Why did my Turkish towel get stiff? Woman wears Turkish towel as shawl as she reads a book

Why did my Turkish Towel get stiff and crunchy?

We all want our Turkish towels to be as soft as they where made to be. But sometimes they become stiff, rough or even crunch. Here is why and what to do about it. Let’s dive in. 

Turkish Towels don’t need Fabric Softener

High quality, pure Turkish cotton towels don’t need fabric softeners because the cotton is naturally soft. The mainstream softeners tend to build in the fibres causing the fabric to become stiff. The same goes for detergent which if overused won’t all rinse away and will also cause stiffness in the fabric. These useful laundry additives are only helpful with moderation.

If your cotton towels have become stiff, try adding a cup of white vinegar into the drum of your laundry washing machine. This should loosen the buildup of fabric softeners and renew their natural softness. 

Particulate Build Up in your Turkish Towels 

A loose weave in any fabric will enable particles (sand, dust, skin, excess detergent) to build up in the space between the yarn. Even tightly woven fabrics will try to absorb anything poured onto it. And while Turkish towels are praised as the ultimate beach towels because sand doesn’t stick, sometimes other particulates do get added to the mix causing micro abrasions to the skin and hair.

If your Turkish towels have become clogged with life’s debris, try soaking them in an oxygen reactive cleanser before adding them to a dedicated load of laundry. Don’t use a lot of detergent and steer clear from softeners.


Turkish Towels Made with Plastic

The truth about a cotton blend fabric is that the ‘blend’ is made with plastics. Polyester and polyethylene are both used in synthetic fabrics, plastic bags, food containers and packaging. After washing and drying your towels with heat, the plastic will start to break down. 

There isn’t anything that can be done to recover degrading plastic. Once the synthetic fabric becomes rough or begins to tear, it can only be patched and recycled. 

The Hard and the Soft of it

If you want your Turkish towels to last many washes and years of use, buy a pure Turkish cotton towel with a tightly woven surface. The smaller the space between the yarn, the lower the chance of particulates getting embedded there. Avoid blended fabrics, fabric softeners and ensure you are following the recommended volume of detergent.


Written by Nikky Starrett (she/they) Founder of Pomp & Sass.

Disclaimer: This article was written from the perspective of the author based on their own experiences. If you have a different point of view I respect it because life is a miracle of diversity. Please also respect my life’s experience by leaving only kindness in the comments. 

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