Towel tips: cleaning, shopping and donating

Sunday is Towel Day, a tribute to the late author Douglas Adams.  Here are some towel cleaning and shopping tips, along with what to do with old towels (hint: don’t throw them out!) Don’t panic and read on.

Washing and drying towels

First, always read and follow the directions on the care tag. If the tag says, “no chlorine,” don’t use it as it may weaken the fibers of the towel.

Wicker laundry basket with two folded towels

Don’t panic! Grab a towel.

Remove musty odors from your towels by washing them in very hot water with one-to-two cups of vinegar. The water must by very hot in order to kill the bacteria causing the smell. Wash them again using one cup of baking soda. Immediately hang them up to dry or dry them in your clothes dryer.

If your washing machine is the source of musty smells, use a cleaner like Affresh, which is designed for HE washers.

Add the proper amount of detergent to your wash. Too much detergent traps odors and dirt and can fade colors.

Skip liquid fabric softener as it will interfere with the towel’s absorbency. Instead, opt for a single scent-free dryer sheet to soften your towels.

Wash new towels separately to avoid lint from transferring onto other items inside the wash.

Mix in some vinegar with your detergent in order to keep new towels looking bright and colorful.

Shopping for new towels

Are you shopping for new towels? Check the label or tag and look for 100% combed cotton, suggests GoodHousekeeing.com. 100% combed cotton towels naturally attracts water and can hold almost 25 times its weight in the liquid. They are also stronger and prevent pilling.

Don’t be deceived by the feel of the towel in-store, most manufacturers add softeners to the finish of a towel, so they feel softer.

What to do with your old towels

If you have kids, spread an old towel underneath your child’s car seat to catch juice spills and crumbs.

Cut them up and use them for cleaning rags and for washing your car.

Make a beach towel tote bag.

Turn them into a bathroom rug mat.

Donate them! Many animal shelters accept clean towels (along with hand towels and wash clothes) for animal bedding, bathing and general clean up. Contact your local animal shelter to find out what donations they accept.

Homeless and women’s shelters also accept used towels. Find a shelter near you.

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