How to: Launder bath towels
Forget fabric softener
While you may be inclined to add fabric softener to your load of laundry, think twice about it. It coats fibres with a waxy layer, making towels less absorbent. Make sure the detergent you use doesn’t have a built-in fabric softener, either. If you love the smell of fabric softener, use scented linen water.
TIP Add ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar to a load to soften towels.
Keep colours bold
Hot water is good for eliminating germs, but it also fades colours. Warm water will keep colours bold and prevent towels from wearing down quickly. Even if your towel’s label says it’s colourfast, wash colours separately for the first few times. It’s a bit of a hassle but it helps maintain your towel’s original colour. Never wash whites with colours.
Use mild detergent
Stick with mild detergents for warm water washing, as strong ones break towel fibres down faster. Opt for a liquid detergent, as powdered ones may not come out in the rinse cycle and instead get stuck in the fibres — not good for those with sensitive skin. If you’re using a powdered detergent, add it as the washer is filling with water and add the towels when the water level is just over half-full.
Buy white towels
White towels are the way to go for easy maintenance and will create a spa-like look in your bathroom. Bleach them once in a while (not each time they’re washed; that’ll cause the fibres to break down faster) and you’ll have a new-looking, thoroughly disinfected towel. Warm water is still recommended, but hot can be used for stain removal. Another plus? They’re easier to replace than coloured towels (try matching dye lots years later!) and they go with most, if not all, colour palettes.
Moderate drying time
“You never want to bake your towels in the dryer,” says Paul Bullen, a floor leader at Restoration Hardware. “Don’t leave them in there until the towels are super hot. Not only will that wear down the towels but over time, it will cause yellowing, especially on white towels.”
A set of towels consists of a bath towel, hand towel and face cloth. Consider buying two sets per person in your household and rotate sets each time you do laundry. That minimizes the use of each set, helping them last longer.
Additional tips for laundering linens
1 Wash towels prior to using them for the first time to remove germs and make them more absorbent.
2 Wash bath towels at least once a week.
3 Don’t overload the washer. If too many towels are stuffed in, the fabric can get pulled from the tension.
4 Only wash towels with towels, if possible.