Washing Towels with Vinegar - The Secret to Soft, Fresh Towels

Washing Towels with Vinegar - The Secret to Soft, Fresh Towels

Washing Towels with Vinegar - The Secret to Soft, Fresh Towels

Rory Donnelly


March 15 2024

What is the first thing you reach for after you finish showering? Your bath towel! Every time we go on vacation, the one thing that appeals to us most is those soft, fluffy white towels that are a constant in most hotel rooms. Your bath towels are used daily, and keeping them clean is almost as important as keeping your body clean! Maintaining these towels is integral, otherwise, you will be left with rough, worn-out ones that will have to be replaced very often. Simply washing smelly towels isn't enough, as this does not always ensure that they are clean, and hinder their absorption capacities. But the secret to having those fluffy, hotel-quality towels is cheap, easily available, and the perfect household hack. The answer is simple- washing towels with vinegar.

No, we do not mean apple cider vinegar or balsamic, for that matter. It’s a towel, not a tossed salad! Washing towels with white vinegar is an ages-old hack that has been used by homeowners to keep their towels clean, fluffy, and fresh, and to keep them looking like the day they were purchased. In this article, we shall understand why white vinegar is used to clean towels, how to go about washing your towels, the various benefits of doing so, and the various methods and subsequent steps involved. So let us dive into this interesting read about how to get that perfect fluffy and clean towel that is hygienic and long-lasting.

Why do Clean Towels Sometimes Smell Bad?

A clean towel shouldn't smell bad, right? Ideally, just cleaning your towels with a hand or machine wash with regular detergent and fabric softener should be enough. But it isn’t good for your towels! Fabric softeners and detergents often leave a residue that gets caught in the towel fibres and reduces their absorbency, and over time, this build-up is often what leads to the bad smell in your towels, despite washing them regularly. Bacterial and soap residue that doesn't get cleaned off in a wash can also cause these foul odours in your towels. But periodically washing towels with vinegar is the best solution for maintaining their quality and getting rid of that persistent bad smell as the slightly acidic nature of vinegar helps to remove the deposits and keeps your towels clean and fresh!

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Gathering Supplies

Before you can start trying out these laundry tips, there are some supplies you need to gather before you begin cleansing your towels with vinegar and getting them squeaky clean. Listed below are some household items you will need.

  • A Washing Machine
  • White Vinegar
  • Dirty Towels
  • Hot or Warm Water
  • Laundry Detergent
  • A Bucket (optional)

How to Wash Towels with Vinegar at Home

When you are washing your towels with vinegar, there are two ways you can go about it- cleaning them in your washing machine or washing them by hand. Both methods work just as well, and give you the same results. White vinegar is naturally anti-bacterial and acidic, it will ensure you get fluffy and clean towels at the end of the cleaning process, regardless of the method you use according to your convenience.

  • Cleaning Towels in your Washing Machine:

  1. When you are machine washing your towels, always do it in small loads to ensure proper cleaning as overloading may lead to soap residue and bad odour. Adding 2-3 towels in the washing drum in one wash is recommended.
  2. Once you have added your towels, add laundry detergent in its respective drawer, and add about 250ml distilled white vinegar into the fabric softener drawer.
  3. If your towels have already been washed in detergent, just mix some water into the vinegar to dilute before you add it to the detergent drawer.
  4. According to the material of your towels, set the cycle temperature and preferences and start the machine.
  5. Always do an extra rinse and dry cycle to ensure that the towels have been cleaned thoroughly.
  6. Once done, remove the towels and shake to fluff up the fibres and air dry for some time to ensure proper drying.

  • Hand Washing your Towels:

  1. Fill a bucket with warm or hot water. The water should be enough to submerge your towels completely.
  2. Add 1 cup of white vinegar. The rule of thumb is that one cup of vinegar for one bucket of water is enough for cleansing your towels.
  3. Then, soak towels in vinegar and water for about 30 minutes.
  4. Once the towels have been soaked, scrub thoroughly with your hands or a clothes brush to remove any stains or spots, and to ensure that the liquid has fully penetrated the towel fabric and cleansed it.
  5. Once done, rinse your clean towels with warm water to remove any excess liquid and squeeze them dry. You can even rinse and dry your towels in your washing machine for this step.
  6. Shake the towels out after removing all excess water, and hang them to dry in direct sunlight.

And there we go! We have now learnt how to clean towels with vinegar and the result will surprise you! The vinegar will completely cleanse your towels, leaving them feeling like new! As for the vinegary smell, that will dissipate in a few hours once you air-dry the towels for a while.

Should you Include Baking Soda While Washing Towels?

Yes, you should! Washing towels in baking soda helps you brighten your towel fabric and it acts as a natural deodoriser, which will help you get rid of any smell that is caused due to oil, sweat, or detergent residue. You can replace fabric softener with baking soda to loosen the fibres of your towels when washing them with detergent. Just like white vinegar, baking soda is another helpful household ingredient that can help you clean your towels well. If you want to learn how to get towels white and bright, baking soda is your easy answer!

Why is Drying Your Towels Properly Important?

Always dry your towels completely after washing them, as improper drying is often the cause of bad odours in towels, despite washing them regularly. Always opt for a gentle tumble-drying cycle when machine-washing your towels to ensure that they have dried completely. Additionally, avoid overfilling your machine to reduce the risk of improper drying and residual dampness in your towels.

You can also shake out your towels after hand washing them and hang them to air-dry in direct sunlight for a few hours to ensure that they dry out completely.

What are the Benefits of Cleaning Towels with Vinegar?

Vinegar is slightly acidic due to the presence of acetic acid in it, which makes it a natural mild disinfectant as it helps to break down any bacteria or germs that may be present on your towels. Additionally, washing towels in vinegar is extremely helpful in removing sweat and oil deposits from your towels, along with any detergent or fabric softener residue that may have built up over time in the towel fibres. This ensures that the fibres do not become rough and scratchy, and helps brighten their colour as it refreshes the fabric and keeps it fresh and clean for longer.

Furthermore, not only does vinegar increase the lifespan of your towels, but it also helps to get rid of any damp or foul odours that may be present in your towels, making it the perfect all-rounder cleaning agent!

How Often Should You Wash Towels with Vinegar?

It is advisable to wash your towels with vinegar every 3-4 weeks to get the best results. You can choose a day in a month when you can deep-clean your towels with vinegar, so ensure that they are long-lasting and remain fresh!


  1. Can you use vinegar and laundry detergent together?

    Yes, you can! It is advisable to use laundry detergent with vinegar to ensure complete elimination of any germs or bacteria. But, ensure that you do not mix the two in one container as that will reduce their effectiveness. An ideal solution can be to wash your towels with detergent beforehand and then wash them with vinegar.

  2. Does vinegar fade towels?

     No, vinegar does not fade towels but instead makes them look brighter! But it does have a mild acidic content, so it is not recommended to pour it directly onto your towels to prevent any stains. If you are washing towels with vinegar directly, then dilute the vinegar in about half a cup of water to see efficient results.

  3. Do you have to rinse your towel after vinegar wash?

    Yes, you do. If you are washing towels in a washing machine, a rinse cycle is always included. But if you are hand washing your towels in a vinegar and water solution, simply rinsing them with hot water afterwards is enough. You can then opt to either tumble dry or air dry your towels.

  4. How much vinegar should be used to wash towels?

    If washing in a washing machine, use half the normal amount of detergent and about 1 cup or 250ml of vinegar. If you are hand washing your towels, one cup of vinegar for one bucket of water is an accurate measurement for proper cleaning.

  5. Should I wash my towels with vinegar every time?

    No, you shouldn't. Ideally, it would help if you washed your towels with vinegar once every 3-4 weeks, or when they start to feel stiff. You can normally clean your towels with detergent once every 3-4 uses as per usual, but you can include a sprinkle of baking soda to the towels to ensure better cleaning.

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