America’s Test Kitchen Says This Is the Way to Make Your Kitchen Towels Look New Again — Of Course, I Had to Try It

published Sep 19, 2021
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5 different types of kitchen towels arranged in the kitchen

As diligent as I am about tackling stains on clothes as soon as they happen, I haven’t given much thought (or effort!) to my kitchen towels. They get washed regularly and don’t smell, and they still properly wipe things up. But they’re also tattered and covered in visible stains, so when the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen said there was a simple way to make your kitchen towels look new again, I figured it was worth a shot!

It turns out, I’ve been washing my kitchen towels all wrong. For starters, I learned that adding towels to normal loads of laundry is a major no-no — and so is using fabric softener. Washing them with all of my other clothes sets in the stains. And fabric softener coats the towels, which makes them feel greasy and less absorbent. (Who knew?)

At this point, I was hoping my worst kitchen towels weren’t beyond repair. Admittedly, ATK’s method sounded promising (and relatively easy). So I followed their instructions and gave their method a whirl. Here’s how it went.

First, I found my dirtiest towels — the roughest-feeling ones with visible stains. Then, I filled a bucket with hot water and a scoop of OxyClean and soaked them for several hours. (ATK recommends six hours.) When the time was up, I dumped the water, wrung out the towels, and brought them to the laundry room.

Credit: Ashley Abramson
Will the OxyClean method for cleaning kitchen towels from ATK work? Ready to find out?

As recommended, I threw the towels in the washer alone, without any other laundry. I also added OxyClean (see the product’s directions for the suggested amount) to the washer drum for an extra boost. Finally, I poured in my normal liquid detergent and half a cup of white vinegar before starting the cycle. Supposedly, the OxyClean breaks down any organic matter on the towels, and the vinegar cuts through the greasy residue and removes smells. 

Credit: Ashley Abramson
Straight out of the dryer — It's looking better than before!

I used a quick-wash cycle, as I was only washing a few kitchen towels, and I didn’t want to waste water or energy. After the 20 or so minutes, I put the wet towels in the dryer and crossed my fingers for the ultra-clean and fluffy results I’d read about. 

The process definitely accomplished most of what I hoped! The towels I washed felt less rough and greasy, and they looked brighter and cleaner! The OxyClean took the mild, not-set-in stains out of my tea towel, but the white towel I washed had older, set-in stains, and those didn’t come out. (I think I’ll have to bleach that one.) All in all, though, I’d say the towels feel softer and fluffier, as promised. I may even try the same method on my bathroom towels just to see what happens!

How do you deal with stains on your kitchen towels? Tell us in the comments below.