Experts weigh in.

By Sara Dickinson
July 08, 2020
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Credit: Getty / Ruthsarintre Pattarapongpatch / EyeEm

There's nothing worse than reaching for a clean, soft towel after a shower only to find a damp, smelly one. But over-washing your towels can actually break down the fibers and make them stiff and less absorbent over time—rendering "clean" linens not-so-sanitary. We talked with Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, the co-founders of The Laundress, to find out how often we really need to wash our towels, and how we can take care of them so they stay absorbent and fluffy.

"Moist towels make for ideal breeding grounds for bacteria so we recommend washing them after three to four uses," Whiting says. As for how these experts wash their own bath linens? Their approach begins with pretreating stains with a few drops of The Laundress Stain Solution ($18, thelaundress.com) and a sprinkle of their All-Purpose Bleach Alternative ($14.99, containerstore.com); when used together, they make a powerful paste.

Then, they use their stain brush ($10, thelaundress.com) to work the mixture into the fabric. "If the towel has a musty odor, pre-soak it in hot water with a quarter cup of The Laundress Scented Vinegar ($12, amazon.com) for up to 30 minutes," Whiting adds. Launder your towels on a hot cycle on their own, separating them from your day-to-day laundry—or, wash them with similar items, like sheets. "Add the appropriate amount of The Laundress Signature Detergent ($20.50, www.nordstrom.com) for the load size, but be sure not to add more than recommended," says Whiting. "Too much detergent can leave a stiff, soapy residue."

Boyd recommends shaking your towels out before you add them to the dryer. "If you throw bunched up towels into the dryer, it will delay dry time and can lead to stubborn creases," she says. "Dry towels on high with The Laundress Wool Dryer Balls ($18, thelaundress.com) to fluff and smooth wrinkles." Boyd also warns against using fabric softeners or dryer sheets since they coat fibers and reduce absorbency over time. "If you must use fabric softener, use it every other wash," she suggests.

Comments (13)

Anonymous
October 6, 2020
Regarding article: Second paragraph, first sentence, indicates washing towels after 3 to 4 uses. Hope that helps!
Anonymous
October 6, 2020
Regarding article: Second paragraph, first sentence, indicates washing towels after 3 to 4 uses. Hope that helps!
Anonymous
October 6, 2020
The article indicates that towels should be washed every 3 - 4 uses
Anonymous
October 6, 2020
If you read carefully it says wash towels after 3-4 uses. To me that means days. But yes it does seem like a commercial.
Anonymous
September 18, 2020
I would really like to know how often I should wash my towels! According to your experts,Maybe you can reprint this article ,and actually tell us your opinion on how often we should wash our towels, instead of trying to sell promotional products every other sentence!!!!! So, what’s the answer????
Anonymous
September 18, 2020
You never said how often to wash towels. This is just another greedy, stuck up way to make more money for Martha, herself. She isn’t trying to help anyone.
Anonymous
September 14, 2020
This certainly reads like a sponsored post! Regardless, I wash my towels once a week, as they air out thoroughly between uses. They never smell musty on that schedule. Also, I cut in half a sheet of fabric softener (i.e. Bounce) and put one half sheet in the dryer with my towels. They come out soft and fluffy but still absorbent.
Anonymous
August 26, 2020
This article is just an advertisement for more expensive alternatives. When a towel is used, make sure it can dry out completely before using it again. Bacteria is everywhere and so is mold--both need water to affect human life. Keep the humidity in the bathroom at lower levels. Static electricity will warn when you have gotten the humidity a little too low. ~Xmplar
Anonymous
August 25, 2020
Didn't answer the question of how often!!!
Anonymous
August 25, 2020
Our towels are thrown over a heated towel bar to dry fast. Also, can’t help feel this is an advertisement article.
Anonymous
August 25, 2020
Our towels are thrown over a heated towel bar to dry fast. Also, can’t help feel this is an advertisement article.
Anonymous
August 20, 2020
If you use your towels to dry off after a shower why would you need to pretreat with a stain remover?
Anonymous
August 20, 2020
If you use your towels to dry off after a shower why would you need to pretreat with a stain remover?