Like good china, my mom’s kitchen towels are just for show. She swats away any dirty hands that reach their way, and heaven help the person who uses them to clean a brownie batter splattered countertop (oops).
I always thought she was overreacting—isn’t it a kitchen towel’s purpose to get dirty? Can’t you just wash it? But after setting up shop with my own kitchen towels, I’ve seen the light. After years of use, my kitchen towels are the color of overcooked cabbage, with some flecks of broccoli green and an errant yellow mustard smudge—like a Pollock, but also . . . not. I’ve tried washing them in the industrial washing machines at my local laundromat, but to no avail.
What’s a girl to do?
Turns out throwing your ragged, stained towels in with your other laundry (along with some lavender fabric softener) is the worst thing I could’ve done, and over the years, probably further baked on the worst of the stains.
According to Bailey Carson, a home and cleaning expert at Angi, a home cleaning company, I should have been washing my towels separately and without fabric softener, which can make them greasy and gross.
"Many fabric softeners are made from a silicone oil, so they can make your towels greasy and less absorbent," she says. Another tip that she says results in soft and fluffy towels is to add a quarter to half cup of vinegar to your load, or to pre-soak the towels in vinegar before washing.