17 Ways to Wash White Towels: Grandma’s Old Tips

Give your white towels the care they deserve to maintain their brightness. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into 17 effective methods using household staples like lemon, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, and even a plastic bag, though not a staple, to enhance your white towel care and cleaning routine, plus other interesting and helpful tips for keeping your towels sparkling white.  Let’s start whitening those soiled towels.


1. How to Prepare White Towels for Washing:  

A. Sorting and Separating: 

How do you keep your towels white without bleach? Begin by sorting your laundry and separating white towels from colored ones. Harness the natural bleaching properties of lemon by applying a mixture of lemon juice and salt directly to stubborn stains. Let it sit for 15 minutes before washing to maximize stain removal efficiency.

B. Pre-treatment of Stains: Lemon: A Stain Removal Powerhouse

For persistent stains, pre-treat them with lemon juice. This citrus fruit not only adds a refreshing aroma but also acts as a highly effective stain remover. The citric acid in lemon juice breaks down tough stains, making the subsequent wash more efficient.


2. Choosing the Right Laundry Detergents for White Towels:

Select a detergent designed for whites, preferably one with optical brighteners. These specialized compounds work to maintain the brilliance of your whites. If you prefer an eco-friendly option, there are detergents available that provide effective cleaning without harsh chemicals.


3. How to Whiten White Towels Using a Plastic Bag:

How do you wash white towels without bleach? For an extra boost in whitening, try the damping and laddering technique. Begin by lightly dampening your white towels. Next, generously ladder a Zote laundry soap bar, known for its stain-lifting properties, directly onto the fabric. Place the treated towels in a sealed plastic bag overnight, allowing the soap to penetrate and lift stains effectively. The following day, wash the towels using a regular liquid laundry detergent, ensuring a thorough rinse for immaculately bright and refreshed linens.


  1. Dampen the Towels: Lightly dampen your white towels to prepare them for the laddering process. This step enhances the soap’s effectiveness in lifting stains and brightening the fabric.
  2. Ladder with Zote: Choose a soap bar known for its stain-fighting capabilities. Generously ladder the soap directly onto the stained areas of the towels, ensuring thorough coverage. The soap’s color is indicative of its stain-lifting power.
  3. Seal in a Plastic Bag Overnight: Place the treated towels in a sealed plastic bag, allowing the soap to penetrate and work its magic overnight. The enclosed environment enhances the effectiveness of the soap in lifting stains and revitalizing the fabric.
  4. Wash with Regular Liquid Laundry Detergent: The following day, wash the towels using a regular liquid laundry detergent. Ensure a thorough rinse to remove any soap residue. This step completes the whitening process, leaving your towels immaculately bright and refreshed.


4. Using Lemon for Brightness: Enhancing White Towels Naturally:

Add the juice of one lemon to your washing machine along with your regular detergent. The natural brightening effect of lemon will keep your white towels looking crisp and fresh. The citric acid not only aids in stain removal but also contributes to enhancing the overall whiteness of your towels.


5. Vinegar as a Fabric Softener Alternative: Soften Naturally with Vinegar:

When it comes to towel care, my number one suggestion is to use distilled vinegar. A regular fabric softener ruins the absorbency of towels. Most times, we don’t realize it, so we throw out our towels.

Adding vinegar to the load will soften towels without leaving residue. Vinegar’s natural properties also help break down detergent buildup, ensuring your towels stay fluffy and absorbent. To keep your white towels smelling fresh and feeling soft, swap traditional fabric softeners for white vinegar.


Add half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle or to the wash. Next, turn the cycle on whites. When done washing, place them in the dryer and dry on medium heat. Adding a dryer sheet is optional. More on Washing Towels with Vinegar:


6. Baking Soda for Freshness: Natural Deodorizing Power:

Keeping your towels fresh without bleach is easy. Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent that helps maintain white towels by neutralizing odors, breaking down stains, and preserving fabric freshness effectively. Combat odors in your towels by following the below instructions.


Place the towels in the washer. Next, pour half a cup of baking soda into your laundry instead of laundry detergent. This natural deodorizer not only neutralizes odors but also contributes to maintaining the freshness of your towels over time.


7. Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets: Wool Dryer Balls for a Chemical-Free Option:

Consider wool dryer balls as a chemical-free alternative to traditional fabric softeners and dryer sheets. These eco-friendly options reduce drying time and maintain your towels’ fluffiness without compromising absorbency.


8. Hydrogen Peroxide for Stain Removal: The Stain Eraser:

Hydrogen peroxide is known for tackling stains and is a safe and recommended whitener. To use it to whiten towels, pour 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide in the laundry detergent slot of your washer before washing. This not only aids in stain removal but also disinfects your towels. Tip: Use a protective glove when using acidic or harsh laundry detergents.


Things to Know and Do Before Washing White Towels


9. Water Temperature: Hot and Cold for Optimal Results:

Begin your washing process by using hot water for heavily soiled towels and cold water for regular washing. Doing this will help preserve the color and appearance of the fabric. Adjust the water temperature accordingly based on your needs. Use hot water for heavily soiled towels to weaken the stains.


10. How to Prepare the Washing Machine:

Avoid overloading your washing machine to ensure a thorough cleaning. Select the appropriate cycle, and if available, use a sanitized or white setting for a deep and efficient clean. This step ensures your white towels emerge from the wash looking their best.


11. Drying Techniques: Low Heat and Line Drying for Optimal Care:

Choose alternative drying methods for optimal care. Set your dryer to low heat to prevent fabric damage. Line drying on sunny days not only conserves energy but also provides a natural bleaching effect, enhancing the brightness of your white towels.


Things to Do After You’ve Washed Your White Towels

12. Ironing for a Crisp Finish: Optional Touch of Elegance:

For those who enjoy a crisp finish, ironing is an option. Use a low- to medium-heat setting to avoid damage. While optional, ironing adds an extra touch of elegance to your towels for those who prefer a more refined appearance. Tip: If you prefer not to iron, you must remove the towels from the dryer and fold them as soon as possible to keep them crisp and without wrinkles.


13. Folding Techniques: Neat and Space-Saving Folding:

Master effective folding to save space and keep your linen closet organized. Neatly folded towels prevent wrinkles and make them easily accessible when needed. A well-folded towel adds a touch of sophistication to your bathroom decor.


14. Towel Storage Tips: Lavender or Cedar for a Pleasant Fragrance:

So, how do I store towels? When storing your towels, keep them in a cool, dry place to prevent musty odors. To enhance the smell, add two or more sachets of lavender or cedar to your linen closet for a natural and pleasant fragrance.


15. Recognizing Signs of Wear: Extend Towel Lifespan:

Remember to look for signs indicating your towels need replacing, such as thinning fabric or persistent stains. As much as we would like, however, our towels won’t last forever. Repurpose your old towels as cleaning rags to extend their usefulness, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.


16. Donating Old Towels to Animal Shelters: 

Embrace eco-friendly practices by repurposing old towels. Use them as eco-friendly gift wraps or reusable cleaning cloths, or donate them to animal shelters. This not only minimizes waste but also has a positive impact on the environment.

17. The Take Away:

Consistent care is paramount for keeping your white towels looking their best. Follow these steps regularly to maintain their softness, absorbency, and bright appearance over time. With these natural methods and thoughtful care, your white towels will remain a luxurious and inviting addition to your bathroom.