How To Get Hotel Soft Towels

Using too much detergent, not rinsing thoroughly, and over-drying are some of the most common laundry mistakes and usually the cause of stiff and scratchy towels. If you’ve just bathed or showered, how dirty is your towel? Probably not very, but they can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. That’s the main reason for never sharing a towel and making sure to dry them out between uses. Here are my tips for laundry care of towels.

Equipment Needed

  • Laundry Detergent

  • Vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Sodium Percarbonate (Oxi or Oxy Products)

  • Washing Line

  • Laundry Machines

Steps Involved

1. Things to consider...

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  • As with most things in life, the quality of the item will determine how it will perform and last. Good quality Turkish or Egyptian cotton towels will last longer and stay softer than lesser quality.

  • Hard water can leave mineral deposits in the fibers, causing stiffness.

  • Too much detergent or other laundry products will clog up the fibers leaving them stiff;  too little detergent and the towels won’t be clean.

  • Follow the care label and avoid purchasing “cold wash” towels. Hot water washes will remove bacteria from used towels.

  • Treat stains such s blood 

2. The Washing Machine

Do not overload the washing machine; read the manufacture’s recommendations as overloading will hamper the cleaning and rinsing processes.

3. Settings

If a “Prewash” is available, use it especially if the water temperature is lower than the main wash. The main soiling on towels is our natural body oil (sebum) and a cool prewash will soften the oil, making the main wash more effective.

4. Detergent & Additives

  • Use a quality biological (contains enzymes) detergent.

  • Use as little detergent as possible to prevent buildup.

  • Adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle will soften the water so less detergent is needed and it will help rinse it away as well as removing odors.

  • Never use bleach as it weakens the fibers.

  • Sodium percarbonate, (aka Oxi and Oxy products) is basically a powdered form of Hydrogen peroxide.

5. Wash Temperature

  • Detergents generally work better at higher temperatures, but colored towels will fade faster in a hot wash.

  • Generally, a medium temperature wash 110f (40c) ensures towels feel and look their best over a longer period, while removing most of the germs.

  • Higher temperatures kill bacteria so wash the towels at the highest recommended temperature (read the care label),

  • A hot wash (above 120f -60c) kills the most bacteria.

6. Rinsing /Fabric Softener

  • Avoid fabric softener or use as little as possible as it deposits a thin layer of wax on the fibers and that decreases absorbency.

  • If your machine allows it (check with manufacturer) add up to half a cup of vinegar to the final rinse (place in the softener dispenser). Vinegar will remove any remaining detergent residue and has been proven to whiten whites and brighten colors and remove odors.

  • Try reviving old towels by washing them on a long hot wash with 1-2 cups of vinegar and no detergent or additives. This will remove detergent, softener and hard water deposits.

7. Drying

  • Drying outside in fresh air is best, as natural sunlight has a bleaching effect, keeping white towels bright and white and the UV rays help kill bacteria. Placing in a dryer on a medium or low setting when they are slightly damp will fluff them up, but don’t overheat them. If the towels are dry use the air setting (no heat) for ten minutes to soften.

  • Do not dry on a radiator, because they will end up as stiff as a board.​


  • When using a dryer, check that the lint filter is clean. New towels tend to produce a lot of lint during the first few dryings, so check the lint filter throughout the drying process until the excess lint is removed. A clogged lint filter (and/or dryer vent) will slow or even prevent the towels from drying and it is important not to overheat them.

  • Do not overload the dryer because the towels need to circulate to dry as evenly as possible.


  • As terry cloth can be thick, the outer fabric will dry first and then the moisture deeper in the towel will take longer to dry. Continuing to heat the dry outer fabric on the high setting will damage it, so start with a high setting and when damp (if your dryer has a damp sensor setting use it) lower the temperature to medium and then to low until they are fully dry.

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