Can You Wash Towels With Clothes? What the Professionals Say

Before you wash your towels with your clothes, check this quick primer. We break down when you can wash towels with clothes and when you can't.

Combining laundry loads saves time and energy. But, you might be wondering if you can wash your towels with your clothing? The short answer is “yes” and “no.” 

In this article, we look at when you can and can't wash clothes with towels, plus tips from the experts at Homeaglow.

Meanwhile, if you’d like any help with your laundry, book a professional, affordable cleaner in your area on Homeaglow. 

When you can and can’t wash towels with clothes

You can wash towels with clothes when: 

  • They’re made of similar materials

It’s wise to sort clothes and towels of the same fabric before washing them together. So you can wash cotton towels with cotton clothing, bamboo towels with bamboo clothing, etc. 

Pairing similar or the same fabrics when washing allows you to use the same settings for the wash cycle. This is a great way to avoid any damage to your clothing. 

  • They have similar colors 

When it comes to laundry, it's best to wash similar colors together. This will help prevent colors from bleeding into one another. Wash colored towels with colored clothes and white towels with white garments. 

You can’t wash towels with clothes when:

  • You're using fabric softener

Fabric softeners are great for clothes but aren’t always great for towels. While they make your clothes softer and leave them smelling great, they can cause towels to become less absorbent. If you want to use fabric softeners for your clothes, think twice about using them with your towels.

  • You need to sanitize your towels

When you use a towel for more than a week, soap residue and skin oil are likely to build up. Additionally, repetitive dampness and slow drying of towels can make them easily susceptible to mildew and mold. If you’d like to get rid of the musty smell in your house, we have a detailed article to help you.

Another reason you'll need to sanitize a towel is if it’s shared or used by someone with an infectious skin disease.

Due to these reasons, it is highly advisable to use hot water to wash your towels. However, many clothing fabrics can't stand the heat needed to sanitize towels. 

Washing towels and clothes at high temperature

Before putting towels in the washer, always read the care labels and ensure the machine can handle the recommended temperature. Advisably, a high temperature of around 130°F is the best temperature for washing towels. Dirty and white clothing and linen are also suitable for this temperature so that you can wash them with towels. The high temperature ensures they stay fresh and free from germs. However, some textiles will fade, shrink, and get damaged at this temperature. 

Washing towels and clothes at low temperature

Low temperature (around 80°F - 90°F) is perfect for all fabric types and will not lead to fading or shrinking. However, the low temperature is insufficient to kill the bacteria and fungi on a towel. As such, washing towels and clothes at low temperatures can transfer harmful germs between them.

The importance of not mixing colors

Sorting your clothing and towels before washing is essential, as it will help prevent fading and bleeding during washing and drying. 

Combine similar colors: wash whites and pastels separately. Then keep red, orange, and yellow clothes apart from items with green, blue, purple, or other deeper hues. A pro tip is to wash your brights separately the first few times.

Can you wash colored towels with colored clothes?

You can wash colored towels with colored clothes in warm water to avoid bleeding of dye. However, they need to have the same shade, as it’s not advisable to wash bright-colored clothes with darker-colored clothes together.

Can you wash white towels with white clothes?

You can launder white towels with other white clothes to prevent gradual color deterioration. In addition, since you can wash white towels and white clothing together, you can also add chlorine bleach to the bleach reservoir for stain removal.

Can you wash white towels with colored clothes? 

Washing your white towels with colored clothes will lead to discoloration. This is because towels are very absorbent, and white towels can easily pick up dye from colored clothes. Instead, wash your white towels with only other white towels and laundry to preserve their color.

Drying clothes and towels

Clothes dry faster than towels. So when drying both of these items with a tumble dryer cycle, you'll need to monitor them to avoid complications. Once the clothes are dry, separate them from the towels to prevent over-drying. 

A pro tip to help the towels dry faster is to shake them before loading them into the dryer. This will help release any creases that aid absorbency. Also, shaking your towels will keep them from curling into a ball in the dryer, increasing the drying time. 

Once dry, fold or roll the towels as it helps them retain their softness. Fold or hang your clothes to prevent them from crumpling. 

Tips for sorting your towel and clothes when washing

  1. Sort clothes and towels by color

You should sort the hue of the clothes first among all other factors. By doing this, dye transfer—which frequently ruins white or lighter-colored clothing—can be avoided. 

Sort your clothing into piles for white, light, and dark items. For example, socks, underwear, t-shirts, and other hardy white cotton items should go in your white pile. Likewise, pink, lavender, light blue, light green, and yellow hues belong in the light shades pile. In contrast, your dark pile should contain colors like grey, black, navy, crimson, and purple. 

Finally, wash dark-colored apparel like red towels or deep blue sweatshirts by themselves the first few times.

  1. Sort clothes and towels by fabric type and laundry instructions

You likely own clothes with various materials and textures. After grouping the items into color piles, sorting them into fabric types can ensure the quality of your delicates and the avoidance of dye bleeding onto one another. Additionally, it can aid in a quicker and more uniform drying process.

Here are some common fabric categories to use during sorting.

  • Delicates – knits, lingerie, pantyhose, washable silks, and other clothes that need gentle washing.
  • Lint-receivers and lint-givers – wash clothes or towels that are lint-givers separately from microfiber, corduroy, or other materials that attract dye.
  • Athletic clothing such as shorts, tanks, leggings, and spandex.
  • Denim – khakis, pants, and other heavy clothing items made of denim.
  • Polyester – shirts, blouses, and poly-blend garments chiefly made of polyester.
  • Cotton – t-shirts, leggings, and cotton blends mainly made of cotton.
  • Pillowcases, sheets, and other bedding.
  • Sweaters – if it sheds, ensure to wash them separately.
  1. New clothes and towels

Wash any new clothes, bedding, and towels separately, especially if they are bright or dark. This is because the residual dye will leak out when you wash them the first few times. Additionally, most brand-new towels include silicone or other coatings that prevent absorption. 

  1. Sort by the degree of dirt

Consider assigning clothes that are heavily discolored or soiled to a different pile. It might be necessary to pretreat stains on these clothes or wash them on a specialized cycle that is too abrasive for regular garments. Furthermore, sorting by the degree of dirt stops grime, sweat, and stains from redepositing on cleaner clothes.

  1. Avoid loading the washer with large amounts of laundry all at once. Instead, take each item out of the sorted categories one after the other. Then, you can quickly locate clothing items placed in the incorrect pile. 
  2. Wash the enormous pile first, then go on to the smallest. You can manage your laundry better by doing this.
  3. When sorting, turn the clothing inside out to prevent damage or wear during washing.

Laundry sorting made easy 

Less is often more when sorting laundry. You're likely overthinking things if you need more than one hand to count your separate laundry heaps. That said, it’s always worth having a separate basket for outliers, like delicates and heavily soiled clothes, that fall outside your daily sorting categories that we’ve described above.

If you’d like expert help keeping your laundry or house clean, book an affordable, professional cleaner on Homeaglow

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