‘Worst thing’ to use when washing towels – ‘cause permanent damage’

TikTok user shares cleaning hack to keep towels soft

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Want to get your towels super clean but regular washing and drying is making the fibres stiff and scratchy? Knowing which washing temperatures to use, how to load the washing machine, and which products to opt and not opt for can restore softness to towels – and keep them that way. 

The expert-recommended way to soften towels that have become scratchy is to use white vinegar. Brian Delp, CEO of New Sega Home, advised: “Throw a cup of white vinegar in your next wash.”

The towels have likely become stiff and scratchy because of the use of fabric softener. While adding this to the wash might seem like a sound idea, it actually has an adverse effect on towels. 

Brian explained: “The fabric softener can actually build up residue over time. This prevents their absorbency and can cause them to dry out as well as preventing their natural softening from use.”

Don’t worry if this treatment doesn’t work after just one wash. “Depending on how extensive the buildup is, you may have to repeat this step,” he said.

Thinking of using bleach in the wash in hopes that it reverses stiff and scratchy towels? Lily Cameron, cleaning supervisor at Fantastic Cleaners explained why bleach should not be used.

She said: “Yes, bleach can remove the stains on white towels, but it can also be the worst thing to use as it makes the colours fade and even cause permanent damage to the fabrics, destroying the towels.”

To keep towels soft, Jessica Samson from Maids.com advised just using regular detergent but cutting back on the amount being used. She warned: “Using too much detergent can stiffen your towels up and take away their softness.”

Lucy Ackroyd, head of design at Christy suggested that making sure towels have enough room in the washing machine is an important factor of maintaining their softness.

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She said: “The towels need plenty of room within the drum to breathe and circulate, allowing them to be rinsed and fluffed up properly.

“If you try to stuff too many in, you’ll end up with a clumped-together heap with moisture pockets throughout, leading to scratchy, stiff towels.”

Along with too much detergent, fabric softener can make towels scratchy so skip it entirely or cut back to keep towels feeling soft. 

Lucy said: “If you are using a fabric softener, only use a small amount as overuse of softeners and conditioners will build up over time, leaving towels feeling slick and non-absorbent.”

For soft, fluffy towels, pay attention to the wash temperature, checking the laundry symbols on the labels of all towels before they go into the machine. 

Jessica warned: “Each towel is different and requires different treatment. Be sure to read the label before washing so that you can maximise the effectiveness of the wash and prevent ruining the towel.”

According to Lucy, shaking a towel is a simple, quick step in a washing routine that can have a huge impact on its softness.

She instructed: “First, before you put your towels in the washing machine, give them a good shake. This will open up the fibres slightly, allowing the detergent to sink inside every pore and make them super clean.

“At the end of the drying cycle, or before hanging them outside if you are line drying, shake the towels a second time. The act of shaking will loosen the fibres of the fabric, making your towels super plush and fluffy.”

To keep towels soft, don’t dry them on radiators for those who heat their home this way. This will lead to a rough finish, exactly what you are trying to avoid.

Instead Lucy advised: “Alternate between tumble drying and line drying. The best way to get super fluffy towels is tumble drying immediately after a wash, however overuse can make the fabric wear down over time. 

“To combat the effect of the tumble dryer, line dry your towels occasionally. Not only does line drying leave your towels with a fresh natural scent, but the sunlight can also have a bleaching effect which is perfect if you have white towels. The UV rays can even help kill bacteria.”

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