How Can I Get My Dingy Looking Towels Clean?

Things You'll Need

  • Laundry detergent

  • 1 cup bleach

  • 1 quart water

  • Pitcher

  • 1/8 cup white vinegar

Refresh your bathroom by brightening dingy towels.

Over time, your crisp towels can take on a dingy gray appearance, even after washing them. You might be shocked to learn that the soap and water you use to clean your towels may be causing the dingy discoloration. Hard water doesn't always completely remove soap from the towels in your washing machine. The soap that remains turns clean towels a dirty shade of gray. Don't lose heart, though. You can save your dingy towels and even prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Step 1

Separate white towels from colored ones. Wash the piles separately to prevent the towels from transferring colors.

Step 2

Set the washing machine on its regular cycle.

Step 3

Fill the washing machine with the hottest water possible. You may even add boiling water to the washing machine as it fills to make the water hotter.

Step 4

Add twice as much detergent as you would normally use.

Step 5

Place dingy white towels in the washing machine, and let the machine agitate the towels for about four minutes on the regular cycle.

Step 6

Mix 1 cup of chlorine bleach and 1 quart of water in a pitcher.

Step 7

Stop the washing machine to pour in the bleach solution. Add the bleach to the bleach dispenser if your machine has one. If not, add the bleach and water solution to the machine slowly so the bleach solution can mix with the water in the washing machine before it touches the towels.

Step 8

Start the washing machine again, and let it agitate the clothes in the bleach solution for four minutes.

Step 9

Stop the washing machine, and let the clothes soak in the bleach solution for 15 minutes.

Step 10

Reset the washing machine so it has about 10 minutes of wash time, and then restart the machine to let it complete the cycle.

Step 11

Hang the washed towels outside to dry so the sun can continue the bleaching process.

Step 12

Repeat the process with your colored towels, replacing the bleach solution with 1/8 cup white vinegar.


Use detergent rather than soap if you have hard water. Hard water may not rinse away all of the soap, leaving a gray scum on your towels.

Suds left after the rinse cycle can leave the towels looking dingy, so use a low-sudsing detergent and use the amount of detergent prescribed on the detergent label.

If you normally wash your clothes in cold water, use a detergent specifically formulated for cold water.


Be careful when using bleach. It disinfects and whitens, but it can also damage fabric. Never pour bleach directly on laundry. Dilute it with at least four parts of water before you add it to the washing machine.