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Not as lean, not as mean,
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Originally posted by PowerSurge:
I’ve always had good luck with JCPenney’s bath towels. They seem to hold up well for me.

One thing I’ve learned not to do is wash bath towels with fabric softener. It tends to lessen the absorbency of the towels.

This completely. JC Penny towels, and no softener sheets while drying.

I shall respect you until you open your mouth, from that point on, you must earn it yourself.
Posts: 2649 | Location: Southern Maine | Registered: February 10, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Only the strong survive
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Originally posted by OKCGene:
Don't ever use fabric softener. Instead, Run a wee bit of vinegar in the wash cycle. Gor-on-teed to help!

Good advice...fabric softener chemicals are a health hazard.

By Dr. Mercola

Most people do their cleaning with as little muss and fuss as possible, but in recent years it's begun to enter the mainstream consciousness that the "easy" way may also be the toxic way.

Incredibly damaging chemical mixtures make up the active ingredients in a staggering number of products many people use on a daily basis. Fabric softener can be included in this category.

Body creams, scented candles, air fresheners and bathroom cleaners are just a few additional items most Americans throw into their shopping carts as a matter of course, rarely thinking for a moment that it might as well be rat poison they're sprinkling onto their carpets, spraying onto their upholstery and massaging into their skin.

Fabric softeners may top the list as one of the worst offenders, and may be one of the products environmentalists had in mind when the term "indoor pollutants" was coined. Alarmingly, many of these toxins are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).1

Fabric softeners were designed to free your clothes of both wrinkles and static cling, and give them a fresh fragrance. But what amalgamation of ingredients have the teams of scientists concocted in laboratories to bring you these indulgences? And how toxic are they?

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), fabric softeners contain chemicals and fragrances that can cause skin and respiratory irritations.2 The fragrances alone can come from hundreds of different compounds,3 many of them potentially toxic.

Fabric Softeners Contain Toxicities Such as Phthalates

Anne Steinemann, Ph.D., professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a world expert on environmental pollutants and their health effects,4 told New Scientist, "Most of our exposure to hazardous pollutants occurs indoors, and a primary source of these pollutants is our everyday consumer products."5

According to New Scientist,6 there are no legal requirements that all the ingredients, including potential toxins, be listed for most of the products we use every day. While the compounds they contain may have been tested individually for toxicity, scientists admit it's hard to say how dangerous they might become when some are mixed.

Conventional fabric softeners work two ways: One is a liquid you pour into the rinse cycle. The other is a sheet you throw in the dryer with your clothes to get the job done.

Both contain compounds that are especially harmful for children. Toxic ingredients can enter your body (and theirs) through the skin and cause serious damage. One of the worst is phthalates, added to emit a fresh (fake) fragrance, about which a University of Illinois Cancer Center article contained the following quote:

"Phthalates … [are a] synthetic preservative that's carcinogenic and linked to adverse reproductive effects (decreased sperm counts, early breast development, and birth defects) and liver and kidney damage."7

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)8 notes that very few studies have examined the health effects of phthalates on humans, but in lab animals they're linked to numerous reproductive health and developmental problems, including:

Early onset of puberty
Altered male reproductive tract development
Lower testosterone levels in young males
Altered hormone system function
Reproductive and genital defects
Lower sperm count in young males

Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most Americans' blood contains phthalates, especially women, who are most apt to handle cleaning and laundry duties. Further, the "breadth of the danger is not yet understood."9

Conventional Fabric Softeners and Other Hazardous Pollutants

According to Steinemann, when limonene and other terpenes become airborne, they can react with ozone to generate elements such as formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance. Many of these substances can actually alter the hormone balance in animals.10

According to Organic Authority:

"Using a liquid fabric softener? You are pouring these toxic chemicals into the ocean every time you use it. Even worse than liquid fabric softeners are dryer sheets, whose chemicals are heated and then shot into the air for you to breathe into your lungs.

That 'fresh-from-the-dryer' smell that fabric softeners impart to your clean load of laundry? Don't breathe it in, if you like your lungs to function. That super floral smell is masking a seriously unhealthy chemical stench."11

The Worst, Most Toxic Chemical Offenders

Chemicals used in fabric softener-manufacturing operations cover your clothes with a fine layer of (toxic) lubrication, which can indeed soften fabrics and render them free of static cling. Then, to mask the smell of the chemicals, they add fragrances.

Between the chemicals and the perfumes if only one toxic ingredient were used, it would be reason enough to opt for natural ingredients, especially for something used as often as fabric softener.

Something else to think of, though, is that these chemical substances are not only on your (and your kids') clothes, but on your sheets and pillowcases, towels and washcloths and cloth napkins.

The problem here is that, while a product's ingredient label may list only a handful of ingredients, there may be many others in the product that you don't know about because manufacturers don't have to list them — with perfume components at the top of the no-list offenders.

To help narrow down commercial fabric softener choices, the EWG lists some "greener" products on its website. The safer softeners come in both sheets and liquids.12
Fresh and Healthy Alternatives to Toxic Fabric Softeners

If you're in the market for a super cheap fabric softener you can make yourself without all the noxious ingredients, very easy alternatives can be made at home using ingredients found in nearly any supermarket.

Here's a liquid fabric softener recipe from Everyday Roots13 using items you may already have in your cupboard. Before washing (there's no need to wait for the rinse cycle), toss one-half cup of this solution into the water for a much healthier alternative to chemical-laced commercial varieties.


2 cups of Epsom salts or coarse sea salt
20 to 30 drops essential oil
1/2 cup baking soda


Using a large bowl or pan, mix the essential oils with the Epsom salts first, then stir in the baking soda.
Pour the mixture into a container with a tight-fitting lid.

One perk to this easy recipe is that you can always switch out the essential oils. It's also easy to double, and you can use more or less essential oil for a stronger or weaker scent. A few more quick-and-easy fabric-softening ideas include:

One-half cup of baking soda added when you wash your clothes. You won't believe how soft they become.
One cup of distilled white vinegar and one-and-half tsp. of your favorite essential oils combined in a spray bottle. Shake well, give your wet clothes 10 to 15 spritzes and toss them into the dryer. (Don't worry — the vinegar smell will completely dissipate.)
A crumpled-up ball of aluminum foil tossed in the dryer with your clothes helps get rid of static cling.14
A clean wash cloth with a few drops of essential oil added to the dryer will give your clothes a lovely, completely natural aroma when you pull them out

Dryer Balls: Easy to Make and All-Natural

Dryer balls are another easy, inexpensive and 100 percent-natural dryer sheet replacement, and they're great for eliminating static cling, usually caused by synthetic fabrics. Best of all, homemade dryer balls can last for years. Using a few drops of essential oils — such as wild orange, peppermint, lavender or a combination — in each ball adds an all-natural fragrance. Besides being free of harmful chemicals, Paleo Mama15 says they can:

Cut your drying time in half
Be used safely on cloth diapers
Save money on your energy bill
Make you clothes fluffy
Reduce static cling
Be used over and over again

Instructions for making dryer balls are easy. Make several while you're at it, following these simple steps. Remember to add the essential oils at the end. You need:

Recycled 100 percent wool sweaters (check the tags for fabric content)
100 percent wool yarn
Knee-high nylon or old pantyhose
Cut the sweaters into scrap pieces and ball them up in your palm to create softball-sized balls.
Take the wool yarn and begin winding it tightly around the ball-shaped scrap pieces, as round as you can make it, until you've covered the entire surface. Cut the yarn and tuck the ends in securely
Tie a knot in the wool yarn, then drop it into the knee-high nylon sock (or pantyhose, which lets you tie a knot in between each ball), wrap the top with a rubber band and run it through the hot cycles of first your washer, then your dryer. This makes the wool "felt" or fuse together.

Before using them with clothes in your dryer, add a few drops of essential oil to each ball, toss it in with the wet clothes and use it multiple times. If you'd rather purchase dryer balls, look for options made from organic wool. Note: You can get a large ball of wool yarn at your local craft store and save money by getting your sweaters at your local thrift store.

Posts: 10751 | Location: Herndon, VA | Registered: June 11, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have not found any of the newer thick plush bath towels that are as absorbent as older not very thick not very plush cheap JCPenny bath towels. We never used fabric softener either. I've been trying a thick Costco bath towel lately, it got better after 3 or 4 washes or so but it still does not dry like older thinner JC Penny stuff.

I did some research on the net after the Costco stuff. My understanding is that if you like thin bath towels that actually dry and are not after the plush factor, fine ultra absorbent Waffle Weave Microfiber bath towels are the way to go these days. So that what I'm going to try next.

....Shredding lead both barrels
Posts: 1964 | Registered: March 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Short. Fat. Bald.

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Yep, and at over two years old still look new.

Originally posted by honestlou:
Originally posted by TexasScrub:
My Pottery Barn towels are by far my favorite, and on sale really not that expensive. I buy the medium grade ones because I don't like the softer towels all that much, doesn't feel like I'm drying off.

They actually dry you off, and hold up well? No shrinkage at the ends?

He looked like an accountant or a serial-killer type. Definitely one of the service industries.
Posts: 1611 | Location: La Grange, TX | Registered: February 11, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Krazeehorse:
LL Bean. Ours are so soft and nice we don't use them lol.

We sprung for LL Bean towels about a year ago and love them.
Posts: 2256 | Location: God Awful New York | Registered: July 01, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Most towels dry better after they have been through afew wash cycles.
Posts: 899 | Registered: August 25, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by Jamess1:
Hotel Collection at Macy’s. When they are marked down and on sale with extra discounts

Same here. The regular price is hard to justify but Macy’s has good sales and offers additional discounts sometimes, as you mentioned. They’re well worth those prices and yes, honestlou, they do dry you off, hold up well and don’t shrink at the ends. I don’t use high heat and the dryer setting that leaves just a little moisture gives good results without using fabric softener.
Posts: 6492 | Location: Maui | Registered: December 15, 1999Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by TexasScrub:
Yep, and at over two years old still look new.

Originally posted by honestlou:
Originally posted by TexasScrub:
My Pottery Barn towels are by far my favorite, and on sale really not that expensive. I buy the medium grade ones because I don't like the softer towels all that much, doesn't feel like I'm drying off.

They actually dry you off, and hold up well? No shrinkage at the ends?

They are awesome, hold color as well. They are pricey. Look for sales when they double dip the savings.

Posts: 1394 | Location: Boardwalk, Va Beach | Registered: March 10, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Happily Retired
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Originally posted by kramden:
Most towels dry better after they have been through afew wash cycles.

This. The wife has been buying our towels at Sam's Club for years now. They are reasonably priced, super absorbent and hold up well.

.....never marry a woman who is mean to your waitress.
Posts: 3884 | Location: Lake of the Ozarks, MO. | Registered: September 05, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Posts: 12383 | Location: EZ Acres, in the Western NC Mountains. | Registered: June 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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my costco towels work fine, just fine , I don't use fabric softener , almost ever.

o.k. just on my Thor Lo socks and thats it.

I say try washing the towels on hot, w/o soap or softener. one time

go ahead and dry them w/o a fabric sheet.
then try using them again

Safety, Situational Awareness and proficiency.

Neck Ties, Hats and ammo brass, Never ,ever touch'em w/o asking first
Posts: 50242 | Location: Henry County , Il | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Only the strong survive
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I have had good luck with the Walmart cotton towels by Mainstays. I got some on clearance sale for $3 each.

The Better Homes and Gardens brand are also good.

Posts: 10751 | Location: Herndon, VA | Registered: June 11, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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