My odd method for choosing towels and washcloths

When it comes to buying bath towels and washcloths, I have been following the same method for years.


Laundry room redo


Linen closet organization

For the towels and washcloths we use every day, I only purchase white ones. There are several reasons why.

  1. White linens don’t fade or show wear easily.
  2. They can be bleached to remove odors and stains.
  3. They are interchangeable in any bathroom in our home (no need to remember which towels go in which bathroom).
  4. They are inexpensive to replace. (I can purchase brand name versions dirt cheap at stores like Gabriel Brothers, Big Lots, Ollie’s Outlet and T.J. Maxx.)
  5. They give our bathrooms an upscale hotel feel. Check out the white towels in the 2013 Southern Living Idea house:


Perhaps you think that using only white linens seems kind of boring and I totally agree. I do actually incorporate some colorful, patterned towels. But I only use them primarily for decoration, so they don’t get a ton of wear and they last for years.


The white towels and washcloths in our home work hard. After we’ve used them for years and they get too worn out for the bathrooms, they get a second life as a dishcloth or shop rag.

What do you think of my method of using only white towels and washcloths?

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31 Responses

  1. Ann says:

    I think it’s such a wonderful idea that I’ve been doing the same things for ages. 🙂

  2. Deb McKathan says:

    I do the same thing with towels in our house. I also went to white dishes MANY years ago and can add color with salad plates (red for Valentines and Christmas, pastels at Easter, etc). Plus I think the food stands out more.

  3. Cheryl says:

    I have been doing the same thing for years as well. Easy to clean and easy to put away.

  4. Malena says:

    I’ve been wanting to switch to all white, but then I’d be bothered if they weren’t all the same. :/ Do they not yellow with many washings? I do love bleach…

    question – Am I the only one who doesn’t use softener in towels? I find it makes them just kind of push the water around instead of absorbing it.

    • Susan says:

      We have minerals in our water that do tend to yellow our whites over time. But using bleach and hanging them outside in the sun have helped tremendously. And I don’t use any fabric softener either. 🙂

      • Christine Freeman says:

        My mom told me years ago that fabric softener reduced fabric’s ability to absorb. I don’t, either.
        I’m on a well and deal with hard water, despite my water softener. I buy Iron Out at Lowe’s and toss in 1/3 cup every so often — with the bleach. It whitens things up so beautifully! Just another tip without having to deal with splashable peroxide, or extra bleach that eventually rots fabric.

    • Martha says:

      Many years ago, my dermatologist told me
      to never, never, never use fabric softener
      in the wash–the worst thing you can do for
      your skin!

  5. Peggy says:

    Love white towels! They are timeless! PS: I love your BLOG!!! xo

  6. Mary Howe says:

    I love the idea of white towels and wash rags. I use soap nuts to wash my clothes and towels. They make towels so soft and absorbent and white. I love soap nuts.

  7. carol jane says:

    I have heard that bleach yellows whites over time, but using oxi clean does not.

  8. Judy H. says:

    Well. looks like great minds think alike! I switched to all white sheets, pillowcases and towels about 15 years ago. The linen closet always looks fresh and clean and I think guests always appreciate the look of bright white.

  9. Pamela says:

    It makes perfect sense to me. I’ve been thinking of doing the same thing.

  10. Sharon Bernstein says:

    I like this idea. My sister-in-law does this at her beach house. My next trip to Homegoods will be for white towels. Love your bathroom to.

  11. Christine Freeman says:

    Hmmm. I do the same thing with socks. I buy matching sweat socks, knee-highs, etc. Never gotta worry about finding a mate!
    Yes, white towels are a lovely, clean look. They do envoke a hotel-ish feeling! Hadn’t thought of that.

  12. Tania says:

    Great advice… think I’m going to start buying only white towels as well. My colored ones always end up bleached out in areas or with makeup stains on the hand towels :o( And it seems like I change my color scheme before they get worn out and then I’m stuck with the wrong colored towels!!


  13. Jayni says:

    Well, you’ve added another new subscriber in ME. I signed up above, so I won’t check the box below this comment box.

  14. Pam P says:

    I love the idea of all white towels but am afraid that would be a complete disaster in our home. However, I have switched most of our towels to a soft taupe color and like the way they work in both bathrooms. To keep our towels smelling fresh I use 1 cup of baking soda in with the detergent and 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle. Every other wash I use nothing at all just plain water (our appliance repairman said most consumers over use detergents and fabric softeners and most loads of laundry ~unless REALLY dirty ~only require an ounce or two of detergent depending on your machine). I never use fabric softener, liquid or sheets, in my towels because it makes them less absorbent. When I line dry the towels I fluff in the dryer for 15-20 minutes before hanging them out to eliminate the stiff feeling my husband just hates Didn’t mean to be so long :/ just wanted to share what has worked for me for the past 20+ years and hope it helps someone else as well.
    Another great article, Susan.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Blessings, Pam

  15. JaneEllen says:

    Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks. I read all the comments about washing towels. I will stop using softener, put in dryer for few minutes then hang out. Don’t know how I’ll dry towels in winter, no question of hanging out, too much snow and cold. We both have a problem with sensitive skin maybe it’s the detergent we use and the softener altho we only buy for sensitive skin. I’ll try the baking soda and vinegar. Our water is horribly hard.
    I got tired of seeing my kitchen towels, wash cloths looking so gray/dreary so started hanging them out on line and drying bath towels in dryer. Just think of the power I could save by hanging out towels also. As long as it’s nice enough out I hang everything else out on line. I love how my laundry is after being hung outside. One of first things we did when we moved in was get the clothes lines put up.
    Did same thing in MT when we moved in. Hubs had to leave on the road and I just asked him to string a line between power poles. We never did put poles up. I have to have my clothes line. We had a well in MT also so our water was pretty hard there.

    • Amy F says:

      I only use dye and perfume free detergents and that seems to work for my son’s allergies. We have a energy efficient dryer so I can dry a load in about 25 minutes. Both my sons have too severe allergies to even consider hanging our towels out to dry. Spring and Fall are miserable for them due to their allergies.

  16. Amy F says:

    I use white towels in the master bath and keep them on hand for guests. For my boys -who share a bathroom – I gave them each their own color. After YEARS of hearing them argue because one had used the other one’s towel or wash cloth, I realized that if I bought them their own color there would be no more confusion. I use coordinating colors so the towels compliment the decor but “B” has his sage green set and “T” has his oatmeal set. (They each have 2 sets in their color) Bath time has become SO much less stressful.

  17. Miss Kitty says:

    I totally agree with you on the white towel method. So much easier (in the many ways you noted) than colored towels. I think they look classier anyway. Thanks for sharing your ideas…I saw your post featured on Hometalk website.

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