Why Do Towels Get Discolored?

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Seeing a possession of yours do a swift switch from its natural color into one unrecognizable, faded-looking material is one of the most unpleasant things ever. When the color suddenly turns dull especially when it is actually not so old and then those patches? No, don’t even get me started with those irritating patches that appear.

True, discoloration of a piece of clothing, in this case, a highly prized personal possession like a towel can be infuriating.

Is there something you aren’t doing right? Perhaps it’s the washing style you use or, could it be that they are just towels made with low-grade materials? Why do towels actually get discolored? Journey with me as we dissect the issue to find out the possible causes and hopefully, proffer helpful solutions.

Discolored towels

There are a thousand and one reasons why a towel can get discolored and the sad part is that they are majorly some of the things we do subconsciously. Some of these reasons include:

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  • Your makeup materials
  • Your water
  • Washer walls
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Cloth dryer


Your makeup materials

A lot of us are guilty of applying makeup on our faces while still tying on our towels. Don’t get me wrong, the habit would not really be a problem if we are always conscious and alert to remember not to touch our towels until we must have washed our hands. 

It is not so hard to explain why we see those pigment marks and stains when we handle things like facial cleansers, lipsticks, and even creams with our hands and unconsciously use the same hands to hold our towels too.

Your water: surprised?

Don’t be. The water used in washing your towel might be the reason why it’s losing its original color. Observe your towel carefully after each wash, whenever you notice those stains and spots that ordinarily should not be on a towel that has just been washed, take it as a pointer that something might be wrong with the water that was just used for its wash. 

Some people do have mineral deposits in their water and this can have adverse effects on not just your towel, but the walls of your washer too as they may cause it to rust.

Washer walls

If you do have mineral deposits in your water supply, the chances of it affecting the walls of your washer walls are very high. Overtime, the walls begin to rust and that in turn, affects the colour of your towels too.

Cleaning supplies

Let us assume your water supply is extremely clean; you should not have any problems, should you? Well, you are not out of the woods just yet. There is something else you need to turn your focus on – the cleaning supplies you use. 

Check out that bleach you use in washing the towels; is it appropriate for your towel? Are you using it in the right quantity? An extra little bleach is capable of causing immeasurable damage to that cherished towel of yours so, pay attention to the kind of bleach you use and the amount you put in.

Cloth dryer

Your cloth dryer can also be a problem. Wonder no more as to why your towels get discolored if, you are one to always toss clothes in without first checking to see and wipe off any form of grease or debris no matter how small. 

Proper care for your towels

Valuable possessions like towel needs to be given the right kind of care that they need to function well and last long. The care guidelines are simple and easy to adhere to. Find them outlined below:

Proper washing of towels

Towels can be classified under delicate clothing materials because of how they are made and the functions they carry out. They are to be washed separately using cold or warm water.

Do not wash towels along with any other clothing items. As a matter of fact, go a step further in separating them according to their colors again. Do not wash a white towel together with coloured ones for that is one of the proven ways in which your towels can get discolored.

The right use of cleaning materials

You really do not need detergents with too many additives either to disinfect or brighten. Fabric softeners too is so not required to give your towels a good wash, they are the major reasons why your towels have a waxy build-up (the process of your towels accumulating waxy residue that usually results to it smelling badly) plus, they help in damaging the absorbent quality of the towels

The reason why these additives are advocated against stems from the fact that a lot of these products are made with bleaching properties that can cause stains or discolor towels completely.

Use of excess detergent

Contrary to what you might think, using too much detergent can be counterproductive and lead also, to your towels getting rigid and less fluffy. Best practice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Measurements can be written as a scoop, a handful, a cup full etc. key word is to do exactly as written.

Dry properly

Remember to always use low heat when machine drying in order to protect your towel’s soft texture. Otherwise, you can air dry on lines outside. Make sure you air dry also after every use. Do not keep your towels damp as they stand a risk of being converted to a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria.

Proper storage

Store properly washed and completely dry towels in a well-aired corner. Shake off the lint before folding and keep in a cool and dry place. 

What to do about smelly towels

A towel smelling is not exactly rocket science; there must always be a reason. Firstly, your towel smell goes to show that you have failed in properly taking care of it.

You do not air dry and leave them damp after use thereby, making micro organisms grow in their numbers and camp there comfortably. It might also be because you do not wash them as regularly as you should.

Whatever the case might be, learn a simple method below in which you can get rid of that foul smell emanating from your towels and prevent a repeat experience.

Soak towels in hot water and add some white vinegar or baking soda. Vinegar takes care of the odour and dispels it completely while the hot water handles the bacteria’s and fungi previously living unbothered in your towels. 

It is imperative that you allow the towels to dry totally after washing and ensure subsequent compliance to the rules of its proper care in order to avoid a reoccurrence. 


How often should bath towels be washed?

It is recommended that bath towels be washed once every week at the very least. Due to their often damp nature, they tend to be a very conducive hideout for bacteria and other unwanted germs. The best way to cut short their stay on your towels is by making sure you wash them at least once a week and thereafter, putting it out to dry after bathing.

Can towels cause skin irritations?

Towels cannot cause skin irritations but, dirty towels can. Leaving your towels unwashed and dirty for weeks is synonymous to encouraging fungi and bacteria to live and thrive within it.

As a matter of fact, an infection called staph (MRSA) is caused by a bacteria proven to be transmitted through the use of dirty towels and linen.

Furthermore, make sure towels are washed after each use if you have any type of skin problem like eczema or rashes. Failure to do so might see the towels taking in harmful micro organisms from the rashes and re-depositing it on you upon your next use.

Can hot water be used to wash towels?

Hot water is used on very rare occasions for towels that are excessively dirty and in dire need of disinfecting. However, you should endeavor to first check with the product instructions on the label to ascertain if hot water can be used on your towels or not.

Why Do Towels Get Discolored – Conclusion

Towels are considered very important possessions primarily because of their functions and versatility. We have different kinds of towels used for diverse purposes.

We have the cleaning towels used in the kitchen and other areas of the house for all sorts of cleaning chores, we have the gym towels that never fails to accompany us as we go for workout or exercise sessions, we have the very small towels we use in the bathroom to scrub on our bodies as we bathe and then, the popular bath towel which we use after bathing.

From what we have above, it is very obvious that the towel indeed is a highly prized possession and things like discolouration is definitely not in the list of things we want to see happen to it.

 If we indeed see these towels as valuable, then caring for them properly would come to us naturally and then issues like discolorations, stains, marks, and those annoying patches would be alien to us.

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