The edges on the tea towels in our household tend to fold around the stitches after machine washing. This prevents them from being easily folded. The edge folding gets worse after repeated washing.

You can straighten the cloth again by ironing it, but I've read that ironing diminishes the cloth's ability to absorb water. Also, I'd rather not.

What can I do to get those edges nice and flat again? (Or keep them that way.)

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    A) Can we see a picture, please? B) How do you dry them? And: Welcome!
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 4:49
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    Are we actually talking about dish-cloths here? The ones you dunk in the soapy water & rub your dishes/plates/cups with... or as sounds more likely, tea-towels - the ones you use to dry the dishes after you've washed them? Partly because I can't understand why anyone would care about the former being flat...
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 7:56
  • @Tetsujin: You are correct! I edited my question; mea culpa. I'm not a native English speaker, so I had to Google for what they were called. I guess I tripped over the image results which included tea towels. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:37
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    @Stephie: Good question… A bit embarrassing, but I'll have to ask my wife for how they're dried. I think they're tumble dried. As for a picture, I'll get back to you on that. Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:40
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    Do you really need to tumble dry? If you hang tea towels up by draping them over a line or a stand they will dry quickly and be flat. If you drape them tidily and symmetrically they have a nice fold in the middle.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 9:59

2 Answers 2


Tea towels can be ironed, they will keep taking on water as usual.
It is the teddy cloth towels that do not take up as much water when ironed.

My solution is quite simple, as I hate ironing:
Shake out the towel when it comes out of the washing machine, best if you can get it to make a whip sound. Then pull the fabric straight, with your hands to start and then you drag your edge over the edge of a table or even the washing machine. You do that from one corner to the next, with the first two inches/five centimeters being stretched and flattened on that semi-sharp edge.
Hang to dry or put in the tumble dryer.
When dry, repeat the shake, the pull and the drag over the edge of the table.

This works best if you start with it when the towel is still new, as the creases will wear faster than the bits in between, making them more likely to stay.

If you do iron other things, you can use the iron on just the edge of your tea towels. You will not use that first little bit for drying much, so even if it makes it taking water less easy, it will only be a small bit that is affected.
And when you use that tea towel for drying dishes later, you can test whether it does change the amount of water it accepts.


I suggest you give a hot water wash as follows:

  1. Launder the dishcloth as usual and let them fully dry.
  2. Fill a kitchen pot with water and set it over HIGH heat on the stove.
  3. When it reaches boiling point, add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the water.
  4. Now add your rags to this solution.
  5. Boil for a few minutes to kill odors and bacteria along with to unfold the foldings.
  6. Allow to cool completely.
  7. Take out each cloth well and hang on a cloth drying rack or coat hanger to dry. The better one will be drying under sun.

Though this solution can remove cloth folds, ultimate solution can be derived only after observing further information that is to shared by question raiser.

  • Interesting! Boiling on the stove for 15+ minutes sounds a bit high on energy-consumption, but if it works… Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:42
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    I can't see how this would solve the problem at all.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 10:46
  • When washing tea towels often enough, in a normal washing machine, on a normal program with normal detergent, there will be no problem with smells or bacteria. When hotter washing is required, a few minutes will be enough, 15 minutes is over doing it.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 21:36

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