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How to Care for Your Towels

How to Care for Your Towels

For the homemaker in all of us, there’s little more satisfying than a new set of towels. Whether stacked up in a linen closet or hung on a towel bar, they’re practically sparkling with their plush newness. But underlying the thrill of these beauties is the disappointment they often invite in the form of frayed edges, makeup stains, and muted color.

There must be a way to keep those towels as fresh as the day you bought them! Indeed, there is.

Maria Freitas, who has been with Matouk for almost 25 years, and now supervises custom embroidery for the company, shares her top tips for towel care with us below. (We also invite you to click on over to our Matouk Towel Primer, a guide to identifying the Matouk towel that’s right for you.)

Before we even talk about caring for towels, let's talk about shopping for them. What should you look for when purchasing towels? 
It’s about the texture. The feel of the product tells a lot about the quality. If a towel is very light, it's not a good towel; if it has a lot of substance to it, you can feel the quality. The higher the grams of cotton per square meter, the denser the fibers become, making the towel softer and more absorbent. Look for towels made from 100% cotton or Egyptian cotton, which is even higher quality. 

What other elements factor into quality (and price)?
Gram weight, like thread count in bedding, is just one metric to measure towels by. We also consider fiber content, yarn construction (i.e. low twist, zero twist, traditional twisted yarns), towel construction (whether it has a dobby, a piped edge, any embellishment, etc.), and size.

So what is twist exactly?
Cotton fibers are spun (twisted) into yarn. Typically, some yarns are made from short (inferior) fibers that have to be twisted in order to make the yarn. Yarn made from fibers that are twisted a lot gets harder and less absorbent as a result. If a manufacturer uses short staple cotton (i.e. not Egyptian cotton), then the yarns will be hard and the terry will be still and less absorbent.


Matouk’s Milagro towel is made from zero twist yarns. What’s that all about?
Zero twist is a relatively new technique in which fibers are bonded together temporarily and woven to the towel base, and then the bonding agent is removed., leaving the terry with the Egyptian fibers in their nearly raw state. Untwisted is soft and absorbent, like a cotton ball.

White or colored towels—discuss! 
White is my preferred color. Colored towels can become discolored or faded if  not washed as directed on the care instructions.

Regarding Matouk towels specifically, beyond aesthetics, what are the differences between the different towels that Matouk sells? 
All Matouk towels have different weights. For example, Milagro is 550 grams of cotton per square meter, made of zero twist yarns; Cairo is Egyptian cotton at 625 grams; Auberge is 650 grams, made of double twisted yarns.


What are the most popular Matouk towels?
Milagro because of the softness and absorbency. Cairo for the Egyptian cotton and the detail on the finished product. Elysium is like a hybrid of the finer points of Cairo and Milagro. It is made of low twist yarn, so it feels very soft and absorbent (like Milagro), but it has the taped edge of Cairo.

Matouk introduced a new towel called Lotus. What makes it stand out?
Lotus is by far the plushest towel we’ve ever made—and it gets softer and fluffier with every wash. At the same time, it’s highly absorbent. It comes in 10 brilliant shades—all elegant choices for the master bath.

When you purchase a new set of towels and bring it home, what's the first thing you should do? Wash and dry before using.

You want to remove any residue from the finishing process that might still be on the towel, such as chemical softeners. They will hinder absorbency, so the towel will actually perform better after being washed twice to make sure all those agents are removed. A quality towel should get more absorbent and soft as you use it; not less. Inferior towels have lots of softening agents on them, so they feel soft to the touch. But as those agents wash off, the towel becomes hard and doesn’t absorb. Also, don’t be alarmed if your towel produces a lot of lint in the dryer especially in the first wash.

Any tips or tricks when it comes to washing towels that will help increase their longevity?
Don’t leave towels soaking for a long periods of time. Avoid detergents with Clorox or bleach alternatives, as they can discolor most colors. Avoid fabric softeners, as they can make towels less absorbent. Matouk’s all-natural Laundry Essentials are great on towels and bedding.

Any more tips on washing and drying, particularly when it comes to temperature and size of the load? 

Always have a full load of laundry; it makes the washing more balanced and effective. The ideal drying process should start warm, then finish at a cooler temperature. This may take a little longer for the drying process, but it will make the linens last the longest. Never dry on hot! And check your dryer occasionally.

What about stain removal? Anything you can share? 
Where there is a stain, add stain remover directly on the stain. Gently rub and scrub the product a little bit by hand before putting it into the wash.

What's the biggest misconception people make when it comes to caring for towels? 
Washing towels with fabric softener.

Any tips on towel storage?
Store in a dry linen closet.

What about display?
I like to see towels stacked on towel bars folded three ways on the length, so that if they have a monogram, it’s visible.



For more on displaying towels, check out our post on "How to Display Your Towels"—it even includes a handy chart!
(This post was originally published in June, 2014 and updated in September, 2015.)