Even the plushest towels can feel stiff and scratchy after a few months. It's because of how they're washed and dried, and if you have hard water, but with a little TLC, you can safely soften towels.
Washing towels in hard water leaves a build-up of minerals, as well as body soil, body oils, detergents, and chemicals on the fibers. Stripping all the gunk away is the best method for softening towels. Learn from the following steps how to soften towels and ways to prevent the problem from happening on future purchases.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water has high amounts of dissolved minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium. The higher the concentration of these minerals, the harder the water.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Clothes dryer
- Wool dryer balls (optional)
- Outdoor clothesline (optional)
- Water softening system (optional)
- Hot water
- Distilled white vinegar
- Household ammonia (optional)
|How to Soften Towels|
|Water Temperature||Warm or hot|
|Drying Cycle||Medium heat or permanent press|
|Special Treatments||Distilled vinegar, conditioned water|
Load the Washer With Towels
Gather similarly colored towels and washcloths, and load them into the washer. Do not overload the washer because the towels need room to move in the washer drum.
Select the Water Temperature and Cycle
Add Distilled White Vinegar and Wash as Usual
If you have pre-loaded automatic detergent and fabric softener dispensers, disengage them for this load. Do not add any detergent or fabric softener. Instead, add two cups of distilled white vinegar to the washer drum. The vinegar will help strip away the residue left in the towels that is causing them to feel stiff.
Load the Dryer Correctly and Choose the Correct Cycle
As you remove the towels from the washer, give them a quick shake to help fluff the fibers before you toss them in the dryer. Choose a medium heat or permanent press setting to prevent over-drying the fibers. After loading the dryer, toss in several wool dryer balls if you have them. The balls will "beat" the towel fibers during the tumbling action, leaving them softer and fluffier. Give the towels another good shake as you remove them from the dryer before folding.
Repeat If Needed
If the residue is particularly heavy and the towels have not returned to a soft state, repeat the steps.