In a pique of boredom, The Laundry Fairy prattles another pet peeve:
Whenever I hear someone say they’re going to wash a load of towels, I cringe. I couldn’t think of a more effective way to exact unnecessary wear and tear on a washing machine. Cruising the web, it appears this is what everyone does. How odd. I’m thinking that many of you in the trade know better particularly if you’ve ever had items prewashed or dyed. In such case, loads (and costs) are calculated by weight. Your home washing machine is no different. The basket size (volume) is an average; wear and tear is exacted by weight and there’s nothing that absorbs water more effectively than towels. The average basket was only designed to handle eight pounds.
The best way to wash towels is mixed in with the appropriate colors. If a load has mostly lightweight (non water absorbing fabrics like polar fleece, nylons) you can put in two towels depending on their size maybe three, to reach basket volume. If it’s heavier bottom weights with denims or cotton sweaters, only one towel. Actually, cotton sweaters are as bad as towels; when washing, think weight, not volume.
Off topic from my rant to save the world for washing machines, I noticed that people washed towels in hot water. If I use a water temperature other than cold, it’s a once a year occasion. I think people are habituated to using warm and hot water but detergents are much better than when you first learned to do laundry (and are getting even better). The only soils difficult to remove in cold water are oil/grease. As someone who uses linen napkins, the best way to break the bonds of oil and grease is chemically, using ammonia occasionally rather than hot water. Vinegar is also good for stains.
I think that most clothes look dingy due to build up of laundry products (too much detergent) and overloading (most people overload machines). Balance loads with heavy and lighter items, items should be loose to agitate freely reducing build up. One way to test over usage of detergent is to fill the washer and let it start agitating before you put in any soap. If the water suds or you see water breakage, you’re using too much soap. I only use softner occasionally. Vinegar is also good to reduce build up. I can always feel the stickiness. When my husband and I got married, I had to wash his towels three times to get the residue out.
I also found that people washed towels after only one use, they seemed to be proud of their cleanliness. I’d be embarrassed to admit my wastefulness and OCD obsession with cleanliness. How can you dirty up a towel if you’ve just gotten out of the shower? You couldn’t be any cleaner. Will you get a nasty disease from using your own towel twice -or heaven forbid- three times? I will concede that conditions may vary; in this arid clime, a towel will be completely dry within an hour or two but I still find it hard to believe you’d catch flesh eating bacteria from your own towel if you use it twice.