5 tricks to keep towels soft and fluffy

Being enveloped in a soft, plush bath towel after a hot shower is one of life's little luxuries. The problem, though, is that even the softest, plushest among them tend to stiffen after multiple washings-which is actually a function of the chemical detergents most of us use, which coat fabrics and build up on towels in particular (they're designed to absorb, after all), and over time, you wind up with that icky scratchy feeling. There are some tricks you can employ, however, to stave off hitting the rough patch. Here's how, courtesy of howtodothings.com and ehow.com:

Add a bit of white vinegar to your rinse cycle, which strips away past detergent build-up. Vinegar also gets rid of any lingering odors clinging to the fabric.

Wash new towels in hot water with baking soda to remove any lingering residue from the manufacturer.

This is counterintuitive, but don't use fabric softener.

Throw some clean tennis balls in the dryer-they help fluff as they're bouncing around your dryer.

Fill the washer halfway with water, add half the amount of detergent you might normally use, and set the machine to agitate before dropping in your towels. This prevents the detergent from soaking into the towels before they're washed.

Related: The pitfalls of too much laundry detergent, Dryer balls: myth or miracle?