Are Your New Towels Harmful to Your Clothes Dryer’s Health?

ByMarc Silberberg


Black Friday is in the past but have no fear bargains are still available. It is now the time for the bi yearly white sale in your favorite department store. For those folks not familiar with the term, white sale, let me enlighten you. This is the event where a wise man or woman can find great buys on comforters, pillows, towels, and other items specifically for the bed and bath.

During a major white sale would be the best time to purchase some new towels for your home. It’s so cold out and who wouldn’t appreciate some cozy, thick and absorbent towels to keep us warm coming out of the shower. Nothing can beat some new fluffy towels warm straight out of the dryer to make the step out of the shower or bath a bit easier. Many manufacturers of clothing, towels and linens must change and vary the colors of their merchandise for the spring season. Sometimes the color dye variations are so slight yet still the older ones are put on sale. If you check the labels on your new towels, you can see the exact date of when they were put into circulation and that is an indication that they are from the previous season’s stock. But, hey, who cares? Towels, unlike clothes, are classic and especially if your bathroom tiles are also from last season the colors should match well enough.

Even if you are not a new bride and groom furnishing your home for the first time, you can still take advantage of the good prices at Macy’s or some other department stores to freshen up your linen closet. Although a new towel looks fresh and ready to be wrapped in, it must first be washed before using not only because of contamination from outside sources in the stores but also because it is not practical to use before laundering. Anyone who has the privilege of buying new towels can testify to the huge amount of lint these items cause to accumulate in a dryer’s lint trap.

Most new towels, although looking ready to use, have a special chemical finish on them that is added during their production so even though they feel soft and ready this finish prevents them from being totally absorbent. Washing the towels prior to using will ensure that any bacteria, dust and lint will be removed before usage and washing and drying the towels will compress the fibers and at the same time expand them to become fluffier, more absorbent and set the color to prevent fading.

How to Wash Towels for the First Time

I recently bought new towels at a white sale for my new apartment and threw them into the washer and dryer. They came out so much fluffier than prior to washing even though they looked quite fluffy at the time of purchase. I did not use any detergent because they were not dirty, however, sometime later I read online that the correct way to wash new towels is the following:

1 – Make sure to check the label of the towels to see what temperature the manufacturer recommends.

2 – Wash new towels separately from your regular towels and laundry so that your regular items will not attract additional lint.

3 – One cup of regular distilled vinegar added to the cycle helps to sanitize and keep the color from fading.

4 – Repeat another cycle, if possible, this time with one half a cup of baking soda but don’t use any fabric softener or regular detergent, remember the towels are not soiled.

5 – New towels do not require dryer sheets since they will be very soft after the dryer cycle. Dryer sheets help make your laundry soft and clean smelling and decrease static in regular loads.

Residue of too much laundry detergent or inadequate rinsing can make towels harden but new towels will not have this issue. If you generally use dryer sheets you must clean your dryer lint trap very well because dryer sheets can cause gum buildup in your machine and decrease the efficiency of the dryer vent.

6 – It’s sort of ironic that when you look at some towel washing instructions on the label it will say, tumble dry low. This is a dilemma because towels need to be in a hot dryer in order to dry. The low cycle is for permanent press or delicates. Best is to keep on the hottest setting but check out the dryer to make sure it does not get too hot.

Why is There Additional Lint Buildup From Newly Purchased Towels?

Here is a scenario of what could happen to a consumer who puts their new towels in the dryer. Feeling the softness of the new towels is a very relaxing experience in the store but when you get home, don’t be tempted to use them before washing. If you do, you will be covered with lint in the very color of your towels and you will have to go right back into the shower. Make sure to remove any labels from your new towels as these can decompose in the washer and the small pieces will be difficult to remove from the towels as well as from the lint trap especially if they were glued on to the items. You will be surprised at how resilient the glue from labels can be when heated up, cooled down and then adhering to your beautiful new towels in strategic areas.

One person reported that as he reached for his freshly dried towels from his dryer, the dryer lint trap was overflowing with lint from the new towels. He removed a single huge lint ball only to notice that lots of lint had spilled over into the dryer’s venting system. All he was able to grab was a few pieces of the lint and was able to see more debris further down. A dryer cleaning specialist was called immediately to save the abused dryer.

How Can You Tell Which Towels Will Be Most Absorbent?

When buying new towels, it is very tempting to buy the most gorgeous towels in the store especially if the price is right. Some of the towels to hesitate on are embroidered, decaled, and looped models. Embroidered towels are very popular especially with the family initials. However, even after one machine washing and dryer you will usually see some puckering around the letters. With this puckering comes a decrease in the actual drying area of the towel. Decals and embellished motifs might seem soft to touch before washing but harden afterwards.

There is a very pretty towel style with tiny loops which are sort of three dimensional giving the towel a very pretty look. That is exactly what these are made for, the look. In fact, I bought a set of these hand towels recently from a reputable department store and after washing them put them to use. When I tried drying my hands on them, I was quite disappointed to notice that my hands were still damp. I called the company, and they were so nice explaining to me that these towels are more for show than use and I could return them, no questions asked.

A Good Time to Call in a Dryer Vent Cleaning Professional

Since it is prudent to have your dryer serviced by a professional dryer vent cleaning company regularly, a perfect time to call one in is after your white sale towels have been washed and put into your linen closet. You will certainly get your money’s worth of his time and service when he gets to the bottom of your lint trap issues.

Final Words

So how can a person wash their new towels safely for the first time?

1 – Don’t put in a full wash into the washer and dryer since the lint trap of the dryer cannot handle so much lint at one cycle. It would be as if you did not clean your lint trap for several laundry loads and we know that this is a precursor to a broken dryer or worse, the start of a dryer fire. With lint buildup, drying times increase and the dryer will get hot so that when you remove the laundry it feels hot to touch.

2 – Lint is very flammable and if you smell burning it could be because of the lint building up in either the lint trap or the exhaust tube. Also check to see if the outside vent is opening or is clogged from the massive lint caused by the new towels.

Yes, you can wash your new towels in your regular clothes dryer if you take the above precautions the first few times you wash them. Your towels should slowly calm down and begin to act like old friends but by then you will be longing for that new plush towel feeling when you come out of the shower and hopefully by that time it will be time for a white sale again.

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