The health and economic benefits of using clean and fresh towels are often overlooked. Cleaning towels is one vital step to keep the body from diseases. Also, properly washing towels maintains their quality hence lasting usage. However, most people do not get any of these merely because they don’t know the proper care for them.
So, to help you make the most of your towel investments, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to wash towels using a machine and by hand. Other important information will also be available in this post, like the vinegar and baking soda hack when washing towels!
Keep on reading, and let us all learn together!
Factors to Consider When Washing Towels
Let us understand what factors we should consider when washing our towels!
The first thing we should always consider is the temperature of the waater. Remember that warm water is much better for washing towels than cold ones. However, there’s always a limit to this.
105 to 140 °F is the standard range of temperature to use. Anything over this will ruin the fabric by causing bleeding, shrinkage, or roughness. Meanwhile, anything below the recommended temperature will not kill the germs and bacteria, which can also cause stinky smells and various health hazards.
Reading the instructions on the care label will also help determine what water temperature your towel needs.
Type of Fabric
Here is a table for the different fabric manufacturers used to make towels. Refer to their essential characteristics to understand what kind of wash care will suit them.
|Type of Fabric
|Soft, quick drying time, fast water absorption
|Soft, thin (compared to cotton towels), shrink resistant, highly absorbent
|Soft, quick absorbent, lightweight
|Soft, fast water absorber, quick drying time, naturally antimicrobial
Color of Fabric
To prevent color bleeding, it is necessary to separate the white-colored towels from the dark and colored ones. Most towels are made of fast-absorbing fabrics; if a colored towel bleeds, the white towels will pick up the color, resulting in discoloration.
Concerns about the water temperature to use are another thing. For white towels, the ideal temperature is 60 degrees, while for dark towels, 40 degrees is suggested. This is why you can’t mix different colored towels.
Detergents and Softeners
Using too much detergent and softeners in towels can cause oil build-up, which deteriorates the quality of fibers. This decline causes less absorption and stiffness of the fabric.
This is why the recommended use of detergent is only half the standard measurement on the care label. Some people don’t use softeners at all.
Washing Towels in the Washing Machine
Follow the steps below to learn how to wash towels using a washing machine!
- Separate the towels: Separate the towels based on their color and uses. Do not wash dark or colored towels with white ones, as this might cause bleeding. Regarding towel usage, it is ideal not to mix bath towels with kitchen towels as the latter contains more bacteria and will require higher water temperature.
- Put the towels in the washing machine: Note that it is necessary to prioritize the white ones when washing towels. Do not overload the machine, especially if it has an agitator. Depending on the capacity of your machine, 5 to 10 bath towels will be enough for a single spin.
- Add the detergent: Add your preferred detergent to the washing machine. Be sure to add only enough, as too much detergent could make your towel stiff. You can also add only half of the suggested amount to the packaging.
- Wash the towels: Put the washing machine into the towel set. Usually, the temperature for white towels is hotter than for dark towels. Do not mix dark and white towels in a single spin if you have both dark and white towels. Instead, wait for the white ones to finish the cycle.
- Dry the towels: Place the towels in the dryer along with a dryer sheet. Keep in mind that towels, due to their thickness, require a longer drying time compared to other clothing items. It’s recommended to dry cotton towels at high temperatures and decorative towels at lower temperatures.
- Fold the towels: After drying the towels, fold them and store them in an enclosed area if they won’t be used immediately.
- Expert tips: Be cautious when using scented dryer sheets as they may trigger allergies. Consider using a dryer ball as an alternative.
Washing a Towel by Hand
- Prepare the materials: Collect all the materials, including detergents, bleach, a laundry basin, lukewarm water, and a clothespin, to make the washing process more efficient. You should also prepare the towels by separating the colored to white ones.
- Prepare the wash basin: Add lukewarm water to the basin, and ensure that it will be enough for the number of towels you will wash. But prevent pouring too much to prevent diluted mixture. After the water, add 1 cup of liquid detergent; powdered ones will be okay too. Once the detergent is dissolved, pour ¼ cup of bleach and mix.
- Soak the towels: Immerse the towels and leave them for about 30 minutes to soften all dirt or stains. Again, do not mix the white towels with the dark ones.
- Hand wash the towels: After soaking the towels, wash each towel by squeezing or pressing the fabric. Apply more pressure when washing the towels since this will remove dirt and stains. Run through all the areas, most importantly, the edges. Once done, drain the water. Then, pour another clean water into the basin, but do not add any more detergents. Rewash all the towels to ensure cleanliness.
- Rinse the towels: Rinse the towels using clean water about 3 to 4 times. Although, you may adjust it depending on if the water is still bubbly and the fabric is slippery.
- Dry the towels: If a machine dryer is available, we suggest you use that to dry the towels, as air-drying may expose them to too much sunlight. But, if you prefer to air-dry, note that 3 to 4 hours is enough to dry the towels in warm climates. Moreover, wring the towel gently before hanging it to remove excess water and keep it in shape.
- Fold the towels: Fold the towels and keep them enclosed, like in a cabinet.
Expert tips: Do not use too much bleach on the towels as it breaks down fibers hence a shorter life span.
The Vinegar and Baking Soda Hack in Washing Towels
For some, this hack may be overrated, but still, this is an effective technique for washing towels. Vinegar and baking soda can help brighten white towels, remove mild or foul odors, and soften rough towels.
Add 1 cup of vinegar to your hot water and wash the towels to do this hack. After, run another wash and add ½ cup of baking soda. Do not mix vinegar and baking soda on the same laundry run, as they will cause chemical reactions.
For more information about this hack, watch this informative video:
Air-Drying vs. Machine-Drying Towels
Air-drying towels is not suggested for all types of towel fabric as this could cause the material to stiffen. Linen or other towels with decorative strips are best for air-drying, however, do not hang them in direct sunlight.
Meanwhile, machine-drying is recommended for cotton towels. The crucial part about machine-drying is the temperature; it shouldn’t be too hot as it may ruin the fabric. The drying time will vary depending on the thickness of the towels and the efficiency of the dryer. Be mindful of the time, as you cannot overdo it.
Folding and storing towels
Do not leave your newly washed towels inside the dryer or elsewhere. Folding and storing is another thing you should prioritize after washing towels, or they will be exposed to dirt.
Simply fold a towel into thirds (lengthwise) and then in half to create a rectangle. Stack the towels and put them inside a closet or shelf; hide them if you will not use them yet. For towels that you’ll use, hang them in racks after every use to allow quick drying.
If you want more creative ways to fold your towels, learn from this video:
How Often Should You Wash Towels?
The typical use for towels before washing them is 3 to 4 times, hence you need to wash the towels every week if you don’t have an extra for replacement. If there is a sick person in the house, washing towels twice or thrice a week is essential. This is also the case if you live in a humid area or if it is summer.
Here’s a table for various types of towels and how often you must wash them.
|Type of towel
|How often should you wash?
|Bath and hair towels
|Once or twice a week
|Hand towels and washcloths
|Twice or thrice a week
|At least once a week
|Twice or thrice a week
|Every after use
|Every third use
Always keep one or two extra towels per person to replace dirty towels immediately.
Should you wash new towels before using them?
Yes, you should wash new towels before using them to avoid contact with the fresh towels’ silicone finishes. Silicone finish blocks the ability of towels to absorb liquid, giving them a soft and fluffy look. Wash new towels so that they can absorb fluid better.
We know that learning how to wash towels is not easy; perhaps, for some, it is not fun as well. However, we need to do it properly so we can benefit from our towel investments. Exerting effort is necessary to give your towel a long-lasting shelf-life.
With the help of this blog, we hope you learned something that you may apply to your next laundry session!
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.