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AshlynM's avatar

Any suggestions on how to soften up rough feeling bath towels?

Asked by AshlynM (6157 points ) November 28th, 2012

Some people have suggested vinegar, fabric softener and brushing the towel with a hairbrush. I know I can just buy soft towels but I’d like to try and salvage my old towels first.

Anything you have used in the past to soften up towels that works for you?

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15 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Fabric softner would be my suggestion, but I see you have already tried that. If you do buy new towels keep in mind very soft, plush towels tend to not absorb water well. Somewhere in the middle is the ideal in my opinion.

woodcutter's avatar

We get rough feeling towels when we hang them outside on the line to dry after washing. Stiff like sheet metal. Fluff tumble dry a few minutes to smooth them out and a hardy snap as they are folded tames them. We have soft water. The hardness of your water might be a factor.

Sunny2's avatar

I use fabric softener in the dryer and that seems to work for me.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t even think that you might not be tumble drying the towels. Definitely tumble drying helps to soften towel. Completely dry them in a dryer if you aren’t now, and add a dryer sheet like bounce for some added softness. In fact, I like dryer sheets better than fabric softner in the washing machine. But, both will reduce the aborbability when trying to dry yourself off after bathing.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

The fabric softener when drying and a bit of bicarb soda in the wash fluffens things up.

RocketGuy's avatar

We use vinegar in the wash and softener sheets in the dryer. The other stuff probably works too.

Do not use color-safe bleach – that makes fabrics rough.

Sometimes towels are so old that there is nothing you can do to make them fluffier.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Don’t use fabric softener on towels as it makes them much less absorbent.

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snowberry's avatar

I’m wondering if the towels are rough because they have hard water deposits or soap residue on them… If it’s hard water alone, I’d assume soaking in cheap white vinegar overnight would help, then launder as usual, only with minimal detergent, and maybe add an extra rinse.

You might also contact a dry cleaners, and ask them what they suggest (maybe they have a trick they might share).

gailcalled's avatar

We have hard water here and line-dried towels are rough but useable. When you leap out of the shower and your body is warm and moist. and you wrap yourself up, you hardly notice it. The problem with white vinegar is that the laundry smells like salad dressing.

@snowberry: Dry cleaners use harsh chemicals (tetrachloroethylene) for dry cleaning. There is a higher % of cancer among people who have worked in dry cleaning establishments than the norm. (One of many similar articles and from Mother Jones

Handy Tips for Drying Clothes Outside

We hang dry all of our clothing. Here are…tips to avoid the stiffness:

Stop your washer before the entire spin cycle is complete. Having a little bit more water in the wet clothing actually helps prevent them from being wrinkled and stiff.

Use less detergent. Often times, the major culprit s detergent build up.

snowberry's avatar

@gailcalled I use white vinegar in my wash all the time. If I have a stinky towel or wash rag, it gets soaked in white vinegar before it gets washed. The laundry doesn’t smell like salad dressing if you wash it after, and send it through an extra rinse cycle or two. I know, because I do it about every week. My laundry never ever comes out smelling like salad dressing, and of course the vinegar removes the stinky smell from the washrags and towels.

I never suggested sending the towels to a drycleaners; I did suggest asking if they had any tips for what could be done at home (You are unlikely to get too many toxins from simply asking, you know)! I’m very environmentally conscious, thankyou!

Occasionally I get some good tips from asking the right people.

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jca's avatar

When you buy new towels, they are fluffy and soft because of industrial quality fabric softener. I can’t stand that feeling and will wash my new towels a few times before using them. Who wants that chemical on their skin? I like my clothes and towels to feel rough, I equate it with cleanliness. When I hang them to dry, they usually feel rough. I actually asked a question on Fluther about a year ago, about laundry feeling softer when dried in the dryer.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

I suspect hard water buildup.

Have the water tested for high mineral content.

If needed get a water softener. Not only will it make all your laundry happier but you see a huge improvement in your dishes, skin, hair, car’s finish and glass.

In other words hard water can significantly reduce the quality of your social life.

Life is too short for that.

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