How To Get Rid of Common Towel Complaints and Make Them Last Long

Family towels undergo heavy-duty use and they tend to get ‘unusable’ after some time. In fact, you might be using the best laundry detergent and fabric softener but within a month or two, your best (and most expensive) towels tend to look old and everyone starts complaining.

You are fed-up. But before you actually start throwing out those expensive towels, stop a minute and consider.

What are your common towel complaints and is there any way you can get rid of these complaints economically and make your towels last long?

Yes you can!


Common Towel Complaints Addressed

The most common towel complaints are usually about fading, material hardness and scratchiness, non-absorbency, etc. Read on to find out how you can get rid of them.

Mildewy Towels

Towels tend to catch mildew quickly. The only way to prevent this is by running the towels through a quick bleach wash with hot water. Some people have also noticed that liquid detergent seems to increases the damp smell and mildew. In case you are facing the same problem, switch over to a powder detergent and bleach mix. As soon as the towels are done, remove them from the machine and put them out to dry in direct sunlight.

Fading Colours

Towels are available is a wide variety of colours. But often, colours fade quickly. Unfortunately, there is nothing much you can do about fading as almost every dye will have a small amount of unfixed colour. On the first wash, this excess dye will run causing the original colours to fade away. You can delay this by following the manufacturer’s instructions and using a mild detergent. White towels can be bleached but coloured towels have to be treated with care to prevent fading and discoloration.

faded towel

Hard Towels

Old towels tend to turn hard after some time due to detergent build up. To get rid of this complaint, you can add water-softening tablets to the wash water. Another option is to add ½ a cup of borax and one cup of sodium carbonate to the wash water. Combine this with a hot water rinse in your washing machine and it will soften the towels immediately.


New towels are treated with silicone or fabric finishes that ensure they remain shiny while on display at the store.  But this silicone layer hinders absorbency, which is why new towels are not as absorbent as old ones. To counter this problem, wash all new towels before use in hot water along with a mild fabric cleaner.

To retain the absorbency of towels on use, make sure you wash the towels separately and not with other clothes. Using mild detergent and a gentler washing cycle ensures that the towels remain soft and fluffy and absorbent for long.


Stains are inevitable but there are many ways to make your towels beautifully clean again. Use a emulsifying degreaser to remove oily stains. Soak the towels in the solution for at least an hour and run the towels through a normal wash cycle. If possible, switch over to a non-coloured detergent and add it at the correct time during the wash cycle. This is particularly true if you are using multiple chemicals like a softener, detergent, etc. Adding all agents together may cause the chemicals to mix together resulting in staining and fading over time.

Pulled and Frayed Edges

Loops and edges often catch the brunt of daily use. Loops tend to come out and edges shred out quickly but these are simple problems that are easily remedied. If you notice pulled loops, cut them off immediately. Edges on the other hand, have to be double stitched immediately to prevent further fraying.

Scratchy Towels

Scratchy towels are common with front loading washing machines as the towel loops tend to interlock. To prevent this from happening, add fabric softener once every two or three washes. You can also use a gentler washing program. Shaking the towels out before hanging them up to dry also helps.

Expert Tips on Towel Care

  1. You can iron your towel but it will tamp down the loops completely. This will reduce the fluffiness of the towel but a good shake will bring up the loops.
  2. Remove stains immediately by using stain removers. When stains remain for long, they harden and impair towel softness and absorbency.
  3. Always wash towels separately from your other clothes to prevent them from picking up unnecessary stains.
  4. Give your towels a quick shake just after you remove them from the washer dryer and they are much more likely to be softer and last longer.
  5. Add only half the amount of detergent as recommended by the manufacturer.
  6. Dry your towels completely before storing them. Rotate the folds during storage as well to prevent fraying along the fold lines.
  7. Storage is also an important component of towel longevity. Line your linen drawers with newspaper or brown paper packing and lay your towels neatly folded on them. This will prevent damage during storage. If possible, use scented drawer liners to ensure beautifully fragrant towels every time.

You should know that good quality towels can easily last for 10 years or more provided you care for them properly. Always read the CARE instructions printed on the towel and make sure you follow them while washing and drying.

This article has been written by Azzam Sheikh, towel consultant at the Towel Shop, UK.