There's nothing quite like the feeling of stepping out of the bath or shower into a clean, fluffy towel. But keeping those towels clean and fluffy can be harder than it sounds. We've all been there: Our favorite plush bath towels turn limp and rough after a few cycles through the washing machine. Maybe you just accept that fate, or maybe you end up washing them less—but those aren't your only options. House Beautiful caught up with Liz Eichholz, cofounder and creative director of one of our favorite towel brands, Weezie, to hear exactly how to care for our bath towels so that they last as long as possible.
So exactly how often should you be washing your towels? After every 3-5 uses, Eichholz recommends. To ensure said washing doesn't wear them down, she has some tips:
- Wash towels with towels—only. "This seems extreme, but it really will extend their life and cut back on snags," Eichholz explains.
- Wash on cold cycle.
- Separate colors. Wash whites with whites and colored towels with colored towels to avoid running.
- Skip bleach. "I always recommend avoiding chlorine bleach as it could affect the quality of the terry, or discolor any color on the towel," Eichholz says. "Instead, at my house we use The Laundress’ non-toxic All-Purpose Bleach Alternative."
- Use no more than the suggested detergent amount. This is especially important for white towels, says Eichholz. "Overdoing it on the laundry detergent can lead to your towels turning a slight grey-ish color, losing their bright white hue," she explains.
Once you pull the towels out of the wash, don't drop them in a hot dryer, whatever you do. Instead...
- Dry on low heat. "Your towels will last longer if you dry them on low heat, as high heat damages the cotton fibers," explains Eichholz. "Depending on your dryer, you might have to send your towels through more than once, but, I promise, it will be well worth it!"
- Skip the dryer sheets. "Contrary to popular belief, adding fabric softener depletes the softness of a towel as it interferes with its absorption properties," says Eichholz.
- Don't let them sit. "Always remove your towels from the dryer right away and give them a nice little shake to keep them fluffy and soft," Eichholz advises.
"Some people find that their towels will start to smell a bit musty or get mildewy over time, even after the towel is freshly laundered," says Eichholz. "Often, this smell results from towels not fully drying between uses, likely due to a lack of airflow."
She recommends hanging towels between uses—as opposed to storing them folded in a cabinet—to avoid any mildew. If the smell persists, here's a simple solution: "I always suggest washing those towels with 1 cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda; the vinegar breaks down buildup while the baking soda neutralizes odor," says Eichholz.
Unfortunately, even with the best care, towels don't last forever. Eichholz says most regularly used towels will have to be replaced after 1-2 years. "The telltale sign a towel needs to be replaced is that musty smell or when it has lost its fluffy, absorbent qualities," she says—even if you're doing all the above. Snip them into rags. Then it's time to shop for more.
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