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Mum, this towel is scratchy!
How to make towels soft and fluffy again.


Why do towels start out so soft and get harder and harder and scratchier and scratchier?

Why do hotel towels feel soft and dry so well?


It has a lot to do with how their towels are laundered.

So let’s do what the hotels do.


Firstly, only wash your white towels with other white towels. Don’t wash them with white shirts or sheets or other items of clothing, the lint from the towels will collect on the other items and cause pilling.

Try not to use too much fabric softener.


Fabric soften builds up over time on your towels, it causes a waxy type of build up that will eventually make your towels water repellent, that means your towels will no longer dry you.


It is the build up of washing powders and fabric softeners and mineral deposits on your towels that make them hard (a little like a fine layer of concrete) and also makes them go grey over time (that and a build up of optical whiteners found in domestic washing powders).  Firstly, treat any stains with a little dishwashing liquid or plain old soap (yes, that’s right, that is what they use) and rinse it off before putting them in your machine. Use half the recommended washing powder or even less.


To eliminate the minerals that deposit on towels commercial laundries use machines that have water softeners, built into them.


(Here comes the science lesson, go onto the next bit if you don’t really care - Certain compounds, when added to hard water, act as water-softening agents. What they actually do is combine with the dissolved minerals, causing them to precipitate (be pulled out of solution), thus creating very minute insoluble solids. This process, known as water softening through precipitation, causes the hard-water minerals to be chemically bound up so that they’re no longer free to react with soap to form scum (soap curd) that attaches to your towels, or that attach themselves to the interiors of pipes, etc. and form lime scale.) Yeah, it cleans your washing machine too!


How do you eliminate mineral deposits at home? Follow this recipe.

Get a clean two litre bottle with a screw top lid,




Get a jug for mixing.

  • The recipe. In the jug, pour a ½ a cup of Borax (available in most grocery store laundry sections) and a one cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate, sometimes called "lectric soda", also available in the laundry section) and 1/2  fill the jug with very hot water.

  • Mix well. Mix the solution until the powder mixture has completely dissolved.  Pour this mixture into your 2 litre bottle and then fill the rest of the bottle up with water.

  • Softening your water. To use your homemade water softener, add one cup to each load of laundry, for particularly crunchy towels, you may need to add two cups of the mixture.

The temperature you wash your towels in is completely up to you. Commercial laundries use hot water.


Commercial laundries use a liquid bleach in addition to their detergent, to keep towels looking white. Again it is up to you if you wish to use a liquid chlorine bleach. It will remove the optical whiteners/bluing agent build up, so it can help stop your towels going “grey” over time, and that is good, but they also can weaken the fibres so that your towels might not last as long. (I personally use ½ cup of white king in every white wash).


Make sure your towels are rinsed thoroughly to remove the minerals and soap. If you use a front loader washing machine, run an extra rinse. You use less water than top load machine users, so don’t feel guilty about running an extra rinse for your towels.


Use the tumble dryer.  All hotel towels are tumble dried. You can still hang them onto the line to dry them, just “finish them off” in the dryer for 10mins.

This should keep your new towels soft and fluffy and white.


To fix the hard crunchy grey one's you already have at home, try soaking your towels overnight in a solution of 1 table spoon of borax and 2 tablespoons of washing soda to each litre of water, just to kick start it.


(If you get to the end of a couple of weeks and notice hard crunchy stones in the bottom of your bottle of homemade water softener, that is the minerals in the water "precipitating". Those are the minerals that have been depositing themselves all over your washing. No wonder your towels are scratchy.)



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