Weekend Projects

Want Fluffier Towels? Try This Laundry Routine the Next Time You Wash

published Sep 18, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

After an invigorating cold shower to start the day or a hot bath that sets the tone for a relaxing evening, wrapping up in the comfort of a fluffy towel is one of life’s most simple and reliable joys. But when your towel is stiff, hard, less absorbent than it should be, and maybe even not smelling so fresh, the sensation is tinged with disappointment and frustration. But you don’t have to resign yourself to musty towels. You might be able to refresh them to be as luxurious as those pristine, cushy hotel towels you wish you had.

Towels get rough and crunchy because of the build up of all kinds of stuff you don’t want to be rubbing all over your body after you make yourself clean. In addition to accumulating a buildup of detergent and fabric softener residue, your towels regularly absorb your own body oils and dirt, the remnants of personal care products, and the mineral deposits left behind by hard water. Towels can also harbor bacteria and mildew. All of these lead to towels that are far less than spa-like.

This weekend, we’re going to pull those stiff towels out of rotation and give them the royal treatment so they can give you the royal treatment.

This Weekend: Strip and fluff your towels.

Your towels are not beyond hope. Stripping all the build-up in them can help restore them to their former fluffiness. To get the yuck out of your towels, you’ll need three things (that you might already have at home): baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and tennis balls or dryer balls.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Add a cup of baking soda to the washing machine drum along with your clothes. Then, add distilled white vinegar to the fabric softener compartment.
  2. Run a regular wash cycle (sans detergent).
  3. After the load is finished and transferred to the dryer, add tennis balls or dryer balls to the load to help soften towels. Skip the fabric softener.
Credit: Kalcutta/Shutterstock

If your towels need a more powerful treatment, try this super-stripper formula:

  1. Fill a bathtub, large bucket or basin, or laundry sink with hot water.
  2. Add ¼ cup Borax, ¼ cup washing soda, and ½ cup powdered detergent to the water.
  3. Submerge your clean towels and stir.
  4. Soak for 4 or 5 hours, stirring every hour or so.
  5. Run towels through a rinse cycle in your washer.
  6. Dry as usual.

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Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.