How To Wash Towels By Hand

If your washing machine is on the blink or you only have one or two towels to wash, then handwashing is your answer. It is very straightforward to wash towels by hand. All you need is a bathtub or a sink big enough to accommodate the towels to be washed.

To wash towels by hand fill a bathtub with hot water and add detergent. Agitate the towels in the water and leave them to soak for an hour. Drain the water and then rinse them with clean water. Wring out as much water as you can and then air-dry them or put them in a dryer.

What are the advantages of handwashing towels?

Although washing towels in a machine could be considered more convenient than handwashing, there are several advantages of doing so.

  1. You can save power. Washing machines use power to heat the water and to turn the drum.
  2. Saves a trip to the laundry room. If you have a shared washer for your apartment block it can save a trip. If you have to pay for a washing load it doesn’t make sense to pay for a full load when you only have a couple of towels to wash.
  3. You can give stains more attention. If you have stains, you can give them special attention with a stain remover and a bit of extra scrubbing. A washing machine can’t do that.
  4. Handwashing can be quicker. HE washers often have very long cycles. If you need your towel cleaned quickly, handwashing is your answer.

If you don’t have a machine or it is broken it is better to wash laundry by hand than leave it dirty for too long. Don’t have a dryer either? Check out this post for loads of tips on how to get your towels dried in super-quick time.

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How to wash bath towels by hand

It is very straightforward to wash towels by hand. All you need is a bathtub or sink, some detergent and some hot water. If you have stains you will need to rub or spray on some stain remover and then scrub them. If you don’t like scrubbing add a tablespoon of Napisan or Oxiclean to the washing water.

Things you’ll need for washing towels by hand

  • Rubber gloves
  • Mild detergent

Optional extras:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Stain remover

Instructions for washing towels by hand

Always use hot water for washing towels to help kill as much bacteria as possible. Don’t use too much detergent otherwise it will be difficult to wash it out completely and your towels won’t be soft when they dry.

  1. Apply stain remover to any stains such as blood
  2. Fill a bathtub or sink with hot water and add detergent (and optionally a tablespoon of stain remover)
  3. Submerge the towels and agitate for a few minutes
  4. Leave the towels to soak for an hour
  5. Drain the water and wring out the towels
  6. Fill the bathtub with cold water and 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar (optional)
  7. Agitate the towels
  8. Drain and ring out as much of the water from the towels as you can.
  9. If required do another rinse

Tip: If your towels are particular dirty add a tablespoon of Napisan to the washing water to kill bacteria and remove stains.

How to dry hand-washed towels

towel on washing line

Hand washed towels can be air-dried outside or put into the dryer. Make sure you have wrung out as much water as you can to save drying time.

If you can’t spin your hand-washed towels, the drying time is going to be much longer. Here are some tips to reduce drying time:

  1. When you peg your towels on the clothesline always hang them flat do not fold them in half.
  2. Remove more water from the towel by rolling it up inside a dry towel. You will end up with two towels to dry but together they should dry in less time.

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How to hand wash towels and make them soft

soft towels

Here are some tips to help get your towels as soft as possible.

  1. Don’t use too much detergent. When you hand wash your towels you can make them as soft as possible by not using too much detergent. You can reduce the amount of detergent by using some washing soda crystals or baking soda to soften the water first.
  2. Add vinegar to the rinsing water. When you rinse add 1/2 or 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. This will soften the towels without reducing absorbency.
  3. Shake out. After washing shake out the towel to release and fluff up the fibres.
  4. Don’t overdry. If you are using a dryer don’t overdry your towels because it will damage the fibres. Leaving towels on a clothesline for too long on a hot day can also make them rough.

Fabric conditions can make your towels soft, but in doing so the absorbency will be affected so it is not a good idea to use them.

How to hand wash towels with vinegar

To handwash towels with vinegar add a 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. Vinegar helps to kill bacteria, brighten colours, soften fibres and helps to remove excess detergent.

  1. Fill a bathtub with hot water and add detergent
  2. Submerge your towels
  3. Agitate for a couple of minutes and then leave to soak for about an hour
  4. Agitate again for a couple of minutes
  5. Let the water drain and then wring out excess water from the towels
  6. Fill the bathtub with clean water and add 1/2 or 1 cup of vinegar
  7. Agitate again
  8. Drain the water and wring out as much water as possible

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you wash towels?

It is a good idea to wash your towels after every three uses and allow them to dry between uses to prevent germs from multiplying on them.

If you have a sickness or sensitivities such as eczema you may need to wash your towels more often to prevent the chance of bugs spreading throughout the household.

Never put damp towels in the laundry basket, always let them air dry first.

Can you hand wash microfiber towels?

Yes, you can handwash microfibre towels too. Keep your microfibre towels separate from your cotton towels to prevent lint and fluff from transferring onto them. As for cotton towels, avoid using fabric conditioners.

Avoid using a dryer when drying your microfibre towels because the heat can ruin the synthetic fabric.

Can you hand wash towels with other clothes?

It is better not to mix towels and clothing in a wash because:

  1. Bacteria from the towels will transfer onto clothing.
  2. Lint from the towels will be deposited on the clothing.
  3. Towels generally need to be washed at a higher temperature to kill bacteria which might not be suitable for your clothing.

Can you use fabric softener on towels?

It is not advisable to use fabric conditioners on towels. Whilst they will be softer, they will lose their absorbency and so will no longer be fit for purpose. To improve softness without affecting absorbency, add a 1/2 cup of vinegar to the final rinse. The vinegar smell will quickly dissipate. The best type of vinegar to use is white distilled vinegar.

Can you iron towels?

There is no need to iron your towels. Doing so will reduce the absorbency and the heat could even damage the fibres. Ironed towels will lose their softness.

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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.