7 Easy Ways To Ruin Your Good Towels

ruining your towels

Having a good set of bath towels is one of life’s little luxuries. Even when I’ve had a rough day, wrapping myself up in a clean, fluffy bath towel after a hot shower can improve my mood considerably! But the unfortunate thing about clean, fluffy bath towels is that they don’t always stay that way.

In fact, people frequently do things that have a negative impact on their towels, whether by shortening their lifespan, or affecting their texture, absorbency, color, or smell. So if you have a set a clean, fluffy towels at home that you treasure, it’s worth learning what these bad habits are so that you can avoid them!

In order to help you protect your investment in your towels, today I’ll be sharing 7 common things people do to harm or even ruin their towels. Even if all you do is avoid these 7 habits listed below, you can be certain that your towels will stay nicer, longer!

Related: 7 Costly Storage Mistakes And How To Fix Them

7 Ways You’re Ruining Your Towels

ruining your towels

1. Using Too Much Detergent

You should always use the correct amount of detergent when washing your clothes, but it is particularly important for those using HE washers. Because they use less water than standard washers, it is unlikely that the rinse cycle will be able to rinse out all of the detergent from your towels if you’ve added too much of it.

That remaining detergent residue can form a buildup, making your towels less absorbent and harder to clean. Keep your towels clean and residue-free, make sure to use only the recommended amount of detergent for your load size and washer type.

ruining your towels

2. Using Fabric Softener

Just like detergent, fabric softener can also leave a residue on your towels. It will coat the fibers with a waxy film, making them less absorbent over time. Instead of using fabric softener to keep your towels soft and fluffy, I recommend adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle instead. Vinegar is an excellent homemade fabric softener, and it prevents buildup and controls odor too!

Related: How To Make A Scented Vinegar Fabric Softener Rinse

And when your dry your towels, dryer balls can help cut down on static just like dryer sheets, but without leaving a residue behind.

ruining your towels

3. Removing Your Makeup

Makeup is thick, highly pigmented, and tough to remove from fabric. Your washer will likely struggle to wash it out entirely from your towels, so it can quickly wear your towel out.

If you prefer to remove your makeup with a towel rather than something disposable, just make sure to rinse your towel well with warm water after each use. This extra step should help get your towel cleaner in the wash.

ruining your towels

4. Washing Them In Hot Water

While washing towels in hot water is good for cleanliness, it’s also a quick way to fade the color of your towels. Use warm or cool water for most washes to keep your towels looking newer, longer.

(I will note that this isn’t really an issue with white towels. Feel free to wash those in hot whatever as often as you like!)

ruining your towels

5. Hanging Them On Hooks

Hanging your towel to dry on a hook leaves folds in the towel, and those folds can prevent the towel from drying completely. This creates the perfect environment for mildew to grow, and no one wants that!

If you can, hang your towel on a towel bar to dry instead. The flatter the towel is as it dries, the more likely it will be to dry completely. (Don’t have a towel bar? Hang your towel over your shower curtain rod!)

ruining your towels

6. Using Only One Set

The more you use and wash your towels, the quicker you’ll wear them out. Consider using two sets of towels instead of just one. That way, you can wash one while you use the other, giving each set a chance to “rest” in between and helping both sets of towels last longer!

ruining your towels

7. Wiping Products On Them

Certain beauty and personal care products like whitening toothpaste and acne treatments contain ingredients that can bleach and ruin your towels. And not only that, but your towels can transfer those bleaching agents to other items in the wash!

To keep your towels looking nice and to avoid any laundry transfer catastrophes, keep these products away from your towels.

Do you have a favorite brand or style of towels?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Can we talk about the wash cloths? I buy nice towels and they last & last. But the cloths inevitably get gray in the middle. I wonder if soap etc is accumulating there.

    I don’t wash in hot water, I use scented vinegar for fabric softener, I don’t hang them on hooks to dry, & I don’t wipe up messes with my good towels. :)

    Any tips for “whitening” them up?

    • Try Seventh Edition bleach which contains hydrogen peroxide, it whitens beautifully and will not fade your colored towels, or colored clothing. I use it in most of my washes and it cleans the machine as it cleans your clothes. When you take your clothes out of the washer, dry the gasket and the drawer where you added your bleach and liquid detergent, if you use that. I love the pods which go right into the washer and use the drawer for the H202 bleach. Oh, I never use fabric softener as it wreaks havoc on my sensitive skin, and the dryer balls make everything come out of the dryer fluffy. BTW, if your temperatures outside are below 32 use warm water to wash or the line going into your home may freeze up. In warmer weather cold water is fine.

    • i purchased some cheap washclothes and leave one out on the counter above the faucet.
      w drips and splatters, i just wipe it up with that. wash w everything else. if they happened to get ruined… no big loss. i get them at the dollar store. they are thin and really cheap, but five for a dollar… not much to worry about there.

  • Interesting. Ive always heard that you should wash towels in hot water to kill any bad bacteria. For removing my makeup Ive started using the makeup remover cloths. I paid about $4 for a pack of 3. I just get them wet in warm water and it removes a lot of my makeup. I always spray them with a good stain remover – oxy clean and the makeup comes out very easily.

      • I like the Huggies or the store brand of Neutrogena wipes. I was using the cloths but the Micellar water is hard to locate sometimes. The main reason I’m not using the cloths right now is my Sister and family moved back to our area and living with us for awhile and plus having to share the main bathroom with a bunch of people.

  • After spending time in Italy, have become a huge fan of linen towels. While they aren’t fluffy, they are very soft and dry in a flash. They’re naturally anti microbial, easy to launder and wear like iron. They’re available online and well worth investing in. I also sourced quality linen fabric and created large bath sheets, having them monogrammed for an extra luxury touch.

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