What’s The Best Washing Machine Settings For Towels

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of wrapping yourself in a soft fluffy towel after having a shower or bath. Sadly, that soft fluffy feeling doesn’t always last for long and the reason why might just surprise you. It’s often down to the temperature and setting you used to wash the towel.

In this article we look at the correct way to wash and dry towels to ensure they keep that fluffy, soft just bought feeling for longer.

What Setting Should You Use For Washing Towels?

Towels come in many different colours and sizes, but they can all be washed using the same setting on your washing machine. However, you should always separate white towels from coloured towels to prevent colour bleed.

When it comes to the setting to use on the machine, both coloured and white towels should be washed using the normal cycle. If your washing machine has a bulky or large items setting this can be used for towels.

Towels need a long cycle with a fast spin speed to get them properly clean.

How Often Should Towels Be Washed?

To keep your towels looking, smelling and feeling great, you should aim to wash them after every 3 to 5 uses. Towels come into direct contact with your body. Which means they are exposed to and can absorb water, sweat and dead skin cells.

To keep your towels at their best, they should be washed regularly.

What Temperature Should Towels Be Washed At?

It is best to wash coloured towels at no higher than 40 C to prevent the colour from running. White towels however, can be washed at 60 C to remove any stains. Or, if your white towels aren’t particularly stained, they can be washed at 40 C also.

What’s vitally important is that you never wash white and coloured towels in the same wash to prevent colour run. Also if your towels are not 100% cotton you should not use a temperature higher than 40 C to wash them.

How To Prevent Towels Becoming Hard & Scratchy

It is also important that you don’t use too much detergent because if the detergent doesn’t all get rinsed out of the towels, they will feel hard and scratchy. You should also avoid using fabric softener on towels or dryer sheets if you tumble the towels after washing them.

Fabric softener and dryer sheets can remove the natural softness of the towels which will make them feel scratchy. To restore softness to towels, you can add a half cupful of white vinegar to the wash load.

How To Dry Towels

Another reason towels often feel harsh is the way they are dried. Towels should be dried on a low heat setting in a tumble dryer or if air drying, out of direct sunlight.

Once the drying cycle on the dryer has finished, the towels should be removed immediately to keep them soft.

How To Wash Towels In A Washing Machine


To keep your towels clean, soft and fluffy, you should do the following;

  1. Always Read The Care Label First
    Check the care label on your towels to ensure you are washing them correctly. All new towels should be washed before use to remove any chemicals left in the manufacturing process.
  2. Separate White & Coloured Towels
    You should never wash white towels in with coloured towels to preserve the brightness of the white towels and prevent them discolouring.
  3. Place The Towels In The Drum
    Allow the towels to have room to move in the drum. They need to be able to move around the drum to get thoroughly clean. You should never overload the drum, especially with towels.
  4. Add The Detergent
    Add the normal amount of detergent unless your towels are beginning to feel stiff, in which case you should use less detergent than normal because too much detergent is one of the main causes of hard, scratchy towels.
  5. Select The Correct Wash Setting
    You should always try to wash towels at the warmest temperature advised for the fabric they’re made from. You should use a cycle that’s specifically for towels or use the normal or regular cycle. If available you can also use a sanitising cycle occasionally.
  6. Place The Towels In The Tumble Dryer
    Once the washing machine has finished, move the washed towels immediately into the tumble dryer. Give them a shake before placing them in the dryer’s drum to remove any creases or wrinkles that could hinder the drying process.
  7. Select The Appropriate Drying Cycle
    Towels should be dried using the warmest setting that the fabric allows. Generally that’s a low to medium heat setting. You should never use the high heat setting as this will almost certainly cause some damage to the material. We have found using drying balls helps with getting towels properly dry.
  8. Store The Towels Correctly
    Once the dryer has finished and you’re sure the towels are completely dry, they should be folded and stored in a cool, dry place to maintain their fluffiness.

Can Towels Be Washed With Other Clothes & Bed Sheets?

Whilst it’s usually a good idea to group items of the same material together in the washing machine, it’s not a good idea when washing towels. 

This is because of the absorbent nature of towels which means they’re likely to absorb any germs or bacteria released from other items as they wash.

Can You Use Bleach On Towels?

If your towels are starting to look dingy and faded, you can use an oxygenated bleach on white towels and a colour safe bleach on coloured towels. 

However, you should never use a chlorine based bleach as it can cause whites to discolour and turn yellowish.

SEE ALSO: Can You Tumble Dry Towels? (is it safe or will they shrink)

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you wash towels at 40 or 60?

It’s best to wash towels at 60 C to remove germs and bacteria. However some coloured towels can only be washed at 40 C. You should always check the care label before washing towels.

How do I keep my towels fluffy in the washing machine?

To prevent your towels from losing their fluffiness, you should never use too much detergent, ensure the towels are rinsed completely, refrain from using fabric softener, don’t use drying sheets, dry the towels on a low to medium heat setting and never dry towels in direct sunlight.

Should I use fabric softener on towels?

You should never use fabric softener on towels because it reduces their absorbency. To soften towels in the wash you should use ½ cup of white vinegar. 

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