What is a new Bath Towel’s "Break-In" Period?

If you're a luxury towel lover, you know how wonderful it feels to wrap yourself in a brand new, fluffy towel.

But did you know that your new bath towel has a "break in" period before it reaches maximum softness and absorbency? In fact, it can take as many as three full wash cycles for your bath towel to feel great and absorb water the way it was designed to.

The towel experts at Fine Linen and Bath are here to explain.

Towels are Treated for Softness in the Showroom

If you've ever attempted to use a new bath towel without first washing it, you probably noticed it wasn't absorbing much water. This is because cotton towels are treated with a silicone finish at the end of the manufacturing process. This provides the perception of "softness" to customers who are touching the towel while shopping in retail stores.

In reality, that silicone coats the towel fibers and significantly diminishes their absorbency. To remove this silicone finish, and wash away any excess dye from a colored towel, we recommend always washing towels before their first use.

Three Simple Steps To Soft, Absorbent Towels

At Fine Linen and Bath, we recommend following this three-step process that will leave you with a clean towel with maximum softness and absorbency:

Step 1: Wash your new towel or towel set in warm to hot water -- not scalding -- on a regular wash cycle with one cup of white distilled vinegar. DO NOT USE DETERGENT, only white vinegar.

Step 2: Run the load a second time using only a half-cup of baking soda. AGAIN, DO NOT USE DETERGENT, only baking soda.

Break-In your Bath towels with vinegar and baking soda

Step 3: Dry according to instructions WITHOUT fabric softener or dryer sheets.

Note: Skip using fabric softener or any kind of dryer sheet. These fabric conditioner treatments add the illusion of softness; in fact, they are actually depositing a waxy coating that breaks down the Egyptian cotton fibers of your towels and makes them less absorbent. Instead, use wool dryer balls to increase softness and shorten drying time.

A Quick Refresh for Tired Towels

Over time, even the highest quality terry towel can develop a musty smell, lose absorbency, and appear dingy. This is to be expected with regular use, as most of us don't diligently rotate the towels in our linen closet. Follow the steps above to refresh your musty, smelly towels right in your washing machine. It will leave them looking and feeling like new with renewed softness and absorbency.

Regular Care for Luxury Towels

Taking good care of your luxury towels is essential to extending their beauty, feel, and performance. Here are a few quick tips to keep your towels clean and looking good:

  1. Use a laundry detergent specially made for fine linen such as Heritage Park Luxury All-Purpose Detergent. This pH-neutral formula contains plant-based ingredients and powerful enzymes to clean your towels while protecting the integrity of the fabric.
  2. Always sort towels before washing by both color and weight. Wash towels separately from clothes and don't overload your machine.
  3. Follow care instructions. Use bleach sparingly, if allowed, and only on a white towel or towel set. (Chlorine bleach should never be used on any kind of colored towel. Use non-chlorine bleach if recommended on label).
  4. Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets, which can cause waxy build-up on towels. Use wool dryer balls instead.
  5. Hang a wet towel to dry rather than throwing it in the hamper. This will minimize the musty smell and make it easier to wash clean

Learn more about towel care here.

Purchase High-Quality Towels for Longevity

At Fine Linen in Bath, we offer dozens of luxury towel brands in various weights, styles, and colors to complement your decor. Visit our website to browse collections from leading manufacturers such as Abyss, Graccioza, Matouk, Sferra, and more. Many towel brands we carry are made in Portugal as part of that country's enduring legacy for excellence in bathroom textiles. With proper care, these towels will last and perform well for years to come.

An in-store shopping experience delivered to you online

If you need help choosing among all our many luxury towel offerings, our expert design team is here to assist. At Fine Linen and Bath, our mission is to deliver a concierge luxury linen shopping experience with online convenience. When you need answers, consultation, or help narrowing your choices, feel free to contact us. We offer individualized recommendations, personal consultation, and even complimentary swatch samples for your review. We'll help you make the right buying decisions for your style, budget, and design goals. Please connect with us online or -- even better -- give us a call at (866) 352-4522. We would love to get to know you! In the meantime, please check out this blog comparing three popular luxury towel styles from Abyss.