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How to Soften Stiff Washcloths

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Christine Barnard

My Laundry Question

My washcloths tend to get stiff over time no matter what I do. Today I even soaked them in a vinegar solution and that did not help either. Is there a way to get that stiffness out and renew them? They are so hard and harsh.

Share a Little Background Info

It is not a stain but is either a soap buildup or perhaps minerals from the water? I use AMWAY laundry detergent but have also tried Ivory Snow. I cannot use bleach because the washcloths are colored. I'd be happy to buy new but I guess my colors are dated and are no longer available in the stores. It has happened over the course of a few months time. We have hard water but we also have a softener that we do keep up with on a regular basis.

Lessons Learned

  • I have tried hot water and a vinegar solution

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

cotton washcloths

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Washcloths become stiff from a build-up of minerals from hard water and the soaps that we use to bathe. It happens gradually over time but can be undone.

You were on the right track with the vinegar/water soak. I suggest you use it again with a 2 parts hot water and 1 part hot distilled white vinegar. Completely submerge the wash cloths and allow them to soak at least 2 hours or overnight. Make sure the water and vinegar are very hot by heating on a stovetop or in the microwave.

To help prevent the buildup from occurring again, add 1/2 cup of borax to every wash load. The borax will boost the performance of your detergent and help "soften" the water along with your water softener system.

Good luck!

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