It feels great to wrap up in a big, fluffy towel after a steamy shower, but it's frustrating when that towel isn't quite up to the job. Over time, towels lose their ability to hold water and dry as needed thanks to daily use and the biggest culprit—laundry detergent.
Think about it: unless you are a pretty vigorous towel-drier, we don't beat our towels up as much as we think. Instead, according to Becky from The Mamas Girls, detergent buildup over countless cycles in the washing machine is what robs towels of their absorbency.
Though a bottle of laundry detergent offers helpful suggestions on how much soap should be used with each washing machine load, that recommendation encourages you to use more than necessary.
Over time, these oversized doses of laundry detergent and fabric softener build up on the towels' fabric, and they begin to lose their absorbency, their fibers too weighed down with soap. It can even make your towels less able to dry thoroughly once they've been washed.
Whether you want to preserve the fluffiness of brand new towels or desperately need to reinvigorate old ones, the following hack will leave them both soft and more absorbent.
Becky recommends washing a load of towels on your machine's hottest setting. Depending on your washer, you can first let the tub fill with water, or simply toss your towels in if that's not an option. Then add one cup of white vinegar either directly into the water-filled washer or in the detergent tray of your machine.
If you own a washer that allows you to interrupt its cycle, add half a cup of baking soda during its rinse. If your machine features a locking door, you can add the baking soda where you would pour fabric softener and let the washer do its work without intervention.
The vinegar helps dissolve any soap buildup, remove odors, and soften the material, while baking soda helps scrub the remaining bits of gunk away and also softens the material. Once the cycle is complete, your towels will be fluffed and renewed—after a spin in the dryer, of course.
This is a hack you can use again and again whenever your towels—or even your clothes—need a bit of a refresh. If they begin to smell funky, or start to lose absorbency, try another round of vinegar and baking soda to get them free of buildup once again.
Becky also notes that this method is good for brand new towels. Though you might assume that ones straight off the shelf are free of any detergent, she points out that when manufactured, towels are actually treated with a fabric softener to make them feel extra fluffy in the store. So, when your towels arrive home, they're ready to repel water rather than absorb.
Enjoy your fresh, fluffed, and absorbent towels!