Washing new towels for the first time

There are few things more satisfying than emerging from an indulgent shower to then cocoon yourself in a soft and fluffy towel. However, that fresh-towel feeling can quickly evaporate over time – particularly if they’re not treated with proper care from the get-go.

To help prevent lint, maximise absorbency, lock in colours and maintain that fluffy freshness for as long as possible, it pays to launder your towels correctly before that first use.

Here’s how.


Why should I wash my new towels?

First things first: you may be wondering if it’s really necessary to give your brand new towels a wash. There are a few reasons why it’s a good idea.

Most towels are coated in silicone or a fabric softener which helps give them that uber-fluffy feel while sitting on a shop shelf. However, this coating can block the towel’s ability to absorb moisture. New towels are also prone to shedding fluff, so an initial wash can help to remove any pesky clumps before use. Finally, laundering your new towels can help to plump up the fibres, resulting in a thicker pile and increased plushness.


What’s the right way to wash them?

Giving your brand new towels a wash isn’t as simple as just throwing them in the machine with an existing load and a scoop of detergent. Rather, there are a few steps to take note of:

  1. Separate your towels according to colours. This will help to prevent dyes running and transferring.
  2. Give them their own load. Similar to the above point, washing your towels with other laundry poses the risk of discolouration of both your new towels and your clothes.
  3. Halve your detergent. Less is more when it comes to adding detergent – specifically, half of what you usually use is generally sufficient for new towels.
  4. Add one cup of white vinegar to the machine. This important step helps to set the towel’s dyes for long-term colourfast.
  5. Don’t add fabric softener. While this is okay every now and then for subsequent washes, fabric softener will give your brand new towels a layer of waxy residue if added to the first wash.
  6. Wash in warm water. This is a general rule of thumb, but it’s a good idea to check the towel’s label first in case the instructions recommend a cold wash.
  7. Fluff then machine dry. Give your towels a good shake before popping them in the dryer on a regular setting. This fluffs the terry loops in the material, which aid with absorbency, while also preventing your towels from twisting up in the dryer.
  8. Air dry microfibre towels. Machine drying microfibre towels can lead to heat damage, so it’s best to use a clothesline or drying rack instead.
  9. Make sure towels are fully dry (but not over-dry). Any dampness can manifest in mildew, so carefully check your towels are thoroughly dry before putting them away. By the same token, over-drying can damage the integrity of the cotton fibres.


And there you have it – a basic step-by-step guide to washing towels for the first time in order to protect their longevity and give you plenty of comfort over time.