How to Make Your Towels Stay Soft and Fluffy for Longer — 7 Expert Tricks to Add to Your Routine Today

Not only are these practices easy to adopt but they'll also save you from having to replace your towels too soon

A bathroom with a white fireplace and a stack of sage green towels on a wooden stool
(Image credit: Piglet in Bed)

Summer calls for beach days and poolside sunbathing, and while we live for the warmth and fun that the season brings, we can't deny that it also brings about more showers to keep clean amidst the unavoidable heat and sweat. Hence, this is definitely the best time of the year to keep your bathroom stocked and loaded with everything you need for a relaxing bathing experience.

As functional bathroom accessories, towels are a key part of the bathing ritual. We tend to spend added time in them while we cruise through our skincare routines and other post-bath practices, so it's hardly surprising that they tend to wear out quickly. But what if there were some tricks to adopt to help you extend the lifespan of your towels?

If your towels aren't as soft and fluffy as you'd hope, the fault might lie in the way you treat them. To find out how to make your towels last longer, we sat down with a couple of experts who let us in on their best tips.

How to improve the lifespan of your towels

1. Wash less frequently

A modern bathroom with a black vanity and black towel ring

(Image credit: Britton Bathrooms)

No, you didn't read that wrong. We were surprised at this one too but apparently there is such a thing as overwashing your towels. Will Cotter, CEO of Happy Cleans, tells us that the best bath towels are designed to be tough and absorbent, but every trip through the washing machine can put a bit of stress on them. 'It's like a gentle tug-of-war with detergent, some mechanical wear and tear, and the rubbing against other laundry items,' he says.

If you're unsure of whether it's time to throw your towels in for laundry, Will recommends trusting your nose. 'If they still smell fresh and clean and aren't visibly soiled, they're ready for another round,' he says.

2. Don't use fabric softener

bathroom towels on rail next to sink with wooden mirror

(Image credit: Rebecca Udall)

Fluffy towels are synonymous with spa bathroom feel, but according to Alessandro Gazzo, cleaning expert at Emily's Maids, fabric softener is not the trusty laundry item you consider it to be - at least not when you're washing your towels. 'If you live in areas with hard water, such as Dallas, you might feel tempted to use a commercial fabric softener,' says Alessandro. 'However, this creates a waxy coat that flattens your towels' fabric and reduces their efficiency.'

Instead of relying on fabric softener, Alessandro recommends replacing the liquid with a half cup of vinegar during the final rinse cycle. 'White vinegar doesn't create a coat on your towels and it removes the minerals from hard water, so the fibers won't stick together anymore.' This clever swap for fabric softener is not only a blessing to your towels but is also a sustainable alternative that brings you one step closer to an eco-friendly household.

3. Rotate your towels

white waffle towel

(Image credit: Heal's)

If you're like us, you probably have a favorite towel that you find to be the perfect balance of plush and absorbent. While it might be easy to reach for this towel on a regular basis, it's not really the best practice if you're looking to keep the fabric fresh for a long time.

Alessandro explains to us that towels, like any other everyday item, get worn out with use and can start shedding fibers, a key sign that it's time to replace your towels. 'I recommend organizing your towels into sets, like bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths,' says Alessandro. 'After you use one set, give it some time to air out, then grab a fresh set and put the used ones back.' Depending on your household, he suggests switching sets as often as every few days or as little as once a week. He points out that this simple change in routine will all your towels get washed equally, and you can prevent excessive wear and tear.

4. Prevent overcrowding when drying

A bathroom with gold fittings

(Image credit: Donna DuFresne Interior Design)

When it comes to ways to hang towels you should avoid them brushing against each other to prevent the spread of bacteria, and according to Alessandro, overcrowding towels in the laundry should also be avoided as it can cause even the best towels to lose their quality. 'When you’re loading up the washing machine with towels, give a little space to prevent them from getting all tangled up,' he says. 'If they’re too crammed in there, the detergent and water might not reach all the towels properly, and you’ll end up having to wash them again.'

Besides the hygienic hurdle, Alessandro also tells us that overcrowding can cause your towels to shed at a quicker rate. 'Shake to untangle any twisted bits and make sure there’s enough room for them to move around in the machine,' he says.

5. Refrain from using towel hooks

bathroom ceiling pendant cluster in black by Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Proper storage of towels is yet another quick trick to making them last longer. While towel hooks may seem trendy and favorable for the minimal space they take up, Will tells us that they might actually be shortening your towel's lifespan.

'If you have towel hooks in your bathroom, you might need to part ways and replace them with towel bars,' he says. 'Hooks can be quite rough because they only have one spot to hang on, which causes them to tug and pull at the fabric.' Will explains that over time, this can make the towels weaker and more likely to shed. He points out that towel bars are gentler because they spread out the weight more evenly, so the fabric doesn't get yanked around as much.

And when it comes to style, there are plenty of sleek shower rods that look beautiful in a bathroom while also reducing the visual clutter of a creased hanging towel. We especially love the look of this brushed gold towel rod from Amazon for a chic finishing touch to your bathing space.

6. Wash them in soft water

types of heating towel rail by Bisque

(Image credit: Bisque)

From what we gather, the type of water you wash your towels in also makes a significant difference in the shelf life of these cloths. Will explains that hard water can be harsh on towels, causing them to lose their texture and shed sooner than expected. He tells us that soft water is a great solution to keep the towels plush for days.

'Soft water has fewer minerals, so it stops that mineral build-up and helps the towels stay cozy, just like when you first got them,' says Will. 'If you can, think about getting a water softener for your home to treat the water before it hits the washing machine.' However, don't lose hope if that's not an option. Will also tells us that water conditioners or additives designed to make hard water easier on laundry are a great alternative solution for softer towels.

7. Use the right wash settings

A small freestanding bath in a bathroom

(Image credit: Brock Beazley Photography. Design: Comma Projects & T Teak Projects + Co)

Most of the tell-tale signs you need a new towel can be delayed by following proper etiquette in the laundry room when caring for your towels. In Alessandro's experience, the number one factor that results in frequent towel damage is incorrect washing settings. He says it's ideal to alternate between a hot wash and low temperature wash and advises against mixing towels in with other fabrics.

To make sure that your towels don't expire as often, he also suggests picking a cycle that matches the size of your load. 'Some machines have settings like “bulky” or “bedding” that are perfect for towels,' he says.

Incorporating these simple habits into your towel-care routine will keep your towels in tip-top shape. And you won't have to fork out a pretty penny to replace your towels as often as you're used to.

Our top towel buys


How long should I leave my towels to dry?

Alessandro tells us that the way you dry your towels plays a key role in keeping them fresh for long. He recommends taking them out on a sunny day for around thirty minutes to an hour or until they're completely dry.

What're the signs that you need new towels?

If you find that your towels are discolored, smelly, rough or damaged, it's highly likely that you could use a fresh set of warm towels to replace your old ones.

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.