How You’re Ruining Your Towels


There’s nothing better than drying off with a fresh, soft towel. Over time, you might notice that your towels don’t seem to feel as clean or plush as usual. You’ve been washing them regularly, but that doesn’t appear to do the trick.

You could be doing things that you think are suitable for your towels but are, in fact, ruining them.

When you know the habits that ruin towels, you’ll be able to use the knowledge and apply new techniques to make yours stay luxurious and always feel new.

What Ruins Your Towels?

Over time, even some common practices will ruin your towels. If you do any of the following actions, your towels probably aren’t as great as they could be.

  • You Hang More Than One Towel on a Hook. While hanging your towel on a hook to dry is okay, doubling up on a hook isn’t a good idea. Moisture and residue get stuck in the folds between the towels. This can lead to bacteria growth and make your towels musty. Also, bacteria could get on you when you use the towel again. If your towel falls off the hook and is left crumpled on the ground for a long time, do not reuse it. Throw it in the hamper. Your towel didn’t dry correctly, and it picked up all the dust and dirt on the floor. When your towel is on the ground for too long, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Your towel might not look dirty, but there will be plenty of stuff on your towel that you don’t want to come in contact with your skin.
  • The Towels Come in Contact With Other Products. You might notice white specks on your towels. These could be from acne-preventing face wash or flecks from your toothpaste after you pat your face dry.
  • You Remove Makeup with a Towel. When you remove makeup with a towel, the smudges can leave stains. They’re difficult to wash out. Running them through a washer and dryer might solidify the stain rather than get rid of it.
  • You Don’t Wash Them Enough. There’s always debate about how often you should wash your towels. A general rule is to wash them after three uses. Even if you dry the towel properly, your towel picks up a lot of skin particles and germs after one use. After a few days, your towel could get musty or dingy. It’s best to wash them as soon as possible.
  • You Use A Lot of Laundry Detergent. It might be tempting to add a little bit more than the regular amount to make your towels extra clean, but too much laundry detergent stiffens your towels.
  • You Wash Them in the Wrong Water Temperature. Check your towel’s tag and see what temperature you’re supposed to wash the fabric in. Using water that’s too hot for that fabric will make your color towels fade quickly, and you’ll feel them become scratchy and uncomfortable.
  • You Add Too Much Fabric Softener. Fabric softener decreases absorbency in towels. When towels lose their absorbency, they can get a waxy residue that will lock in odors, making your towels smell like mildew. While using it is okay, don’t overdo it and dilute it with water. It’s also recommended to skip the fabric softener occasionally.
  • You’re Over-Drying Your Towels. You know that not properly drying your towels will make them get mildew. So, you might want to dry your towels on the highest setting possible for a longer period. This destroys towel fibers. They become thin and lose absorbency.
  • You’re Not Cycling Through Towels. Have a few sets of towels that you can rotate. You’re going to use and wash towels more often with one set, and they can lose their absorbency and softness more quickly.
  • You Don’t Shake Out Your Towels. There are two instances where you should shake out your towels. Give your towels a good shake before you put them in the dryer. This simple action will help your towels retain their fluffiness because towels can crease and get bunched together in the washer. If you don’t shake them out, the dryer will heat those creases into the towel. After the dry cycle is over, give your towels a good snap before folding them.

Ways to Prevent Ruining Your Towels

While many different habits ruin your towels, they’re also easy to avoid. These tips will help you keep your towels feel new and comforting every time you use them.


  • Use Half of the Detergent Amount. When washing towels, use half the detergent recommended for a regular wash. If you do need to use a regular amount, make sure to run the rinse cycle a bit longer, so all of the detergent washes out of your towels and reduces the chance of residue buildup.
  • Get Fabric Softener Alternatives. If you’re skipping the fabric softener, you’re still going to want something to keep your towels feeling soft. You can purchase some dryer balls or even use clean tennis balls. While your towels are drying, the balls will bounce around the dryer. As they do this, they get rid of lumps in the towels and help fluff them.
  • Use Makeup Wipes. When cleaning makeup off your face, use makeup wipes. This protects your towels from makeup stains and is more effective than using towels. While towels smear the makeup on your face, the wipes will clean your face. This is also less irritating to your skin. Wiping repeatedly with a towel could spread oils and dirt and potentially cause a skin flare-up. 
  • Wash Color Towels in Cool Temperatures. A cold wash will help your towels stay fresh, vibrant and absorbent. Take note that your white towels don’t need this treatment. White towels should be washed in hot water to help them keep their crisp white color. There’s no reason to worry about bleaching your towels when high temperatures will do a better job. You also won’t have to worry about accidentally getting some bleach on color towels.
  • Let Your Towels Breathe. This applies to all aspects of towel use. After you dry off, hang it up so it can dry. While hooks are okay, a towel bar is better because the towel can lie flat and air-dry evenly. After you take them out of the dryer, consider hanging them on a clothesline outside. A bright sun and fresh air are fantastic ways to keep your towels looking and feeling new.

Are You Using Too Much Detergent?

Detergent can sometimes be the culprit that’s making your towels musty. These tips will help you use your detergent as efficiently as possible without making your towels super scratchy.



  • Make Sure Your Detergent Works with Your Machine. Most detergents can work with regular and high-efficiency machines, but some brands have separate products for each one. Check the label on your detergent, so you’re not overloading your washer with soap or not getting enough.
  • Remember to Measure. Follow the detergent’s instructions for how much soap you need for a load of laundry. You can accidentally make mistakes when you choose to eyeball it. If you feel like you’re losing too much time when you measure the amount of detergent, you can use other methods of laundry soap. Laundry soap pods work for one load, and all you have to do is toss it in the washer and press start.
  • Check Your Load Sizes. The amount of detergent you use will depend on the size of your laundry load. The load could be normal, medium or heavy. A medium laundry load will probably fill up your machine to three-quarters. Note if you’re washing particularly dirty towels or trying to get rid of stains you’ll require more detergent.
  • Look for Suds. Pouring in too much detergent will create too many suds. This could negatively affect your washing machine. It could shut down the machine, so you’d have to redo the load, and over time it will wear your towels down.
  • Inspect Your Towels After You Wash. If you’re not sure if you’re using too much detergent, check your towels after washing them. Too much detergent will leave a soapy residue or leave your towels feeling stiff.

How to Fix Your Towels

If you think your towels are in need of some care, there are ways to bring them back to that newly purchased fluffy and vibrant state.



  • Get Rid of the Musty Smell. Sometimes laundry detergent isn’t enough to get rid of the bad odor in a towel. If your clean towels still smell, then you can try a vinegar and baking soda rinse. This method will get rid of residue that can trap odors. Load your towels into the washing machine and add a cup of vinegar where you usually put the laundry soap. No detergent is needed. Wash the towels in hot water. When that load is complete, leave the towels in the machine and add a cup of baking soda to the same spot you added the vinegar. Wash the towels in hot water again. Dry them with low heat.
  • Your Towels Don’t Dry Well. This is a typical issue with new towels. You’ll notice an increase in absorbency after they’ve been washed and dried about five times. Towels have a coating that makes them feel soft in the store and preserve the color. This coating also makes them less absorbent. So don’t worry that you bought bad towels. Just give them some time to get rid of their coating. 
  • Your Towels Shed Lint. Washing will help get rid of loose fibers, and you’ll be able to dry off without the towel leaving anything on your skin.
  • The Colors Are Fading. Wash your towels with detergent and vinegar on the first wash. This will help preserve color. Make sure to check how the manufacturer says you should dry the towels, so nothing else affects the color quality.

Why Do Your Towels Feel Rough and Scratchy?

Three main factors could make your towels feel stiff. 

  • You Have Hard Water. Check if you are washing with hard water. This kind of water has a high amount of minerals like iron and magnesium. When you wash with hard water, it can cause mineral build-ups. Get rid of the deposits with 1 cup of ammonia and washing in the hottest water possible.
  • You Overstuff the Washer. While this might help you do fewer loads of laundry, you aren’t letting your towels get as clean as they should be. They can’t rinse all the way, which leads to leftover detergent and dirt in your towels.
  • You Don’t Give Your Towels a Break. Don’t wait for your towels to have a problem that you have to fix. Remember to skip the detergent and fabric softeners and do a vinegar and baking soda rinse from time to time. This doesn’t have to be every week, but a scheduled towel refresher will keep your towels smelling great and feeling fantastic.

How to Keep Your Towels in Your Linen Closet Fresh

One area that people might forget about is the linen closet. Your towel storage space is just as important for keeping your towels fresh.



  • Give Your Towels Space. While you might want to keep all of your towels and linens in a closet, make sure you’re not stuffing them in. A full linen closet prevents air circulation between your towels. When there is poor air circulation, your linen closet can start to acquire an old, musty smell. Towels stay fresher and smell better when they have access to air. 
  • Keep the Area Dry. Your towels should be completely dry when you put them in the linen closet. Moisture can add to the musty smell and start bacterial growth in the dark spaces in the cabinet. If you prefer to dry your towels on a clothesline, you could run them in the dryer on low for a few minutes to make sure all of the moisture is gone before you place them in the linen closet.
  • Rotate the Towels. Put your clean towels under the towels that are already in the linen closet. This way, you’ll keep the towels rotating. Towels that sit for too long can get musty and stale. One easy way to keep track of your towel rotation is to color-code.
  • Add Fragrance. Keep your linen closet smelling fresh and clean with added fragrances. A sachet of lavender, fragrance crystals or detergent can keep your closet and towels smelling great. You can also line the shelves with scented paper or dryer sheets to keep the aroma fresh. If those options are too potent, a simple bar of soap or a candle without its lid can do the trick.

Get Fresh, Luxurious Towels

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All you have to do is select the towel, size, material and color and you’re on your way to getting high-quality towels.

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