Skip to Content


The best ways to ensure soft towels


Lady dabbing face with a clean white flannel/face towel

Getting out of the warm bath or shower and wrapping up in fluffy shower towels is truly one of life’s simple pleasures. However, even the best towels may lose their cosy absorbency and get crunchy or scratchy over time.

Why do towels get hard after washing?

The main reason that towels are tough after washing is because of fabric softeners and residue from dryer sheets that build up on the fibres over time. Every towel will eventually become stiff and scratchy if  body soil, body oils, detergents, chemicals, and hard water minerals are left in the fibres after washing.

How do I get the towels soft again? Take heart! Even the crustiest of towels can feel like new by simply making a couple of changes, meaning you won’t have to discard your towels or put them in the rag pile. 

One best practice is to separate the towels by colour and not wash them with other clothes. This will make sure that there is no colour bleeding and will give enough “air space” for the towels to not get scrunched while washing. If however, its not possible to separate your towels into different washes you can always add a couple of Colour Catcher laundry sheets into the drum of your washing machine to protect against possible colour run accidents.

Fabric softener for soft towels

Fabric softener is probably the most obvious choice when you want soft towels. If you have a top loader washing machine, add liquid fabric softener during the final rinse cycle or pour it into the automatic dispenser. For front loading washing machines, simply pour the liquid into the fabric softener tray. To avoid spotting, don’t pour the fabric softener directly onto the clothes.

ATC Logo

Sign-up now to take advantage of member exclusives!

As a member of Ask Team Clean, you get access to exclusive offers and the best cleaning tips.

How to get soft towels with household products

If you want soft towels asap and don’t have any fabric softener to hand, there are other options to restore the fluffiness. Sources online claim that vinegar and baking soda can get your towels soft. Here’s how:

Method #1: How do I get towels soft with vinegar?

WASH: First, fill your washing machine with towels and set the washing machine’s temperature to 60°C. Then add two cups of vinegar by pouring it in the area where you normally pour the laundry soap. If your washing machine doesn't have a special place to pour the washing powder, just add it to the drum before adding the towels. 

NOTE! Don't add fabric softener or laundry soap, but continue to run the wash, rinse, and spin cycle like you normally would. Feel free to run the washing machine a second time, this time with a small amount of washing powder.

DRY: Dry the towels using the high heat option and throw in an unused tennis ball or wool dryer ball for fluffiness. But do not over-dry! Take them out of the dryer, give them a little shake out, and fold or hang them as you normally would.

Method #2: How do I get towels soft with baking soda?

WASH: Another remedy for stiff and scratchy towels comes from using baking soda. To create a softer texture and get rid of the sour odour that may also occur, run a wash cycle with a half-cup of baking soda either alone or mixed with washing powder.

NOTE! Be sure not to mix vinegar and baking soda in the machine; the chemical reaction may cause the machine to overflow.

DRY: Dry on high heat and remove immediately when dry. Or as line drying towels is the biggest culprit in creating hard, scratchy towels, you can try to keep them soft by drying them till they are nearly dry on the line, then finish off with 10 minutes in the dryer. Adding a fabric softening sheet to this last step should result in soft, fluffy towels.

We hope you enjoyed our tips on how to get your towels to be snuggly soft. Don’t forget to check out our other laundry and cleaning tips such as how to iron clothes, how to wash trainers in the washing machine, and how to wash a wool jumper.