How to Stop Towels From Shedding Fluff
Sometimes it’s the everyday challenges that trip me up. Like when you buy some new bath towels and find that, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to stop them from shedding little bits of towel everywhere.
This phenomenon is called moulting. Some people feel better when they have been unwell and someone gives a label to their illness, but telling my towels they had Excessive Moulting Syndrome didn’t do anything to help the situation.
I bought a set of new towels in a rather jolly, almost fluorescent, turquoise colour. Each time I used them, I got bits of turquoise towel fluff all over me. This was especially annoying when I hadn’t shaved for a day or two, and the stubble on my face would act like velcro, trapping all the fuzz on my face.
After washing the towels several times without success, I reluctantly decided it was time to find answers. Here's what I found out.
Cures for Towel Fluff: Shaving and Lint Brushes?
Many others before me have experienced similar problems with new towels. I trawled through several pages of Google search results and read every suggestion ranging from shaving the towels (yes, really) to buying new ones that don’t moult (yeah, thanks for that). Eventually I found someone saying that a lint brush could cure the towel's moulting. Since I already had such a brush, I thought I’d give it a go.
I dusted down the ironing board (this was the first time the ironing board had seen the light of day in the past 5 years) and set about stroking my beloved towels with the lint remover. Sure enough plenty of bits of towel stuck to the brush so I thought it was working. Afterwards I washed the towels again and when they were dry I put them through their paces. Failure. Complete abject failure. They were no better than before.
Now on the verge of throwing the darn towels into the bin I turned once more in desperation to the beloved World Wide Web. Somebody somewhere must know what to do, surely?
How to De-Fluff New Towels
After a lot of reading I found that two suggestions were being repeated more than the others. One was to wash the towels with a cup of white vinegar (I didn’t fancy that) and the other was to wash them with half a cup of baking soda or bicarbonate of soda. I had some of that so I thought I’d give it a go. I washed the towels on a hot wash (about 60 degrees Celsius) with the usual detergent plus half a cup of baking soda. The instructions said it was best to dissolve the baking soda in water before adding it to the machine to stop the soda from congealing inside the machine, which I duly did.
An hour later I hung the towels out to dry. Next time I used them I was astonished to find that my troubles were over. My towels were healed. Hallelujah! No more turquoise fluff on my beard!
So was it the baking soda or simply just the hot wash? Some people say the key to resolving problems is to let go of our attachment to solving them. Having pretty much given up on the towels before they went into the wash, maybe that was the real reason? I'm inclined to go with the baking soda.
Questions & Answers
Question: how much baking soda and how much water do you use?
Answer: I washed the towels on a hot wash (about 60 degrees Celsius) with the usual detergent plus half a cup of baking soda. Dissolve the baking soda in water (as much as needed to dissolve it) before adding it to the machine to stop the soda from congealing inside the machine.
Question: Would all towels I buy molt, or only certain brands/stores?
Answer: That's a good question. There's no way of knowing without trying them. I suspect that cheaper towels might be worse but some people have had this issue even when buying what they thought were good quality towels from a reputable store. I'd be inclined to spend a bit more and buy some good quality towels that will last - that way, even if they do molt, you won't have to replace them too soon and go through the same process all over again.
Question: Would apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar stop towels from moulting?
Answer: A quick Google search for 'can malt vinegar be used for cleaning' suggests that people have used malt vinegar for cleaning washing machines and dishwashers but I don't have any experience of using it to stop towels from moulting. I think it's a case of 'trying it at your own risk' if you want to.
Question: Do you have to wash the towels with the baking soda each time or just the once?
Answer: Just one wash with the baking soda should be enough. If the first wash decreases the amount of moulting without entirely eliminating it, you could do another wash with baking soda afterward, but it certainly shouldn't be necessary to use the baking soda on every wash. If there is no improvement after the first wash then it's probably safe to assume that the baking soda won't work on those particular towels, for whatever reason.
Question: To prevent towels from molting, did you put the watery bicarbonate of soda in the drum or in the detergent drawer?
Answer: You can put it in the main detergent drawer or put it in a soap dispenser inside the drum.
Question: Which compartment do you put the dissolved baking soda in when using it for washing clothes?
Answer: You can put it in the main compartment or put it in a soap dispenser inside the drum.
Question: I have three dark grey bath towels that are molting. I've done multiple hot washes & the same with washes with baking soda. Nothing has worked. I can't for the life of me find any white vinegar to try but I'm seriously losing patience with these. Any other ideas?
Answer: Sometimes the harder you try to solve something, the more elusive the solution seems to be. In situations like this I often find it best to step back from it, ask out loud "I wonder what the solution to this might look like" and then let if go. Once I've done that I would then go and spend time doing something that brings me joy. Quite often we get answers to puzzles when we least expect them. If an answer doesn't come, this approach at least stops you from getting any more frustrated with the situation.
Question: Do you put the baking soda directly into the machine with the towels or in the drawer with detergent?
Answer: You can put it in the main detergent compartment or put it in a soap dispenser inside the drum.
Question: So is the use of the dryer out of the question?
Answer: I don't have a dryer so I am not able to comment but I suppose it is possible that the filter in a tumble dryer might catch any residual fluff.
Question: Can I dry the towels in the dryer or is the method preferred to air dry?
Answer: Either should be OK. Whatever it is that stops the towels from moulting happens during the wash cycle. As dryers are also able to collect lint, using a dryer might have an added benefit but I have only ever air dried mine. Hope it works for you.
Lanette Oliver on August 09, 2020:
UGH...I have done vinegar, baking soda, tried freezing them for a day, and my new towels still cover me (& the tub & floor) with fuzz!
A Reader on July 18, 2020:
I just tried this past week. Didn't work. At all. My towels and washcloths are still shedding (or "moulting") like crazy, and I followed the instructions to a tee: hot water wash, detergent, half a cup of dissolved baking soda, hung them out to dry. Still moulting. In fact, hanging them out to dry just made them incredibly stiff.
Charlette Mellor on July 11, 2020:
I have new towels and have tried the baking soda method before. It really worked so I will try it again without any concerns. I looked this internet suggestion this time because I couldn't remember how much baking soda to use! Thanks for your help.
Nicky on July 01, 2020:
I am very impressed with your healing towel powers , could you possibly use your healing powers to mend my friends broken heart, many thanks in advance
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on June 13, 2020:
I don't know how well it will work with cold water. You'd best try it and see. Please see the first question and answer above the comments section for how much to use.
Martes on June 12, 2020:
I only have cold water on my washing machine will it still work with the baking soda and how much do i add it with water and pour it in with my washing powder ta
Marian C on May 21, 2020:
I purchased a set of towels from B B and Beyond about two months ago and I have the same issue. Now with the COVID situation all stores are closed in NYC and every time I call them the waiting time to get somebody to help is over an hour... I usually add baking soda to my laundry (not sure if the amount is 1/2 cup) and the problem persists. I might give a try to the white vinegar, because I am also at the point to throwing them out!!
Charlette Mellor on May 17, 2020:
I bought new towels several years ago and used the half cup of baking soda solution when I washed the towels the first time Put them in the dryer and washed them again a second time and again used the half cup of baking soda. No lint problem at all. I have again purchased new bath towels along with hand towels and washcloths and will use this same method again. I found this tip online the first time around and hope others will use it successfully.
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on February 07, 2020:
I suggest you wash the towels several times with the baking soda, separately from your other washing, until the moulting stops. It will stop eventually. If you throw them out and buy new towels you'll probably end up with the same problem all over again.
Jill on February 06, 2020:
I just went to the shops and bought some baking soda, washed my towels using a half cup of baking soda and the hot setting on my washing machine. Unfortunately they are still extremely fluffy. My white laundry is covered in bits of navy. I might try the vinegar before throwing them out.
Dorothy on November 20, 2018:
The long searched solution .You just saved asister
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on November 04, 2018:
Thanks for your input here, Janelle. Hopefully one day someone will start making non-moulting towels. Is it just my imagination or did towels always used to be non-moulting in the past?
Janelle Rogols on October 30, 2018:
I have found it takes six to eight washings and drying to get rid of the moulting. I always soak for an hour new colored towels in cold water to which a cup or two of vinegar has been added to set the color and then start the remaining five to eight rinsing and drying s to rid of moulting.
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on August 18, 2018:
Sorry, I don't know what to suggest, other than to take the towels back to where you bought them and tell them what you have experienced. I don't know of any make of towel that is guaranteed not to moult. Maybe someone else can comment on this?
Elena R. on August 18, 2018:
Is Not the baking soda the problem! The cotton quality? Shedding-moulting-lint, whatever it's called. After every wash it gets worse, we can't use them. Home Goods new towels! Also I bought Martha Stewart collection from Macy's , every time my husband is using them, he has fluff all over his body. I don't know what towels to buy?!
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on August 18, 2018:
Hi, there is no reason why washing the towels with baking soda should affect their appearance. Sorry it didn't work for you.
Elena R. on August 17, 2018:
Baking soda doesn't work and after 3 washes the towels look terrible. I have to keep buying towels until I get the right ones!
Ron Silver on August 02, 2018:
The obvious answer I might suggest would be some type of a quality manufacturing issue ? Chinese communism ? & its poor quality based upon its forced Atheistic agenda upon its own citizens .This in my opinion would be the first culprit of responsibility & would only be the tip of the iceberg concerning problems in manufacturing worldwide - God Bless you all & have a great Day - Amen ! ! ! Praise the Lord both now and Forever !
Cindy on February 27, 2018:
Baking soda did not work for me
Jerry Martz on November 25, 2017:
Time heals everything. This problem will go away itself as you keep washing these towels (or you will get used to it, so it won't be a problem anymore).
gary on September 19, 2017:
I tried the above and I hate to tell you but it does not work, I washed my towels several times as advised above and I was not successful, just wasted my time and a lot of water
Maheyez on September 16, 2017:
Thank you. I was about to cry over my brand new jargon steal of Turkish towels.
Terri on August 01, 2017:
This is ridiculous. Should not have to do this to new towels!
Michelle on April 15, 2017:
Thank you so much!! I can't wait to try this. I bought nice fluffy purple towels and after the shower look like the purple people eater!! Ughhhh!
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on January 24, 2017:
I think it's one of those occasions when you have to laugh or you'd cry! Good luck Kay.
kay on January 23, 2017:
i love how funny you made such an annoying issue.
will definitely try this out.
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on November 22, 2016:
Half a cup, once only should be fine :-)
Joanie on November 20, 2016:
How much baking soda do you need to use with a load of towels? Do you have to use baking soda every time you wash those certain towels that moult? Or is this a one and done deal?
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on November 16, 2016:
Praying is always an option if all else fails :-)
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on November 16, 2016:
Epsom Salts sound like a good idea. I'd be interested to know if it worked.
Adena on November 15, 2016:
I will definitely be trying this. I have washed them 3 times and they are still moulting so I'm going to pray that this works.
Bobbie on November 09, 2016:
I was told to use a hand full of Epsomsalt on its own on a first wash circle. Just put them on the line and A lot of fluff came off. Hope it worked
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on June 06, 2016:
Personally I wouldn't risk washing the towels at a temperature higher than it recommends on the label in case you damage them. As you can see from the comments, vinegar has worked for some people and the bicarb definitely worked for me, so they are probably safer bets for you if you want to de-fluff your towels.
Nigel on June 06, 2016:
Anyone just tried a boil wash?
Sue on May 29, 2016:
Washing new towels in white vinegar works and there is no smell of vinegar once washed and dried.Its so easy just to pour 1 cup of white vinegar into washing machine and wash as normal then dry in clothes dryer.
Jeanette on February 06, 2016:
I just recently had clothes that wreaked like a locker room I could barely stand to wear my clothes without feeling sick from the smell I think it comes from the water so I googled how to get rid of the stench and it said to wash with 1/2 cup of vinegar poured into the washer along with your detergent, the first time didn't work so I repeated the process and now the smell is gone and I've since did my personal laundry and it works great. I'm allergic to the smell of vinegar but there was no smell at all of vinegar when washed and dried, I think it's a result of leaving the clothes in the washer to long when there done and not drying immediately. I'm gonna try the same procedure on these new black towels to see if they stop mounting before I donate to charity as I hate to waste money .
UmiNoor from Malaysia on November 28, 2015:
I can imagine how funny you must look with your stubbles full of lint. Anyway, I too have the same problem with my new towels. I will try to wash them with baking soda. I don't think I like them to smell like vinegar.
WM on October 30, 2015:
This did not work at all for me.
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on October 17, 2015:
Hi, I'm not sure as I have never tried it for anything except towels. It might depend on what material the clothes are made from. If you are going to try, it might be an idea to test the theory on something that is not too precious, in case there are any side-effects.
hy on October 15, 2015:
Hi do these work for clothes that moult too?
Monique on August 30, 2015:
Thank you thank you! I am hardly the house cleaning wiz, and I had been trying to figure out for the life of me why towel fuzz got stuck to my skin.
Now I know why and will following this tip!
Rob Butler (author) from Pembrokeshire, UK on July 28, 2015:
My experience has been that washing them with baking soda just once is usually enough to stop the lint from coming off new towels altogether, but sometimes it takes another couple of washes without baking soda before they completely stop moulting. Hope that helps.
Annette Kearney on July 27, 2015:
does the baking soda work to stop lint from coming off new bath towels when washing for the first few times.
Nikki on March 19, 2015:
Ok, this didn't work :( I was hopeful.
Nikki on March 15, 2015:
Oh, finally a sourion - will try the baking soda. thank you.
lynda on October 31, 2014:
At last I typed my problem in and the answer can up first.
I am continually finding turquoise fluff on the floor from my towels, which means when the floor is washed all the fluff goes into the grout.
I must look to see if I have turquoise moult on myself. Thank you.
Sandra on June 23, 2014:
Thanks for the helpful comments . will try the white vinegar/ baking soda. It would be nice if the companies or distributors making these towels would have the ideal solution on their products and with our washing dilemmas.
Ashleigh on May 05, 2014:
If this is true you are a genius and thank you for sharing. Towels (expensive, thick, black fluffy ones, in the full ranges of sizes) are currently in the machine. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed this will work! I will even try the vinegar!
Ravenna on April 05, 2014:
Thank you! I thought I was alone
Sean on February 23, 2014:
i think this has worked, so thank you!
Alyssa on December 04, 2013:
If this works for me, you are a God
John on June 15, 2013: