March 3, 2017
How to Keep Towels Soft + Fluffy
Soft and fluffy towels are the best, aren’t they? What happens to make them veer away from that wonderful state? Real life. Towels absorb water, aren’t hung up optimally, remain damp and get stinky. Hampers and baskets are full, towels get stuffed into the washing machine and never get fully clean. Then they get over-stuffed into the dryer and don’t get completely dry or get dry but aren’t folded right away leaving them wrinkled and crunchy.
It’s much easier than you might think to keep those towels looking and feeling like new.
De-stink your towels
First things first, let’s start with a couple ‘rules’ to help keep your towels smelling good:
- Make sure your towel storage method is optimal for non-stinky towels.
- Use bath towels no more than twice before washing and make sure that they are able to fully dry in between uses and before tossing them in a hamper or laundry basket.
- Change your hand towels often – daily is optimal.
- Never leave your towels (or any laundry) longer than a couple hours in the washing machine. The wet towels and closed space are breeding grounds for bacteria to build up.
- Never over-fill your washing machine or dryer as you want adequate water flow in the wash and air flow in the dryer to clean and dry your towels (and any laundry).
- If you notice on my cleaning routine I wash sheets and towels on Saturdays. This works really well to keep the towels clean and put away on schedule.
- If you have some extra stinky towels use 1/2 cup baking soda in a wash and then re-wash the towels with your favorite detergent.
Stop using liquid fabric softener
Fabric softener coats the fibers and can keep your towels from getting fully clean – not to mention it’s full of chemicals that you don’t need in your home. You can use white vinegar as a softener (1/4 cup/load) and bonus, it’ll freshen up your towels too. Simply pour the vinegar in the softener dispenser on your washing machine. If you’re a fabric softener junkie check out this post for 4 ways to naturally soften and freshen your laundry.
Switch to white towels
If you’re looking to simplify your laundry, I also suggest switching to white towels. Why? You can wash them all at once, they can be washed on hot or sanitize when needed without fading. Wash them with bleach alternative to remove stains without any spotting or fading. And best of all? White towels add a spa-like look to your bathrooms and they match with just about any color or decor.
Purchase new towels
If your towels have seen better days and they’re showing signs of wear, you might need some new towels. Donate old towels to your local animal shelter or donation spot. I keep a stack of old, worn towels on hand for bathing the dog and when the kids are sick and need a path to the bathroom. I love Home Goods, Costco, and Target for high quality towels at low prices.
Have a soft + fluffy towel tip? Share it in the comments!
My book Simply Clean is full of tips, tricks and ideas for keeping your home clean with minimal time and effort. Go here to check it out!
Looking for more Laundry Inspiration?
Get Access to Clean Mama's Free Laundry Guide Printable
You'll also get access to the entire free printable library!
For stinky towels, I LOVE using the Purify blend by Doterra! I use a few drops in the wash and/or 5-6 drops on an old washcloth thrown into the dryer with the wet towels. Works like a charm every time!
Vicki Bucy Says
I love this idea, Amy. My husband has a nose like a bloodhound and can smell a stinky towel a mile away. I think I’ll try this the next time I wash towels. Thanks.
Leslie Haus Says
I do this too!@
Vicki Bucy Says
I’m curious why the wool balls only last 300-400 uses. I’ve used mine for several years and I’m sure I’ve washed and dried more than 400 times. Can you shed some light on this subject? I love your tips and follow you closely.
Becky SaysPost author
I think that that’s just a guide – if your balls are still going strong, by all means keep using them 🙂
As a wool dryer ball user they recommend 300-400 uses because most wool balls are not 100% solid wool and the ones that are are made from roving not yarn or spun wool.
We had a set that were spun wool over an acrylic core (unknown to me). After years of use the wool disintegrated and the acrylic core was left. Our next set was solid wool roving. They disintegrated over time with use.
Our current set is spun wool with a felted wool shell. I made them myself and felted a crochet outer layer. Wool prices aside they were easy to make but time consuming to felt them.
Except buying new towels, what can I do to make my old towels fluffy again ? They are white and smell nice and I do not want to throw them away (I do not have a dryer)
Becky SaysPost author
I think the dryer is the most helpful in keeping the towels fluffy, unfortunately.
ks pierce Says
Add Borax in with your laundry detergent for softer everything, including towels, if you don’t have a dryer and hang outdoors in the sun with a breeze.
Abbie John Says
You can easily your towels is kept clean by using the detergents.This no longer only attracts stinky mildew, it is able to basically “water-resistant” your towels. If water can’t get into the cloth to easy it, the towel won’t be or scent easy.
the point of a towel is to absorb water… why would I want them to be water resistant in any way??
Jackie Lamas Says
I use white vinegar and it seems to do the trick to get them smelling great! However, I hang dry since I don’t have a dryer… what do you suggest to keep them from getting too stiff?
Becky SaysPost author
I don’t know of any tricks to keep them from feeling stiff and crunchy from line drying – sorry!
If you have stiff towels steam iron them it does work .
I have heard that ironing line-dried towels will help remove the stiffness. I have a dryer so I haven’t tried this, but I know a lot of Europeans who don’t have dryers and they iron their clothes to remove the stiffness.
If you don’t have a dryer, try washing towels and hang them out on a windy day- a good blow in the breeze will keep them soft as opposed to hanging them on a sunny day with less breeze!
Marion Koh Says
I live in the tropics so most days including winter are hot. As our electricity bills are astronomical so a dryer is out of the question, we don’t have too many days where there is a nice breeze. We need to move 🤣
What has worked for me is to use the sanitize cycle on my washer. No fabric softener and do an extra rinse. I had tried everything and nothing would get rid of the smell until I started doing this every single time. My towels are more absorbent now and no longer smell as soon as I start to dry off.
Cindy Taylor Says
What do you do with wet washcloths while you are waiting for wash day?
b r SaysPost author
I let them dry in the tub overnight and then put it in the hamper.
I see a lot of responses about adding vinegar to the wash to help de-stink and soften towels. Wouldn’t vinegar reek havoc on all the gaskets and rubber bits on the machine??
b r SaysPost author
I changed to white towels and sheets several years ago and it’s the best thing I’ve done for ease of washing/drying and they are so refreshing.. During washing,I add a small splash of chlorox, maybe vinegar would do the trick, too. My guests love them! When making beds I spray a splash of lavender or fresh linen spray on sheets which makes them so restful. WHite towels do give a spa like vibe and easy to match & replace. Kohl’s also has nice thick brands and I purchase when on sale👍
Costco has a great towel called Charisma Luxury Towels. They are SO FLUFFY and stay that way too. Great price at $8.99 each for large bath towels and regularly they run a sale at $5.99. They actually get fluffier with each wash. I think starting with good quality towels is a must then use the tricks above to keep them going for years and years.
Just a comment for the dottera users. I love doterra, but the Purify scent is terrible to me. I buy all doterra oils except Purify. I have Neals Yard Remedies Organic Defence. Smells much better to me. I add a few drops on top of my homemade detergent and I also make the Clean Mama Epsom salt recipe with this same oil to add to the washer tub.
Thank you for useful advice