Towels lose fibre during use, washing and drying. Much of that lint on the dryer's filter screen comes from soft fibres, including those from towels. Over time, towels become less fluffy. In addition to basic wear and tear, the specifics of how you care for your towels affect their texture. Factors such as the amount of detergent, the size of the laundry load and the drying method can make your towels feel hard.
How you do laundry affects whether your towels come out soft or hard. Towels, jeans and other heavy or absorbent items require more water. If you fill the washer too full, the washer can't clean the laundry effectively. This results in soil and detergent residue, which can make the towels stiff. The correct water temperature also affects results. Use the hottest temperature your towel fabric and colour can tolerate. Hot water helps to kill germs on towels, and hot or warm water is better at removing soil with regular detergent.
Tumble-drying towels makes them softer by separating the fibres of the towel fabric. Line-dried towels become hard because the wet fibres mat together.
The minerals in your water can make your towels feel hard. Using the correct amount of detergent can help combat the effects of hard water when you do laundry. Measure the washing powder according to the manufacturer's instructions. The mineral deposits in hard water combine with soap to form soap scum, which can give you poor results when you wash clothes. Using washing powder rather than soap cleans clothes and towels better when you have hard water, according to the New Mexico State University Extension. Fabric softeners may help to remove minerals that can make towels hard.
Using too little washing powder results in insufficient cleaning of your towels. Residue from soil, minerals and any debris from other items in the wash load can remain on the towels, causing them to feel hard. Using too much laundry soap results in soap residue on your towels, causing them to feel stiff. For best results, measure your washing powder for each wash load. You may need to use more detergent than the recommended amount if you have very hard water (water with a high mineral content).
Set the water-level control on your washing machine for the size of the load you're washing -- low, medium or high. Washing two small loads on the low setting uses about the same amount of water as one large load and may give better cleaning results. Using enough water for the clothes and detergent to circulate results in softer towels.
Lower wash temperatures for coloured towels allow bacteria to remain on towels. Use chlorine bleach or disinfectant when you wash towels, the Oregon State University Extension advises.