by Fiona Gredvig May 20, 2022 7 min read

How to wash your towels: the ultimate care guide.

When you're using something every day, it is important to make sure it stays clean. Even though you are your most clean when you’re fresh out of the shower and reach for that towel, the act of drying off causes dead skin cells to flake off onto the towel, which makes them the perfect habitat for bacteria. Bacteria loves a damp environment to fester and grow, so it is crucial to keep your towels clean to make sure that you and your family stays clean, too!

You may have found yourself wondering about washing your towels, whether you've had your towels for generations or you just got your new Essential Cotton Bath Towels. You may wonder - what kind of laundry detergent should I use for washing towels? Do I have to wash my towels in hot water? Maybe, most importantly, how often should I wash my towels? We’ve broken down the best tips and tricks to make sure you are getting your towels perfectly clean with every wash. Plus, we’ve uncovered the secret to improving the lifespan of your towels - read on to learn more!

Authenticity50 Essential Cotton Bath Towels in White, stacked on a black stool in the corner of a bathroom with green walls

What kind of laundry detergent is best for washing towels?

Thankfully, this is the easiest part! Whatever soap you are using for your regular laundry is likely going to be a great option for your loads of towels. If you are looking for a new detergent, we recommend Laundry Powder by Meliora Means Better. It works great on towels as well as all your laundry, and their laundry stick is amazing at getting out spot stains. They're also ethically Made in USA! 

The most important consideration for detergent is not which one? but rather, how much? While you may think that using more soap gets your towels more clean, this is not the case - using too much detergent can clog your towels and make them feel stiff and scratchy. Whether you’re using liquid, powder, or pod detergent, it is important to reference the instructions on the bottle or box to ensure you are using the proper amount. 

Should I use fabric softener when washing my towels?

Fabric softener seems like a quick way to make your old towels feel fluffy and plush, but using fabric softener on your towels can leave a residue and cause build-up on the fabric. This will not only make your towels feel less soft over time, but the build-up actually makes your towels less absorbent. Towels have one job - to dry you off. You don’t want to make that job harder for them with fabric softener! 

Is it safe to use bleach on my towels?

While you may be tempted to use bleach to get those towels extra clean, experts say that this is not a necessary step. For towels made of high quality cotton, bleach could actually damage your towels. The proper amount of good detergent and a warm water cycle in the washing machine will do the trick!

If you are hoping to brighten your white towels, a proven trick is to use vinegar! It is not necessary to add vinegar each time you wash your towels (in fact, overdoing it can be hard on your machine), but we recommend adding it to the rinse cycle once every month or two. For this method, wash your towels as you normally would. Keep an eye on your machine and as soon as it enters the rinse cycle, pour a half cup of distilled white vinegar into the wash basin. This will naturally brighten up your white towels!

2 Authenticity50 Essential Cotton Bath Towels in white hanging on a hook on the wall of a green bathroom

How often should I wash my towels?

According to the American Cleaning Institute, bath towels should be washed between every 3-5 uses. They also emphasize how important it is to hang your bath towel between uses. This allows your towel to fully dry. Hanging your towel on a hook or towel bar allows your towel to air out between uses. A moist environment is especially dangerous for towels, as this is a setting perfect for bacteria. Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD. says that “the longer towels stay damp, the longer the yeasts, bacteria, molds and viruses remain alive and stay active.” This is exactly what you don’t want on your body right after you get clean in the shower!

Many of us use washcloths to scrub up in the shower or bath, or to wash our faces in the morning and evening. While you may think it is okay to use the same wash cloth a few times, experts recommend that you wash them after every use, even if you air dry them between uses. Especially when used for washing your face, it is important not to introduce bacteria to your skin when you are trying to get it clean. Due to the frequent use of hand towels, especially when there are multiple people in your household, these should be washed every couple of days as well.

Do I have to wash my towels in hot water?

While you may think you can only get towels truly clean and disinfected with the hottest water setting, washing in warm water will do the trick just fine. In addition to thoroughly cleaning your towels, choosing a warm water cycle instead of a hot water cycle improves the lifetime of your towels. Authenticity50’s Essential Cotton Bath Towels are made with Supima Cotton, which is a luxurious fabric. To properly care for Supima cotton, it should not be washed on hot. 

What setting should I dry my towels on?

We recommend drying your towels on low heat. The Supima cotton dries faster than regular cotton and over-drying is the leading way to ruin fine towels and sheets. A low heat cycle in the dryer helps the fibers in your towel fluff up, making your towels super soft when they are fresh and clean! We recommend checking the lint trap a few times as you dry your towels, especially during the first few washes. Keeping your lint trap clean is the easiest way to shorten the drying time! Another way to help with drying time is adding dryer balls in with your towels. We love these 100% sheep wool dryer balls from Jack and Mary Designs that are made of repurposed wool!

How many towels can I wash in my machine (top vs. front loading)?

When you are going to wash a load of towels, it is important that you do not overload the washer. If the towels are tightly packed together, this can cause the fabric to rub together, creating more friction than necessary. This can also cause the detergent and water to not move around the towels properly, which is not good for the fabric and actually results in them getting less clean.

Lucy Searle, the global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens, says that it is important not to overload your machine, and a load of around 7 towels for a front-loading machine or 10 towels for a top-loading machine is a safe bet. If your machine is bigger or smaller than the average washer, that number may be different for you. “Washing machine drum capacity does vary, though, so it’s always worth checking the user manual – online if you haven’t kept the original – to ensure you don’t overload the appliance,” says Searle. 

Pro tip: Every now and then check for any signs of snags or loose threads before washing. Loose threads are normal and can be safely trimmed without impacting the towel.

It’s important to avoid washing towels with other items, as something like velcro, zippers, or denim could damage the fabric and tug on the loops that make up the towel, resulting in loose threads or pulls. While it may be tempting to throw in all of your household towels and rags into one load - including dish rags, wash cloths, bath mats, or other cleaning rags - experts advise against this as it can be unnecessarily hard on your fine bath towels. Cleaning rags or dish towels may contain oil or harsh chemicals which would be damaging to your bath towels. Additionally, bathroom related germs found on bath towels need to be kept far away from anything going back to the kitchen, according to the cleaning experts at the American Cleaning Institute.

Washing machine start button

How long will my towels last?

If towels are used at the gym or for cleaning up a muddy or messy situation, they may develop stains or not get clean enough with a regular washing. If you notice your towels are funky even after you take them out of the dryer, try soaking them in a vinegar bath to rid them of odor and grime. If it’s a sunny day, we recommend hanging your towels up outside as the sun can naturally refresh odors and brighten stains. 

We’ve uncovered the most important secret to ensure your towels live a long, happy life. It all starts with the material! Thin towels made of lower quality cotton will not last very long, as they may develop rips or snags. Authenticity50’s Essential Cotton Towels and Washcloths are built to last. Our towels are made right here in the USA, from seed-to-stitch, with 100% American grown Supima® cotton. Most basic towels have a weight of about 300 GSM (grams per square meter, the standard measurement of weight for towels). Our towels are much weightier, coming in at a GSM of 800. Paired with our oversized design, our towels are built to really cover you up and get softer with time. If you stick to these care guidelines, you can expect to enjoy these luxurious towels for years to come. 

In short, using your regular wash cycle with warm water and the proper amount of a good detergent will keep your towels feeling fresh - just be sure to wash them every 3-5 uses! Washing your towels often and correctly will help them last longer, so you don’t have to buy replacement towels as often. Is your old set of towels beyond repair? It may be time to repurpose them as cleaning rags and treat yourself with a new set of cotton towels.

Authenticity50 made in USA tag on a white cotton bath towel. Blue button with white text reads 'shop towels'



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