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Ditch fabric conditioner to soften stiff towels for one household item that’s not vinegar

Laundry can seem like a breeze most times, but when it comes to cleaning towels, it can get a little tricky.

Towels can go into the wash feeling softer than ever, but come out stiff and crunchy – sometimes they even smell musty.

Unsure of how to restore the softness of her “cardboard-like” towels, Sue Horne took to the Mrs Hinch Cleaning Tips and Tricks Facebook page to resolve the issue.

She wrote: “Keeping bath and hand towels soft. How do you keep them as good as new? 

“I keep meaning to ask my mother what the secret is as her bath and hand towels are permanently super soft like new. I mean luxury soft. They’re cardboard-like at times. Rough and horrible.”

The majority of group members were saying to scrap the fabric conditioner as that’s the problem.

The main reason that towels are tough after washing is because of fabric softeners and residue from dryer sheets that build up on the fibres over time. 

Every towel will eventually become stiff and scratchy if body oils, detergent chemicals and hard water minerals are left in the fires after washing.

Although white vinegar is mostly recommended to soften towels, Mrs Hinch fans had a different suggestion – soda crystals.

Mary Beaton said: “I never use fabric conditioner as towels do not dry one as well. I just use soda crystals in the drum. If badly stained I use a 60 wash.”

Leonie Moore wrote: “I don’t use fabric conditioner as that makes them less absorbent. I add soda crystals to the wash which is supposed to help.”

Jenny Bans instructed: “Ditch the fabric softener or only use a little and replace with soda crystals. Really does make a difference.”

Margaret Butcher urged: “Don’t use fabric softener! That coats the fibres and makes them unable to absorb water. Put soda crystals in your washing machine drum with nothing else.”

Carmel Gardiner said: “I stopped using fabric conditioner and now use soda crystals instead in the washing machine. My towels are so soft.”

Hayley Watts wrote: “I use soda crystals with my towels to keep soft. I had a few towels that were going a bit crispy but doing this soon sorted it within the first wash.”

Cleaning experts at Big Green Smile also recommend using soda crystals to soften towels but suggest soaking them in a solution. They said: “If your towels are feeling a bit crunchy, it may be that they’re suffering from limescale and detergent build-up. Try soaking them in a medium-strength mixture of soda crystals and warm water. Rinse well, then wash them as normal.”

A 1kg bag of soda crystals can be picked up from B&Q for £2.50, on Amazon for £3.99, or from Robert Dyas for £4.39.


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