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Rescue Old Towels From Oblivion

We have a problem with our towels. We only bought them 18 months ago, but they’ve already lost their fluffiness. I’m wondering if it’s because our new, energy-efficient laundry machines are less powerful than our apartment’s industrial machines, but it’s a problem whatever the reason. I’m not ready to buy new towels yet (see how I deftly avoided the cliché there?).

Wash Towels in Vinegar or Baking Soda

Over time, towels pick up detergent and fabric softener residue, which can make them rough and less absorbent. You can remove that, though. Wikihow has a complete rundown of the steps, but the basics are simple: Run your towels, and your towels only, through two hot loads. No detergent, no fabric softener, nothing. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of the first load. Run the towels through again, adding ½ cup of baking soda to the water. This should get out any smells or residue, but you might need to do it a few times. Then start using less detergent on future loads. You don’t need nearly as much as they recommend! If you can dry them outside on a line, that’s the best way to get fluffy towels.

Use Old Towels for Household Projects

At some point, a repair person will ask if you have some old towels they can use. Pull out those crappy, threadbare towels stuffed in the back of the linen closet. If they’re in really bad shape afterwards, toss them. If not, wash them and return them to the closet for future repair people.

Old towels are also great for cleaning up spills, pet vomit, and other yucky stuff.

I used an old set of towels to apply paint thinner to our hardwood floors. The paint thinner helped restore their finish, then I threw out the towels since I don’t want a lot of paint thinner in my washing machine.

Rags!

Make the move from paper towels to cloth towels by turning your old towels into rags. They don’t have much lint left in them by the time we retire towels, so they’re perfect for cleaning tables and counters, dusting, and polishing silver. They might work well on mirrors and windows, but newspapers actually work best for that. If your towels are too big for your needs, just cut them up. It’s not like they need to look nice.

Make Believe Accessories

An old pillowcase or towel makes an awesome cape if you’re five. Making a Halloween costume? Puff it up with old towels. It’s cheaper than fiberfill and it doesn’t really matter if the costume falls apart the next day.

Pet Baths

We only bathe our cats once every couple of years, but we don’t use our nice towels when we do. Cats and water are not friends and good towels will only wind up shredded. I’m sure dogs are easier to bathe, but there’s no reason to use a new towel on something as furry as a pet.

Can you think of any other uses for old towels? Tell me in the comments!

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