How to wash towels

Written by
BC SoftWear
Published on
June 24, 2022 at 2:50:02 PM PDT June 24, 2022 at 2:50:02 PM PDTth, June 24, 2022 at 2:50:02 PM PDT

Being enveloped in a soft, fluffy, luxurious towel is a lovely feeling.

When you’ve invested in premium quality towels with a sumptuous pile and the finishing touches that mean it will last, it’s important to know how to wash them appropriately.

Whether in a home setting, spa, salon or when catering for hotel guests – care invested in laundering your towels will certainly pay dividends.

Our comprehensive guide to washing and drying your towels is all you need to achieve beautifully soft, fresh and long-lasting towels.

Understanding your towels

Towel fabric

Depending on whether you have invested in pure cotton, linen or cotton blend towels, this will inform the approach to how you wash and dry them. Pure cotton towels require different treatment to cotton blend towels to get the best out of them.

Towel weight or ‘GSM’

The ‘weight’ of the towel is also a factor in how the towel is laundered. The higher the GSM (grams per square metre), the denser the pile.

When deciding on GSM, think about who will use the towel and how often. Lightweight towels dry more quickly so are wonderful for poolside for example, but heavier weight towels are more absorbent and have a more luxurious feel.

Should you wash new towels?

Yes, it’s important to thoroughly wash towels before they are used for the first time. This will ensure that natural surplus lint and fluff is removed. Towels that have a very high GSM may need more than one wash to ensure all surplus fluff is removed.

The washing process increases the absorbency of the towel, and this is the case for every time the towel is correctly laundered.

What temperature should towels be washed at?

To help you select the right temperature for washing your towels, to keep them at their best, follow our guide:

What temperature to wash 100% Pure Egyptian Cotton towels

Pure white

Wash up to 90°C if required.


Wash at 40°C (60°C maximum).

What temperature to wash 100% Pure Cotton Linen towels

Wash at 40°C (preferable).

For thermal disinfection, linen towels can be washed at 60°C, or 90°C if they are not coloured.

What temperature to wash Blended Cotton towels

Wash at 40°C (preferable).

For thermal disinfection, blended cotton towels can be washed at 60°C, or 90°C if they are not coloured.

The best approach to detergent

Should I use bio or non-bio detergent to wash towels?

Non-biological detergents are kindest to your towels, to skin and the environment.

Use of biological detergents can cause towels to discolour, so they can shorten the lifetime of the towel.

How much detergent should you use to wash towels?

If too much detergent is used, residue can build up in the fibres of the towel, causing it to feel stiff. Using a little less detergent is not only economical and environmentally friendly, your washing machine will be more efficient at rinsing it out.

Commercial laundering of towels

For washing in commercial environments and on-premise laundries, it is good practice to use a reputable commercial detergent that has been specially designed for towel care.

Should you use fabric softener on towels?

Fabric softener or conditioner should be avoided – using it will reduce the absorbency of your towels.

This is because many fabric softeners contain silicon derivatives that make fabrics water repellent – not only will this affect the absorbency of towels; they won’t wash as thoroughly.

How to wash towels with vinegar

Vinegar can be used, with care, to soften towels.

Half to one cup of distilled white vinegar added to the wash cycle, every few weeks, helps to remove any detergent residue to enhance softness and absorbency. This can be particularly helpful in areas of hard water.

How many towels should you put in a washing machine?

It’s important not to overload the washing machine – it will not allow enough space to wash and rinse out the dirt and detergent from your towels.

The same is true of a tumble dryer. If a dryer is overloaded, there won’t be enough air circulating around the towels to efficiently dry them and, importantly, to fluff the fibres.

Additional wash care for your towels

Removing towels from the washing machine

It’s important to treat towels with care when removing them after the wash cycle.

Be careful not to pull wet, heavy towels out of the washing machine, especially if they have become twisted after spinning – this can significantly weaken the fabric.

Instead, lift them out carefully and untwist them.

Bleaching your towels

Coloured towels

Coloured towels should not be bleached.

It’s worth checking the ingredients of detergents when washing coloured towels to ensure they do not contain any bleaching or optical brightening agents that can affect the colour, particularly with lighter or pastel-coloured towels.

Washing white towels with bleach

White towels that have become stained or discoloured can be washed with the addition of non-chlorine bleach via the washing machine’s bleach dispenser. It’s important to check the specific product instructions.

Towels shouldn’t be washed with bleach every wash; bleach should only be used every few washes or when needed.

If the washing instructions for your towels indicate that bleach should not be used, baking soda or white vinegar can be used to assist stain removal – half a cup is usually sufficient. The vinegar is best added to the dispenser along with the detergent, whereas baking soda can be sprinkled directly over the towels.

Tumble drying towels

Tumble drying helps to fluff towels and make them feel soft.

Over-drying towels should be avoided, this will make them feel stiff. Towels that are dried carefully will last longer and stay looking and feeling good. To keep your towels soft and fluffy, follow our guide:

100% Pure Egyptian Cotton towels

Tumble dry at low heat.

Any pulled threads can be carefully snipped off with scissors – this will not spoil the towel.

All 100% cotton towels can be subject to some shrinkage – this should be no more than 10% with good quality towels.

Blended Cotton towels

Check that your tumble dryer has a reversible drying mode – this ensures the fabric dries evenly.

Tumble dry at low heat.

Towels with a knitted pile are snag free, for extra longevity.

At the end of the drying cycle, it’s a good idea to shake out the towels. This will loosen the pile and enhance the softness and fluffiness of the towels.

How to remove oil from spa towels

When you have invested in premium, luxurious towels for your guests or clients to enjoy, it’s important to ensure that they are soft and fresh for every person.

Massage oils, essential oils and other treatment products are often absorbed in towels during or after treatment, so it’s important to launder them correctly to ensure that there is no lingering odour caused by residual oil.

Towels that have been impregnated with massage or essential oils should be washed at a minimum of 40°C to ensure that oil residues are removed.


Emulsifiers help to remove oils. They are designed to break down oils, creams or lotions which can otherwise build up in the towel fibres leaving stained or stiffened fabric.

Adding an emulsifier will liquify oils and fats into an emulsion, so they can be easily washed away by detergent. Your detergent supplier will be able to advise on the most suitable product.

Washing towels at home

How often should you wash your towels?

It’s a good idea to let towels dry completely after each use – storing damp towels can make them smell musty. If this advice is followed, washing towels after three to five uses should be sufficient.

There are certain scenarios where towels require more frequent washing to ensure freshness and manage bacteria:

Washcloths or flannels

As these are used to lather and scrub the skin, they should be washed after every use.

Shared towels

It’s a good idea to ensure that shared towels are washed more frequently to avoid transferring bacteria.

Gym towels

Towels that have come into contact with sweat or which have been stored in a bag should be freshened up frequently.

Towels used on skin complaints

If towels have come into contact with contagious skin complaints, sharing towels should be avoided and frequent washing will ensure good hygiene.

Can you wash towels with clothes?

This is very much down to personal choice, but there are certain aspects that are worth considering.

If towels have been used by someone in the household with an infectious illness, it’s a good idea to wash them separately.

It’s always good advice to wash similar items together. If you are happy to wash your towels at a lower temperature – coloured towels for example – there is no reason why they can’t go in with the usual, coloured wash.

Should you have enough white towels for a full load, it may be more efficient to wash them together – without overloading the machine – on a higher temperature, as required.

Towels that stand the test of time

Whether you’re looking for towels for your home, a salon, spa or hotel, browse our selection of pure cotton and cotton blend towels – all of which are designed to launder beautifully.

Our helpful team are available to talk about your specific requirements on 0845 210 4000 or email