Ways to Make Dingy Hand Towels Brighter

A woman uses a pink hand towel.

It seems the more you wash dingy hand towels the dingier they get. Even using bleach to brighten them doesn't work. Dingy hand towels can be made brighter if you follow these tips.

Hanging in the Sun

Hanging your towels in the sun will fade your towels, so it is best to avoid doing it for prolonged periods of time.

Don't Use Bleach

Bleach is a harsh chemical that is hard on fabrics and can shorten the life of the material. Using bleach to whiten can backfire and actually cause whites to turn yellow or gray.

Don't Use Too Much Detergent

Many people make the mistake of using too much detergent when washing hand towels. Detergent that doesn't get rinsed out in the rinse cycle leaves a residue that makes your towels look dingy. Only use 1/3 to 1/2 of the recommended amount of detergent to wash towels. They will still get clean and will rinse cleaner without detergent residue. Use a detergent that has added brighteners and color-safe bleach to brighten towels.

Use Bluing

A woman uses a blue hand towel.

Add bluing to the rinse cycle to make towels look brighter. Bluing adds a slight blue tint that gives the illusion of brightness to whites and light colors. Follow package instructions and make sure not to spill any, since it will stain if it's dripped directly on materials.

Rinse With Vinegar

White vinegar is a great way to brighten dingy towels. Wash them in your usual detergent and add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove detergent residue and keep the towel from looking dingy.

Add Baking Soda to Wash

Baking soda is a natural cleaner and deodorizer. Add 1 cup of baking soda along with your detergent in the wash cycle for a brightening boost. Follow up with a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle for extra brightening.

Add Borax to Wash

Borax is a strong natural cleaner. For dingy hand towels, add 1 cup borax to the wash cycle along with your regular detergent. Your dingy hand towels should come out nice and bright.


For extra dingy hand towels, you may need to soak them before washing to get rid of the dinginess.

Option 1: Oxyclean

Add 1 to 2 cups of Oxyclean to hot water in your washer. Allow towels to soak for 1/2 to 1 hour before adding detergent and wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

Option 2: Borax

Fill washer with hot water and 1 to 2 cups of borax. Let towels soak 1/2 to 1 hour, add detergent, and wash as usual. Repeat if necessary.

Option 3: Dishwasher Detergent

For especially dingy hand towels, Fill your washer with hot water and add 1 cup of dishwasher detergent. Mix thoroughly and allow hand towels to soak overnight. Empty the washer and refill it with hot water and regular detergent, then wash as usual.