Save my towels!

When I ordered my Restoration Hardware towels for the bathroom, I was determined that they wouldn't wind up like the last set of RH towels I bought:

That is how my towels looked after the first few washes. I wasn't using any bleach product or even any body products that had peroxide.

I did some reading and found a forum where someone wrote that RH towels are dyed with vegetable dye and a few pre-washes in cold water (and maybe some white vinegar) would help set the dye. Though I couldn't verify that with Restoration Hardware, I decided to follow that suggestion while also changing my laundry detergent to a mild product without any of the agents that cause problems (no dyes, perfumes, preservatives, and especially no phosphorus).

Unfortunately, I'm noticing that some tougher dirt isn't coming out. The towels I set aside to use on Baxter's paws after going outside in the rain (not new towels, mind you) never come completely clean in the laundry anymore.

Then, I found this at the bottom of the bottle:

Ick! Someone recommend a detergent! Is it possible that since the vegetable dyes are "set", it's safe to use another detergent now? I'd still like to stick with something free of phosphorus, but I'm not keen on buying another bottle of this stuff again. What do you use in the laundry?


  1. My sister had the same problem with RH towels! I think she took them back and insisted on a refund, or maybe just new towels. I will email her this morning and see which it is. As for detergent, I use Biokleen powder in the purple box. I like the way it works. I have also used Ecover liquid and that worked well too. I switched to Biokleen because a powder is more economical. But I have never used either of these on RH towels.
    For the record, Lands End has wonderful towels, reasonably priced and they hold up great.
    There! Lots of info you probably didn't need. :)

  2. I use Seventh Generation or the Biokleen powder. I've been very happy with the organic options.

  3. I had the same issues with my towels and sheets but it was from the Proactiv lotion I was using on my face. I only buy white towels and sheets now so I dont have that problem. I hope someone has an answer for you, because that totally sucks!

  4. I really like Seventh Generation. Works well for me!

  5. I'm a white towel person myself, but I know that I've gotten those stains on some light purple PB towels before. What a bummer!

  6. My towels have all come from Penneys or Macys. I have four sets that I rotate. When washing I use less detergent than I normally do. My detergent? Whatever is on sale at Target or Kroger. My newest set of towels is about 2 years old. The oldest set is about 14 years old.

    Well not really. I still have some that I use for dog washing that I got in the 80s.


  7. This happens to my step-mom alllll the time! She would yell at us for using bleach - which doesn't even exist in her house! She uses All Free & Clear in an HE washer and of course the detergent is poured in the top dispenser and distributed with the stream of water. Hmmmm.

    I've only had this happen to me once with my navy and teal washclothes from Kohl's (Chaps brand?) and it's because of my Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask. I use them when washing my face at night then hang them to dry. Apparently I'm not rinsing them well enough. Maybe??

  8. I use Seventh Generation fragrance free HE detergent. It works well, but I do still get some bleaching of my towels. I assume this is because I'm sloppy with my bathroom (and body) cleaning supplies. I have towels that are only put in the bathroom when company comes over, otherwise we don't use them daily. Dorky, but makes me feel good about the bathroom and keeps me from spending mega bucks on towels. By the way, I refuse to buy expensive PB or RH towels, I've never needed a color I couldn't find at Kohls for under $10. And I would just hate to ruin a $25 towel! ugh

  9. Thank you for this post. I love good quality towels but I won't be buying the RH towels in future (althouhg I give them kudos for using veg dyes) due to the results you showed in your pic from your last set. Like many other commenters, I use mainly light and white towels. Life is too short to deal with towels that create this much work! lol

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  11. interesting. this happens to my pottery barn towels. so i was thinking of switching to rh towels. but it seems they do it too!! didn't know this.

    i've gone to white towels in the master so this doesn't happen. my guest towels are green. i had a guest destroy one towel... must have been a makeup or makeup remover product. otherwise the green have washed fine with costco's kirkland dye free he laundry detergent.


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