How To Soften Your Towels At Home? 10+ Quick & Easy Tips To Try

Can someone explain to me why my new brand towels look like sandpaper after a few washes? Why do towels in the hotels remain fluffy and soft after so many uses and washes? What do they do differently than me?

A couple of towels on a wooden surface

By the way, I don’t think it’s just me. If not all, then the majority has the same problem as me. What do you do? Do you replace them every now and then? I can’t afford that! And I don’t believe that this is the only solution.  

Thus, because I couldn’t stand wiping my face with my sandpaper towel every morning,  I searched for answers, and I found them. I found the reasons why my towels become so hard after a few washing machine visits and how to stop that. We have some quick and easy tips to soften your towels at home as the hotel insiders do!

Why are my towels too hard after washing?

Sadly, all towels after a few washing ups turned out to be hard and scratchy. Even if you purchase the most elegant and softest ones, they’ll become stiff and lose their fluffiness

Why is this happening? Do you know? Is it because of the detergent or the conditioner you use? Maybe the water is too hard? It’s not just one reason. It’s a combination of many factors. The good news is that you can bring back their first purchased texture. But what are we doing wrong?

Fabric softener 

I’m sure you’ll have in mind that using a softener will soften washcloths. At first, it might work like that. However, after a few washing ups, you might have the exact opposite effect. And that’s due to the chemicals fabric conditioners contain, that build up in the fibres reduces the absorbency of the towels and makes them stiff and scratchy. 

Some towels in a basket next to some detergent and fabric conditioner

Hard water

In many areas, tap water has a high mineral content, which is safe for people. We can’t say, though, that the same applies to the majority of household chores, including laundry. Water is one of the factors of the fabric becoming stiff and rigid.   

If you want to save your hand towels, then alter the water you’re washing them. One thought could be to install a water-softening system. Or you can add some ingredients along with the detergent you wash towels. For example, you can use washing soda or borax.

Line drying

Does the way you hang your laundry affect the texture? When it comes specifically to towels, the answer is: Yes, it does! Drying your towel on a line(we can generally say every wash) is the most natural, low-cost way to dry it, but you might need to do something extra than just grab the towel from the basket and hang it on the clothesline.

Some towels line drying on a clothesline

It is proved that this drying makes clothes more abrasive and hardened than the ones dried in a tumble dryer. Don’t worry, though! You can still have the same result as the tumble dryer. Just shake them. Before pinning them, give them a shake and one more before folding them after they have dried. 

You have them for many years

Towels you own too long is absolutely natural to have become stiff and hard over time due to a lot of uses and washes. Consistent exposure to detergents and hot heat make fibres lose their texture and softness. They become scratchy, rigid and less absorbent

Fortunately, there’s no need to toss them away and purchase new ones. You can make them last for a little longer by washing them in warm or hot water and some baking soda. Plus dry them on medium heat and enjoy your soft towels.

Can you make stiff and hard towels soft again?

In the end, all towels end up to be stiff, hard, and not very porous. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve paid for them.  Even the best ones can’t get away from that unpleasant feeling. Thankfully, there are some easy ways, that probably your grannies and mums know about but you have never bothered to ask them about. Let me be honest with you! I have never asked either! But I managed to found them and here they are!

How to soften your towels?

There are plenty of hacks to turn your scratchy, hard towels smooth again. Some of them work perfectly, whilst others don’t do a great job. Either way, here are all the tips. Read them carefully, apply them and see for yourself which one works best for you!

A couple of very soft towels next to some flowers

Wash in warm water

Sheets and towels come into direct contact with body oils and products (like body milk and lotion) that cause discolouration. Washing your towels in warm soapy water is better for cleaning the detergent residue, which makes the fibres hard.

Soften your towels using baking soda

Baking soda will remove chemicals and grime off the towels’ fibres and make them softer. What’s more, it’ll put an end to mildew odours building up because you might haven’t let them dry completely.

You’re going to need:

  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • A standard dose of your detergent

Now, do as follows:

  1. Add baking soda to the detergent.
  2. Wash as usual.

Soften your towels using white vinegar

Fabric conditioners contain oils and a few other substances that make towels lose their absorbent properties. Instead of using such chemical products to make your towels mushier, you can use vinegar, which will kill bacteria. We promise you’ll have almost the same results. What will you have to do? Just, pour a cup of distilled vinegar into the softener dispenser and let the vinegar do its magic.

Put a tennis ball in the dryer

If you use a dryer to dry towels, then we have a useful trick that will help your bath towels to get their fluff back. You can find them on stores or online as dryer balls. Place a couple of these special balls into the dryer after loading the machine to get rid of stiffness. Instead of using this, you can replace them with clean tennis balls.

The balls will “hit” the fibres during the drying process, and finally, you’ll enjoy your soft and fluffy towels. Just make sure that before you load the dryer, during the process and at the end of the cycle to give the towels a good shake

Brush them

Have you ever thought about brushing your towels like you brush your dog? As funny as it might sound, it is a handy and effective tip. While brushing, the dried detergent residue will be removed, and the strands will be separated, turning the towels thick again. 

Thus, once your towel is clean and well dried, lay it on your bed, grab your brush, and start brushing. Start by brushing in one direction on one side first, then flip it over and do the same. You can let your kids do! They will love this tip! 

How to make your towels soft without using a dryer

Not all of us own a dryer that can make our scratchy towel soft and fluffy again. And now what? Will we enjoy the softness only every time we buy new towels? The answer is “no”. Everyone has the right to have soft towels, either owning a dryer or not! Vinegar is the secret ingredient that will help your towels stay soft

Some white soft towels next to some cotton

Here’s what you have to do:

  • On each load of towels add ¼ cup of white vinegar to the machine. Vinegar will soften them. If you want your towels to have a fresh, natural smell, add a few drops of essential oil along with the vinegar.
  • Reduce the amount of laundry detergent
  • Remove your towels right after the washing cycle ends.  
  • Before line drying them on the line or the drying rack, shake them to remove excess moisture.
  • Hang them and place clothespins on the corners. 
  • Pick up the towels as soon as they dry. Before folding them, shake them once more.  

Tips to prevent stiff and hard towels

OK! All methods to soften your old towels sound good. But, are there any tips to follow to prevent your newly purchased ones losing their softness and fluffiness and becoming stiff and hard? Of course, there are! Here are a couple of tips you can follow to maintain the fluffiness on your towels:

Some white towels with a bar of soap on them
  • Use less amount of detergent in each load. Too much detergent will probably leave soap residue on the towels, making them rough. 
  • Wash them on warmer water temperatures.
  • Don’t overload your washing machine. When towels get wet, they double their size, and they become really heavy, giving your device a hard time. Plus, they probably won’t be washed properly, and you won’t get the best results of the final rinse cycle. 
  • Stop using fabric softeners. Commercial conditioners are too hard for the towels’ fabric. So, instead of using one of them try distilled vinegar which can act against the residue. 
  • Use a fabric softener but be thrifty. Use less amount of the softener and at about once a month deep clean your towels with vinegar to avoid the building up in the fibres. 
  • Use dryer balls during tumble drying. Added in the dryer while drying your towels will make them fluffier. They will bounce “beating” fibres and help them soften. Just remember to clean it every now and then, to keep working efficiently.
  • Use a water-softening system. Living in a hard water area, it’s a problem, so you should use a water-softening system or if you don’t already have then install one. 
  • Don’t place damp towels into the laundry basket. This allows a musty odour to build up. 
  •  Dry on low heat. The hot air of the dryer can make the towels’ fibres tight, stiff and less absorbent. So, set the low heat setting during the dry process.
  • Avoid using bleach. Washing your white towels with bleach will damage the fibres.
  • Clean your washer regularly. The last one is that you should regularly clean your device, especially if you own a front loader. Clean it of detergent residue as it causes mildew growth and stinky odours that eventually are transferred to your towels.

Keeping your towels smooth and velvety is from now on a challenge you can master at home. No more scratchy bath towels! A couple of vinegar drops and some pinches of baking soda are your allies to that chore.

Bear in mind that the way you wash and dry your towels can change their texture. Even the way you air drying and hang them on the clothesline can alter them. Just change the old way you treat your towels. Try the tips we’ve shared with you in this guide, and we promise you’re going to see a big difference on your towels. Trust us on that!

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend