How to get soft towels

Updated February 21, 2017

Hard, scratchy towels feel rough against your skin and can even hurt sensitive skin or worsen skin conditions such as eczema. Residue build-up is sometimes the cause of hard towels. Detergent and fabric softeners leave residue in your towels and build-up after each wash to make the towels hard. Remove those residues to restore your towels to their soft state. Use this method regularly to keep build-up to a minimum.

Place your towels in the washer.

Add washing soda, baking soda or borax to the washer's detergent receptacle or empty it directly on top of the towels. The product's label should advise how much to use for washing laundry; follow the directions provided.

Pour vinegar into the washer's rinse agent receptacle. Vinegar acts as a softener and remove detergent residue.

Select the hottest water possible in your washing machine. Also select the highest water level setting on the washer. Wash only the towels; do not add any extra articles to the wash.

Add an extra rinse to the cycle. Some machines have this option available on the settings. If not, select an additional rinse cycle when the machine is finished with the first wash and rinse cycle.

Wash your towels once a month using the same procedure to remove built-up residue.


Fabric softener and dryer sheets can affect absorbency and build up in your towels; use sparingly and only if the towel's care instructions advises using these products. Hard water can make your towels feel hard, especially since hard water doesn't remove soap as effectively as soft water. Invest in a water softener to keep your towels feeling soft. Dry your towels in the dryer; line drying makes the towels crisp. If you do choose to line-dry your towels, throw them in the dryer for a few minutes and shake them out to fluff them up.

Things You'll Need

  • Washing soda, baking soda or borax
  • Vinegar
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About the Author

Sommer Leigh has produced home, garden, family and health content since 1997 for such nationally known publications as "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "Midwest Living," "Healthy Kids" and "American Baby." Leigh also owns a Web-consulting business and writes for several Internet publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in information technology and Web management from the University of Phoenix.