The smell of fresh laundry is so good, they’ve bottled it. If you’re getting fresh linen scented air freshener and home decor candles, but your hand towels come out musty, it’s time for a change.
The smell, feel, and state of your hand towels could indicate you need to shop for new ones. Check this list of reasons you may need new towels to see if you should go shopping.
If Hand Towels Have a Dull Color
When towels get old they change color. You may not notice it at first, but a dingy gray or yellowed color means that your towels are getting old. No matter how many times you bleach white towels, they still may develop a yellowish tinge.
If you notice this color in your towels, one way to extend their life a little bit is to dye them. A darker color like navy or black will hide any dull tinges.
Depending on the thickness of your towels, they could start to get threadbare. If the edges are fraying or you find thinner spots in the fabric, that means you’ve had them a while. If you don’t replace them when you notice these signs, they will eventually develop holes.
If hems are coming out, those are usually an easy fix. But fraying and thin patches mean that your towels are getting old and should get replaced.
You can reuse your threadbare towels if there are large enough patches that aren’t threadbare. To do that, cut them into washcloth-size pieces and hem them. Then you can use them for kitchen rags or washcloths in the bathroom.
If They Have Stains
If you notice stains on your hand towels and you know they’ve been through the wash already, then you know they’re probably getting old.
Many things can stain a towel, but bleach is your friend. If the towels are bright colors, and you can’t use bleach, then soak the towel when you develop the stain. That helps the stain keep from setting.
Next, use an old toothbrush and scrub the stain with baking soda and vinegar. Commercial stain stick can also help. If you can’t get the stains to come out, it may be time to replace your towels.
If They Smell Bad
It’s gross to think about, but hand towels that don’t smell fresh anymore should be replaced. Even Turkish cotton can smell mildewed or sour if you forget it in the washing machine. To get mildew smell out of your load of towels, wash them again with detergent but add about half a cup of ammonia.
Dry the towels like normal, and if they still smell, you probably won’t be able to get the smell out. You can try another cycle, but when they’re perpetually stinky, it means there’s probably bacteria stuck in the towel fibers. It’s better if they get traded for new ones in that case.
If They Don’t Work
When your towel doesn’t absorb moisture as well as it used to, you may need to replace it. Every time you washed that towel in the last few years, it lost some of its fiber, which means even if it started out thick and fluffy, it’s thinner now. The fewer fibers a towel has, the more times you have to rub your hands on it to soak up the water.
Your towel might also shed fibers when it’s just hanging there. This is common for new towels, but if they keep doing it long after you bought them, you know the quality isn’t very good. It’s better to replace low-quality linens or ones that have lost absorbency.
If They Aren’t Fluffy
Stiff towels don’t feel nice on your skin. But that scratchiness may indicate that you used too much detergent when you washed them, too. And if you washed them with too much detergent too many times, the damage is irreversible.
If you try washing your rough, rigid towels with less detergent and they still come out missing the luxurious, fluffy characteristic you love, it’s time to replace them. Trade for newer, quality towels that are soft on your skin.
If the Season Is Over
Towels can be seasonal. You might have some for the holidays, some for springtime, or other themed towels. You know your towels are getting older if they are last season’s towels.
Seasonal towels that are still in good shape can go into storage for next year. Towels that were well used during their appointed season should be re-purposed or replaced.
If You’ve Redecorated
If you redecorate your kitchen, you may want new hand towels that match the style. If the old ones are still in good shape, you can use them in another room, or at the lake cottage.
Otherwise, you can donate them to a thrift shop. Someone else may be glad to find towels in the color that doesn’t match your remodel, and at a discounted price. Meanwhile, you get to go shopping.
Picking out something new is always fun, even if it’s a necessity like towels. Search for high-quality materials, and a color and style that goes with your new look.
Clean, Fresh Linen
Functional items like towels aren’t something you think about a lot. Unless someone suggests an idea about your towels, it’s possible you haven’t thought about them in years.
If it has really been several years since you thought about your towels, then it may be time to replace them. Using clean towels helps your family stay healthy, so refer back to this handy list of reasons your hand towels may need replacing.
For more on quality linens, read our other post about decorative ways to fold towels.