Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How To Make Towels Soft And Fluffy

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I don't mind slightly scratchy towels, and accept it as part of life when you have hard water. But my family (and the odd visiting friend who has borrowed one) always complain comment, so I decided it was time to do something about it. The only problem is that the usual method of softening, adding fabric softener, is actually bad for towels because it impairs the absorbency. But I have found a natural and easy way of making towels soft and fluffy again!

How To Make Towels Soft Again

If you are familiar with my other cleaning posts then it probably won't come as a big shock that this post contains the words "white vinegar". I've known for a long time that white vinegar is good for adding in with your washing, because it is a natural disinfectant and has deodorising properties (you can also use it to clean your washing machine). But it can also play a part in keeping towels soft without compromising how absorbent they are, because a lot of a towel's scratchiness is down to too much chemical build up.

Step one. Put your towels in the washing machine. If your towels are rough and scratchy and you are trying to restore them to their previous softness, do not add any detergent. The point of this exercise is to get rid of anything chemically, not add more!

Step two. Run the machine on the highest temperature your towels can cope with. For hygiene reasons, towels should always be washed at a minimum temperature of 60C. But a high temperature also helps to remove icky build up. 

Step three. When your machine reaches its rinse cycle, pour half a cup of white vinegar into your washing machine's detergent drawer. If your machine has the facility for an extra rinse cycle, take advantage of this too and pour more distilled vinegar in.

After following these simple steps you should notice some difference in how soft the towels are. If the towels still feel quite rough, you may need to repeat the process until you reach the desired level of softness.

It is possible to wash your towels this way every time they need cleaning, without adding commercial detergents, and they will be fluffy, soft and hygienic. But I am stuck in the habit of using detergent so I am now doing the vinegar method as a monthly maintenance wash, to stop the towels getting too scratchy again.

Other ways to help keep towels soft and fluffy:

  • Don't mix your loads and don't overload the drum. You shouldn't wash your towels with other items, and you should make sure there is still plenty of room on your washing machine's drum for the towels to move around. This helps keeps towels fluffy because the water is able to fully penetrate the towels and remove any soap scum, oils and other build up. I limit a load to two or three bath sheets and a couple of smaller hand towels. 
  • Don't use fabric softener. I already gave this a brief mention, but fabric softener should be avoided when you wash your towels because eventually you will end up with a build up of chemicals in the fibres which will impair the towel's ability to absorb water and make it feel rough. Keep it for clothes washing only.
  • Don't dry towels on a high heat. I don't use a dryer, but if you do then you shouldn't have the temperature set too high when drying towels.
  • Don't use dryer sheets. They contain chemicals which can coat your towels and deflect water (which you don't want to do).

So I have another regular use for white vinegar. I think I'm going to have to start buying it in bulk. :-)


  1. Thanks for these instructions. I will be trying this!

  2. Absolutely agree! I spent many years using stinky gross towels. When I finally splurged on new expensive towels, I made sure to only use vinegar on them and they've been amazing for the past 2 years!

  3. I love this! I am definitely going to have to try this... I am a convert to the benefits of vinegar, LOL.
    I linked over from the Inspiration Board Creative Party where I am participating too and would love it if you'd stop by.
    Hugs, antonella :-)

  4. Great tips! I wish I could dry my towels outside but but we're in a condo. :( Hopefully soon. Thanks for the tips. Thanks for sharing! Stop by my Friday's Five Features tomorrow and link up this post (and others)! http://diy-vintage-chic.blogspot.com

  5. Great tips! The hardest thing for me is remember to get there during the rinse cycle. Have to set the timer to remind myself. Thanks for the step-by-step tutorial.
    (stopping by from Think Tank Thursday)

  6. I started doing this several months ago and I've seen a noticeable difference in my towels. Who would've thunk vinegar was the key! ~M.


  7. Awesome post! I can't wait to try this!


  8. Wow, this is new to me...I've never heard that you can clean your towels with only vinegar. I think, like you, I will do that as a maintenance step and keep using detergent in between. I use a dryer out of necessity (I have 3 kids and no clothesline, lol). Do you have a healthy replacement for dryer sheets?
    Thanks for all the great tips :)

  9. Thanks for the awesome instructions! My towels need a little love!

    Featuring you tonight at our blog hop!

    Kristina @ Mother's Niche

  10. I've been doing this lately with my towels and have noticed a difference. Thanks for linking it up at Think Tank Thursday. I have featured you today at saving4six(dot)com.

  11. Seriously trying this tomorrow! Can't wait to see the results! Thanks for linkin up with me at Sunday FUNday!

  12. I love this tip I can't wait to try it! You've been Featured this week here....http://sewlicioushomedecor.com/show-licious-craft-showcase-50-facebook-follow.

    Thank you for linking up a Sewlicious Home Decor!


  13. Helpful! Thanks...

  14. Interesting! How do you get your towels dry? Do you have a drying rack?

    1. Hi. I line dry most of my washing.

      From about November to February it gets too cold to do this, so I then use a heated airer (drying rack).


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