Towels are definitely hard working. Constantly wet, rubbed, washed and tumble dried until they lose all sense of their original purpose. Having spent money on fluffy, absorbent, colourful towels, it is disappointing when they quickly become faded, thin and worn, with little absorbency, ready for the rag pile.
The principles for washing and caring for towels is the same, whether you are washing at home or within a commercial laundry. At CLEAN, on a standard week, we launder and supply hotels and other hospitality establishments with over 3 million high quality, absorbent towels, so we asked our experts here at CLEAN for some tips on how to keep towels hotel fluffy and in good condition. If you are looking for further advice, you can read our hotel towelling buyers guide it details the top 4 things to consider when choosing or buying towelling whether that’s for your hotel or your home.
1. Weight Matters
The weight of a towel actually matters. In towels, weight is measured by ‘Grams per square metre’ or GSM and indicates the density of the material used to construct the towel. The higher the GSM, the more absorbent, thick and luxurious the towel will be. Invest wisely in towels with a high GSM and your towels will last longer. Anything above 400 is best - at CLEAN we offer two ranges, one with 450 GSM and a luxury range with 600 GSM for extra longevity.
2. Cotton Rules
If you want towels that feel soft, cosy and luxurious, your best bet is to opt for 100% cotton without any synthetic fibres. Cotton naturally attracts water and can hold almost 25 times its weight in liquid! This means they dry quicker, too.
3.Less is more…
Less is definitely more… Both when it comes to how much detergent to use and how many towels you wash at one time. The chemicals in detergent can build up in the fibres of the towel, leaving them stiff and less absorbent. The same goes for fabric softener, so use sparingly or not at all. At CLEAN we don’t use any conditioners or softeners as we wash each type of towel on a different programme using a different combination of detergent depending on its GSM weight, the focus is on ensuring the towels are completely clean and retain their whiteness. The end of the cycle is all about rinsing any chemical residues away and ensuring the PH levels of the water at a neutral point to prevent discolouration.
We also recommend washing your towels on their own without other clothes in the load, and to do half a load at one time. If you crowd the washer with other clothes, zips and buttons can snag on the towel loops, wearing the fabric. As previously mentioned in a commercial setting we only launder towels on a single type in each load.
A top tip – if you have a snagged loop on your towel, don’t pull it. Cut it with scissors instead.
4. To dry or not to dry…
Clean towels feel fluffier after a tumble in the dryer, but over-drying can actually ruin the fabric and create brittle fibres. We recommend shaking out your towels after washing and drying on a low heat and gentle cycle. It takes a little longer, but your towels will thank you! Unlike bed linen, towels should be left to dry completely to ensure it has the maximum effect, whereas sheets can afford to be slightly damp before ironing for the ultimate smooth finish. In a domestic setting, it is also worth alternating between line drying and tumble drying – a line dried towel can be ‘freshened up’ on a short cycle in the dryer for that final fluff.
The way you store your clean towels is actually very important. If you store your towels in shelves or drawers, don’t overload them or your towels can end up wrinkled, stiff and even smelly. We recommend storing towels side-by-side rather than in stacks – like books. This prevents the bottom ones from being flattened, and everything in the cupboard gets regular use rather than being left at the bottom of the pile.
Hanging your towels up to dry properly between uses is also an important point – avoiding piling damp towels on the floor or in a laundry basket. This can trap moisture in the folds, leading to mildew and bacterial growth. Instead, drape your towel over a towel rail to allow it to hang flat and air dry quickly.
If you have some towels that have seen better days, there are a few things to try before you assign them to the rag pile. Try adding about half a cup of ordinary household white vinegar to your towel wash, which will help pull any build-up of chemicals and residue off the fibres. You should notice a difference after a few washes. Bicarbonate of Soda is another alternative to try, with the added benefit that it also removes any odours from old towels. Be careful not to use these two at the same time, however, as they react with each other!
On the domestic market you can also find some dryer-safe balls you can use in the tumbledryer. The repetitive action of the ball in the cycle will help work out any stiff kinks, leaving you with softer and fluffier towels.
Towels don’t last forever, and even if you follow all of the advice above, they will start to look tired at some point. When you notice that they are losing their absorbency or become rough to the touch, it’s time to throw the towel in, literally! After they have seen better days, you can re-purpose them as cleaning rags or donate to your local animal shelter or another worth cause – useful and good for the environment, too.