can be hard and scratchy after washing because you have used too much softener or detergent, but the culprit can also be the hard water in your area. 

If this is the case, try using a water softener, or just using some of the tricks we have outlined above to keep your towels fresh and soft for longer. 

Wrapping It Up 

Waking up to a cool shower and the feeling of a freshly washed, soft towel wrapped around you afterwards is enough to help even the laziest of us get out of bed and start the day right. Try our proven soft towel recipes, and enjoy a bit more home comfort every day. 


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