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  • Writer's pictureJulie Fergus

9 Steps to Stain-Free Towels and Sheets

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

An example of towels stained by guests.

Facebook groups for vacation rental and short-term rental owners have lots of discussion about stains left by guests on sheets and towels. In an effort to stop the discussions and questions once and for all this is how you deal with it.

First, as a vacation rental owner, you have to stop getting mad at your guests for staining your towels and sheets. Some guests may assume you have a commercial laundry service that washes the linens so they don’t give much thought to taking care. Yes, some guests are just rude and don’t care, or figure you know how to deal with stains. After all, you are in the lodging business.

For example, I have one rental that is mainly rented for attending local weddings. This means lots of make-up removal and stained towels. I personally would never treat a white towel or facecloth the way my guests do, but that is not the point. Just focus on the stains and move on.

It is 100% possible to remove all of this make up. I do it almost weekly. These are the steps I use to successfully launder towels and sheets*.

Laundry Essentials

9 Steps to Stain Free Laundry

1. Use white sheets and towels. This applies to most owners that are on town or city water. (If you have well water with mineral deposits find the color that works for you and eliminate the bleach in the washing section.)

2. Inspect towels and sheets for stains. Spray stains with Shout. Shout stain remover will work for 99% of stains. If you find rust stains, perhaps from a metal hook, use Lime Away and let the stain sit for 15 minutes.

3. Use quality laundry detergent. I personally use Seventh Generation Free & Clear, ECOS, or Arm & Hammer.

4. Use HOT WATER. I don’t care what the label says. Use HOT WATER. It is important for stain removal, and hot water and Shout will do it.

5. Add bleach to the washing machine dispenser. (if you have colored sheets and towels omit the bleach) Do yourself a favor and get the splash-less bleach.

6. Do not use fabric softener. It reduces the absorbency of the terrycloth.

7. Inspect towels and sheets before putting in the dryer. If some stubborn stains persist, repeat Shout and hot water wash.

8. Dry on high heat until fully dry.

9. Fold. Learn how to fold, click here.

I have been washing sheets and towels for my rentals for over 10 years with this method and have had 99% success. However, there has been a handful of wash cloths and hand towels that were just too soiled to even bother and I tossed them. Frankly, if you can’t afford to toss a towel or sheet set on a rare occasion, you need to reconsider your approach. You must have more sheets and towels that you need so that you always have a back-up when in need.

I have been using the same towels for years and years. Some are even Wal-Mart towels. When laundered with hot water the towels wear well. They stay soft and absorbent.

*For blankets, duvet covers, and slipcovers: I use the same process, I just don’t use the bleach in the wash cycle if they are not white.

Same towels after following my 9 steps.

Towels folded the "correct" way.

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