This is the secret to fluffy, fresh-smelling bath towels.
Consider matching bath towels that feel like they came straight from the spa a new status symbol—or at least a sign that you’re finally an adult. But here’s a secret: You don’t have to spend money constantly replacing your bath towels—just treat them right the first time. Here’s how to wash bath towels the right way, and just in case you run into any issues along the way, we’ll offer solutions for musty odors and dingy-looking towels as well.
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How to Clean Towels (the Right Way)
What You’ll Need:
- Bleach or color-safe bleach or sodium percarbonate (like Molly Suds or Branch Basics oxygen whitener)
- Fabric softener or white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Wool laundry balls (here are some favorites)
- Essential oils (optional)
Follow These Steps:
1. Start by separating your towels, then wash white towels separately from colorful towels. Washing them together will lead to subtle discoloration over time.
2. Wash white towels using hot water, detergent, and non-chlorine bleach or a natural fabric brightener, like sodium percarbonate, according to its package directions. White towels stay brighter when washed in hot water. Wash colorful towels in warm water, using detergent with color-safe bleach.
3. To soften towels, you can use fabric softener, but only add it to every third or fourth wash to prevent buildup. If you prefer a more natural alternative, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
4. Dealing with musty odors? First, wash the towels with 1/2 cup of baking soda sans detergent, then rewash the towels with detergent.
5. Once they’re laundered, shake and place your towels into the dryer adding the wool balls (clean tennis balls work, too, but skip the essential oils). If you want to impart a light scent, add a few drops of essential oil on the wool balls. The wool balls are a natural alternative to dryer sheets and can be used to fluff the towels and help them dry faster.
6. Make sure the towels are completely dry before removing them from the dryer. Towels take longer to dry than clothes and even a hint of lingering moisture can cause odor.
Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Bath Towels
Do wash new towels before you use them for the first time.
Don’t toss wet or damp towels into a hamper or laundry basket and let them sit. That’s how they develop that musty, mildewy odor.
Do wash your towels every two to three uses.
Don’t overload your washer with towels. They’re heavy and will take a toll on your machine, plus they might not wash and rinse properly if everything is packed in.
Don’t use too much detergent. You should use about half of the amount you’d use for a full load of clothing.
Do hang up your towels after each use to help them dry properly and prevent odor.
Don’t let wet towels sit in the washing machine, as it can cause that mildewy odor.