Skip to Content

The Best Way to Wash Towels To Keep Them Soft And Fluffy

Sharing is caring!

The process of washing towels is fairly easy, but it is a bit more than simply throwing them into the washing machine and turning it on. In fact there is a best way to wash towels to keep them soft and fluffy.

The Best Way to Wash Towels to Keep Them Soft and Fluffy

Best Way to Wash Towels to Keep Them Soft and Fluffy

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It has been a few years now since I made it my mission to figure out how to stop towels from smelling. It was so nice to have fresh smelling towels again, but my towels still weren’t very soft. The thought of soft and fluffy towels sounded fabulous, so I decided to look into how to improve my towel washing method. What I found out was that I was already doing a lot of things right when it came to towel washing. Many of the techniques I had implemented to rid my towels of mildew smells were also ways to help to keep towels soft.

The reason I still had rough towels was because I hadn’t continued washing my towels with those techniques. Once the mildew smell was gone I hadn’t seen a reason to keep washing my towels with baking soda and vinegar.

After doing all of this research I have gone back to using many of those towel washing techniques and I must say that I’ve really noticed a difference in how soft and fluffy my towels are!

Why are My Towels Hard and Scratchy?

Do you remember the episode from Friends where Ross has to teach Rachel how to do laundry? I think that is how most of us learn. We’re taught how to separate our loads, but other than that we’re taught to throw in some approved cleaner and that’s about it. We may or may not use things such as fabric softener, dryer sheets, or other such items based on the opinion of the person instructing us.

The problem is that how you wash your towels, and the products you choose to use, actually has a great effect on how your towels feel after the wash. Over time these things cause a chemical build up on the towel fibers which is how you end up with towels that are hard and scratchy.

How to Get Towels Soft and Fluffy Again

Now before I tell you the best way to wash towels I do want to mention a few things. First of all if you buy low quality towels they are going to wear out faster. They will simply get rough and scratchy a lot sooner no matter what you try. Not that you have to buy expensive towels, but make sure you keep this in mind if these washing methods don’t fully help the problem.

Second, for those of you out there with hard water, like I have, I feel your pain! There is no getting around the fact that it is difficult to get really soft and fluffy towels when you’re battling hard water. Using the washing techniques I’m about to share will help, but your towels likely won’t be as soft as you truly want. Hopefully you have a better water softener then the one I have!

The final thing is that if you have old towels that are really rough then they just might be worn out. Towels don’t last forever. If you try this way of washing a few times and see no change then it might just be time to invest in some new towels.

Use Less Detergent

It might seem crazy, but the first step in achieving soft and fluffy towels is to use less detergent when you wash them. The detergent chemicals can actually get attached to the towel fibers over time which is a big reason of why they get stiff. Using less detergent will make it easier for your washing machine to rinse the majority of the detergent off.

If you want to take things a step further you can use even less detergent and mix it with baking soda. The baking soda will not only will help to get rid of any mildew like smells, but it also has the ability to help get some of the extra dirt and chemicals off of the towels while they’re being washed.

Wash Smaller Loads

When it comes to the best way to wash towels to keep them soft and fluffy one of the key factors is to actually wash less towels at a time. This really goes with the first point of using less detergent. When you have a smaller load the washing machine is better able to give a good wash to the items that are being washed.

To truly give your towels the best wash possible you want a laundry load that is just towels. Aim to wash a small to medium size load. That load should be loosely packed as well.

Washing Towels in Laundry Room

Wash With Warm Water

When it comes to washing towels warm to hot water is always best. Part of the reason for this is because the hot water will help to sanitize your towels. The hotter the water the more sanitized your towels will get. The other reason is because the hot water absorbs the detergent better so it doesn’t buildup on your towels.

Shop My Laundry Room:

Doing the laundry isn’t usually a fun process, but it’s far more enjoyable when you decorate your laundry room with fun items like these found on Etsy! Simply click the image that interests you.

Ditch the Fabric Softener

Do you remember those old commercials where the lady doing the laundry gets upset because she forgot to put the fabric softener in? Well, you shouldn’t be that person when washing towels because fabric softener is actually really bad for them.

A fabric softener can cause the towels to repel water. Meaning they won’t get as good of a clean, and they won’t work as well when you use them either! What good is a towel that repels water instead of taking it off what it is supposed to be drying?

Instead of using fabric softener use a small amount of white vinegar. The vinegar helps remove any soapy residue that has built up on the towels which helps them t0 stay soft and fluffy. You do not need to use vinegar every time you wash the towels though. Every few weeks is enough.

If you are planning on using baking soda as I mentioned above it is very important that you do not mix it directly with the vinegar. Otherwise you’ll end up with a big mess on your hands.

I know when researching in the past a lot of sites say to never wash with baking soda and white vinegar together, but at this point I have done it hundreds of times. If you are unsure about how to safely use both products in the same wash be sure to read my article about how to wash towels with vinegar and baking soda safely.

Towels Drying on Clothes Line

Dry Your Towels Correctly

When it comes to the best way to wash towels to keep them soft and fluffy then you can’t skip paying attention to the final part of the laundry process. That is how you go about drying the towels!

I mentioned earlier that towels need to be washed in very hot water. Now you probably would think that they should be dried really well too. That is actually not the case though. Over time the heat from the dryer can actually damage your towels. The best course of action is to dry them on a lower setting and for as little of time as possible.

If you want to keep your towels soft then you do not want to use any type of dryer sheets with your towels. Dryer sheets can transfer a waxy buildup to the towels causing the same problems that fabric softeners do.

To prevent this problem dry your sheets with dryer balls. I have been using these dryer balls for about two years now and I love them! They help fluff my towels up, and they also help towels dry faster so they don’t need to be in the heat as long.

Of course to avoid a waxy build up and too much heat you could hang your towels up on a clothes line if you prefer which is a great way to save some money on electricity. If you do this you want to remember a few things. First you’ll want to shake the towels out to help fluff up the fibers before you hang them on the line. Also, be sure to really spread the towels out and to not overlap them anywhere. Air drying doesn’t always get towels as soft and fluffy though, so you might still want to throw them in a dryer for a quick fluff after you take them off the clothesline.

Best Way to Clean Towels

That’s all there is to it! This is the best way to wash towels to keep them soft and fluffy. Plus it will help them stay sanitary and smelling great! So the next time you step out of the shower you can dry off with a wonderfully soft towel.

More Homemaking Tips and Tricks


Friday 14th of December 2018

These are good tips! I never thought to use a lower heat setting? I've always used vinegar though and I noticed that they don't get as hard . I will start using a lower heat setting. Thanks!


Sunday 6th of January 2019

That one was a new tip for me too when I went looking for ideas. You learn something new every day, right? ;-) I hope the lower heating setting has helped you!


Monday 10th of December 2018

Elizabeth, thank you very much for this post! I've tried different methods but towels still were scratchy and rough. I'll definitely try to add baking soda, I really hope it works although if it worked for you it should work for us also. I've never heard of dryer balls. Well, that's something new. By the way, how do you know if towels are good quality?


Sunday 6th of January 2019

I hope that the baking soda has helped you. It really can make a big difference.

As far as high quality towels go you want to look for towels that are made out of a fine, long cotton fiber. Some good choices are Egyptian, Brazilian, or Supima cotton.