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I use white vinegar in my final rinse when washing all my towels. Your clothes will not smell like a pickle either, that is, unless you use the whole gallon of white vinegar.
I was surprised by the absorbency of the towels at the salon I go to, and did a little investigating. The staff does not use any softener in the washer, and NO dryer sheets, yet the towels are soft and so absorbent. They have a water softener. But I had to do some experimenting, because I wasn't happy with my towels, and I learned something. I washed a bunch of towels in just about 1 tablespoon of Oxy powder (my favorite) and then only 1/2 the amount of liquid softener that I usually use (even in hard well water). Then dried them without a softener sheet. TA DA! Soft AND really absorbent towels! And I save money.
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About 3 months ago I bought some Martha Stewart bath towels. They were fairly expensive. I think $7 a towel. I used Downy fabric softener on them as I do all my clothes. About 3 weeks ago I noticed the towels were hard and not absorbent. These are pretty thick towels. So thinking it was the Downy, I stopped using it on my towels. Needless to say, they are still hard and scratchy. Have I ruined my new towels?
Dana from Newkensington, PA
Go to her website marthastewart.com and email them about it. I'll bet somebody responds to you! She is very hands on about her products, plus she just came out with a new housekeeping book, so she may even use your question on her show!
Fabric softeners shouldn't be used on any natural fibers. It was invented to prevent static cling from synthetics. It clings to natural fibers, making them much less absorbant. I think soaking in vinegar and washing them several times should remove the build-up. Good luck.
How do you get towels to absorb, that do not absorb? I do not use fabric sheets.
By SAUKRAPIDS from Sauk Rapids, MN
This is from the finish used when the towels are manufactured. To clear the problem just wash the towels in hottest water possible to avoid shrinkage and color fade, but add a cup of plain white vinegar to the wash water this will help strip all finish and any laundry soap build up that are on the towels. A special finish is used to make them appear softer and fluffy at the store. They will be fluffy, soft, and they will absorb the water, imagine that a towel that actually does what it is intended to do, absorb water not just look and feel pretty.