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How To Keep Towels Soft

It’s hard to overstate the luxury that can be felt from a pile of freshly washed, soft white towels.

The fragrant rush of softener, the delicate sweep of tousled fibres. The moment when your clean cotton towels brush your damp skin for the first time is what makes the effort of laundry day that much more bearable.

But as time passes your towels age. Slowly, those soothing soft towels turn stiff. Scratchy. Bathing no longer ends in an indulgent embrace. Instead it’s a quick scrub dry.

How would you feel if we told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

A new set of towels should last for years, not months, in their full, fluffy, pomp and prime. You really don’t have to face hard towels after washing! 

Cleaning towels and still keeping them comfy is possible. Do you really think luxury hotels are putting a brand-new set of towels out every day? No. They just follow a few simple steps to keep towels soft for years.

So, if you’re struggling with cardboard cotton, and towels that crunch their way off the line, here are our tips on how to get soft towels after every wash.

What is the best way to wash towels?

The best way to wash towels is always going to be using a machine. Invest in a quality detergent and get a separate fabric conditioner. 

You should also try to wash them in small loads as an overfilled machine won’t rinse properly. Water, soap and even dirt will get trapped in your towel fibres. They won’t be clean, and they won’t be soft.

The average 8kg washing machine is best kept to two or three bath sheets or equivalent. 

Do you wash towels in hot or cold water?

You should always wash your towels in hot water.

Mainly, this is because hot water helps fabric absorb detergent better and helps the washing process. It also helps to kill germs and keep the fabric fibres malleable and soft.

Do towels need to be washed at 60c?

A 60c cycle will kill the most germs, remove maximum dirt and give your towels a very thorough clean. 

Unfortunately, ethical and ecological considerations make regular washing at 60c a moral quandary. 

We recommend alternating your washes between 30c and 60c, to maintain fluffy towels without harming the environment.

Or, if you do tumble dry your towels, you could stick to washing at 30c or 40c for the majority of the time. That’s because the heat in the dryers can be twice as effective at killing germs as a washing machine.

How long should you tumble dry towels for?

There is no hard and fast time that you HAVE to tumble your towels. Lots of different things will work together to affect the optimal drying time.

For a start, the spin cycle of your washing machine will affect how wet your towels are when they come out.  The wetter they are, the longer they’ll need to dry.

The power of your tumble dryer is also going to have a big impact. 

The best way to work out how long to tumble your towels for is to keep a close eye on a couple of cycles. After twenty minutes, pause the dryer and give the towels a squeeze to judge how long they need. This will help you find a bespoke time for your own machine.

How do you keep towels soft when line drying?

We’ll be honest there are a lot of benefits to tumble drying your towels. It kills germs, it softens the fibres, and it’s quicker. 

But not everyone can, or wants to use a dryer. Luckily, there are steps you can take to tackle stiffness in your towels when they are line dried.

Firstly, as soon as they come out of the wash, give them a good, hard shake. This will help loosen the fibres like a tumble dryer would. 

If possible, dry them on a windy day. Obviously, you’ll need to peg them securely, but the breeze will also keep towels moving and stop them stiffening.

If you have a dryer, but just want to limit your use of it, try tumbling for 10 minutes at the start or at the end of the drying process. This will use a lot less energy, but will help echo the effects of a full tumble cycle.

Is it OK to use fabric softener on towels?

As we mentioned above, a separate softener is a key part of revitalising your towels. 

The only issue that comes from fabric conditioner is when you use too much. Then sudsy residue can begin to build up which will start to stiffen those delicate towel fibres.

So, use conditioner, just use it sparingly. Measure it out according to the instructions on the packaging. Doubling the amount of liquid, won’t double the softness. In fact, you might find the exact opposite happens!

If you do start to notice a build-up, skip the softener and wash your towels with a capful of white vinegar instead. This will break down the residue, release the towel fibres and return them to their fluffy, cotton best.

How to soften towels naturally

Not everyone wants to fill their towels (or their homes) with products full of chemicals they can’t pronounce. 

These days, there are plenty of laundry products that are as kind on the environment as they are on your clothes. Organic, vegan-friendly, low ingredient options are available. 

Everyday household items can also be employed as part of your laundry arsenal. You can use vinegar as mentioned above, or you can use a capful of baking soda. This has the added bonus of absorbing any stale odours that may form if towels are left without washing for a while.


Maybe it is just us who feel like a million dollars when we’re wrapped in a fresh, fluffy towel. But we don’t think so. 

We hope these suggestions will help you keep your towels soft, clean, and oh-so-luxurious just like we love them.


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