How to make your towels last longer

5 ways to keep them in top shape
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The unsung hero of your daily routine, your bathroom towels help you wash, dry and warm up to begin (or end) your day. However, you may be ruining your bath towels without realising it!

Do you ever spare a thought for the care you give your humble bath towels? A sure-fire way to update your bathroom on a budget, ensuring healthy habits and long life for your fluffy friends should also be top of mind. 

Here are five practices to avoid and what to do instead.

coastal bathroom with VJ panelling
(Photographer: Louise Roche | Styling: Amber Keller)

1. Cleaning with harsh chemicals

Whilst you may avoid using bleach close to your towel when doing the usual laundry duties, other products crossing its path might be producing those mysterious white spots on your favourite coloured towels. Avoid contact with products such as bleaching toothpaste and acne-preventing face washes – their super cleaning and brightening properties might just be wrecking your cottons!

Similarly, don’t store your usual cleaning cloths in the dirty laundry hamper with your other items, as the residue of household cleaning products may leave marks.

2. Doubling up on towel hooks

Hanging more than one towel on the same hook is a definitely no-no! By not allowing air circulation around each towel, mould and bacteria are prone to collecting in the folds and layers to multiply, ready for redistribution all over your body (ugh!). Everyone needs their own hook or, better still, a towel rail for optimal airflow.

white bathroom with herringbone stone floor tiles
(Photographer: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Corina Koch)

3. Infrequent washing

How often do you really wash your bath towel? If you’re feeling chuffed and it’s once a week, think again. According to Elle Stephenson, homeware designer for textiles at Country Road, your towels should generally be washed after 3-5 uses. “It’s not harmful for towels to be washed often, as long as you’re following the correct washing and care instructions,” says Elle.

The best way to dry your towels for long life is to air dry them in direct sunlight. This will help to kill off any nasties and retain the quality of the fibre. If crispy towels are not your thing, follow air drying with a short cycle in the dryer. “I prefer to use the dryer in short cycles to keep my towels soft and fluffy,” says Elle. “I’d also suggest using wool dryer balls – they can make your towels softer without the use of fabric softener or additional chemicals, while also reducing drying time.

4. Too much detergent

Turns out you can be too clean. In your attempt to avoid smelly towels, using excessive amounts of detergent when you wash them will shorten their life. To compound the problem, your detergent may also be underperforming. Newer model machines use less water and may be unable to break down the soap, leaving a residue on your towels people can be sensitive to, so go with your own preference for powder or liquid. “It’s very much a personal choice,” says Elle. “However, to retain the quality of your towels, I would suggest opting for a detergent that doesn’t contain bleach.”

white coastal bathroom
(Photography: Louise Roche / Stylist: Kylie Jackes)

5. Too much fabric softener

Fabric softener is designed to make your towels feel softer, but they do so by adding a coating of chemicals to make the fibres stand on end. Not everyone loves the effect on their skin however and according to Elle, it can also affect the longevity of your towels, as well as make them slippery and less absorbent – kind of waterproofing them. Try using handmade solutions instead.

Shop bath towels, bath hooks and accessories


Seneca organic bath towel in Pink, David Jones

$30 (usually $59.95)

Available in eight colours from trending olive green and sunny saffron, this fluffy, organic cotton bath towel delivers a snug hug at the end of bath time.


Adventure towel set in Sage, Mayde


Every day is an adventure with this bold 100% cotton towel. Made for indoors or outside use, there’s a matching hand towel and bath mat to complete the set in a fun oversized check design to pump up the action in your bathroom.


European Willow Turkish cotton bath towel in Clay, Adairs


With a 70% cotton and 30% TENCEL blend, this luxurious bath towel is super plush! A thick branded border adds weight and sheer luxury to your bathroom.


Phoenix Radii robe hook, The Blue Space


Brass is all class. A pair of these classic robe hooks will keep your fluffy friends in order.


Anne Porcelain knob in Mushroom, Elevate Design


Designed in Denmark and made in Vietnam, a choice of nine different colours and the lovely matte finish of these knobs brings a textured look and feel to your bathroom.


Caroma Urbane II robe hook in Matte Black, The Blue Space

$38 (usually $53)

Simple and elegant, this stainless steel hook is a nice way to tie in black tapware and add colour-coded accessories on any wall in your bathroom. Consider one for a hand towel, too.


Conlon coat hook, Freedom

$47.95 (usually $59.95)

With its chic, minimal, timber-and-white styling, there’s plenty of room on this 5-hook rack for towels, robes and to collect clothing.


Organic Merino wool dryer balls (set of 4), Us and The Earth


Reduce drying time and plump your towels to new heights with natural wool dryer balls. They’re also great for drying puffer jackets!

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