Caring for your handwoven towels
My kitchen towels were woven to be used, which means they will need to be laundered. They have already been machine washed, tumble dried and ironed. My goal here is to provide some basic information so that you can make your own choices.
If you want to read more on the subject, I recommend Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson and Green Housekeeping: In which the nontoxic avenger shows you how to improve your health and that of your family while you save time, money, and, perhaps, your sanity by Ellen Sandbeck.
Wash towels in warm water with like colors on the regular cycle.
The general rule of thumb is use the hottest temperature that is safe for the fabric. As these towels are 100% cotton, they could be washed on hot water. This may get them cleaner; however it can also cause the colors to fade more and the fiber to shrink more. Warm or cool water on the other hand will keep the colors brighter. Many detergents work best on warmer temperatures although some manufacturers are creating detergents specifically formulated for cold water.
Some people recommend washing heavily soiled items on hot water, so depending on how you use your towels, you may want to use hot water. It’s best to treat of any new stains, particularly protein-based stains, such as eggs, blood, and milk, before washing in hot water as the hot water can cause these stains to set.
Wash the darker colors with other dark pieces as some of the dye may bleed out. Everyone probably has their own version of the stray red article of clothing getting mixed in with the whites and turning everything pale pink.
Do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets as these can reduce the absorbency of the cloth.
I have no experience using chlorine bleach on my towels. From what I have read, it is usually safe on cottons and it is imperative that you follow the manufacturers instructions properly otherwise you can damage the towels.
Tumble dry medium (e.g. permanent press).
It would probably be fine to use the hottest setting. However, as with the water temperature, hot drying temperatures can cause shrinkage.
If you dry your laundry on a clothes line, hang the towels in the shade.
After the initial washing, I have not found it necessary to iron these towels. If you decide to iron your towels, use steam and the cotton setting.
Different stains require different treatments. The important thing is to act quickly; a fresh stain is easier to deal with than an aged stain. There are lots of stain removal guides online, including this downloadable one from Mississippi State University.