Softening Bath Towels

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smurfchops | 15:26 Wed 08th Feb 2006 | Home & Garden
31 Answers
New cotton towels are lovely and soft -- why don't they stay like that? When they have been in the washing machine, with fabric softener, they always dry quite rough. When they have dried naturally on the line I put them in the tumble drier, but invariably they don't soften up (not like in the adverts ... ) Should I put them in the tumble drier when they are wet .. and if so, soaking wet or is damp OK? Do I need a softener in the drier? Sometimes I soak them in Comfort, don't even rinse, and they still dry the same. Help !!


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Fabric condition alters the absorbancy of towels so you should not use it at all. Don't use more washing powder/liquid than you absolutely need so that there is no residue (even after rinsing) and tumble dry the towels, preferably after a fast spin.

I use Comfort Pearls conditioner capsules these days & they're brilliant.

I put the washing powder in the dispenser, then tuck one softener capsule in behind the washing. I then tumble dry the towels to make them all fluffy & cosy!

P.S. Just re-read your question judie, yes, I do put them in the tumble dryer straight from the washing machine!

Never, ever, ever, ever use Fabric Conditioner with towels, especially the expensive ones. As Consie says, the "conditioner" alters the make up of the molecules within the fibres (or, to be accurate, cover them up, if that makes sense). All it really does is make them smell nice.

Rinse very well and either let them dry naturally or, if you must, tumble dry. Cotton is naturally soft and fluffy so it stands to reason that the more natural you keep it, the nicer it will stay. Cleaners and conditioners work by attacking the molecules of dirt - and they can't do this selectivly (sp)

Well that's very odd - whenever I've forgotten to put fabric softener in my machine, the towels end up all hard & scratchy, whether dried on the line or in my tumble dryer - so! I'll stick to my lovely Comfort Pearls!!

Okey dokey, one hippy idea coming up - don't use detergent as it kills everything in the water cycle and really isn't very ecofriendly, and is expensive when you add up the cost of washing too.

Look at the alternative clean system from Ecoballs - mineral filled balls that go in with the wash and need no powder, ever. Last for 1000 washes and will keep towels fluffy too - as above, never use conditioner and the min. of detergent anyway.

Also avialable - drier balls that have lots of tiny rubber fronds that lift the fabric.

Look at: and read the reviews.

Ecoballs system may look costly but just think how much powder you use and what the savings will be - and no boxes to carry round the car parks! You can get refills too now which make them even better value. Now go and hug a tree.


It will do, because you have altered the state of the cotton, and the Fabric conditioner, once you have used it, becomes a must. There is nothing wrong with the feel of the conditioner, or the smell, as long as you are happy that that is what you are getting, the feel and smell of the conditioner, not the feel and smell of the cotton. Think about Hair conditioner - it doesn't actually make your hair softer - the hair on your head is dead - it coats your hair with a coating that feels soft.

Nothing wrong with any of that- its good marketing - but leave your hair unwashed for a few months (if you dare) and you will have shiny soft hair as your body will find its own balance in terms of secretions from the skull.

I never use fabric softener for towels. I dry them on the line weather permitting or tumble them and they always come up softish. Perhaps living on the coast with gales of wind and sea air does the trick !! Personally I prefer my towels not too soft ..they are more absorbent .If they are full of fabric softener the water seems to slide off and not get absorbed into the towel..if you see what I mean !!

Thank you Mark & nickmo - I shall certainly look into your suggestions - well, apart from the one about not washing my hair of course - it would probably itch like mad otherwise!

Sorry jude, just replying to M& N.

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So mark and shez, once I have 'altered the state of the cotton' by using fabric conditioner, is to too late? This is getting very technical. So what you are saying is, with brand new cotton towels, don't use fabric conditioner, but once I have used fabric conditioner, there is no going back??
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And nickmo - I just looked up the thread but I can't believe clothes will be cleaned without detergent - just a couple of balls ! Convince me ....

Judie dear - as you say, only a couple of balls but look what they can get done!!

Read the testimonials and off to shop on the site. There are a few eco thingys that will help round the home, and OK, I'll be dead before the glaciers melt, but any effort will help.

The balls kill bacteria - thats what makes your clothes smelly - they won't leave a pungent fabric smell, don't harm the water system, can be refilled for half the price - inc. the rubber seals round them - and are dead cool to brag to your chums about as they carry yet more chemicals home with them.

They don't wash without detergent really - the cleaning action is from the spheres inside the ball contacines, and this creates an oxygenating process - oh, look, thats what the washing powder says it does!!

So come on, hug a tree now, cosy up to a whale and get your hands on the Ecoballs. The ball fluffers things also help as they basically lift fabric to make it all soft and nice to touch, so even more savings.

I thought I was going to be the oddbod because I don't like soft towels - they don't dry you fast enough! However I see I have company with shaneystar - nothing like a good rub with a rough towel for getting rid of all your dead skin. Oooh sorry, is that too much...?

Oh and quick note re soft hair - don't rub the Ecoballs into your hair - use a rinse of either rose water - smells nice - or nettle tea, which as nettle has a lot of goodness like iron and vit c will strengthen the hair as well as leaving it shiny. Honest! V. old fashioned one, that.

Collect fresh nettle tops for the best effect, but a bag version will be good too. And in a comedy West Country accent :- 'Now then, my lover, get off my land!.....'

We use nickmo's balls for washing! Couldn't resist saying that, but seriously they do everything they claim to and more and are fantastically eco friendly:)

I was always told NO softner for towels I always tumble dry,and I use the blue and pink ball on the site recomended( in the tumbler). I got mine at the ideal home show, I was a sceptic but because I only dry using 'leccy I figured that a tenner was worth the risk. Suffice to say this was a good move as now the washer and dryer work in sync. a lot more than they used to. I do not have one wet lot in a basket ,some in the washer and a third in the dryer.So in a non scientific way I know that they cut down on the energy used.These balls were developed by someone who worked in the silk industry so they get between the layers of fabric allowing the free flow of air, so they are more efficient than the load turning around in a big wet ball. In fact I have two lots they are brill!

I tried to use a different brand of ionic wash ball and it was so small that it got caught in the clothes and whacked in the dryer it was banjaxed. So these big green numbers look ideal - will give them a go. The little one worked but I don't know why.

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I saw those balls at the Ideal Home Exhibition last year and didn't buy them, I will probably go again in April so will have a look for them. Just goes to show, don't be so suspicious of people selling things at the Ideal Home Show ! I always think those things will be rubbish, this proves me wrong ! Maybe I should trust people more ....
Mother in Law used to do a turn at the Ideal Home buy the balls and hide your money - I am joking!

Lakeland Limited do something similar - it costs about �8 but lasts 100 washes.

I was going to put something about letting the cats play with my balls but then though that was silly...

Incidentally, I think the Ecoballs are �35 for 1000 washes, so bodyswerve the Lakeland variety helliebobs and save even more!!. Refills are �15 or so.

Judiewudie - if you mean the SECC show April 5 - 9, see you there - I won't be on the stand selling balls, but another one. Do get some as they are dead good.

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