The Care and Keeping of Your Tea Towels

Holdfast Ink’s tea towels are 100% cotton, which means they are absorbent and lint-freeperfect for cooking in the kitchen and cleaning around the house! My hope is that my art can add beauty to everyday, practical items around the house. We choose items that are sustainable and renewable. All of our inks are water based and our practices are as green as possible.

Hand or machine washing is the easiest way to clean them (in fact, we suggest cleaning before first use unless you are using them for display) but there are a few tips to keep your screen printed tea towels looking their best.

First, choose a delicate cycle setting and use cold water. Wash with a gentle detergent or baking soda-vinegar mix. If machine drying, use a low tumble setting. Shrinkage is very dependent on your laundering methods and equipment. If you wash and dry your towels on high heat, you’re likely to see shrinkage over time.

Most common bleaches, however tempting they may be, will not make your towels look good as new. The chemicals break down the fibres, which give way to holes and tears. There are gentler bleaches however, that will keep towels intact: those without chlorine and made using hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate. Hydrogen peroxide is also a great disinfectant.

It is also important to avoid dryer sheets and fabric softeners, which have a waxy residue that breaks down the towels and affects their absorbency. 

To keep your tea towels soft, try this alternative:

  • Combine two cups of white vinegar with two cups of water and one-eighth a cup of vegetable glycerin in a glass jar or jug.
  • Stir or shake to combine.
  • Add half a cup of the homemade fabric softener to the final rinse cycle.
  • Or, even easier, simply add a capful of white vinegar to the rinse cycle for soft, fluffy towels.

By following these instructions, baking soda and vinegar can be used to keep your towels’ absorbency and to remove chemicals, dirt and any unwanted residue from towel fibers:

  • Start by putting the towels in and filling your washing machine with water.
  • Once your machine is full of water, add a cup of white vinegar and run the rinse cycle.
  • After the rinse cycle, drain the water, keeping the towels in the washer, and add a half cup of baking soda.
  • Fill the washer with water again and rerun the rinse cycle.
  • After the final rinse cycle finishes, dry the towels completely.
  • Your towels will now be softer, fresher and more absorbent — ready to tackle any household task.
  • If your towels need an extra clean or have a strong odor, try using two cups of vinegar and letting the towels soak for a few hours before completing the wash cycle. Make sure not to add the vinegar and baking soda in the same load. This creates a chemical reaction that foams up and can cause your washer to overflow.

Baking soda can also be used to remove stains, like so:

  • Mix a 2-to-1 ratio of baking soda and warm water in a bowl.
  • If you would like to change paste consistency, feel free to adjust the amount of water you use.
  • Apply the mixture to the stain before washing.

For stains with a strong odor, pour baking soda on the wet stain and let it sit. Brush off excess baking soda before tossing the towel in the washer. If tough stains like those from wine or sauce get on your towel, try to treat the towel immediately. Pour a small amount of baking soda on the stain and then run hot water through the back of the stain.