How to Wash Towels so They are Soft

A stack of colorful bath towels

How to Soften Towels in the Wash


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Everyone wants to have soft towels, but at times that seems like an unrealistic goal. I mean, just how do hotels keep their towels so white and soft? Many people want to know why their bathroom towels are so stiff after washing. I have rounded up some of my favorite bathroom towel washing and drying hacks so that you can learn how to effectively soften towels in the wash.


Towels actually don’t need as much laundry detergent to clean them as your other laundry does. Try regularly washing only your towels together and using half the amount of your normal laundry detergent.


In addition to using half the laundry detergent, use one of the methods below monthly to help keep your bath towels soft.


Tip: You can get rid of the lint on bath towels by “shaving” it off with a disposable razor, yes it will take a while but it is well worth it if you don’t like lint on your towels or other items. For just over $10 you can get this fabric defuzzer thing that shaves the fuzz right off of new towels!


How to Wash Bath Towels with Vinegar


If you want to soften your towels naturally, then might want to give vinegar a try. Many people use white vinegar as a substitute for laundry softener. In fact, commercial laundry softener can actually build up on your towels, leaving a residue on them that can contribute to them feeling stiff. Vinegar breaks down and removes that laundry softener build up.


To remove fabric softener build up on your bath towels, about once a month replace your normal fabric softener with one cup of white vinegar. Add the vinegar to your washing machine during the second rinse. Dry as usual.


Stack of bath towels


How to Soften Towels with Baking Soda


Baking soda is another naturally effective way to soften your bath towels. Just add 1/2 cup of baking soda along with your normal amount of detergent in the wash. Like vinegar, baking soda will also help remove build up from your towels, making your towels softer.


Adding baking soda to your towels when washing them also helps to remove musty odors that bath towels often seem to have and that are really hard to get rid of.


Note: do not use vinegar and baking soda in the wash together. They need to be used separately to be the most effective.


How to Soften Towels with Ammonia


If you don’t have any baking soda or vinegar on hand, ammonia will also work to remove laundry detergent or fabric softener residue from towels. Just add 1 cup of ammonia in with your normal laundry detergent.


Some people soften their new towels by soaking them overnight in the washing machine in water and a cup of ammonia then washing as usual.


How to Keep Towels Soft While Line Drying


If you like to dry your clothes on a clothesline, then you are probably wondering how to keep towels soft while line drying.


There are a couple different methods you can try to keep your line dried clothes from becoming stiff. Some people think that laundry softeners have been designed to be activated by the high heat of dryers, so fabric softener will not be very effective when line drying towels.


Try using half the amount of laundry detergent that you normally use for washing towels. Use a cup of vinegar in the wash to help soften the towels, or use no fabric softener at all, and hang the towels on the line to dry to see if this results in less stiff towels.


A compromise that I often use is drying my towels on the clothesline and then putting them in the dryer for 10 minutes or so with a fabric softener sheet to help soften them and fluff them up. Then you are still saving money on electricity, while also getting the benefit of using the dryer.


How Do You Keep Towels Soft Without a Dryer


If you don’t have a dryer, and you want your bath towels to be softer when they dry, then wash the towels with half the normal laundry detergent, add a cup of ammonia or white vinegar, and dry the towels on a clothesline.


If you aren’t able to use an outdoor clothesline, there are many drying racks you can purchase to easily dry towels or clothing indoors. Here is an example of an inexpensive folding clothes drying rack. Here is a stainless steel high capacity indoor clothes drying rack.


Personally I love my outdoors clothesline. Here is an inexpensive retractable clothes line you can use to hang your clothing and towels outside to dry.


Follow my cleaning hacks board on Pinterest.


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