Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water? A Definitive Answer

Towels are an essential part of our daily lives. They help us dry off after a shower, wipe our hands, and even clean up spills. But when washing towels, many confuse whether to use hot water because it isn’t suitable for all clothes.

You can and should wash towels in hot water. It will clean the towels most proficiently and also eliminate harmful germs.

In this article, I will discuss the details of washing towels in hot water and share my two cents on why it’s good. I will also talk about how you can wash and dry your towels properly without ruining them. So let’s get started!

Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water?

Washing Towels In Hot Water: Is It Good?

There was a time when we used to wash heavily dirty stuff in hot water. Like when I was a kid, I saw my grandma using boiling water to remove fat residues from beef stew pots. But those days are gone now. Dishwashing liquids and soaps are so powerful now that only a swipe removes stubborn fats like they were never there.

Like utensils, we wash heavier and dirtier clothes in hot water to clean them properly. Has the time changed as it has for utensils? Are there special detergents that no longer require hot water?

Brian Sansoni, an important member of the American cleaning association, says, “Most laundry can now be done in cold water. That should be the default.” he also adds, “It’s usually just as effective, but it’s more sustainable and reduce wear and tear or fading.” needless to say, this includes a towel.

However, you should completely write off hot water from your laundry regimen. Although you can wash towels in cold water, washing them in hot water is better in every aspect. If you follow some simple tips, you can make your towel look new and fluffy after washing it with hot water.

Towels are usually dirtier than most other clothes. Regarding kitchen towels, there isn’t a thing messier than this in your household. So washing towels(all types) in hot water cleans them better and eliminates all the germs more effectively.

However, hot water doesn’t mean scalding hot. Using boiling water will cause your towels to fray and shrink, reducing lifespan. The temperature should be between 104 to 140°F.

Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water?

Also read:- How To Wash New Towels In Front Loader?

How To Properly Wash Towels?

Properly washing towels will give you good as new every time. And it doesn’t take much to do it. Let’s take a look at how to wash towels properly:

Step 1: Sort The Towels

We sort clothes before washing them, but we barely think about it when washing towels. I wash white towels separately to keep them bright and prevent discoloration, which has always worked for me. As far as brightly colored or dark towels are concerned, wash them separately as well to avoid any fading or color transfer.

Step 2: Load In Small Capacity

When you’re loading towels into your washer, make sure to toss them in nice and loose. Towels usually need more space to move thoroughly in the machine, so I always load in a small capacity, smaller than the recommended capacity by the manufacturer.

Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water?

Step 3: Add Detergents And Other Things

It’s essential to get the detergent amount just right. Excess detergent affects the fluffiness of your towels; more on this later.

For an extra boost of brightness or added sterilization, you can add roughly a half cup of liquid bleach to the bleach dispenser or directly to the wash water. On an important note, Avoid fabric softeners; opt for vinegar and baking soda instead.

Step 4: Select The Right Washing Settings

Hot water is best for towels, or at least warm or hot water for a thorough cleaning. Hot means temperature around 40 to 60°C. A heavy-duty wash cycle is best for optimal cleaning. However, the temperature and wash cycle depends on the fabric of your towel, so check the manufacturer’s label carefully.

Step 5: Dry And Store Your Towels

Dry and store them properly to retain fluffiness. Drying towels might seem trivial, but it’s an essential phase in the process to keep your towels soft. In the next part, I will discuss how to dry towels for maximum softness.

Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water?

Also read – How To Make A Hot Towel With Microwave?

How To Dry Towels?

Excessive heat can damage the fibers, so it’s a good idea to air dry them before putting them in a tumble dryer. One important thing that many people need to learn is that proper drying is one of the steps to keep your towels soft and fluffy.

One other thing; line drying indoors isn’t the best thing to do because towels are heavy and will take so much time. You can line dry towels out in the sun. It will dry fast, and the humidity inside the house will remain unchanged.

I throw my towels in the tumble dryer after air drying my towels. Don’t bone dry your towels; keep 10% moisture before putting them in the dryer. Run the dryer in a no-heat cycle to infuse fluffiness in the towels. You can also use dryer balls to dry the towels while retaining a fluffy texture. After drying, fold or roll them properly before using them again.

Reasons Why Your Towel Is Hard And Rough After Washing?

Towels become stiff and rough, and the fluffy texture seems lost after washing stems from two principal reasons; water residue and detergent residues hide between the towel fibers.

All the other reasons contribute to these two key reasons. Excessive detergent can cause the detergent particles to gather between the towel fibers. Similarly, if the wash cycle isn’t hot enough, water and detergent residues will accumulate in the towel fibers. Excessively loading the washing machine is also another reason.

Overdrying or complete drying in natural air also makes towels hard because natural air contains moisture which gets trapped in the nooks and crannies of the towel. However, you can easily avoid these contributing factors and get a nice fluffy towel after washing. How? Let’s move on to the next topic.

How To Keep Towels Soft And Fluffy After Washing?

Many complain about the towel becoming rough and rugged after washing and drying. You can easily avoid it by following the tips below. Let’s have a look:

Use The Right Amount Of Detergent

Too much detergent can leave a residue on your towels, making them feel stiff and scratchy. On the other hand, using too little detergent can leave your towels feeling unclean. The right amount of detergent is essential for keeping your towels soft and fluffy. Follow the instructions on the detergent packaging and use the recommended amount for the load size.

Use The Right Temperature

Washing your towels in hot water can cause the fibers to break down, leading to rough and scratchy towels. Instead, wash your towels in warm water to keep them soft and fluffy. If your towels are too dirty, you can use hot water only occasionally.

Use Vinegar And Baking Soda Instead Of Softeners

Fabric softeners can leave a waxy buildup on your towels. It can make them less absorbent and less fluffy. Also, some fabric softeners have silicon. Silicon makes towel water repellant. As a result, water cannot properly wash all the detergents. It can cause detergent residue buildup.

A cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help remove any detergent buildup and soften the fibers. On the other hand, baking soda loosens up the towel’s fibers and helps clean stuck grime and dirt. If you habitually leave damp towels in a pile, baking soda shall help remove the resultant musty odor.

Air Dry Slightly, Then Tumble Dry

Hang-drying your towels can help keep them soft but also leave them feeling stiff. I air-dry the towels for a short time, then tumble dry them on low heat to fluff them up. Complete air drying can stiffen the towel; total tumble drying can deteriorate the fabric quality and lifespan. This combination of air and tumble drying has helped me preserve the fibers and keep my towels soft and fluffy.

Use A Dryer Ball

Dryer balls help fluff your towels and keep them soft without fabric softeners. They also help reduce drying time. It means less wear and tear on your towels. If you don’t have dryer balls, that’s fine. I often run out of dryer balls, and I use tennis balls. Thanks to the tennis court in my backyard, I always have tennis balls. And believe me, they work great!

Shake The Towel Before Washing And Drying

Keeping towels soft is all about preventing dirt and detergent buildup. So shaking the towels before washing can help significantly to that cause.

It will open up the fibers, allow detergent to infiltrate every pore to wash the grime, and let the water wash away every last drop of detergent. Doing the same before drying will get rid of excess water.

Can You Wash Towels With Other Clothes?

When washing clothes, it’s always better to wash the same types of clothes together in a group. It can be difficult for average users like us to distinguish between fabrics that are very similar to each other. So I usually sort clothes according to their weight.

Towels get dirty to various degrees depending on towel type, so they are better suitable for long heavy-duty wash cycles with hot water, unlike many other clothes.

So washing a towel with other garments will do one of two things; either it will damage the other clothes, or the towel won’t be adequately cleaned, and the other clothes will remain fine. Transfer of bacteria and other germs is another concern. Considering all these, I suggest always washing towels separately.

Another concern many people face is whether you can wash jeans with towels. This dilemma is because jeans are heavy and rough; they only require cleaning after they get filthy after wearing them for a long time. So many people think jeans should be washed under a heavy-duty wash cycle and hot water, like towels, and they can be washed together. But as I’ve already stated, sort your clothes according to their types before putting them in the washing machine.

Should You Wash Towels In Hot Water?


Some additional questions are always enough to jumble up everything you learned thus far. So here are those with answers:

What Happens If I Wash Towels In Excessive Hot Water?

Washing towels in hot water gives the best results in terms of cleaning and asepsis. But if the water is too hot, it will damage the towel fibers. That will lead to fraying and shrinkage and eventually reduce the towel’s lifespan.

What Is The Best Temperature To Wash Towels?

Knowing the right temperature to wash towels is essential. Keep the temperature between 40 to 60°C or 104 to 140°F

What Clothes Should Not Be Washed In Hot Water?

Although hot water is suitable for washing towels, it could be better for everything else. If you wash them in hot water, fabrics like polyester, vinyl, and nylon may be damaged, so it’s better to avoid them.


Washing towels in hot water is beneficial for hygiene and eliminating bacteria. However, it is crucial to consider the type of fabric and washing instructions the manufacturer provides to avoid damage and shrinkage.

When washing towels, it’s important to know all the variables that can result in a good wash and soft towel or bad wash and stiff towel. I believe now you know all of them, best of luck!

Also read – Does Putting A Towel Under The Door Block Sound?

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