Why You Should Only Ever Buy White Bath Towels

It might go against your bathroom's color scheme. But white towels have a bit of a superpower, and you definitely don't want to miss out on it.


Sanja Kostic

If you're constantly wondering how to get the smell out of towels, they probably aren't clean enough—and they're probably not drying enough between uses. Figuring out how to wash towels properly is a great place to start, as is knowing how to pick good towels. But despite your best efforts, you still might find yourself contending with mildew and smells.

Proper towel maintenance is important—as is storing clean towels in the right spot—but another trick can keep your bath towels looking and smelling fresh for a long time. It comes from Erin Napier, who stars with her husband Ben in HGTV's Home Town, and she swears by it: white bath towels.

"Ben's mom taught me this trick," Erin says. "She lives with all these big burly men who play sports and work on cars and come in greasy and filthy, and her towels smell fresh."

In the South, where Erin and her mother-in-law live, the increased humidity makes towels even likelier to mildew and start to smell, so it's an especially impressive feat.

What Makes White Towels so Special?

"You just bleach them," Erin says. "Every time you wash them, you add a little bleach, and they last forever. They never mildew. They always smell fresh."


Erin files this rule under "Southern mama advice," but hotels have been putting it to work all over the world. Think about it: Hotel towels are almost always white, likely for the same reason. They can be bleached, just a little, with every wash to stay fresh and clean looking for a very long time, without the unsightly bleach stains you'd get from doing the same thing with colorful towels.

White towels may not be anyone's first pick. They certainly start to show signs of use and dirt more quickly than darker towels, though that might be a sign that you need to wash your towels more often. (One expert says towels should not be used more than three times between washings.) But you might see that as a benefit: White towels can offer a visual cue when they need to be washed and bleached, and that's a real win-win.

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