How to stop towels from shedding – 6 tips to keep your towels in pristine condition

Extend your towel's life-span by stopping them from shredding with these washing and drying tricks

Towels shredding
(Image credit: String Shelving / Jake Curtis / Miele)

If you're tired of your towels shredding lint and looking frayed, leaving you with less absorbent towels that create a mess, there are a few tips and tricks that can preserve their functionality and appearance. 

Whether your towels are new or old, shredding can mean you are replacing your towels more than you need to. The solution is all about how you wash your towels and dry them. By following these tips you can keep your towels soft, absorbent, and lint-free, making your daily routines more relaxing. 

Our experts explain six washing and drying tricks to stop your towels from shredding. 

How to stop towels from shedding

'Shedding towels is a problem that can plague not only brand-new towels but also those that have seen their fair share of use. 

'New towels shed due to a manufacturing coating, making them feel as though they repel water and leave fuzzy bits on your skin,' explains Ocean Van, owner of Coco Laundry. Older towels shed because their fibers start to break down.

However, there are simple yet effective ways to put an end to your towel-shedding

1. Reduce detergent and fabric softener use

Bathroom with mint green coloured walls and screed floor, free-standing white bathtub and wooden side table, blue towels on ceiling mounted rail, window seat, wooden paneled wall

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

One of the main causes of towel shredding is the use of detergent and fabric softener.

'Use a minimal amount of detergent, as excess detergent can lead to residue build up on the towels, which can contribute to shedding,' advises the cleaning experts at KK Cleaners. 'Consider using half the recommended amount.

'Using fabric softeners on towels can leave a coating on the towel fibers, making them less absorbent and more prone to shedding. So, avoid using fabric softeners when washing towels.' 

You should also avoid dryer sheets as they can exacerbate the issue.

2. Do a white vinegar wash

Washing towels

(Image credit: Alamy)

'Shedding is often a result of loose fibers that didn't fully bind during the manufacturing process. To combat this, washing the towels with a cup of white vinegar before their first use can work wonders,' explains Lina DaSilva, from Toronto Shine Cleaning

'Vinegar helps to set the colors and remove excess lint, reducing the chances of shedding.'

To do this you can either pour the white vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser of your machine or straight into the drum. Then, set your machine to the hottest wash. There's no need to rinse afterward. 

'No other vinegar will do for this purpose,' warns Ocean Van. 'Repeat this process monthly to maintain softness.'

3. Soak towels with baking soda or salt

A bathroom with clw foot tub and blue towel hanging from the side

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

Another method to prevent towels from shredding is to pre-soak them before a wash in a mixture of hot water with baking soda or salt dissolved.  

'In case white vinegar isn't on hand, use half a cup of baking soda to wash new towels,' says Ocean Van. 'Dissolve the baking soda in hot water to prevent clumping.'

'If you prefer, salt works similarly to stop fresh towel shedding. Dissolve salt in hot water before adding it to a load of towels.'

After soaking in the solution, wash and dry the towels.

4. Freezing or cold water soak

White and gray bathroom space with marble tiles on the floor and on the walls, neutral, textured rug, shower with glass door, glass and gold hanging pendant, towels on hooks on wall, windows with white fitted blinds, metal slender side table positioned next to white bath

(Image credit: Jessica Bennett of Alice Lane Interior Design, photography by Nicole Gerulat)

'For those averse to frequent washing and drying, placing towels in the freezer before laundering can resolve the shedding issue,' explains Ocean Van. This surprisingly effective method prevents shredding by stiffening up loose fibers so they don't shred off during washing. 

'Alternatively, you can soak your towels in cold water before washing and drying,' suggests Ocean Van, 'though this method may be slightly less effective than freezing. 

'This method helps to relax the fibers, minimizing lint production.'

5. Use soft water

Miele washing machine in a stylish farmhouse modern laundry room with sage green cabinets, a sink full of flowers, and a decorative vase

(Image credit: Miele)

'When it comes to the issue of towel shedding, the role of water quality in your laundry routine can't be overlooked. Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, often leads to more wear and tear on fabric fibers. This can result in your towels shedding more than they would with softer water,' explains Ava Martin, founder of Quality Water Labs.

'Using a water softener to treat hard water can make a significant difference. Softer water helps in maintaining the integrity of towel fibers, reducing the likelihood of shedding.

'From personal observations and experiences, towels washed in softer, filtered water tend to retain their quality for longer, shedding less and staying plush. Remember, the gentler the washing conditions, the longer your towels will maintain their original comfort and appearance.'

6. Gentle drying

Minimalist, modern bathroom with string shelving white unit, decorated with towels, toiletries, decorative objects, matching marble tiles on walls and floors, matching tiled bath with copper tap

(Image credit: String Shelving)

Over-drying towels in the dryer can contribute to shedding since the high heat can weaken their fibers. 

Gentle drying can also help in preserving your towels' lifespan. When drying your towels, use a low heat setting or air-dry them if possible. 

Make sure to follow the care instructions for your towels.


What can you add to a wash to keep towels soft without shredding?

When washing towels, it's a good practice to wash them with similar fabrics to reduce friction and shedding and avoid washing them with items that have hooks, zippers, or other abrasive elements. 

If your towels still won't stop shredding, then it's probably time to replace them with some of the best bath towels, which will stand the test of time. 

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.