by Amber Cook
Have your towels become stiff and scratchy? Don't throw them away just yet. Hard water and fabric softeners can diminish softness, but after following a few of these tips, your towels will be fluffy, soft, and even more absorbent than they were before.
Don't use fabric softeners. This may seem like a contradiction, but fabric softeners will stop being effective after several uses and can actually damage your towels. Softeners collect on your towel and will eventually push the fibers of the fabric down. Your towel fibers then stiffen and become less absorbent because they are full of buildup from your softeners.
Use vinegar. Vinegar removes almost any kind of buildup. Using about 1 cup of white vinegar with a little bit of detergent will pull out the chemical buildup and hard water stuck in the fibers of your towels. This will help the fibers fluff up and feel softer against your skin. It will also help bring back the absorbent quality of your towels.
Use a tennis or dryer ball. Buy a few clean tennis balls and throw them into the dryer with your towels. As they balls bounce around in the dryer, they will help remove lumps while fluffing your towels. You may need to fluff your towel a little afterwards, but tennis balls should do most of the job for you. If you don't want to use tennis balls, use dryer balls, which are available in most grocery stores.
Use baking soda. A half a cup of baking soda mixed with your normal amount of detergent will also help soften your towels. Baking soda will help loosen up the towel fibers and clean off any chemicals or grime left on your towels. It will also help eliminate musty odors, which is great for swimming towels that may have sat for a while in a gym bag or in a car.
Wash fewer towels in each laundry load. Trying to wash and dry too many towels at once will not only hurt your machines, but it also interferes with the dryer's ability to dry your towels properly. A huge load of towels won't allow the air in the dryer to fluff up the fabric. The towels packed together in the dryer will mat down towel fibers and cause your towels to come out stiff instead of fluffy.
Use less detergent. As you use less detergent, you'll find that the rinse cycle will wash out all of the detergent that could potentially create residue on your towels. You may also want to try letting your detergent dissolve in the washer before you add your towels. You can do this by starting the washer with only the detergent inside, letting the wash cycle begin, and then adding the towels after you hear the washer blades begin to rotate. Giving the detergent this extra time to dissolve will minimize buildup.