Monday, February 14, 2011

Prolonging the Life of Your Towels

We have towels that were given to us as wedding gifts 10 years ago. They are still in fantastic condition. In fact, so many are in such great condition, that some of them on the bottom of the pile have never been used! I do not know if we will ever have to buy new towels as this rate!

So how do we make our towels last so long? Here are a few tips:

  1. Wash every 5-7 uses. That's right...we use towels for about a week and hang them up to dry. The less laundering, the longer the life.
  2. Hang to dry completely. If you do not wash after each use, make sure you hang the towels in a way to allow them to dry completely. If they are still wet a few hours later, you need to find another way or place to hang them or they are just going to reek soon. Make sure the entire towel is exposed to air for drying purposes. If you can hang near sunlight, this will help.
  3. Wash on the warmest setting allowed by the colors of the towels. I know...this goes against the conservation teachings, but the more germs and stains you get out of your towels, the longer they will last. Promise.
  4. Do NOT use fabric softener. I've covered this before on this blog, but I will say it again. Do NOT use fabric softener on your towels. This includes liquid softener for the wash, dryer sheets, or those terrible, terrible dryer bars that one particular company promotes (terrible because fabric softener damages some clothes and this is a semi-permanent fixture to your dryer). The chemicals that make your towels soft also make them non-absorbent. Ever tried to use a towel that will not soak up water? It will not remove water from your wet body either. That's a sign that they have been washed and/or dried with fabric softener. There is no way to fix this...you just have to toss them.
  5. Get the funk out. Also preached on this blog before, there are times when your towels just get this smell. It permeates the towel and no amount of regular washing will remove it. But you do not have to throw in the towel (I'm so punny) or buy some special cleaning products. Here's how to get rid of it: white vinegar. Wash your towels with vinegar rather than detergent in one load and dry as usual. Smell gone. And no...your towels will not smell like vinegar when they dry.
  6. Hang out to dry. This is one that we do not do because we have no where to hang up clothes, but line drying instead of machine drying will save your towels (and some electricity as well!).

So that's it. Use these steps and I promise that your towels will last longer too!

Photo credit: heltje

15 comments:

  1. We do most of the same things around my house, too! And all the towels I brought to college seven years ago are still good as new!

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  2. Interesting post here! I've actually had a lot of my towels (cheap ones from Wal Mart) for like 5 years, and they don't seem to be showing any wear. Being a non-clean freak guy, I probably only wash my towels about once every three weeks. Maybe that is what's prolongin' their life! haha

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  3. @Maria--Glad to see that these methods work for others too!

    @Jake--Three weeks, huh? Wow. =) Glad it works for you though!

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  4. Hang your laundered towels on a clothesline around here and you'll take in rectangular pieces of cardboard. You can beat the crispiness out, though, by putting them in the dryer on "air-dry" for about 10 minutes after you take them off the line.

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  5. Great tip @Funny about Money! That is always a problem of line-dried items.

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  6. I do many of the same things in my household as well. I never understood why some people wash towels after every use.

    You shower and use the towel so it is wiping CLEAN water off your body. I use one towel per person for the week and wash the towels on a weekly basis. Each person has his or her own bath towel and hand towel and they are hung up to dry after every use.

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  7. @Lulu--That's what we do. But I grew up in a family where everybody's towels were washed after each use. With 6 family members, no wonder there was always laundry to do! Now that my mom lives alone, she reuses her towels. I wonderful what made her change her way of thinking.

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  8. I'd never heard that about fabric softener! And I do have one of those bars, too. Yikes!

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  9. @Nichole--You should never use fabric softener on towels of any type (for the reason above) or on infant sleepwear (remove flame resistant properties).

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  10. Eww...line-dried towels are like sandpaper. lol

    But we do all of the other things, too, and we've only bought new towels once. (That was because I didn't like the colors of the ones hubby had before we were married ten years ago, not because the original towels were worn out. They're still in good shape!)

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  11. @Rachel R.--I agree...they are pretty bad. Funny About Money has a great tip for that above.

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  12. I have one tip to add to yours! If you have a house with small children, make hand towels readily accessible for after-meal washups. Before I did this, I constantly had to put out new big towels for the kids which meant more laundry.

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  13. Great tip, Barb! Thanks for the addition!

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  14. @Kaye: Wow, that's crazy to wash a towel after each use for six people! My mom assigned colors to me and my siblings... we had towels, bedding, toothbrushes and drinking cups in our "color". Towels were rehung after each use and washed once a week. I wash my own towels twice a month. I figure I'm drying completely clean hair and body, why do they need to be washed so often? Good tips, Mrs. Nespy. We don't have hot water running to our washer, so I have to rely on the dryer to kill any germs, which again I don't know how bad they can be drying a clean body.

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  15. I do those things too and my towels have lasted at least 10 yrs. There is nothing worse than to use the towels at someone's house, that you know are clean, and they smell like yucko from them leaving them in a wet pile to get gross for days on end. I do use fabric softener with vinegar in a mixture of about 3 parts vinegar to 1 part softener and they still absorb great but are soft as well.

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