How often do you replace bath towels?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

How often do you replace your bath towels?

More than once per year
1
1%
Once per year
1
1%
Once every 2-5 years
23
21%
Once every 5-10 years
43
40%
I've had them more than 10 years or have never replaced them
40
37%
 
Total votes: 108

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tim1999
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How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by tim1999 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:30 am

I just realized this morning that most of the towels in my bathroom are the same ones I bought when I moved into this house almost 10 years ago. They feel kind of scruffy, and while they are not frayed or torn, the colors are faded and they just look sort of "worn out." I think a few of them even date back to when I was in college, ones my mom had bought for me.

I'm curious to know how often the other posters on Bogleheads buy new bath towels. I think I'm going to go to Target today and get some new ones, and use the old ones for cleaning rags. I'd like to have softer feeling ones.

For the poll, I'm talking about the towels in the bathroom you use every day at home, not some guest bathroom, the bathroom at your vacation house, etc. Includes big bath towels and small hand towels.

The Wizard
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by The Wizard » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:33 am

I hadn't thought about it much until you mentioned it, being a bit of a domestic klutz.
But mine NEED replacing, thx for the reminder...
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by chaz » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:34 am

About each 10 years.
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by livesoft » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:35 am

Funny, I was just going to start a poll about when does one buy new towels.

For us, it is after we come back from visiting friends overnight and they have the best bath towels. We use our towels and go "Ugh!" (We do keep towels we never use for guests, so they always get great soft fluffy towels.)
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:37 am

Mine are starting to fall apart, but I like bath towels that are rough on the skin and leave me invigorated after a shower. I find the "luxurious" towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be, and seem to just move the water around.
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by sscritic » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:38 am

I buy new towels, but I keep the old ones. Replace has no meaning for me. Really old towels are good for protecting things like lamps when you pack them for moving (but you can use a new one if you wish). Who throws away towels? It can't be a boglehead.

P.S. I don't keep my towels in my bathroom. I keep them in my linen closet.
Last edited by sscritic on Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by livesoft » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:42 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:I find the "luxurious" towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be, and seem to just move the water around.
I think that means you are using too much fabric softener or dryer sheets. :)
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cheese_breath
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by cheese_breath » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:55 am

You need a couple more options.... "when they wear out" and "when the wife wants a new color". I could check them both.
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Wife buys

Post by davebarnes » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:19 am

My wife buys these from Restoration Hardware
http://www.restorationhardware.com/cata ... cat1870028
and they seem last for 5+ years.
She is way more fussy about towels than I am.
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Aptenodytes » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:24 am

I do what sscritic does. The question therefore is how frequently do new towels enter the house. I'm guessing somewhere around every 3-4 years at least one new towel enters the house, but that doesn't tell you how old the average towel-in-daily-use is. I would guess 8 years or so. You model the stocks and flows.

When we buy expensive light bulbs we write the date with a sharpie so we can track if they really last as long as they are supposed to. We could do that with towels, but we won't.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by MN-Investor » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:27 am

I just replaced our bath towels a couple of months ago. I don't remember when I bought them. I just knew I bought the best ones I could find and they really stayed nice until recently when the edges started fraying. The basic part of the towel is still good, so we'll use them for non-primary towel purposes (whatever that means).
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by sscritic » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:31 am

Aptenodytes wrote:I do what sscritic does. The question therefore is how frequently do new towels enter the house. I'm guessing somewhere around every 3-4 years at least one new towel enters the house, but that doesn't tell you how old the average towel-in-daily-use is. I would guess 8 years or so. You model the stocks and flows.
Enter the house is a good way to express it. The last bath towels that entered my house came as gifts. I guess my DIL couldn't stand seeing my ratty old towels, not that she had ever used one.

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HueyLD
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by HueyLD » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:37 am

.............
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by MN-Investor » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:45 am

An off topic suggestion which this subject brought to mind -

Buy several cheap towels - beach towels on clearance at the end of the summer season are perfect - and keep them in your car. It's amazing how often they come in handy! If someone is cold, they can be a blanket. If someone is wet or dirty, they can be seat covers. They can mop up spills. Catch them in the roll-up-windows to provide shade in the car and keep it cool while you are shopping, or just drape them on the seats to keep the sun off. They can shield small purchases from nosy eyes.

I bought about a half dozen beach towels from Target years ago. Very pretty, but I've never had towels create so much lint as those did in the dryer. However, they serve their purpose and I love them!
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Aug 02, 2014 1:00 pm

livesoft wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:I find the "luxurious" towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be, and seem to just move the water around.
I think that means you are using too much fabric softener or dryer sheets. :)
... except that the same amount is used for the old ratty towels as the new ones. It's a bit like getting into the car when the inside has been "detailed" and I forgot to tell them not to use the (silicon?) spray on the rubber floor mats. Clumsy old man's shoes slide on the slippery mat, hilarity ensues.
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123
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by 123 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:31 pm

Unfortunately we don't "replace" we just seem to buy additional ones every 3 - 4 years so we've got a pretty motley collection. Two years ago we got a high-end towel set for the master bath from Macy's and in 18 months they were pretty ragged, much worse looking then my 20 year old JC Penney towels which continue to be my favorite.

I recently bought one of the Costco "Charisma" (house brand towels?) and put it into a heavy use rotation cycle to test is out. It seems to be holding up well. Most of the Costco stuff is pretty good and the generic look really appeals to me. Anyone have any long-term use opinion of those Costco "Charisma" bath towels?
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Toons
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Toons » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:44 pm

Over 5 years,,after that use them to dry the cars after washing :happy
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GerryL
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by GerryL » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:45 pm

123 wrote:Unfortunately we don't "replace" we just seem to buy additional ones every 3 - 4 years so we've got a pretty motley collection. Two years ago we got a high-end towel set for the master bath from Macy's and in 18 months they were pretty ragged, much worse looking then my 20 year old JC Penney towels which continue to be my favorite.

I recently bought one of the Costco "Charisma" (house brand towels?) and put it into a heavy use rotation cycle to test is out. It seems to be holding up well. Most of the Costco stuff is pretty good and the generic look really appeals to me. Anyone have any long-term use opinion of those Costco "Charisma" bath towels?
I voted "5-10 years" but I could have just as easily gone with 10 or more. Like 123, I don't really replace. I waterfall. The much used bath towel goes to a different use (e.g., outdoor chair cover) as I find good buys on new towels. I have gotten a few of the Charisma towels at Costco and am liking them. They pushed out the lovely but ragged sets my sister-in-law gave me, gee, what 15-20 years ago. In my collection of towels I still have a few that are imprinted with the last 4 of my SSN, which was required when I was in basic training (USAF) and I have 2 that I still occasionally use that I won at the very first wedding shower I was invited to when I was a young teenager. (I am recently Medicare eligible.) Sad, I know.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Sheepdog » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:51 pm

For our use, the towels are not replaced until they look scruffy. However, we do have special towels for guests. Sometimes if those become less attractive, we inherit them and we buy new ones for guests My guess is that we buy guest towels about every 5 to 7 years or so.
There was a time, maybe some do today, that people replaced their towels from hotels. I remember as a boy in the 40s my parents had some towels printed with hotel names
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by LAlearning » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:56 pm

I know nothing!

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by sscritic » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:01 pm

Twins Fan wrote:I'm single... what is this replace deal you speak of, and why do some people have so many towels? :D
I am also single. After reading this thread, I think I should hang four towels in my bathroom and rotate between them. Each towel will be used once every four days, giving them plenty of time to dry out. Four towels should last for a month, and then I can buy four more.

Buying new is better than washing them, I figure. Towels take up too much space in my washer, and they take too long to dry.

island
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by island » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:04 pm

Didn't do the poll since none apply.
I buy new ones when I need or want them. We have a lot of them so they last a long time, but sometimes I just need a change.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:07 pm

LAlearning wrote:http://thesweethome.com/reviews/the-best-bath-towel/

I replace them when needed.
White vinegar to remove the built-up softener and don't use softener in the future. Who knew?
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ResearchMed
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:10 pm

livesoft wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:I find the "luxurious" towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be, and seem to just move the water around.
I think that means you are using too much fabric softener or dryer sheets. :)
That's what I thought.

[Well, no, not exactly. I didn't think that TomatoTomahto was using too much!]

When we did a total renovation of the two main bathrooms, we purchased new towels, having not gotten anything new when we first moved into the house.

We found two colors for the master bath that were a *perfect* match for the stone we had oh-so-carefully *finally* selected.

Trouble is, ONE of the colors (not the other) simply will not absorb water

We've tried washing and washing, etc., including many tries in plain unadulterated water, and these towels still don't do anything much more than "move the water around".
100% cotton.

We figure it is the dye, the specific color we liked so much.

So now those sets of two colors of towels are a lovely decoration on the towel rack, and the towels we like and use (the old ones!), are on the towel rack hidden by the door :oops:

They still look very nice, however!

RM

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:22 pm

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:37 pm

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Gnirk » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:48 pm

I buy two packs of Costco's white bath towels, 6 to a package, about once every two years. The same with wash cloths.
For "decorator" towels: I replace these when I feel like I want to change accent colors in the bathrooms. That could be anywhere from a year to five years!

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by stan1 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:59 pm

The only thing we've ever purchased from Frontgate were a batch of thick towels (now 10+ years ago). We bought 8 body towels plus some hand towels and washcloths (with a cringe and a sigh as this was a lot of moeny), but they have held up pretty well. Now that the price of cotton has gone up significantly I can't vouch for the quality as pretty much everything made out of cotton these days "ain't what it used to be".

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by sscritic » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:07 pm

Gnirk wrote:I buy two packs of Costco's white bath towels, 6 to a package, about once every two years. The same with wash cloths.
I bought a stack of Costco wash clothes, the square ones (a pack of 24). I use them for wiping up spills in the kitchen and as wash clothes when my granddaughters stay over. However, I am under strict orders from my daughter never to mix the two. The washed wash cloths go back in the linen closet. The washed dish rags go back in the kitchen, until they get so dirty they become floor rags or garage rags. It's called "The Circle of Life."

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:15 pm

I've had the current towels for more than ten years, because I know i haven't bought any since I moved.

When the yellow ones started to look faded, I threw them in the washer with Rit Chocolate Brown dye. They came out looking new. That was several years ago, and they still look fine. If towels fray, I trim them. Eventually I may re-hem them.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by pjstack » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:36 pm

I read (somewhere) that colored towels are less absorbent than plain white due to the dye taking up absorbent "room".

My unscientific experience seems to confirm that, but I don't really know if it's true or not.
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by arthurdawg » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:38 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:Mine are starting to fall apart, but I like bath towels that are rough on the skin and leave me invigorated after a shower. I find the "luxurious" towels aren't really as absorbent as they should be, and seem to just move the water around.

My sentiment exactly! I like the older rougher towels. We have at least a couple that are close to 30 years old, all the way up to some that came in a gift basket 2-3 years ago.
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:52 pm

pjstack wrote:I read (somewhere) that colored towels are less absorbent than plain white due to the dye taking up absorbent "room".

My unscientific experience seems to confirm that, but I don't really know if it's true or not.
That's our guess, but this one color is dramatically less absorbent than anything else we've encountered.

Pretty (very), but not functional, unfortunately.
Wish we'd realized that before we tossed them all in the washer for that "first wash" alone.

RM

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by weltschmerz » Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:54 pm

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Calm Man » Sat Aug 02, 2014 8:43 pm

sscritic wrote:
Twins Fan wrote:I'm single... what is this replace deal you speak of, and why do some people have so many towels? :D
I am also single. After reading this thread, I think I should hang four towels in my bathroom and rotate between them. Each towel will be used once every four days, giving them plenty of time to dry out. Four towels should last for a month, and then I can buy four more.

Buying new is better than washing them, I figure. Towels take up too much space in my washer, and they take too long to dry.
Indeed. Fellow single man here. Doing wash is about as appetizing to me as flying in the middle seat of a plane. I use several towels at a time and when they get old, well I use them to do whatever (wipe up this or that) but just start new ones. I have a big collection which may outlive me. I do not know how I obtained them all.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by retiredjg » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:22 pm

Towels seem to be one of the few products of the current age that actually last beyond their useful life. Apparently, nobody has thought to or figured out how to build some planned obsolescence into towels.

Like many others, I had gathered a lot of towels that were too old to be pleasant anymore but still too useful to throw them out. A quandary for people who don't like to waste stuff and there's a limit to how many can become garage rags.

Then I saw the sign at the vet's office - "please donate old sheets and towels" and they also accept blankets and pillows. Apparently they use them for animals after surgery. A ratty old towel apparently does a great job and if things don't wash out, oh well, not big loss.

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tim1999
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by tim1999 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:37 pm

Update from the OP, I bought 4 new big bath towels today. Quite a colorful/interesting design, and I like that kind of thing. However, even after running them through the washer/dryer first, the first one I tried seems to just "move around" the water on my body vs. soaking it up like the old ones do. They look nice though.

I have also taken MN - Investor's suggestion and put some of the old ones in the trunk of my cars. I keep paper towels back there, but based upon experience, the old towels will prove useful over time.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by GerryL » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:46 am

retiredjg wrote:Towels seem to be one of the few products of the current age that actually last beyond their useful life. Apparently, nobody has thought to or figured out how to build some planned obsolescence into towels.

Like many others, I had gathered a lot of towels that were too old to be pleasant anymore but still too useful to throw them out. A quandary for people who don't like to waste stuff and there's a limit to how many can become garage rags.

Then I saw the sign at the vet's office - "please donate old sheets and towels" and they also accept blankets and pillows. Apparently they use them for animals after surgery. A ratty old towel apparently does a great job and if things don't wash out, oh well, not big loss.
Zoos and the primate sanctuaries I support also use a lot of towels and linens. The apes use them as bedding material. I spend much of my vacation doing ape laundry. If you are looking for a place to donate old linens, check with your local zoo.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:30 am

retiredjg wrote: A quandary for people who don't like to waste stuff and there's a limit to how many can become garage rags.

Then I saw the sign at the vet's office - "please donate old sheets and towels" and they also accept blankets and pillows. Apparently they use them for animals after surgery. A ratty old towel apparently does a great job and if things don't wash out, oh well, not big loss.
Animal shelters are always asking for donations of things like towels that can be used for bedding. Just think about those cold metal cage bottoms.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Nestegg_User » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:07 am

retiredjg wrote:Towels seem to be one of the few products of the current age that actually last beyond their useful life. Apparently, nobody has thought to or figured out how to build some planned obsolescence into towels.

Like many others, I had gathered a lot of towels that were too old to be pleasant anymore but still too useful to throw them out. A quandary for people who don't like to waste stuff and there's a limit to how many can become garage rags.

Then I saw the sign at the vet's office - "please donate old sheets and towels" and they also accept blankets and pillows. Apparently they use them for animals after surgery. A ratty old towel apparently does a great job and if things don't wash out, oh well, not big loss.

We replace when they wear out...

But we donate the old one's to animal shelters... they use them for bedding... so consider that option when replacing yours. :idea:

{oops...missed the above... so "I'll second that"}

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:08 pm

I'll add to the chorus suggesting to donate to animal causes (veterinarians, shelters, animal sanctuaries, etc). Also keep some for your own pet purposes if you have pets. A towel folded in fourths fits quite nicely into a cat or small dog carrier, and it gives nervous pets something to do while traveling (I have one that almost instantly hides under the towel, as if the vet will not be able to find him for his vaccines). I also have a cat that likes to flip over water dishes (finally got a weighted dog one that he can't flip, so now he splashes water out of the water dish), so having a towel comes in handy for mopping up after that water loving cat.

As for the timing of replacements, I still have the same hand towels I had from grad school, so those are over a decade old. I rotate out hand towels on a regular basis (a couple of times a week), so I have quite a large stack of hand towels to last between towel laundry days. I just recently (last year) replaced the body towels that I had purchased with the first set of hand towels because the edges started to fray (and the trim ripped off one).

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by sscritic » Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:42 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:I'll add to the chorus suggesting to donate to animal causes (veterinarians, shelters, animal sanctuaries, etc).
Here is another use for old towels that Mudpuppy will appreciate. When it rains, spread them outside to soak up as much water as possible. It works best if you have a hundred old towels or so lying around. After the rain stops, squeeze out your towels in the Colorado River (or someplace similar). :)

P.S. You can also use old towels at the bottom of a slope to prevent runoff when your sprinklers are on; you don't have to wait for rain.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Jazztonight » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:29 pm

Several years ago, DW and I downsized from a large home where we had separate bathrooms (I know, decadent) to an apartment where we share a bathroom.

I noticed that she had really nice, thick, absorbent towels, and mine were thin and always seemed damp.

I called her attention to this and she solved the problem: she tossed my towels, gave me hers, and bought new towels for herself. :annoyed
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by minhnusa » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:26 pm

Once every 5-10 yrs.

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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by js2012 » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:26 pm

I just happened to be looking into buying some new ones and came across L.L. Bean's Textured Cotton Towels (essentially Turkish towels). They are supposed to dry much faster than regular towels and be more absorbent. Of course, they aren't cheap, either. Does anyone own these particular towels or can you comment on Turkish towels in general. Are they worth the price?
Thanks!

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carorun
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by carorun » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:34 pm

Most of my towels are 5-10 years old. I recently got rid of or repurposed several towels I bought freshman year of college (so, 10 years ago). Most of the towels I have now are hand-me-downs, and they still look and absorb water fine. An occasional vinegar rinse or dr bronners soap in the wash does well at keeping towels fresh.

Btw, no visitor has ever commented on my towels.

Lafder
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Lafder » Thu Aug 07, 2014 10:52 pm

Ha ha, when I first read this post I thought it was asking how often you wash your towels/ put fresh/clean towels out in the bathroom!!

Many of my bath towels are almost 20 years old when we got our first house. But 2 years ago I bought a whole set of new ones for under 100$. They are my first choice and the older ones are kept around for other uses and because I have a hard time getting rid of things that could be used.

2 other times I tried buying pricier new towels, one set did not absorb water even after washing several times without fabric softener. They were something fancy like Egyptian cotton or bamboo based. Another set got "stringy" when washed and I would have to give them haircuts. Those did not last.

Almost 2 years later this inexpensive Walmart set is still bright and the colors make me happy. They absorb great and have not become stringy at all.

lafder

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Bengineer
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Bengineer » Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:30 am

I'm in the "enter the house" camp. We get new ones every couple years when "she who decides these things" desires a new look, feel or drying quality. The perfectly good, but now out of favor ones drop a rung to dog washing, spill cleanup, packing/padding, hardwood-floor-drying-after-mopping and so forth. The ones previously in this category move down to shop, painting, etc. towels.

Good tip on the animal shelter need.

I'm also in the "no softener on the towels for best absorbency" camp.

We've also had towels that didn't seem to dry very well. They claim to be 100% cotton, but I wonder. Anyone know of a good test for polyester in fabric?

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GerryL
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by GerryL » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:28 am

Regarding fabric softener -- for towels or just about anything: I stopped using it years ago. Someone told me that she used dryer balls, those pastel spikey rubber tennis ball size doodads that you toss in the dryer to bounce around in the load. They look like little rolled up hedgehogs. A pair costs about $7. They last for years. I now have 4 (2 pair) and would not think of switching back to liquid softener in the washer or perfume-y softener sheets in the dryer.

I guess their effectiveness could depend on the quality of your water, but my towels are all adequately soft. No static electricity and no smell.

Crow Hunter
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Re: How often do you replace bath towels?

Post by Crow Hunter » Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:32 am

MN-Investor wrote:An off topic suggestion which this subject brought to mind -

Buy several cheap towels - beach towels on clearance at the end of the summer season are perfect - and keep them in your car. It's amazing how often they come in handy! If someone is cold, they can be a blanket. If someone is wet or dirty, they can be seat covers. They can mop up spills. Catch them in the roll-up-windows to provide shade in the car and keep it cool while you are shopping, or just drape them on the seats to keep the sun off. They can shield small purchases from nosy eyes.

I bought about a half dozen beach towels from Target years ago. Very pretty, but I've never had towels create so much lint as those did in the dryer. However, they serve their purpose and I love them!
You can also use it to to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal if you wrap it around your head.

If you happen to be hitch hiking around the galaxy, you shouldn't leave home without one.

:D

ETA:

My wife and I still have and use towels that we received as wedding presents 14 years ago. They go into the general use pile in the linen closet at some point decided by my wife. I don't know what that point is but I get reprimanded if I pull one out of the wrong pile. The really ratty ones eventually are given to me as gun cleaning supplies. :)

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