The Only True Correct Way to Fold a Towel

By Sharon Livingstone

Hands up those massage therapists who feel their true occupation is as a laundromat manager?

Those smug “I use a laundry service” types can take this opportunity to grab a cuppa out the back.

A recent spate of wet weather combined with being busy at work brought my focus to my laundromat management job. One of my physio colleagues remarked recently, “You always have towels on the line”. Sometimes I feel like Mickey Mouse and those buckets of water in Fantasia. As soon as I think I’m finished with washing towels, there’s another batch ready to be washed.

I should mention that I don’t use a clothes dryer. I adore line-dried towels. They have a certain texture to them – not too fluffy, not too scratchy. They smell of sunshine and fresh air.

We need rain but I often wonder why it can’t rain at night and leave the day rain-free. Go to sleep with rain pitter-pattering on the roof while the plants and birds and animals are nourished, leaving the day fine for towel drying.

There are only so many places that I can hang towels inside. Only so many clothes airers I can erect.

On Saturday, frustrated, I filled a bag with damp towels and took them to work. Before you think, “we can’t use wet towels on clients”, it was because of the way air-conditioning works, taking moisture from the air. Remember how air-con dries your skin? Remember how much more you cough in air-con? It also removes the moisture from damp towels. I hang the towels in the unused treatment rooms and let the air-con do its thing.

The boss caught me doing this once and although he raised an eyebrow, possibly thinking I shouldn’t be doing science experiments at work, he gave his assent.

Works like a charm. Dry towels ready to be folded.

But dry towels is the end of the process. What’s the rest of the story?

The AMT Code of Practice provides guidance on laundry of linens:

• place used linen in a closed container and launder on the day of use. Do not place used linen in direct contact with your body or clothing.

• wash linen in hot water and detergent unless the linen has signs of human body fluid contamination

Living in an apartment and not getting home from work until quite late in the evening makes it difficult to launder same day, however I get those towels into the machine as soon as the by-laws let me. I know some lucky people have laundry facilities at work, which would be great but we don’t have the right plumbing or the necessary space.

What’s your favourite formula for washing linens?

This is a hot topic, I know. Shannon Lush (author of Spotless) provides the following formula for laundry:1,2

Top loader: 1/4 the recommended quantity of laundry detergent, plus 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and the same (50ml) of white vinegar. The vinegar goes into the fabric conditioner/softener slot in the machine.

Front loader: 1/8 the recommended quantity of laundry detergent, plus the same as above for the bi-carb soda and vinegar.

After this was shared in one of the massage Facebook groups, I gave it a try. I have a front loader but found 1/8 of detergent not enough. I experimented a bit and found that 1/2 worked best.

Other suggestions involve using dishwashing liquid, shampoo, and I’ve even heard about some pretty scary, chemical-rich solutions.

Hot water seems to make a difference. I also find that extending the rinse cycle, which my machine has a setting for, gets better results.

Being a line-dryer, I found a tip (also in a Facebook massage group) about giving the towels a good shake before hanging them out to soften the fibres. Putting them in a dryer makes them fluffy/soft while not shaking them leaves towels that could make coleslaw.

Folding towels is therapeutic. I like to turn up the volume on my audiobook and get to work on my mountain of towels. I fold in halves then half again, then turn and repeat. There’s no other reason for that other than that’s how the towels fit neatly into the storage cupboard at work. Others like to roll towels. As long as we’re rotating them through and our little OCD brains can cope with how they look in the cupboard, it really is an individual choice.

Not everyone uses towels for their treatment tables and I daresay laundering sheets, fleeces and sarongs require different methods and formulaes. I find that soaking terry cloth covers, pillow cases and hand towels in regular laundry detergent and hot water gets the oils out perfectly.

Share a Tip

What’s your failsafe way of laundering linens?


1. Shannon’s formula printed in Woman’s Day

2. Shannon’s formula dismissed by Mark Imisides aka Dr Chemical

*Yes, the title of this article is shameless clickbait for which the author makes no apology.

About the Author

Sharon Livingstone is a massage therapist in Sydney, NSW. A love of sport drew her to the industry but discovering job satisfaction came from helping people live with less pain keeps her in it. Sharon is a writer, keen bushwalker and frustrated traveller who is also a coffee snob and expert towel folder.

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