If you care for your new bath towels right, they'll 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.
That's right, good-quality bath towels and hand towels, properly laundered, can arrive with your newborn and stick around until he starts kindergarten and look little worse for wear.
The expected life span of good- to best-quality bath towels and hand towels is five to ten years. Here's how to wash towels to keep them soft and absorbent for years to come.
The first step in maximizing your towels' softeness and absorbency is to wash them before use. This will open up the fibers for absorbency.
New towels are often coated in fabric softeners so they're nice and plush for shoppers. This finish creates a sleek, soft feel, but it diminishes the towel's absorbency.
To get rid of these softening chemicals, wash before use, and skip the fabric softeners and dryer sheets when washing and drying bath towels to ensure they are as absorbent as possible.
Fabric softeners actually prevent towels from absorbing water, and can leave a waxy buildup.
Always wash towels separately from the rest of your laundry. This is both for the towels' longevity and that of your family's clothes.
Towels can cover co-washed clothes with lint. And clothes with zippers, hooks, and buttons can pull loops out of some terrycloth towels and snag others.
Further separate dark-colored towels from their lighter cousins. This will keep both the light and dark colors intact.
If the towel fibers wear best in cool-water washings, the label will tell you this. Otherwise, warm is the best temperature to wash your towels in.
Extra-hot water can fade colors and reduce the softness the kids love. (And hey, who are we kidding here? Moms and Dads love it, too!)
Unless the towel or washcloth has come into contact with an ill family member (thereby requiring a stronger laundry detergent and possibly chlorine bleach), choose a gentle laundry detergent to protect both the fibers and the color during weekly washings.
Use only half the recommended amount of laundry detergent to keep towels absorbent and soft. Wash towels at least once a week, every three to four days if needed. Wash towel sets together, so any color fading is uniform.
Shaking excess water out of your towels before putting them in the dryer will help fluff the terry loops and keep them absorbent.
Tumble-dry towels on a low setting and remove the towels while they're still slightly damp, as overydrying wears down towel fibers.
If they're hot (not warm) to the touch coming out of the dryer, you've overdried them.
Some fabric softeners contain water-repellent silicone, the death knell for towel absorbency. So skip the fabric softeners when drying a load of towels.