How to Wash, Dry, and Care for Bath Towels

Bath towels are essential items in any home. They keep us warm and dry after bathing or showering. Properly washing, drying, and caring for bath towels allows them to last for years while remaining soft and absorbent. This guide will provide tips and best practices for extending the life of your bath towels.


Bath towels go through a lot of use, absorbing water, body oils, and dead skin cells. With frequent laundering, they can become scratchy, thin, and lose their ability to absorb moisture. While regular washing is important for hygiene, there are steps you can take to keep bath towels fluffy and luxurious for longer.

From laundering techniques, drying methods, and proper storage, this comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about washing, drying, and caring for bath towels. We’ll provide tips on detergent choices, water temperature, dryer settings, folding techniques, and more. With the proper care, your bath towels can last for many years, saving you money and hassle replacement costs.

Follow these best practices for maximizing the life of your bath towels, keeping them soft and able to absorb plenty of water after each use.

How to Wash Bath Towels

Washing bath towels regularly is important to remove dirt, bacteria, and grime. However, laundering too aggressively can damage fibers and cause towels to wear out faster. Follow these tips for keeping bath towels clean while avoiding damage from washing.

Wash Towels Separately

Wash towels separately from other laundry. Towels can pick up lint and chemicals from fabrics like jeans, workout clothes, and bedding. Washing them alone prevents transfer of these particles. It also allows you to customize wash settings specifically for towel fabrics.

Use a Mild Detergent

Harsh detergents can be too abrasive for towel fibers. Look for a gentle liquid detergent formulated for delicates or baby clothes. Powder detergents can sometimes leave residue in towels. Liquid gentle detergents fully dissolve and rinse clean.

Wash in Cool to Warm Water

Skip the hot water for towels! Hot water can fade colors and shorten fiber lifespan. Wash towels in cool to lukewarm water temperatures. The warm water can dissolve detergents without being too harsh on fabrics.

Skip Fabric Softener

Fabric softener and dryer sheets can coat towel fibers, reducing their absorbency. Softener chemicals can also build up over time. For soft fluffy towels, skip the fabric softener. If you want a scented towel, add a few drops of essential oil to the wash cycle instead.

Shake Out Towels Before Washing

Before placing in the washing machine, shake out towels to remove any particles like hair, dirt, and sand. Particles can become trapped in towel fibers, so pre-shake to keep towels cleaner.

Wash Towels After 3 Uses

Launder bath towels every 3 uses or so. Washing too frequently can degrade towels. But you also want to wash before oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up. Every 3 uses is the sweet spot for keeping towels fresh and long-lasting.

How to Dry Bath Towels

Proper drying is key for maintaining super absorbent and soft bath towels. Follow these guidelines for keeping towels fluffy and luxurious.

Shake Out Towels Before Drying

As with washing, shake out damp towels before placing in the dryer. This prevents lint and particles from getting stuck in the fibers.

Dry Towels Alone

Like washing, dry towels solo without other laundry items. This prevents lint transfer to your towels. It also allows you to set optimal dryer settings for the towel fabrics.

Use Low Heat

High heat in the dryer can damage and fade towel fibers. Use the lowest heat setting to gently dry bath towels. Low heat is sufficient to fully dry towels while being gentle.

Dry Towels Completely

Remove towels from the dryer as soon as the cycle finishes. Leftover moisture can lead to mildew and bacteria growth. Make sure towels are completely dry before folding and storing.

Use Dryer Balls (Optional)

Wool or rubber dryer balls can help separate towel fibers and increase airflow in the dryer. This allows towels to dry faster and fluff up more. Dryer balls are optional but can make towels extra soft and voluminous.

Air Dry Towels (Optional)

To maximize towel longevity, air drying is ideal. Hang towels outdoors or inside on a drying rack. Air drying avoids heat damage from dryers and prevents lint buildup. For fastest drying indoors, use a fan to circulate air.

Use Low or No Heat with Dryer (Optional)

If air drying isn’t practical, use the air dry cycle on your dryer or no heat. This still circulates air to dry towels without the harsh heat. Towels may take longer to fully dry, so plan accordingly.

How to Fold Bath Towels

Proper folding can help linen towels maintain their shape and absorbency. Here are some techniques.

Fold Towels Lengthwise

Fold bath towels in half lengthwise before folding over widthwise. This prevents creasing and maintains the length of the fibers.

Fold into Thirds

Fold towels into thirds rather than halves. The thinner folded size allows more even drying and prevents mildew-prone creases.

Roll Towels for Storage

For space-saving storage, tightly roll towels and place them upright in a basket or shelf. This prevents permanent creases from long-term folding.

Fold Washcloths in Half

For washcloths, fold in half widthwise rather than thirds. The smaller size doesn’t require more compact folding. Store folded washcloths in a drawer or bin.

Use the KonMari Folding Method

The KonMari fold is great for towels. Fold towels in thirds lengthwise. Then take the sides and fold them into the center third before folding in half widthwise. This creates tidy rectangles that store neatly.

Caring for Bath Towels

Aside from washing and drying, small measures in how you use and store towels can maximize longevity.

Alternate Towel Use

Rotate 2-3 towels per person in your household. Don’t use the same bath towel every day. Letting towels fully dry between uses prevents mildew and odors.

Hang Towels to Dry Between Uses

After use, hang towels over the shower rod, door hook, or towel bar. Allowing airflow prevents dampness and mildew growth between washes.

Use White Vinegar

For dingy looking towels, wash them with 1⁄2 cup white vinegar, which breaks down residues. Vinegar also acts as a natural fabric softener.

Disinfect Regularly

Once per week, wash towels on a hot sanitizing cycle or soak in bleach solution to kill bacteria. This prevents odor buildup over time.

Inspect Frequently

Check towels regularly for stains and holes forming. Pre-treat stains immediately to avoid setting. Retire towels once they become too thin or develop large holes.

Remove Lint and Pills

Use a lint brush or fabric shaver to remove lint balls and pilling on old towels to refresh them. Check washers and dryers for lint buildup as well.

Wash Towels Before Storing

Launder towels before packing them away for long periods. Mold and mildew can grow on folded damp towels over time.

FAQs About Washing, Drying and Caring for Bath Towels

How often should you wash bath towels?

Wash bath towels every 3 uses or so. Washing too frequently can degrade fibers. But you want to launder before oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria build up. Every 3 uses is the ideal frequency for cleaning and longevity.

Should you wash bath towels separately?

Yes, wash bath towels separately from other laundry. Towels can pick up lint, chemicals, and dirt from fabrics like jeans and bedding if washed together. Separate towel washing lets you customize settings and prevent particle transfer.

What temperature should you wash and dry towels?

Wash towels in cool to lukewarm water and dry on low heat. Hot water can fade colors, and high heat damages fibers. Cool water and low dryer heat sufficiently clean and dry towels while being gentle.

Can you put towels in the dryer?

Yes, you can put bath towels in the dryer on low heat. Tumble drying prevents mildew growth and fully dries towels. Be sure to dry towels completely before removing them from the dryer to prevent moisture buildup.

Should you use fabric softener on towels?

Avoid fabric softener and dryer sheets for bath towels. The softener chemicals coat fibers, reducing absorbency. Instead, add a few drops of essential oils to the wash cycle for a light scent.

How do you fold a bath towel?

Fold bath towels in thirds lengthwise, then fold over widthwise. Folding into thirds prevents creasing better than halves. For washcloths, simply fold in half widthwise. Roll towels for compact storage to avoid permanent creases.

How do you make old towels soft again?

To soften old scratchy towels, wash them with a 1⁄2 cup of baking soda or white vinegar, which removes residues. Use low heat drying and dryer balls to fluff fibers. Remove lint pills and avoid fabric softener buildup to refresh towel softness.

How do you disinfect bath towels?

Disinfect bath towels by washing weekly on a sanitize cycle or soaking in a dilute bleach solution for 10 minutes. This kills odor and bacteria. Wash towels in hot water every few months as well. Rotate 3+ towels per person to allow full drying between uses.

How do you get mildew smell out of towels?

To remove mildew smells from towels, soak them for 1 hour in water with 1 cup of vinegar added. Rinse and wash as normal. Avoid leaving damp towels folded for prolonged periods. Fully dry towels between uses and wash frequently to prevent mildew odors.

What ruins bath towels?

Hot water, harsh detergents, fabric softener, and high heat drying can damage fibers and ruin bath towels prematurely. Mildew from damp storage and excessive lint buildup in washers and dryers also shorten towel lifespan. Follow care guidelines to maximize softness and absorption!


Regular washing, gentle drying, and proper storage are key for keeping your bath towels in tip-top shape. By following these best practices, you can enjoy super soft, absorbent, clean towels for many years before needing to replace them. With the right care, your bath towels will feel plush and luxurious wash after wash.

Implementing these care tips will save you time and money since well-maintained towels last longer. Towels free of stains, holes, and mildew odors will give your bathroom a fresher, cleaner feel as well. Taking proper care of your bath linens ensures this essential item feels and functions like new for the duration of its useful life.