Keeping towels soft can seem like an endless struggle. Even good quality towels can become scratchy and uncomfortable within just a few washes. If you or your organisation provide towels as part of your service, you have probably spent way too much time and money trying to fix or replacing them.
Once damaged, towels can be very difficult to salvage. Having to replace them is bad for the environment and can become very costly. And no one wants to be remembered as the place with the scratchy towels!
Thankfully, these dos and don’ts will help you keep your towels soft and fluffy.
Do: wash separately
Wash old towels and new towels separately, and wash all towels separate to other linens. New towels create lint more quickly, which will catch on your old towels and create a job you don’t need. Washing with other linens will be damaging to them, as towel fibres are a lot harsher than bedding, for example. For more advice on washing other linens, check out ‘Are You Damaging Your Linens by Mistake?’.
Don’t: over wash
Are you over washing your towels? The more you wash your towels, the quicker they become threadbare and less effective. You’re much better off having multiple sets of towels so that once cleaned, they have some time in storage to recover before being used again.
Do: buy good towels
Have you ever been fooled into buying towels that seem lovely and soft in store, but then when you wash them, immediately turn scratchy? Some towels come pre-coated in a chemical softener, so they feel nice in store. Softness isn’t always a reliable method to determine quality – look for other key markers, like stitching. Take a look at ‘How to Find Long Lasting Bath Towels’ for more tips.
It’s better to spend more to begin with than have to buy lots of replacements. While it may seem like a big expense upfront, having good quality towels should mean they last longer. But don’t worry too much about costs – at Homefords, our most expensive, highest quality towels are still under £10 per bathsheet.
Don’t: over soap
This is the number one mistake people make when washing towels! Too much detergent leaves behind a soapy residue on your towels, which weigh down the fibres and help to make them scratchy. Bacteria also loves to grow on soap, so your towels are more likely to get that damp smell and even grow mouldy if not rinsed properly after washing.
Do: use a small load size
Too many towels in one load is not good for your washing machine, but it’s also bad for your towels. Lots of towels in at one time means not all the dirt and detergent will get properly rinsed off. A lot of towels in one load also means that the towels clump together, creating moisture pockets between them, which makes the towels stiff when dried. This also applies to putting towels in a dryer – an overloaded dryer won’t have enough air inside to properly fluff the fabric, adding to the matting effect that creates scratchy towels.
Don’t: over dry
Another mistake that once you understand seems obvious, but people make all the time. If you tumble dry your towels, or even if you just air dry them but in a heated room, make sure you check the temperature! Towels left for too long in a dry environment or over cooked in the tumble dryer will also become scratchy and uncomfortable. Towel fibres are surprisingly delicate, because they have to be to soak up lots of water. This means they are surprisingly susceptible to mistreatment.
Do: use a medium heat
You might be thinking that a high heat is the way to go when providing towels as part of a service, as it makes sure that you get rid of all the germs hiding among the fibres. Unfortunately, this is where those delicate fibres we mentioned earlier come in. Cotton, which is the main material towels are made from, is a very soft fabric, which flattens and becomes stiff in reaction to high heat. Try to stick to around 30-40 degrees Celsius, which is also effective for killing bacteria, but less damaging to the cotton fibres.
Don’t: use softener
Don’t be fooled by the name! The same liquid that makes your clothes so lovely and soft is actually your towels’ worst enemy. The chemicals that make up a laundry softener include silicone, which coats the towel’s fibres and weigh them down, leading to a less absorbent towel. Instead, why not try adding half a cup of white vinegar to your wash? This hack sounds mad, as nobody wants to use towels that smell like vinegar, but luckily the smell evaporates when the towels dry. The added vinegar whitens white towels, loosens up towel fibres, and cleans up leftover detergent residue from previous washes.
Tumble dryer vs line dryer
Finally, drying! A very important step in the process of keeping towels lovely and soft. Here are the key things to learn: Never dry towels on a radiator, never use too high a heat, and never let towels sit around in the machine before drying. The first dries towels too quickly, which makes them rough and scratchy, and using too high a heat is damaging for the same reasons with drying as with washing.
But perhaps the most important is the last point – do not leave damp towels in the machine. Damp towels left alone will grow mildew, which is a fuss you don’t need. This is also why you should make sure your towels are completely dry before you put them away. However, over drying your towel is also damaging to the fibres. It’s a thin line, but a little extra care will keep your towels softer for longer.
A good trick to keep towels fluffy is to shake them out after they’ve dried. Agitating the fibres helps them fluff back up, which makes them softer. You should also never iron towels – it will reduce absorbency. A slightly odd laundry hack is to try using a dryer ball or even a (new) tennis ball in the dryer. Balls bouncing around in the machine helps prevent clumping, speeds up the drying process, and reduces wrinkles and static.
Don’t have a tumble dryer? There are lots of good reasons not to have one, and they’re not absolutely necessary to keep towels soft – they can either be a big help or a big hindrance. Even the gentlest settings can wear fabrics down in the long run. Towels dried on a line don’t get the added benefit of being agitated by the machine, however, so you will need to duplicate this effect yourself. Shake the towel well before hanging it, to give the fibres room to breathe. It wouldn’t hurt to make like a Victorian cleaning a rug and hit it a couple of times while it’s drying, either!
Stocking up on quality towels
Looking to purchase some new towels? Homefords stocks a wide variety of wholesale towels with great bulk discounts. With a minimum order of only £100, free delivery to mainland UK, and no need to register to start browsing, why not get started today?