You know that feeling when you buy new towels and you simply can’t wait to wrap yourself in their perfectly clean fluffiness? You can keep your towels looking and feeling just as amazing as they did when you first bought them. If you buy the right kind of towels, you should be able to keep them looking brand new if you follow certain tips. And even if you haven’t, fear not: There are ways to bring them back from the dead. Read on for tips to keep your towels free of stains and looking good as new.
No matter how dirty your towels get, especially the kids’ towels, you won’t need to use a ton of detergent in order to get them clean. In fact, using too much detergent on a regular basis can make your towels look dingy due to all of the excess build-up of detergent. There are so many different types of detergent on the market these days, so make sure you take the time to thoroughly read the instructions and follow them carefully.
If you live in an area that has hard water, you likely know the challenges that it can pose. Because it is high in minerals such as magnesium and calcium, hard water can make your towels looking stiff and make white towels take on a greyish or yellow appearance. If you suspect that hard water might be the culprit for your dingy towels, try testing the water by filling a clear container two-thirds of the way with water from your faucet. Add a few drops of any type of clear liquid soap. Put a lid on the container and then shake it vigorously.
After you set the container down, if there is clear water with a bunch of bubbles on top, you have soft water. In contrast, if you have cloudy water with just a few bubbles, that’s a good indicator that you have hard water. Check the label to see if they have specific instructions for hard water; this is the one exception to the “use the right amount of detergent rule,” as you may have to add a little bit more than the manufacturer recommends for normal loads.
As tempted as you are to kill two birds with one stone and wash your whites and darks together, don’t do it. Make sure you keep your towel sets of the same color together when you wash them. Mixing your light-colored towels with dark-colored towels or clothing will subtly start to stain your white towels over time. This is especially true if you use a hot water cycle, since cold is typically best for colors.
You might assume that bleaching the heck out of your whites will get them to that perfectly white color, but think again. Chlorine bleach can be great for whitening fabrics, but only in moderation. Using it too often actually causes whites to yellow. This is because there are natural fibers in the core that are yellowish in color, and bleaching can slowly expose those fibers over time. Always read the instructions, and make sure to only bleach your white towels periodically. Don’t make it a regular occurrence.
Once you’ve figured out why your towels have discolored and know how to prevent it going forward, it’s time to fix those towels that need a little love. Grab all your old towels and throw them into your laundry hamper. Then take the time to separate them by color. Next, try using a bleach-free whitening solution. Do this by dissolving 1 cup of baking soda into 1 gallon of warm water in your sink (with the drain plugged). Presoak the towels for at least one hour, no more than eight (this will depend on how dingy they are). Then wash them in the washing machine like you normally would, but add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle (put it in the fabric softener compartment when you add the detergent). Use a cool water setting; dry as you would normally.
Have you ever seen neighbors with their bed sheets hanging on a clothesline in their backyard and wondered why they don’t just use their dryer? There’s a good reason for it: The sun acts as a natural bleaching solution for white fabrics. Plus, everything smells fresh and amazing after being hung out in the sun to dry naturally. If you don’t have this option, feel free to use the dryer, but use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets, which have a tendency to leave a coating on towels and reduce their moisture-absorbing abilities.
Keeping these tips in mind will help you ensure you keep your towels looking as clean and fluffy as the day you first used them.