Washing Machines

Make crusty towels feel new again with this simple trick

If towels are feeling less than fluffy and absorbent, try this trick.

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Get the fluff back with vinegar and baking soda.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Eventually even the best towels can become stiff, scratchy and not very absorbent. It happens when fabric softeners and residue from dryer sheets build up on the fibers.

But even the crustiest of towels can feel like new by washing them with this simple trick.

First, load your washer with towels (clean or dirty, doesn't matter) and set your washer's temperature to hot water or the sanitize cycle. Then add a cup of vinegar by pouring it in the area where you normally pour the laundry soap. If your washer doesn't have a special place to pour the laundry soap, just add it to the drum before adding the towels.

Don't add fabric softener or laundry soap, but continue to run the wash, rinse and spin cycle like you normally would.

When the towels are done, run the load again, but this time add a cup of baking soda to the load the same way you added the vinegar. Once again, don't add fabric softener or laundry soap, then run the wash, rinse and spin cycle as you normally would, this time with hot water or on the sanitize mode. Dry the towels using the sanitize or high heat option.

The baking soda and vinegar will strip the residue from the towels, leaving them fluffy and absorbent again. My towels were getting so bad I was going to buy new ones, but this trick saved them from the rag pile.

If your towels are really coated with residue you may need to repeat these steps one more time. To keep your towels fresh, give your towels this treatment once a month or whenever they start to feel crunchy.