how to wash towels so they'll last

The secret to making towels last? Wash new towels before using - and separate from the rest of your laundry.

Do this, and your towels will keep you and your kids wrapped in post-bubble-bath softness and comfort for at least five years. And they'll look color-correct, too.

The expected life span of a good- to best-quality towel is five to ten years. (Best quality towels are those made from premium fibers, such as Supima or Egyptian cotton.)

Here's how to wash towels to keep them looking good and feeling soft.

wash new towels before using

Don't just put that new towel on the bathroom hook or towel bar! Get it primed for softness and absorbency before the first use by sending it for a spin in your washing machine.

Many manufacturers add a finish that creates a sleek, soft feel, but in truth this actually diminishes the towel's absorbency.

While these chemicals will rinse out with a few washes, you're often left with a scratchy, rough towel.

To get the absorbent and fluffy towels you crave, first soak or wash the towel in cold water without detergent or fabric softener. Then tumble dry low.

And only then, into the bathroom clean towels go!

wash towels separately from the rest of your laundry

This is both for the longevity of your towels and your family's clothes. Towels can cover co-washed clothes with lint. And clothes with zippers, hooks, and buttons can pull loops out of terrycloth towels and snag others.

Further separate dark-colored towels from their lighter cousins. This will keep both the light and dark colors intact.

read the towel label to check for specific washing directions

If the fiber wears best in cool-water washings, the label will tell you this. Otherwise, warm is best. Extra-hot water can fade colors and reduce the soft and fluffy towels kids (and parents!) love. 

Choose a gentle laundry detergent without additives to protect both the fibers and the towel's color, and use only half the recommended amount of laundry detergent to keep towels absorbent and soft.

Towels should be washed at least once a week, every three to four days if needed. Be sure to wash towel sets together so any color fading is uniform.

don't over-dry towels

After you wash towels, tumble dry on a low setting and remove the clean towels while they're still slightly damp to keep them supple and absorbent. Excessive heat wears down towel fibers. If towels are hot (not warm) to the touch coming out of the dryer, you've over dried them.

skip the silicone softeners

Some fabric softeners contain water-repellent silicone, the death knell for towel absorbency.

let your towels hang out between washings

Between bathing, hang towels - and toothbrushes, too, for that matter - loosely on the towel rod or on hooks to allow quick air-drying.

This will keep mold at bay, meaning your towels will stay fresh longer and need fewer washings (a double plus: less work for you and less machine time for the towels).

Towel hooks have an added plus - they're easier for kids to use than a traditional towel bar.

how to freshen up washcloths

Wash washcloths more frequently. Bath towels typically become damp, but washcloths are usually soaked. On a daily basis, they are swiped across sudsy faces with traces of dirt, oils, dead skin cells and makeup. 

They usually receive little more than a quick wring in cool water before being hung up to dry. Bathrooms are usually humid and warm, providing an ideal breeding ground for mold spores.

It's the unique nature of a washcloth's calling to endure such rigors daily; ours is to wash them (or simply change them) almost as frequently.

› How to Wash Towels In


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