The Best Way to Wash Bath Towels

It can be disappointing and frustrating to step from a nice, relaxing bubble bath or shower and try to dry off with a bath towel that is stiff, scratchy or nonabsorbent. It is not the towel, but how it was laundered, that causes these annoyances. Follow a few simple tips to keep your bath towels in top condition.

stacked towel
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A folded stack of soft bath towels.


towels in washing machine cloths
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A load of bath towels being laundered in a washing machine.

Before you use a newly-purchased bath towel, wash it in warm water with laundry detergent to remove any sizing or fabric coating that may be on the fibers from manufacturing. Without doing this first, the new towel will not be effective in absorbing the moisture from your body. When you do this first washing, add about quarter of a cup of Epsom salt or table salt to the wash cycle. This not only helps remove the coating, but will help set the color of the towel. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda, along with your detergent, to the wash cycle to keep your towels smelling fresh. To keep towels soft, add a 1 cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle. Do not add fabric softener to the wash cycle. Don't wash your towels with other laundry items; if you must, be sure to wash similar colored items together.


Colourful towels on a washing line
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Colorful bath towels air dry on a clothesline.

Once you remove the initial coating from the bath towel, don't re-coat the fibers by drying towels with a fabric-softener sheet, or use fabric softener in the wash. Fabric softeners coat bath towel fibers with silicon that makes them less absorbent. To keep bath towels soft and absorbent, tumble them dry in a low-to-medium temperature setting. Even a few minutes of tumble drying before hanging towels on a clothesline will improve their softness and absorbency. If you must air dry your bath towels, vigorously shake out each towel before you hang it, and again when folding the dry towel. This will help fluff up the terry fibers for softness and absorbency.