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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

So you’ve picked out your towels to your precise specifications — colour, material, softness. But do you know how to take care of them so that they still feel new? Krupa Joseph tells you how

Everyone likes their towels soft and fluffy — there’s no reason why anyone wouldn’t want that. Having a shower after a long, hard day and wrapping yourself up in a big comfortable towel that makes you feel like a marshmallow, fills you with a childish and peaceful joy. It is an inexplicable feeling, but somehow wrapped up in that towel, fresh after a bath, it puts you at ease.

That is probably why I get annoyed when my towels start looking like I put them through torture camp — threads coming apart, colour fading, the fluffiness long gone and what’s worse, they no longer dry me up. As it turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. It seems that taking care of your towels isn’t so hard after all. The following tips will help ensure a long, fluffy future for your towels.

Washing tips
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. So make sure you follow these tips to ensure a long, happy and fluffy life for your linen.

  •  Wash and dry your towels before you use them for the first time. Most towels are finished with silicone or a similar material, which can be washed away, increasing their absorbance level.
  •  Use only half the amount of detergent that’s recommended on the label. Over time, towels will build up soap residue, which is the reason they get stiff. Using less soap to wash your towel will increase its life, keeping it soft for longer.
  •  Use warm water to soak your towel because it will absorb the detergent more effectively. Mix the soap in the water well, allowing it to dissolve, before you put your towel in.
  •  Skip the fabric softeners. They cause wax to build up, which destroys the absorbance of a towel. Instead, use about one cup of white vinegar in half a bucket of water to soften your towels. It is advisable to wash a coloured towel the first few times with warm water and then to follow it up with vinegar. This helps set the colour and prevents the towel from fading.
  •  It is best to wash your towels every three or four days. Add baking soda to the detergent, which helps loosen up the fibres and wash away the chemicals. It also helps to get rid of the musty smell that builds up when you leave a damp towel in your gym bag.
  •  Along with your towel, throw a few unused tennis balls into the washing machine. As the balls bounce around, they will help soften and fluff your towel.
  •  After taking it out of the machine, shake the towel a little to fluff it up. Make sure that the towel is completely dry when removing it from the dryer, because even a little dampness can cause mildew. Lastly, never iron a towel as this will ruin its absorbency.

Bringing back the soft touch
If you have an old towel that you know can no longer be used, but you can’t bring yourself to throw it away, here’s something to cheer you up. There may be a way to bring it back to life.

Do a recharge wash. Here’s how:

  •  Put the towel into your washing machine and throw in a few cups of white vinegar.
  •  Add 2 tbsp of vinegar into the fabric softener slot and run it on the warm setting. (If you’re thinking that we forgot about the detergent, don’t worry; we purposely left that out. You’re not supposed to add any detergent.)
  •  As soon as the wash is done, wash it again at a warm setting. This time add 1 cup of baking soda in the powder slot. Once it’s done, dry it outside.

Remember that this isn’t a magic trick. Your towels are not going to go back to the way they were when you just got them. However, with these steps and the tips we’ve given you, the future of your towel will look far fluffier.

Drying it up
Not drying a towel properly can cause more harm than you can imagine. Keeping it for too long in the dryer can destroy towel fibres, but if it is damp, mildew can form on your towel, which can be dangerous to your health. It’s best to air dry your towel rather than rely on your washing machine’s dryer. However, if you prefer using a dryer, shake the moisture off the towel before throwing it in.

Here’s something that most people opt for. They throw their towel on a line or rod after a shower. However, what you should be doing is neatly spreading it out so that it can air dry properly. If your towel smells musty or like mildew, wash it using a cup of baking soda.

How to prevent pilling
Has it ever happened that you’re drying yourself and you find lint all over your body. This is called pilling and it usually happens when you’re using a towel made from short fibres or ones that get damaged easily. As with everything, overusing it leads to wear and tear, but sometimes damage occurs as a result of negligence. If you are careful, you can reduce pilling to a great degree.

To ensure that pilling doesn’t occur, it’s best to choose your towels wisely. Look for 100% Egyptian or prima cotton. You can also look for towels made from combed cotton.

The edge on pilling
Pilling occurs when long fibres rub against short fibres. This is most likely to happen when your towel is tumbling in the washing machine. It might be best to either wash your towel separately or ensure that you only throw similar clothing in together.

Fold the towel in half with the open side on the left. Then fold it in half again, upwards from the bottom. Next, fold the bottom third up, then fold the top third down. Place the towel on the shelf with the closed side facing outwards.

While this may not do much to maintain the quality of the linen, it will help you to be far more organised and careful. Maybe it could help you to remember which towel was last used so that  you can give it a good rest before picking it up again. Overusing a towel can destroy its fibres. It’s best to have a set of four towels that you can switch between.

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