The Daily Telegraph - Saturday
Dear Debora... your questions answered
How do I keep my towels fluffy?
—Sarah Carter, Lincoln
I get asked this almost as often as I get asked how to eliminate moths. A combination of hard water, hard use and strong detergent makes even the best towels lose their softness. The first thing to do is to cut detergent by about a third. It can leave a soapy residue which makes the fibres less absorbent, and fabric conditioner makes the problem worse, so get rid of that altogether. Putting a few tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in with the detergent once in a while will help break down residue and combat any musty smells. Every six washes or so, sloshing a small cup of distilled white vinegar into the fabric conditioner dispenser will help to fluff up your fibres. If you prefer to line dry your towels, give them 10 minutes in the dryer to finish them off as this is the best way to get them soft – adding dryer balls or a couple of clean tennis balls will help, too.
A couple of weeks ago, I answered a question about how to stretch out a shrunk sweater, which prompted Stephanie Gates of Rickmansworth to send me this excellent tip.
I too wash my sweaters in shampoo and use hair conditioner but sometimes the sleeves tighten up. My solution to that is to insert long boot shapers while laying the sweaters flat to dry. It works perfectly every time.