The one thing you should never do to your towels

It can totally ruin their absorbency

Credit: Getty Images
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So you finally splurged on the the best bath towels—good choice! There's nothing better that glorious feeling of a super soft, absorbent towel fresh out of a hot shower. But have you ever been met with a towel that feels waxy, greasy, and just spreads the water around instead of plush and absorbent? If so, don't toss the towel: your laundry routine might have to change.

If your quality towels aren’t working the way they should, stop using fabric softener and dryer sheets. These items soften fabric fibers, which can reduce wrinkles and static cling on clothing, but actually have a negative effect on fluffy fabrics like towels.

Why? “Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is the active ingredient in most fabric softeners and dryer sheets,” says Jonathan Chan, a senior lab technician at Reviewed. Because this ingredient is essentially a silicone oil, it can destroy the absorbent properties of a fabric, causing towels to feel greasy and slippery. Long story short, fabric softener and dryer sheets reduce a towel's ability to absorb water.

Fabric softener and dryer sheets reduce a towel's ability to absorb water.

What can you use to keep towels soft and fluffy?

How to wash towels
Credit: Getty Images

Don't despair: there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your towels feeling and looking great without the addition of fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Add softness with vinegar: “Add a quarter to a half-cup of distilled vinegar to your wash cycle in place of fabric softener,” says Jennifer Gregory, Brand Manager of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “This will soften your clothes, reduce static, and help keep your washer smelling fresh at the same time.” Never add bleach to a wash cycle with vinegar—the combo can release toxic gases.

Keep laundry static-free with dryer balls: Dyer sheets are notorious for reducing annoying static in clothing, but there are other products that serve the same purpose of a dryer sheet, but without the waxy aftermath or product waste. “You can add non-toxic dryer balls to your cycle,” Gregory adds. “There are hypoallergenic PVC dryer balls, as well as wool dryer balls—both are reusable and reduce static.”

Add a fresh scent: If you miss the fragrance fabric softeners or dryer sheets add to laundry, try adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the load. Simply wet a small washcloth, wring it out, add three to five drops of oil, and toss it in the dryer with your clothes for a subtle, lasting scent. This set of eight essential oils is a favorite among Amazon reviewers, with nearly 7,000 reviews and 4.3 stars.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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